Darcy Ward, as a guest, and James Wright

The Belle Vue Aces are a British speedway team from Manchester in the north west of England.

History

Racing first took place in 1928 at the Belle Vue greyhound stadium in Kirkmanshulme Lane before moving the following year to a specially built stadium nearby on Hyde Road. The club raced there until 1987 when the stadium was demolished. The club moved to a new track at its original home and remained there before moving to the National Speedway Stadium in 2016.[1]

Current team performances in Speedway's First Division since 2013[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Teams no longer participating in the league are not included on the graph. When a team's figure rises from zero, that indicates having moved up to the Premiership after the previous season

Hyde Road Stadium

Hyde Road had a 40,000 capacity with a track length of 382 metres (418 yards), and was built around an existing athletics and cycling track. It is alleged that Britain’s first open grass-track event took place here on 25 February 1928. Later, with the grass gone, it was claimed to be the first purpose built speedway track in Britain. The opening speedway meeting here was staged on 23 March 1929, when Arthur Franklyn won the Golden Helmet.

Belle Vue resigned from league racing (English Dirt Track League) in 1929, stating that it wasn’t popular enough. In 1930 they were leading members of the uncompleted Northern League. In 1931 Belle Vue reserves took over Harringay’s fixtures, after they had withdrawn from the Southern League. This meant the Aces had a team in both the Northern and Southern Leagues although they were often referred to as Manchester in the Southern League.

Belle Vue again had two teams in 1934, one in the National League and the other, known as the Goats, in the reserve league. Liverpool transferred their provincial league operation to Belle Vue in 1937, so again, Belle Vue had a team in both leagues.

Belle Vue was the only track to continue operating throughout the Second World War,[9] running a total of 176 meetings during the war years, which were attended by a total of 2,816,000 people. The winners of the wartime British Individual Championships were:

After the war, team racing resumed, with the Aces taking their place in the 1946 National League, and subsequently Division One the following year. There was sadness on 13 September 1947 however, when manager E.O. Spence died. Johnnie Hoskins took over from Alice Hart as promoter in 1953.

With so few tracks running, the Aces found themselves in the 11 team National League in 1957. A change in promoter occurred in 1960 with Ken Sharples taking charge. Harold Jackson took over as Speedway Manager in 1964, prior to the Aces becoming founder members of the British League in 1965. Dent Oliver became Speedway Manager in 1967, and remained in that position until 1973.

Frank Varey took over as Speedway Manager in 1974, before Jack Fearnley took up the reins in 1974. In 1982, former World Stock-Car Champion Stuart Bamforth became promoter. The stadium was also used for Stock Car racing right up to its closure in 1987.

Following the announcement that Bamforth had sold the stadium for redevelopment, the last speedway meeting was staged on 1 November 1987, when a double header took place. Firstly, Belle Vue defeated the Coventry Bees in a replay of the League Cup before losing to the Cradley Heath Heathens in the final league match ever raced at Hyde Road.

Kirkmanshulme Lane

Belle Vue Stadium, Manchester

The greyhound track at Belle Vue Stadium (Kirkmanshulme Lane) was the first to open in Britain when, on 24 July 1926, some 1,700 enthusiasts witnessed a dog called Mistley win the very first race. A grass-track meeting took place here on 5 May 1928, with Syd Jackson emerging as the winner. The dirt track was stated to be similar in size and shape to Wimbledon and Harringay, with the first meeting going ahead on 28 July 1928, when Frank Arthur won the Golden Helmet.

When the stadium at Hyde Road was sold in 1987, the Aces moved back to the Greyhound Stadium, under the promotion of Peter Collins, John Perrin and Don Bowes. The opening meeting of the new era of the Aces was held on 1 April 1988, and saw Belle Vue take on Bradford Dukes in the Frank Varey Northern Trophy. However, the match was abandoned after just two heats due to a waterlogged track (rain), with the Aces leading the match.

Due to other commitments Collins resigned from his promotional position in 1989, leaving Perrin and Bowes in charge of the Aces. With the amalgamation of the two leagues, Belle Vue became members of the British League Division One in 1991.

A further management change in 1994 saw George Carswell link with Perrin and Bowes as co-promoter. Both divisions of the British League joined together to form a 21 team Premier League in 1995, with the Aces becoming founder members.

