RIDER NEWS: Mick Aris – 50 years in Cycle Speedway

With Wednesfield legend, Mick Aris announcing his retirement from Cycle Speedway after a staggering 50 years in the saddle, we approached sons Lee and Wayne so we could honour this remarkable achievement. Wayne Aris takes us down memory lane to tell Mick’s story…

Not many people in any sport can say they have competed at the top level in that same sport for 50 years. But Mick Aris from the mighty Wedensfield Aces can. However, a couple of Sundays ago, Mick brought the curtain down on his Cycle Speedway career after an amazing 50 years in the saddle.

Micks first taste of Cycle Speedway was in 1965 when in his 1st league match he rode for the Wedensfield Dragons with a bike he built up himself out of old bike parts, but who would have thought that this sport on bikes was going to be such a big part of his life.

Mick (back row, second from left) with 1980 Gold Cup winners, Wednesfield. Photo by Roger Nicholson.

Mick (back row, second from left) with 1980 Gold Cup winners, Wednesfield. Photo by Roger Nicholson.

In 1966 Mick wanted to ride for a much larger and established club and at that time they didn’t come much bigger than Birmingham, then called Kingstanding Monarchs. Mick made a lot of good friends at the club and stayed there from 1966 through to the end of the 1968 season.

In that season of 1968, Mick won the Wolverhampton Individual Riders Championship, which at the time was a high profile Individual to win. In 1969, Mick and a few other riders from Kingstanding (Kieth Gibbons, Gerreld Banks, Mick Pedley, Chris Pedley) decided to breakaway to form their own club, the Ashmore Aces, which he rode for in the years of 1969, 1970 and 1971.

Midway through the 1971 season Mick had a bit of a wobble in the sport, when he met Joan, who in the future years went on to be his wife and the mother of there 3 children Wayne, Lee and Michelle. At the begining 1972, it was the first time Mick clapped eyes on Roger Ellis, when Paul Bodley and Roger turned up at a pub to ask Mick to come and race for Wednesfield Aces and then, after that, the rest they say is history.

Mick with 1981 British Champions Wednesfield.

Mick (back row, second from the left) with 1981 British Champions Wednesfield. Thanks to Robin Martakies for the photo.

The only time Mick strayed from the club he loves was when he moved over to Brierley Hill and Mick and his sons Wayne and Lee rode for Dudley in the 1991, 1992 and 1993 seasons, where Dudley won the midland league in 1992. But Mick came back to the club that he loved in 1994 to continue his racing and to continue where he left off to win more silverware for the Aces.

Mick was more of a team man and was considered to be one of the best team racers in his generation and that is proved in his career and the trophies that he won. Mick rode in 19 British Team Cup finals and has won 9 of them and also as a manager won two.

Here are some of his achievements:

Won English League title 17 times
Won Gold Cup 18 times
Won British Best Pairs Title 3 times
1 England Cap in 1983 Scored 15 Pts
1 British National Individual apperance 1974
1 World Final apperance 1985

Mick has met many great and special friends up and down this country and also in Austrailia, where he went in 1985 and again in 2009. But his friends that he made at the Aces he still sees to this day; Alan Guest, Pete Rhodes, Mike Baugh, Kev Marson, Steve Mullinder, Mark Griffiths, and of course, Paul Bodley and many many more.

But his wing man through all these years had to be Roger Ellis, who he has travelled many many miles with to get to matches and if you ever want to hear endless interesting and funny Cycle Speedway stories then please talk to these two men over a few pints and I promise you wont be dissapointed.

Mick also managed the Aces team with Roger, in the years between 2006 and 2009 with their most successful year being in 2007, when Wedensfield won everything from BYJL to the Club Championships and the Elite League.

Gary North took this photo of Mick (bottom left) at a tournament held in Leicester against Carrs Wood, Bow, and Halifax.

Gary North took this photo of Mick (bottom left) at a tournament held in Leicester against Carrs Wood, Bow, and Halifax.

Mick stepped down as manager in 2010 and started to concentrate on the younger members of the club and also helped the East Park track get off the ground. In Mick’s later years of his cycling career, he dedicated it to the Eurovets series, where he won the over 60s twice.

When the Wednesfield Dragons reformed in 2013 to bring the younger members of the Aces team on, he rode for them just so there was a bit of experiance in there and to point them in the right direction. Year by year this team has definitely improved in the Midland League. It’s just amazing and ironic how Mick rode his very first league match for the Wedensfield Dragons and 50 years on and only a couple of weeks ago, he rode his last ever league match for the Wednesfield Dragons.

Mick (second from right) was a regular in the Eurovets series.

Mick (second from right) was a regular in the Eurovets series.

With me writing this about my Dad, it does make me realise what an achievment this is and makes me wonder if it will be achieved again. He may not of been the greatest rider in the world, but he was one of the best team and club men that was around. I would say he has had more highs than lows in the sport and he was grateful and privileged to be part of one of the best teams in the world, but cut him in half and he would bleed shale from the Wednesfield track.

However, I know that these highs came at a price. I think in his career he has broke 20 odd bones in his body and only two weeks ago he cracked a couple of ribs, so I do think this is the right time to hang up the wheels. He has got many stories to tell through his years of Speedway everything from sharing a bed with Jim Varnish to doing the fire jump in Australia with nylon overalls on, but I will let him tell you the rest.

This does not mean that you wont see my old man round the tracks infact with Birmingham and Coventry coming into the Elite League and being local then it will just be a reason for him to take his motor bike out and catch up with you guys. I will sign off by congratulating you, Dad, on this achievment and to say that Lee, Michelle and I are so proud of you. I can officially say that you are a legend well done, Mick Aris.