Down Memory Lane: Long Eaton's love affair with speedway
SPEEDWAY returned to Long Eaton in 1963, for the first time in 12 years, under promoter Reg Fearman.
He set about putting together a team to face St Austell in a Provincial League match.
And he started well, recruiting four experienced players to form the backbone of the Archers side.
First to arrive was Aussie Charlie Monk, who had been riding for Neath. Another ex-Neath rider was the emerging Jon Erskine, son of former champion Mike Erskine.
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Slant Payling came in along with Bluey Scott, Gil Goldfinch and a man who was to have a long association with speedway in the Midlands, Leicester Hunters' captain Vic White.
Given the long lay-off, a lot of hard work went into preparing the Station Road track. The bad weather didn't help either.
Officials said that they needed an average attendance of 5,000 every Tuesday night if they were going to survive.
A supporters' club was formed to help raise funds to enable them to compete in the Midlands Regional League.
They were also in the National Provincial League which meant trips to the likes of Cornwall and Edinburgh.
The Archers finished second bottom in the first year and again the following year.
The Archers were then thrown in at the deep end in the British League where they met glamour clubs like Belle Vue, Coventry and West Ham.
Long Eaton struggled with injuries and it was no surprise when they finished bottom of the league.
They managed to finish second bottom in 1966, despite signing the legendary Ove Fundin. But he got banned by the Swedish authorities and only made a few appearances.
Ray Wilson and Ray Cresp were backed up in 1967 by Anders Michanek. But the Archers' faithful got some shock news during the winter when it was announced that the licence was being transferred to Leicester.
In 1969 the team was rechristened Long Eaton Rangers and they continued in the Second Division until the end of 1973.
The following season they reverted to the Archers, but they disappeared again and did not re-appear until 1979 when they became Nottingham Outlaws.
New promoter was Dan McCormick who recruited well with Dave Perks and Mike Sampson, but the track closed again after the 1980 season.
Another revival followed in 1982 as the team was re-branded as the Long Eaton Invaders. Perks returned to Station Road and the Invaders finished seventh out of 19 in the National League.
There was a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes in 1984 when they won the National League by a single point.
The club stumbled on for the next few seasons before businessman Tony Mole bought the Invaders in 1991.
His first move was to appoint Eric Boocock as general manager. Then top Dane Jan Staechmann was bought in from Wolverhampton.
When the leagues split into two divisions in 1997 it was little surprise that the Invaders opted to line up in the lower tier.
Carl Stonehewer was the star rider, well supported by Martin Dixon and the club seemed to be in good shape.
But in 1998 came the shock announcement that the stadium was to be sold for housing development.
Long Eaton Invaders still exist today, operating out of Beaumont Park in Leicester. But loyal fans still cling to the dream that they will return to Long Eaton one day.
Speedway was actually first staged at Station Road in 1929, but only three meetings were held.
The sport didn't reappear in the town until 1950 when they ran a series of challenge matches. The following year the Archers lined up in the third tier of the National League.
They then entered the Southern League, but they couldn't exist on their small crowds.