World champion heading home

16 June 2011

Freddie Williams. Pic: The John Chaplin Archive

Port Talbot-born double world champion Freddie Williams is heading home this month.

The great speedway star of the 1950s will follow a VIP guest visit to the Millennium Stadium’s British Speedway Grand Prix on June 25 with a trip to see sister Kate at her home in Sandfields.

Freddie, aged 85, lives in Berkshire these days with wife Pat, almost seven decades after leaving South Wales to begin a dockyards apprenticeship.

Lions

He took up speedway as his five years of training neared an end and joined the all-conquering Wembley Lions team who were regular winners of the British national title.

In 1950 he won his first world championship in front of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium. The trophy was presented by naval commander and statesman Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Three years later at the same venue his second global crown was handed to him by the man who had just become the first conqueror of Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary.

Olympics

Wife Pat represented Britain as a figure skater at Oslo’s 1952 Winter Olympics.

Freddie’s Port Talbot family included Kate and motorcycle-fanatic brothers Ian and Eric.

Dad Fred worked as a crane operator in the steelworks and schoolboy Freddie attended Groes Primary and the former Port Talbot Secondary where he was a classmate of Richard Jenkins who later went on to become known as actor Richard Burton.

Grand Prix

Incidentally, tickets are still available for June 25’s speedway blue riband event in Cardiff, the 2011 FIM Doodson British Speedway Grand Prix.

After four rounds the top five riders are: 1 – Tomasz Gollob (Poland) 61pts; 2 – Greg Hancock (USA) 60; 3 Jaroslaw Hampel (Poland) 48; 4 – Jason Crump (Australia) 42; 5 – Chris Holder (Australia) 42.

After Cardiff the 11-stage series rolls on to Italy, Sweden, Poland, Denmark,  Croatia and Poland once more to finish on October 8. British hopes lie with Chris Harris. Website www.speedwaygp.com

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