Tributes to speedway legend
9:30am Saturday 27th October 2012 in By Matthew Edwards, Sports reporter
Tributes have been paid to the last remaining member of the first Swindon Speedway team.
Ivor Atkinson died on Monday, aged 86, the same day that Swindon Robins claimed the league title at Poole for only the second time in their history.
Ivor was one of the members of the very first Swindon team that took to the track against Oxford at Blunsdon on July 23, 1949, when he proudly sported his red and white race-jacket, complete with brown robin. He had been one of many keen youngsters who applied to promoter Reg Witcomb for a trial, and really impressed the Swindon boss, who said he had the heart of a lion and was fearless.
Ivor, who was born in Worcestershire, wore the number 6 bib in the big opening meeting and was partnered by local boy Bob Jones.
The pair were first out in heat three against the Oxford duo of Jim Wright and Alf Elliott, but the two Cheetahs swept past to record a 5-1 and give their side a lead they were not to relinquish.
His final programmed ride took place in the last heat of the match, but it was one to forget after he hit a divot in the track and ended up in the safety fence. Ivor only went on to race in one more meeting before losing his form and becoming a tool maker.
He is remembered as one of the eight riders who started everything at the Abbey, and on September 4, 2008, Ivor was inducted into the Legends’ Lounge.
Former club historian and close friend Glynn Shailes said: “His son phoned me the other day to tell me the sad news.
“Even after he left Swindon he always took an interest in Swindon and he would phone me to talk about the team and who they had signed.
“Reg Witcomb always thought he would be successful and described him as a man with a heart of a lion.
“He was a lovely old boy. He was the last survivor of the first ever team all the others sadly had passed away.
“He was a very good friend and will always be held highly by the fans and people at the club.”
The funeral will be held on Wednesday, October 31.
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