1970s Part 3


Graeme Stapleton     Rod Hunter     Nigel Crabtree     Neil Coddington   Kevin McDonald  Phil Kynman  
Chris Prime
   Kenny Carter Dave Younghusband   Karl Fiala

The leading rider in Blue is Phil Kynman.  Phil is at the apex of Brough Park's bends 3 and 4, just lining up for the home straight.  Phil's skipper Tom Owen  is assisting Phil to the chequered flag with Melvyn Taylor and Neil Leeks filling the minor places in a Newcastle 5-1
The Fen Tigers number 1 Bob Coles leads into bend 1.  You will note the back wheel does not have a dirt deflector, no one had thought of that back in 1977
The Diamonds heading for a 5-1 over Mildenhall are Robbie Gardner and Tom Owen with Mildenhall riders Neil Leeks and Robert Henry bringing up the rear
Mildenhall's Robert Henry comes to grief in heat 12.  He appears to have lost it on Brough Parks 4th bend.  Just noticed our "Safety Fence"  A rather slack looking wire mesh.  In modern times tracks have to provide air fences as a safety measure
Another great look at the back straight grandstand.  Newcastle number 1 Tom Owen, leads heat 10.  The final score was Newcastle 51 Mildenhall 27. In 13 heat matches 39-39 was a draw, 40-38 the narrowest home win and 50 points was a hammering.  Newcastle had many 50 point plus home wins during the 1970s.
Heat 13 and Ron Henderson leads Bob Coles.  Ron was a very popular rider who decided he had to do more with his life than ride motorcycles so he packed it in and went back to Australia.  I have heard he became a social worker and/or a paramedic. 

1978 Newcastle Diamonds


1978 Diamonds: Names put to faces by Bob Grainger and Irene Best  Back: Kevin McDonald, Peter Moy, Rob Maxfield, Robbie Blackadder, Neil (Fish) Coddington, Tom Owen.  Front: Paul Cook (mascot), Robbie Gardner, Kenny Carter, Chris Prime, David Bargh, Nigel Crabtree.  
I am told Nigel Crabtree Who was visiting as manager of Stoke on 5th July 2004 and he was shown this picture That he got a real shock seeing himself on the screen.! You were very popular in your days as a Diamond, Crabbers.

Kevin McDonald
North of Australia, Papua New Guinea rider Kevin McDonald came to us in 1978.  He struggled for a while then he started to ride the track well but unfortunately came to grief on the second bend at Brough Park.  Young Kevin (21) had broken his thigh bone and his career in the UK came to an end, which was a great shame as he was improving all the time.
Kevin has been in touch with me, we will correspond and he says he will send me some photos and memories
Kevin McDonald says: Such a small world to be chatting to someone who was there that night when I broke my leg. I donít recall a whole lot about it but do know that it was Fish (Neil Coddington) that ran over my leg! I knew about Fish's fatal speedboat accident here in Oz and about Chris (Prime) and Kenny's (Carter) deaths too. 
I went back racing the following year here in Australia but because I suffered foot drop as a result of the accident, I had to use wire from the front of the steel shoe and tie it to a dog collar above my knee to hold the foot upright at an angle to allow me to hold my foot up and stop the toe from digging in to the dirt. I still won both our state Open and Handicap events (the latter is where you have to start at different points behind the start line and to play catch up. Once having proved to myself that I could still ride, I knew that I couldn't achieve what I had planned in the sport and decided to retire on a high note.

I had lived and started racing in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and raced motocross, short circuit and speedway up there (we had the only uphill speedway track in the world!). I had tried to get across to England back in '75 but couldn't get anyone to sign me as no riders had ever come out of PNG to ride internationally before and we didn't have the contacts. Instead I went to California, raced freelance in PNG colours and was picked up by the LA Sprockets, Irwindale. That was the first year that they started Teams racing. Bruce Penhall was my captain and Bobby Swartz was there as well. The tracks were way too short and tight and my main goal was to get to England.

I came back from the US and went back to PNG, then decided to come back in 76 to Australia to try to get more racing experience. In 77 I went to an Ivan Mauger training school and he contacted Newcastle to get me over there. My father was a Geordie who had migrated to Australia as a child in the 50s, so he was rapt when I ended up with the Diamonds. As you know, the time in Newcastle was short lived. I was 21 and just starting to get the hang of the tracks and the racing over there and have always felt that I could have gone a long way if it weren't for the accident. The Geordie people were amazing and so very welcoming.
John says: Everyone I speak to at Brough Park, (still going there every home meeting), thinks Kevin was starting to impress us.  What if? well Kevin never got the chance to show us what he was going to be capable of.  Tough luck Kev and please send the website some pics and memories of your good times in Newcastle.  Your ex-pat Geordie dad would want you to do that.

