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Steve Magro's History of Speedway - Test Matches - When the War Was Over
the War was over..
It was not until 1947 when the tests returned: for the first match 47,000
people trundled into Odsal Stadium, Bradford, to see England win. The
Lions won the three match series, but so popular were the tests that
five matches were scheduled thereafter. By July 1950, one hundred official
matches had been staged. Meanwhile in Australia, promoters went two
better when they introduced a seven match series - that meant twelve
test matches in one year!
Indeed, this was the sport's boom era and of the best riders were extremely
well paid and household names:
Englishmen such as Jack and Norman Parker, Bill Kitchen, Tommy Price,
'Split' Waterman and Welshman Fred Williams; while amongst the Kangaroos
there was Vic Duggan, Aub Lawson, Ron Johnson, Graham Warren, Jack Young
and Jack Biggs. The English series was on a high (as was the sport generally),
with the victories being fairly evenly spread. And the crowds...they
came in their thousands.
In Australia, however, the Lions found wins harder to come by. Invariably
led by the veteran Jack Parker, other top riders refused to travel.
Ongoing bike maintenance also became a serious problem and, gradually,
Australian crowds began to tire of lop-sided wins.
The 1950's saw the sport begin to slide in popularity. In both countries
the series ceased in 1953, while in Australia the tests were brought
back for two years (1959-60) before disappearing entirely.