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|THE SOUTH AFRICAN TOUR OF EUROPE, 1951|
|by Ken MacLeod|
|This first - and only - tour of western Europe by a South
African team lasted for 10 weeks, and included 21 meetings in four
countries (Holland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden), although some riders
also rode in Germany at the end of the official tour. Originally, it had
also been hoped to arrange matches in Austria and France.
Seven riders made the trip: Buddy Fuller, 34, was the captain, and was accompanied by Toby Boshoff, Bob Raw, Maurice Fenton, Harry du Toit, and brothers Joe and Alec Blankfield.
|Although Buddy Fuller was quoted at the end of this
1951 tour as expressing disappointment that the tourists only won 10 of
their scheduled 17 matches, losing the Test series against the Dutch,
the team performed creditably, especially as they were without four of
South Africa's top riders: Henry Long, Bob Serrurier (both riding for
Belle Vue), Fred Wills and Doug Serrurier (unavailable).
In fact, only Fuller and Toby Boshoff had any overseas experience, and then only in British Division 3, which led the Dutch, who had toured South Africa in 1950/51, to regard the team as not particularly strong. But as so often happens, someone unexpected rose to the occasion.
A late replacement for Doug Serrurier, and described by Fuller as being inconsistent prior to the tour, Bob Raw emerged as the undisputed star of the tour. Raw, whom Fuller described as a "full-throttle artist", clearly relished the European tracks and had his particular "finest hour". On the other hand, the fact that Joe Blankfield missed most of the tour through injury after showing good form following a late start in Denmark, Fuller also missed matches through injury, and Fenton suffered recurring bouts of hay fever, didn't help their cause.
At the end of the tour South Africa lost the test series to the Dutch, who gained revenge for their defeat in South Africa earlier that year. But the tourists appear to have suffered a lot of tyre and machine trouble in particular.
Off the track the tour enabled South Africa to cement already good relations with the Dutch (Len Rehorst of The Netherlands was team manager) and establish good relations with the Norwegians and Swedes. Several riders from the latter two countries were to tour South Africa in the next few years.
The tourists proved extremely popular with the Dutch, Norwegians and Swedes. Raw was chaired three times round the track by the home crowd after beating Basse Hveem at Oslo, and the Swedes invited South Africa back for a full-scale tour the following year. That tour never materialised, probably mainly due to personal circumstances. But the fact that the Swedes rated the South Africans as the equivalent of a British Division 2 team is an adequate reflection of the tourists' performance.
None of the tourists returned overseas, but it was not the last time they made history. Several of them featured prominently in the birth of (Southern) Rhodesian speedway two years later.
|The South Africa team pictured in Sweden in 1951|
|Standing (left to right): Toby Boshoff, Alec Blankfield, Buddy Fuller (on bike), Harry du Toit, Bob Raw|
|Kneeling: Maurice Fenton (left), Joe Blankfield (right)|
|The team flew from South Africa on Sat 01.06, landing in London where they picked up new machines before travelling to Holland.|
|1 : Sat 16.06||The Hague (Rijswijk), Holland||Windmolens (Windmills) 26 South Africa 45 (Buddy Fuller later referred to this result as 28-45)|
|South African scorers included : Bob Raw 9, Harry du Toit 7. Bob Raw lowered the 4-lap track record to 74.4 sec, reduced the 1-lap record to 18.1, and won the Star Riders' Final (individual event). Attnedance : 11,000.|
|2 : Sun 17.06||Rotterdam, Holland||Feyenoord Tigers 34 South Africa 38|
|South African scorers included : Harry du Toit 9, Bob Raw 5. Tinus Metzelaar (Holland) won the Star Riders' Final. A competition for flying start lap record attempts was won by Alec Blankfield. Attendance : 23,000.|
|3 : Thur 21.06
||Amsterdam (Olympic Stadium),||Die Vliegende Hollanders (Flying Dutchmen) 31 South
|South Africa top scorers : Bob Raw 10, Buddy Fuller 7, Harry du Toit 7. Bob Raw won the Star Riders' Final. Attendance : 25,000.|
|South African captain Buddy Fuller, having scored 27 points in the first three meetings, was injured at Amsterdam and missed several meetings, returning for the match at Bergen, Norway.|
|4 : Sun 24.06||Nijmegen, Holland||Northern ( or Southern?) Provinces 31 South Africa 41|
|South Africa top scorers : Bob Raw 10, Harry du Toit 10|
|5 : Sun 01.07||Odense, Denmark||Fyens (Odense) 37 South Africa 45|
|South Africa top scorers : Harry du Toit 9, Bob Raw 9, Toby Boshoff 8, Joe Blankfield 8.|
|6 : Thur 05.07
||Copenhagen (Gladsaxe||1ST. TEST : Denmark 35 South Africa 37
|Denmark : Keihn Berthelsen 11.