John says: This era had more than it's fair share of tragedy.  Chris Prime's fatal accident and Kev McDonald's horror smash, (see above article), spring to my mind.  If you have memories good or bad, or most likely a mixture of the two the why not email me and I will put them here.  I have already recieved
David Ridley's memories, shown below: -
Hi John,  I have arrived at your website through a link on the british speedway website, I just want to say your website is fantastic! I followed the diamonds in 1977/78/79/80 as a teenage kid travelling to home and away meetings with my sister and her husband your website has brought back some great memories and I must admit the 1978 season was my favourite fighting Canterbury all the way for the title but losing out on race points difference.  I have seen your photo taken at Canterbury in 1978 when we beat them 36-42 I think, also running Eastbourne close 35-43 at their track when all other teams sufferd heavy defeats.  The death of Chris Prime the tragic accident of Kevin Macdonald who I thought had fantastic potential, which a tyne derwent trophy match at Workington confirmed with a double figure score.  The home defeat by Oxford with Dave Shields and John Hack both reserves scoring 9 points each for Oxford.  Some great meetings, superb racing and fantastic memories.  Please keep up the great work, thanks: David Ridley

Third bend, Heat 16 Graeme Stapleton (Blue) leads Kenny Carter (Red) with Brian Havelock in White.  The photo shows the substantial back straight bar and grandstand, long since demolished!
Third bend, Heat 19 Tom Owen (Red) leads David Bargh (Blue).  The stand on the back straight was often bathed in sunshine unlike the remaining stand where you often need thermals to keep warm!
An unfamiliar shot of Brough Park.  I think this was taken at the end of the home straight, first bend action.  I think David Bargh is leading.  I don't know the rider in Y/B email me if you can name him John
Back to the third bend and David Bargh very much going sideways at speed!  Note the "crazy paving" white line.  Young fans will be shocked that the bends did not have an air fence then!


Kenny Carter


Young Kenny became England's number 1 rider after leaving Newcastle

Possibly the best English rider we have ever had with all due respect to Tom & Joe Owen and one or two others.  Kenny went on to greater things.  His world final battles with Bruce Penhall come to mind
Kenny Carter A Diamond 1978 Only
Courtesy of Speedway Star

1978 Newcastle v Middlesbrough

No idea who the riders are John

Tony Robinson has been in touch he says: - Again the Middlesbrough riders are in white & Y/B Martin Dixon is in Y/B & I think it is Paul Stead (ex Newcastle ) in white.  The track is Newcastle (looks like the old back straight stand) as the second diamond rider has a blue helmet on.  The rider that should have the red helmet is Dave Bargh, the rider in blue could be the late Chris Prime, the year 1978.
Thanks Tony

More From 1978

Robbie Gardner, David Bargh, Kenny Carter, Tom Owen, Robbie Blackadder, Graeme Stapleton, Rod Hunter. This team was my personal favourite of the 1970s Newcastle team line ups.  None of these guys knew when they were beaten. They overtook more than any side we have ever had.  What I like about the photograph is the contrast between the older lads faces and Davy and Kenny. The two kids faces are fresh and innocent looking but with their team mates to learn from both became ferocious racers, Kenny almost a world champion and David one of the best team men of his era.

Tom Owen & "Barghy"

This is Tom Owen and (I think) David Bargh.  How much young David benefited from having Tom around can only be guessed at


Berwick v Newcastle
17th September 1978 
Tom Owen leads at Berwick and is on his way to a 12 point maximum
Left Kenny Carter, Tom Owen and Rod Hunter. Must be second half action at Shielfield Park as 3 diamond's in this heat!  Right hand picture: riders unknown
Newcastle's Rod Hunter in the second half at Berwick in 1978.  Rod became my favourite rider and he holds the record as the longest serving Aussie rider at Newcastle.


Karl Fiala

Ex-Rye House rider Karl Fiala has been in touch with some of his memories and items from his late 70's and 1980's career.  I can remember Karl being one of the most entertaining visiting riders and it was no surprise to learn that Brough Park was in fact Karl's favourite track.  I have no hesitation in devoting a little of the sites web space to Karl. 

Speedway Star match reports courtesy of Karl Fiala

I can see why Karl kept the reports!  Tom Owen and Karl Fiala stood out from the rest in the match on April 25.  Fiala notched an impressive full house 12 points maximum.  Tom also hit 12 and in the only heat he came up against Karl, Heat 10 he fell! 
July 3 and another home defeat.  Karl top-scored for his team again.  He must like the fast straights and tight corners of Brough Park
 Karl Heading
Tom Owen
Not At Brough Park!