A further promoting change in 1995 saw John Hall replace Don Bowes, to link up with Perrin and Carswell. The Premier League broke in two at the end of 1996, with the Aces becoming members of the new Elite League, where they have remain up until the present day.

A change of promotion occurred in late 2004 as John Perrin sold the club to Workington promoters Tony Mole and Ian Thomas. This was Thomas's second stint in charge of The Aces. A further change in ownership occurred in December 2006 as ex-captain Chris Morton along with David Gordon bought the club from Tony Mole and Ian Thomas.[10]

Belle Vue rode at Kirkmanshulme Lane until the end of the 2015 season before moving to the newly built National Speedway Stadium in 2016.

Throughout its history the team has produced five world Speedway World Champions and two Under-21 World Champions.[11]

National Speedway Stadium

The Aces moved to a new purpose-built stadium in Gorton in 2016, which also serves as the national stadium for British speedway.[12] Following early teething troubles with the track surface which led to meetings being postponed, the Belle Vue team had a successful season and finished the league programme at the top. However, following matches with Lakeside Hammers (won) the Aces lost to Wolverhampton Wolves in the two-leg Play-off finals.

The track has since become widely regarded as the best in the UK. It has hosted the British Final since 2016 and a number of international meetings. In 2020 the stadium will host the finals of the Speedway of Nations on 8 and 9 May.[13]

2020 Line-up

[14]

Previous Teams

Famous riders

Individual World Champions

Individual Under-21 World Champions

Club honours

  • League Champions – 1930^ 1931 1933 1934 1935 1936 1963 1970 1971 1972 1982 1993
  • Knock Out Cup Winners – 1931 1972 1973 1975 2005 2017
  • Premiership Trophy – 1983
  • League Cup Winners – 1983
  • Inter-League Cup Winners – 1975
  • National League – 1933 1934 1935 1936 1963
  • National Trophy – 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1946 1947 1949 1958
  • English Speedway Trophy Winners (Reserves) – 1938
  • ACU Cup – 1934 1935 1936 1937 1946
  • British Speedway Cup – 1939 1947
  • British League Division Two Winners-Colts – 1968 1969
  • Britannia Shield – 1957 1958 1960
  • Northern League Champions – 1930 1931
  • British League Division Two KO Cup Winners-Colts – 1969
  • Northern KO Cup – 1931
  • Four Team Championship Winners – 1992
  • Youth Development League Winners – 2001
  • Elite League Pairs Winners – 2006 (Simon Stead & Jason Crump)
  • League Riders Winners – Ivan Mauger 1971 Peter Collins 1974 1975 Chris Morton 1984 Shawn Moran 1989 Joe Screen 1992 Jason Crump 2006 2008 Rory Schlein 2011

^ not completed

References

  1. ^ Bamford, R & Jarvis J.(2001). Homes of British Speedway. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-2210-3
  2. ^ Elite League 2013 Table
  3. ^ Elite League 2014 Table
  4. ^ Elite League 2015 Table
  5. ^ Elite League 2016 Table
  6. ^ Premiership 2017 Table
  7. ^ Premiership 2018 Table
  8. ^ Premiership 2019 Table
  9. ^ James, T. & Stephenson, B. (2003).Speedway in Manchester, Stroud: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-3000-9
  10. ^ Frost, Richard (2006) "Morton in Takeover", , 14 October 2006, p. 3
  11. ^ Bamford, R. & Shailes, G. (2002). A History of the World Speedway Championship. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-2402-5
  12. ^ Ankers, Wayne (2014) "Work starts on Gorton's new National Speedway Stadium as part of £11m investment in Belle Vue sports village", Manchester Evening News, 16 October 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2014
  13. ^ "Manchester Hosts 2020 SoN Finals". Belle Vue Speedway. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Meet the Aces". Belle Vue Speedway. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  15. ^ Bamford, Robert (2008). Methanol Press Speedway Yearbook 2008. Methanol Press. ISBN 978-0-9553103-5-5.
  16. ^ Bamford, Robert (1 March 2007). Tempus Speedway Yearbook 2007. NPI Media Group. ISBN 0-7524-4250-3.

External links