Friday November 19, 2021
SPEEDWAY World Cup winner and British Champion Kelvin Tatum has lifted the lid on how he became a Knockout Cup winner with Cradley 32 years ago.

Tatum, writing in his new book produced by Aldridge-based Curtis Sport, rode as a guest for the Heathens against bitter rivals Wolverhampton in both legs of the final.

The former Coventry favourite has covered for Wolverhampton’s Sam Ermolenko in the Dudley-Wolves Trophy in August but was then booked by Heathens boss Colin Pratt to replace the legendary Heathens skipper Erik Gundersen in the final.

Gundersen had suffered career changing injuries in the World Cup Final which England went on to win with Tatum as skipper.

Writing in his new book ‘More Tales from the Top Drawer’, Tatum explained: “Having ridden for Wolves in the Dudley-Wolves Trophy, it came to crunch time for the Knockout Cup Final that year when, wouldn’t you know it, Wolves would face Cradley.

“Quite simply, Cradley called me first. Colin Pratt asked me to do it and I agreed, but then Wolverhampton called me and wanted me. I have no doubt I could have played one off against the other and got more money, but I was never going to do that. Wolverhampton tried hard and the conversation was ongoing with them, but I wasn’t going to budge and I know both Chris and Pete Adams were bitterly disappointed.

“Cradley had been good and given me several guest bookings and paid me on time as agreed, as did Wolverhampton, it was just down to who got to me first and that was Pratty.

“Cradley had lost Erik to his life changing injuries at Bradford and Jan O Pedersen had broken his arm (ironically in the Dudley-Wolves Trophy) and Cradley were more like a select side. They did, however, have a new young American kid by the name of Greg Hancock!

“In the first leg at Monmore I scored 13-points for Cradley which went down like a lead balloon with Wolves, as you can imagine. Heathens had a 49-41 first leg lead.

“Then in the deciding leg I only managed seven-points, but with Shawn Moran scoring 14 in place of Jan O the Heathens won the cup with a two-point win on the night and 95-85 on aggregate.

“I had to take the emotion of covering for Erik and the deadly rivalry out of my feelings. I was a rider for hire and I would have been foolish to turn work down, whoever I was riding for.

“I wonder how many riders in the record books can say they won the Dudley-Wolves Trophy for Wolverhampton and the Knockout Cup for Cradley against Wolves in the same season? Answers on a postcard.”

*More Tales from the Top Drawer, Kelvin Tatum Autobiography 2 is out now, 196 pagesd, over 55,000 words and illustrated. Available from curtis-sport.com/books and not available in the shops. Alternatively send a cheque for £18.90 payable to Curtis Sport Ltd and send to: Orders, Curtis Sport, Unit 24, Empire Industrial Park. Empire Close, Aldridge, West Midlands WS9 8UQ.

CRADLEY 1989 CUP WINNERS: Colin Pratt (Manager), John Bostin, Gert Handberg, Simon Cross, Jan O Pederdsen, Alan Grahame, Kelvin Tatum. Kneeling: Greg Hancock, Shawn Moran. Picture: John Hipkiss.

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