South Africa : Bob Raw 10, Harry du Toit 9, Toby Boshoff 8, Alec Blankfield 6, Joe
Blankfield 3, Maurice Fenton 1.
Joe Blankfield beat Berthelsen in his first ride in the fastest race of the meeting, but in his second ride Joe broke a wrist when he fell, and was hit by two riders. He did not resume riding until the Tests in Holland. Attendance : 20,000.
|7 : Tue 10.07||Oslo (Daelenenga), Norway||Oslo Phantoms 53 South Africa 29 [This match recognised by South Africa as a Test v Norway]|
|Oslo : Henry Andersen
12 (max), Basse Hveem 11.
Despite a heavy defeat, the match was a personal triumph for South Africa's Bob Raw, who inflicted a rare home track defeat on the mighty Basse Hveem in the opening race, in a time (73.1) which was the fastest ever achieved by a visiting rider - and visitors had included Vic Duggan.
|8 : Thu 12.07||Trondheim (Rosenborg) Norway||Trondheim 64 Johannesburg (South Africa) 43|
|9 : Fri 13.07||Trondheim (Rosenborg) Norway||Trondheim 43 South Africa 39|
|South Africa : Toby Boshoff 10, Bob Raw 9, Alec Blankfield 7, Maurice Fenton 7, Harry du Toit 5 and Buddy Fuller 1.|
|9A : Tue 17.07||Halden, Ostfold, Norway||Vikingene 42 South Africa 66 (Att: 1,200)|
|Vikingene : Oddvar Gundersgard, Karsten Bjorkqvist, Reidar H Jensen, Erik Storm-Larsen, Olgar Torholen, Erling Hansen, Henry Andersen|
|South Africa : Bob Raw, Harry du Toit, Toby Boshoff, Maurice Fenton, Alec Blankfield, Buddy Fuller, Norander Bukholm (guest).|
|Meeting held at Sommerro Speedway, and reported in the Halden Arbeiderblad newspaper 18.07 1951.|
|Heat winners: Ht 1: Bob Raw 83.9 Ht 2: Harry du Toit 88.2 Ht 3: Alec Blankfield 88.6 Ht 4: Toby Boshoff 87.2 Ht 5: Reidar H Jensen 86.2 Ht 6: Bob Raw 87.2 Ht 7: Buddy Fuller 87.9 Ht 8: Bob Raw 86.1 Ht 9: Harry du Toit 86.4 Ht 10: Bob Raw 89.7 Ht 11: Toby Boshoff 85.7 Ht 12: Buddy Fuller 85.6 Ht 13: Bob Raw 85.7 Ht 14: Harry du Toit 86.4 Ht 15: Buddy Fuller 85.0 Ht 16: Bob Raw 84.4 Ht 17: Henry Andersen 83.9 Ht 18: Erik Storm-Larsen 86.6. All details of this match from David Austin.|
|10 : Tue 17.07||Bergen, Norway||Bergen Vikings 30 South Africa 54|
|South Africa : Buddy Fuller 12 (max), Bob Raw 12 (max), Toby Boshoff 9, Harry du Toit 8, Alec Blankfield 7, Maurice Fenton 5. Attendance : 20,000|
|Note: Matches 9A & 10 may in fact be the same meeting or, alternatively, one may have been ridden between 14.07 and 16.07|
|11 : Mon 23.07||Burtrask, Sweden||Swedish Northern Open Championship : 1st.Maurice Fenton|
|The South Africans dominated this
event, filling 6 of the top 8 positions, with Fenton winning with 14 pts
from Eskil Carlson on 13 pts. Full South African scorers : Maurice
Fenton 14, Bob Raw 11, Toby Boshoff 10, Harry Du Toit 10, Buddy Fuller
10, Alec Blankfield 9. Attendance : 7,000.