Courtesy of Karl Fiala

Tom wasn't headed by many riders but Karl usually gave Tom a run for his money.  Not sure which track and meeting this was but it isn't Brough Park.  Karl looks to be in white and Tom y/b maybe it was in the second half down at Rye or an individual meeting somewhere else? 

A Rare Sight At Brough Park

Karl Fiala says "How many teams got a victory ride on the tractor during that spell at Newcastle".  Can anyone supply the names of the RH guys John 
Dave Ridley says: Hoping I can help with the rye house team pictured on the ďvictory tractorĒ starting from the front of the tractor Iím pretty sure it is Karl Fiala who was their number one, the rider at the rear of the tractor looks like ted hubbard who was riding at number 7 on the day!!!!!!!
I remember Ted had previously been their number 1 rider not sure of year I know they they won at brough in 77 and 78 not sure what the outcome was in 79 so iíd go for 78
hope this helps, keep up the great work

1978 Aussies
Rod Hunter &
Robbie Blackadder

Rod Hunter and Robbie Blackadder are sandwiching someone called Shields, his first name escapes me?

Bob Grainger says:  Hi John, You were correct in naming him Shields but even after all this time I knew his first name and it was confirmed after checking the various sites, David Shields born in Waratah New South Wales Australia on the 1st October 1957, he came to Brough Park riding for the Oxford Cheetahs but rode a few times for Cradley Heath. Hope this helps you keep up to date the excellent site and looking through it does bring back a lot of happy memories which I for one will never forget.
John says: Hi Bob, I know that since retiring you have stopped coming to Brough Park.  You have been missing for 8yrs or so.  I am also retired now but I still enjoy my speedway.  I am still excited when a rider blasts around the outside on our 2nd and 4th bends.  Anyway good luck Bob in whatever you are doing now.

Newcastle v
Scunthorpe Saints
10th September 1978 
Left: Rod Hunter leads from Neil (Fish) Coddington (Red) Paul Cooper (Y/B) and Trevor Whiting in white. Right: Rod and Neil ride the white line
Left: Kenny Carter leads from Dave Trownson (White), Mick Handley (Y/B) with Robbie Gardner bringing up the rear.  Right: Tom Owen leads John Mc Neil
17 year old Kenny Carter leads Dave Trownson.  Kenny was great to watch, particularly when he rode out by the fence at speed as he was doing in the above picture
Left: Robbie Gardner was the "Man In Black" for this meeting! Tom Owen above Right
Rod Hunter.  The pic is a bit blurred but I would hazard a guess he is using a Weslake engine


Graeme Stapleton


Graeme Stapleton warming his engine with a Tam o Shanter

John says: I received this news of Graeme at the end of May 2008: -
Graeme Stapleton has been in the wars. Discovering his house was on fire, he suffered a heart-attack trying to save it. The house was lost but thankfully, Graeme wasn't. He was rushed to Christchurch hospital where he spent the week recovering. Then he was transferred to Darfield hospital, closer to home for another week. He is now staying at friends until insurance sees that his home is rebuilt. The former pig farmer is now into Boxer dogs. He is doing well and anyone that knows 'Stape', will be aware that this won't keep him down for long. Anyone wishing to send him their regards can do so through me     raebo_nz@hotmail.com    or send them to Graeme Stapleton, c/o V. Ratahi, Davies Road, 1 RD, Glenroy, Canterbury, 7673, New Zealand. I'm sure he would love to hear from you. Cheers everyone, Tracy."


Newcastle 1979

Manager Dave Younghusband, David Bargh, Tom Owen (on bike), Robbie Blackadder, Graeme Stapleton, Rod Hunter, Neil "fish" Coddington, Nigel Crabtree.  Fish returned to OZ and starting racing power boats on the Australian waters.  He had some success at this but then disaster struck.  Neil was fatally injured racing his boat.

Newcastle v Red Star Prague
Tom Owen is easy to recognise but I cannot say the same for the other rider, can you name him and say which year this picture was taken John
Keith Dyer has been in touch he says: - Tom Owen photo is from 1979 and the meeting was against Red Star Prague who with a strong team won 45-33. If that's a number 1 on the jacket it is Jiri Stancl
Dave Ridley says: looking at the red star photograph, I remember they always seemed to be at the early part of the season (april) I canít identify their rider or the year of the photo but it has brought back some memories of great names and meetings between us the names of the red star riders Jiri Stancl,the Verner brothers,Milan Spinka.Jiri Svoboda I seem to remember the meetings I attended in 77/78/79/80 the red star team didnít change that much!!!


Rod Hunter

Rod Hunter the longest serving Aussie to ride for Newcastle


Nigel Crabtree

Nigel with Tom Owen
Lyn Thompson's Photos Of  
Nigel Crabtree

Nigel tying on his steel shoe


I remember Crabbers as a second halfer who went into the bends faster than most of our team. He often fell and had a wild man reputation then it all clicked into place for him.
Joe Wake says: Nigel rode for us from 1977 to 1980. Then did not ride for a spell if I remember before riding for Scunthorpe.
Thanks for the photos Joe and I am sure you are right



Neil "fish" Coddington


Big Hair! Neil (fish) Coddington.

