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Friday, 29 May 2015

Comets fans in mourning

Alan Cowland

SPEEDWAY fans are mourning former Workington Comet Alan Cowland, who died last week aged 60.

Alan joined the Comets for the 1974 season when Ian Thomas took his other team, Hull, into Division One. Alan had no desire to return to the higher level of racing so joined Workington.

He rode in 39 league and cup matches, scoring 280 points and 24 bonus points with an overall average of 7.28 in what he always remembered as a very enjoyable season.

Although by the time he joined the Comets he was nearing the end of his career - which began in 1961 at the Rye House training track - his season at Derwent Park helped to fill the void left by stay-at-home Lou Sansom.

Born in St Austell, Cornwall, in March 1944, Alan moved to London as a child and first saw speedway at Harringay - now Harringey - in the early 1950s.

His first love was trials riding. But once he’d tried speedway he practised at Rye House and was soon offered a team place at Exeter in 1962 where he remained until the end of 1965 - his best season in the sport, when he averaged 7.37 in the first division.

The following year, Alan moved to Wolverhampton before spending two years at Wimbledon then returning to Exeter in 1969. He lasted one season back at Exeter before he was on the move again, this time to Leicester where he spent three seasons.

At the end of 1972, he decided to drop down into Division Two, joining Ian Thomas at Hull where team-mates included new Workington boss Graham Drury and former Comets star and commercial manager Mitch Graham.

This gave him a new lease of life and he averaged 7.66 points per match. He also ‘doubled up’, riding in 11 matches for Newport in Division One, averaging 3.62. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Alan worked in Germany in 1973 and became the only British rider to compete regularly in the country’s speedway league, where he rode for Bopfingen.

When he sold Workington, Ian Thomas persuaded Alan to re-join Hull in the first division for 1975. But, after just one year back in the top flight, he joined second division Peterborough for the 1976 campaign.

Although he had always enjoyed visiting Peterborough, Alan was unhappy with the track and moved on to Mildenhall mid-season, joining what was to be his final club before his retirement in 1977.

A popular rider in his day, Alan will be very sadly missed.

Mr Cowland was found hanged in the garage he ran in Northamptonshire.