This meeting was originally scheduled to be a Test, Sweden v South Africa, but due to Joe Blankfield's injury and Fuller only just having returned from injury, was changed to an individual competition. If the Test had gone ahead SA would have won.
|12 : Sat 28.07||Skelleftea, Sweden||Umea 38 South Africa 46|
|South Africa : Toby Boshoff 11, Bob Raw 9, Harry du Toit 8, Buddy Fuller 8, Alec Blankfield 7, Maurice Fenton 3. This was the world's most northerly track, 83 miles from the Arctic Circle.|
|13 : Tue 31.07||Skelleftea, Sweden||North Sweden 37 South Africa 47|
|South Africa : Bob Raw 10, Toby Boshoff 10, Buddy Fuller 9, Alec Blankfield 7, Harry du Toit 6, Maurice Fenton 5.|
|14 : Thu 02.08||Eskilstuna, Sweden||Eskilstuna 49 South Africa 35|
|South Africa : Bob Raw 10, Toby Boshoff 6, Buddy Fuller 6.|
|15 : Tue 07.08||Eskilstuna, Sweden||Swedish Team 51 South Africa 33|
|Swedish Team : Gunnar
Hellqvist 12, Joel Jansson 12.
South Africa : Bob Raw 10, Sven Skoglund 9 (guest)
|16 : Sat 04.08||Falkoping, Sweden||Falkoping 50 South Africa 34|
|South Africa : Bob Raw 9, Harry du Toit 6, Buddy Fuller 6, Alec Blankfield 5, Maurice Fenton 4, Toby Boshoff 4.|
|17:date unknown||Venue unknown||2ND. TEST : Denmark v South Africa : cancelled due to rain.|
|18 : Thur 16.08||Amsterdam (Olympic Stadium),||1ST. TEST : Holland 28 South Africa 44|
|Holland : Henk Steman 8, Co Boef ©
3?, Tinus Metzelaar 3?, Arend Hartman, Gerrit Jonker, Piet van Aartsen,
Jan van der Vreugde, Henk Verhoef
South Africa : Bob Raw 12 (max), Buddy Fuller 10, Harry du Toit 8, Maurice Fenton 5, Toby Boshoff 5, Joe Blankfield 2, Alec Blankfield 2.
The Star Riders' Final was won by Henk Stemen.
|19 : Sat 18.08||Rotterdam, Holland||2ND. TEST : Holland 46 South Africa 26|
||Holland : Tinus Metzelaar 12 ©,
Henk Steman, Henk Dammers
South Africa : Buddy Fuller 8, Bob Raw 5, Harry du Toit 5
South African team suffered five punctures during the meeting.
|20 : Sat 18.08||The Hague (Rijswijk), Holland||3RD. TEST : Holland 37 South Africa 34|
||Holland : Henk Dammers 10, Tinus
Metzelaar 9, Tonny Kroeze
South Africa : Buddy Fuller 10, Maurice Fenton 6, Toby Boshoff 6, Bob Raw 5, Harry du Toit 5.
|21 : Wed 22.08||Hengelo, Holland||4TH. TEST : Holland 47 South Africa 24 [Holland win series 3-1]|
|Holland : Tinus Metzelaar 12 (max),
Henk Stemen 10, Gerrit Jonker 8.
South Africa : Bob Raw 10, Harry du Toit 5, Toby Boshoff 5, Buddy Fuller 4, Maurice Fenton 0, Alec Blankfield 0, Joe Blankfield 0.
Attendance : 15,000.
|Extra: Sat 25.08||Olching, Germany||South Africa 28 Upper Bavaria 27 Lower Bavaria 17 (12 heats)|
|South Africa : Bob Raw, Harry du Toit,
Joe Blankfield, Toby Boshoff
Upper Bavaria : Albin Siegl, Sebastian Wiesent, Fred Aberl, ? Heindl
Lower Bavaria : Gerd Hofemeister, Fred Hamberger, ? Kammermeier, ? Haberl
Individual Event (Points scored in the above 3-team match also counted towards this event) Total points of the top 4 riders in the individual competition (sixteen heats) are as follows: Albin Siegl 15, Sebstian Wiesent 14, Bob Raw 13, Gerd Hofemeister 10. The other three South African riders in this event scored: Harry du Toit 10, Joe Blankfield 8, Toby Boshoff 4.
Attendance : 12,000.
|1951 TOUR AVERAGES|
|(from South African newspaper)|
|Harry du Toit||18||129||7.1|
|excludes Olching meeting|
|TEAM MATCH RESULTS|
|excludes Olching meeting|
|(INCOMPLETE) SOUTH AFRICA SCORECHART|
|Match No. ->||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||9A||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17
|Harry du Toit||7||9||7||10||9||9||5||8||10||8||6||6||8||5||5||5|
|Source material : The Star
(Johannesburg), Rand Daily Mail, Nieuwe Rotterdamse Courant, Stenners
Annual 1952, Rhodesia Herald, Speedway News
Additional Information : David Austin, Christian Weber
|The author of this article, Ken MacLeod, was for many years the South African correspondant of the U.K speedway magazines Speedway Star and Speedway Mail.|
|e-mail Ken MacLeod|
© Ken MacLeod