Neil never quite made the top as a speedway rider.  He returned to Australia and to speedboat racing.  I know he had a serious smash a couple of years ago in his boat which almost cost him his life.  If you know more get in touch and let us all know that Fish is ok now.
Update: Fish survived that crash only to crash again in 2010.  This time he did not survive his injuries.  Neil, 57, was a champion powerboat racer and was killed while out on a training run where he was believed to be warming up the Championship winning hydroplane, Blue Max, that had seen him and his brother Graham take countless major trophies.  
Fish's Speedway Stats 
Year  Matches  Rides  Points  BPs  Total Pts  Match Average                                                                        
1977  16  72  75  16  91    5.06 
1978  34  97  86  15  101    4.16 
1979  31  121  145  29  174    5.75 
Neil (Fish) Coddington
& Nigel Crabtree  

Newcastle's Great reserve pairing. Neil (Fish) Coddington (6)and Nigel Crabtree (7) 1979 (not sure of the year).  This is one of my favourite photos on the website

Fish Leading
Harry Maclean 

Fish leading Harry Maclean (Milton Keynes) in 1979

Neil getting out of shape and causing problems for Dole whomever he was. Neil's foot is turned right over digging the dirt.  Did the ref notice Fish taking Mr Doles line away from him? Accidentally of course.
Fish RIP
Died 2010 after crashing his speedboat he was 57yrs old

Courtesy of Steve Magro



Phil Kynman

Phil only rode for Newcastle in 1977, he finished 4th in the averages with 7.22.went to Hull in 78 had a torrid time and had retired before the end of  May. Returned in 1979 to ride for Berwick. He returned to Scunthorpe in 1981 and again retired mid-season this time permanently. 


Chris Prime RIP

Chris was a regular second halfer in 1977 he was on the verge of making a reserve spot his own in 1978 but became the 3rd rider to be fatally inured at Brough Park when he crashed heavily and subsequently lost his life. Chris died on Monday, April 3, 1978 following a crash in Heat 2 of the National League match between Newcastle and Mildenhall at Brough Park. Many fans did not see Chris hitting the fence coming out of the last bend as all eyes were on a terrific scrap up front as Kenny Carter tried to split Melvyn Taylor and Neil Leeks on the run-in to the flag. The match was abandoned after the final heat (Heat 13) as news of Chris's death reached Ian Thomas who announced it to the crowd. Chris was 18 and hailed from Hull. 
Here he is in action in 1977.  Chris's family have provided a trophy "The Chris Prime Memorial Trophy" which is raced for every year by our junior riders. 


Dave Younghusband

Dave Younghusband says:  After an accident at Poole Speedway in 1973 which ended my racing career, I was approached by Ian Thomas to take on the role of Team Manager at Newcastle Speedway on its reopening in the National League in 1975 after several years (5) of closure. This was a very exciting time with a team made up of several riders from Australia who were taking their first steps in British Speedway and the backbone of the team being two English brothers, Tom and Joe Owen, who had previously ridden at Barrow.
Despite the fact that this was a young team, some of the riders being very inexperienced, it was run on a very professional basis.  Every effort was made to build up team spirit (which is the basis for any successful team) and all riders were expected to present themselves on race nights with immaculate and well maintained equipment and riding gear. 
This discipline and effort paid dividends as the team enjoyed a considerable amount of success and it would be fair to say became the most exciting team in the National League.   They were League Champions in 1976, 1982 and 1983,  Runners-up in 1975, 1978 and 1980 and third in 1981.   In fact the teamís lowest finish position was sixth in 1977 and 1979.   A similar success was achieved in the KO Cup when the team finished Champions in 1976 and 1982 and reached the semi-finals in 1975.   They were also 4 Team Champions in 1976, 1982 and 1983, Pairs Champions in 1975 and Super National Play-off Champions in 1982 and 1983.   A fantastic achievement by all standards. 

These achievements were recognised when the team was voted winners of the North-East Sportsman of the Year Trophy Ė an award which was normally given to individual sportsmen rather than a team Ė and presented to them at a dinner attended by all the leading sportsmen in the North East.   Also, along with all of the clubís officials, wives and girlfriends the team was invited to a reception at the Mansion House in Newcastle to meet the Lord Mayor who expressed his thanks and appreciation to the team on behalf of the City for being such good ambassadors for the region.

Happy days and happy memories!!  
Dave Younghusband 

Continue with the History of the Diamonds? click here 1980's 

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