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Cradley Heathens mourn loss of legendary rider Alan Grahame

Cradley Heathens have been dealt another tragic blow with the death of legendary rider Alan Grahame.

Troy Pratt, Andy Grahame, Colin Pratt, Billy Hamill Alan Grahame and Greg Hancock (Photo: Jonathan Hipkiss)
Troy Pratt, Andy Grahame, Colin Pratt, Billy Hamill Alan Grahame and Greg Hancock (Photo: Jonathan Hipkiss)

Grahame passed away on Sunday at the age of 67 from injuries sustained in an accident while racing sidecars.

Affectionately known as Big Al, Grahame made more than 700 appearances for the Heathens and was part of the team which won national titles in 1981 and 1983.

Born in Kingstanding, he began his speedway career with Birmingham and also raced for Stoke, Oxford and Hull during a celebrated career.

But it was with Cradley he enjoyed his biggest success, racing for 13 straight years for the club between 1978 and 1991 and also making a brief return two years later.

A winner of the individual Golden Hammer meeting, Grahame even raced on while battling Hodgkin’s disease in 1986.

News of his death, announced on the club’s social media channels just 24 hours after the passing of another club legend, Colin Pratt, prompted hundreds of tributes from fans.

Wolves owner Chris Van Straaten, meanwhile, has paid his own personal tribute to Pratt, who died on Saturday morning aged 82. Pratt rode for, managed and promoted the Heathens and was described by Van Straaten as a “giant” of the speedway.

He said: “This is the end of an era, it truly is, the sport in the West Midlands has lost a giant. The memories of my battles with Colin will never fade, the Dudley-Wolves trophy meetings, the league and cup battles, he thrived on the rivalry and we have missed that greatly.

“I had huge respect and admiration for Colin and he was so passionate about everything he did. But away from the heat of the battle, he was also a kind hearted man who was always good company.”

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