Full name: John Boulger
Birthplace: Rowley Park, South Australia
Birthdate: 18th June 1945
Career Record with Cradley
Year Mat Rid Poi Bon Total Aver 1974 43 190 457 10 467 9.83 1975 53 218 465 15 480 8.80 1976 43 190 469 7 476 10.02
[Taken from the Cradley Speedway Riders Database includes all matches]
My Childhood Aussie Hero; by Lee Morris
Article courtesy of Peter Henderson's "Speedway Bikes of Oz" web site.
As a young speedway fan growing up in England there were plenty of riders for me to idolise, one rider in particular stood out. The year was 1974 and the rider I refer to had just joined my local team 'The Cradley Heathens', his name was John Boulger but I called him JB, and he was an Aussie from the South Australian city of Adelaide. In those days speedway riders mixed more with the fans, this was certainly the case at Cradley. In 1974 the changing rooms were at the opposite end of the stadium to the pits, so the riders had to walk through hordes of young autograph hunters like myself, this is how I first noticed how obliging and friendly JB really was, it was also the first time I had heard an Aussie accent.
John Boulger spent three seasons at Dudley Wood, and he certainly made an impression. Cradley were traditional easy beats at the time, even JB`s inclusion in their side didnít exactly make them a major force, I guess this is what makes some of his performances all the more memorable. Several meetings stand out in my mind, like the traditional bank holiday Monday fixture at Halifax in 1974. The speedway supporters club at Dudley Wood enabled the 'Heathens' faithful to travel by coach and many did, however Cradley riders usually struggled at the steeply banked shay circuit. Not JB though, he scorched to an 18 point maximum more than the rest of the 'Heathens' team put together.
Then there was the Westernapolis Victory at Exeter, another large and very fast circuit which I visited once a year whilst on my summer holidays in Devon, and the Silver Jubilee trophy victory at Coventry, all on big tracks and all in 1974. But JB also produced the goods on smaller circuits. I remember going to Perry Barr in Birmingham three times in 1976, it was a short trip for me, JB had twelve rides over the three meetings and only dropped one point (To Soren Sjosten). Of course some of John Boulgerís achievements were much more significant, these were just some of my own personal memories.
John first made an impression riding in his native South Australia, in those days Rowley Park was the hotbed of action and John was almost unbeatable there. He ventured to England in 1969 after being recommended to the Long Eaton promotion by Ron Wilson. John actually had a practice at Long Eaton the week before his debut and impressed enough so as to be given a team birth the following week, where he went on to score a paid twelve point maximum on his league debut, a mighty fine effort for a newcomer! After a couple of seasons at Long Eaton John moved across the Midlands to near neighbours Leicester where he spent six seasons riding for the Lions. He then made another journey across the Midlands, this time West to Cradley Heath. before later returning to the Blackbird Road track in Leicester for another spell where he stayed until he retired from the British league in 1982.
JB was the captain of the victorious World Team Cup winning side in 1976 scoring 6 points at the White City venue in London, he partnered Phil Crump in the 1974 World Pairs final at Belle Vue where he scored 9 points , enough to give the Aussies a runners up spot behind winners Sweden. John also made two appearances in World Individual Finals scoring 6 points at the huge Katowice venue in Poland in 1973, and 5 at the plush Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg Sweden in 1977,..... that particular meeting was run in appalling weather conditions and JB actually fell whilst leading two of the title contenders (Ole Olsen and eventual winner Ivan Mauger) in his last race. He won the Australian title twice, in 71 and 73, and the South Australian state title on many occasions. He was also very successful when representing Australia in test matches against the old enemy, England.
On his return to Australia in 1982 John carried on riding at various Long Track events, he also conducted training schools helping to mature a healthy crop of young South Australian riders, later on he did have some success driving speedcars on the speedway ovals of South Australia. John`s racing days are now over but he has left us with quite a few memories, some of which I have had the pleasure of sharing with you.
John Boulger in 2001 pictured at home in Adelaide, yes he still has his Cradley United race jacket!
(photo courtesy of Lee Morris.)