Great Wakering Rebels

The Great Wakering Cycle Speedway Club

Article by Colin Newman - ex Southend Standard

05 June 2012

Denny Winch peddled his lifetime passion as enthusiastically as he pedalled his bike. From his teens to his pensioner years he was into cycle speedway in a big way, both on the track and behind the scenes. And he made sure his sport, and the skills and courage of the riders who raced on the tracks, did not go unnoticed.

That's how I first met the man who, quite frankly, became a legend in his own lifetime. Our paths crossed back in the Sixties when he was the spokesman (no pun intended!) for local cycle speedway teams. The one-time rider was now steering the racetrack boys as their manager and secretary. He made it his job to spread the news about the sport he loved. He was one of my contacts in my then dual role as a sports reporter and a district news reporter covering the Wakering, Barling and Shoebury area.

As a teenage cub reporter I got to know Denny reasonably well through our regular meets when he would pass on reports and results of the club's matches, and exchange news and gossip. I believe the last time we met was in Southend high street on the morning of my wedding in March 1967. He greeted me and my best man with his beaming smile and, with his customary zeal, related the latest news from the racy world of cycle speedway. We departed with him wishing me well for the future.

Denny began in the sport in 1948, first in the saddle as a 17-year-old racer before discovering his real talent in the management chair at many South East Essex based clubs. Estuary Eagles, which spawned Great Wakering Rebels, Barling Brigands, Estuary Rockets, Prittlewell Pirates - they all benefited from Denny's enthusiasm as either rider, secretary or manager.[1]

He was the mastermind behind the formation in 1971 of Great Wakering Cycle Speedway Club, popularly known as the Great Wakering Rebels. It was a small club of 30 members, most living in Rochford district and whose ages ranged from eight to 70. It catered for an exciting specialist sport for which no other provision existed - the nearest track at that time was in Ilford. And it marked the start of three decades of devotion to the Rebels and the cause of cycle speedway for 40-year-old Denny, who then lived in Oliver Crescent, Great Wakering,

The success of the club attracted the attention of the council. Ten years after its launch Denny saw the Rebels get a new home track, laid in 1981 with some financial assistance from the council. During the 2000/2001 financial year the club received a one-off grant of £3,700 to concrete the perimeter of the track, funded from the Crime & Disorder Reduction Strategy Budget [2].

Great Wakering Rebel Riders in the 1970s [1] were:

But sadly, Denny's beloved cycle speedway club died with him, closing shortly after he passed away in 2003 at the age of 72.

Among the many tributes paid to one of the sport's longest serving and best known officials was this on Cycle Speedway Track website: "Although he did try racing, it was in a managerial role at many of the Southend based clubs where he made a name for himself. He formed Great Wakering Rebels which he ran with a passion, even when it looked like the club was on the verge of closure. An extraordinary character who will certainly be missed." [3]


1 Dave Hunting’s Website: Cycle Speedway Teams Down the Ages

2 Rochford District Council Leisure Sub-committee - 20 September 2000 - Item 7 - Great Wakering Cycle Speedway Club (Min 798/93)

3 Cycle Speedway Track Website, 2003 :

Many of the photographs are courtesy of Denny Winch’s niece, Annette Mayhew.

Ian Adcock

Paul Bracci

Steve Brierley

Barry Chalk

Stephen Day

Mark Deeks

Mark Elliott

Roger Elliott

Alan Fitzjohn

Eric Hemsley

Alan Hockley

Steven Hockley

Michael Hooke

Nigel Houssart

Stewart Howell

Tom Hughes

Andrew Hutson

Tom Naylor

Chris Payne

Mark Purvis

Andrew Quelch

Brian Reeves

Robin Richardson

Ben Ricketts

Glen Short

Shane Webb

Gary Wiggins

Barling & Wakering Heritage

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