MORE cyclists are needed for the only surviving cycle speedway club in the South East or it will face closure.
Hellingly Lions have raced at the Lower Dicker recreation ground since 1952, winning the British Team Championship in 1963 and National League in 2003 and 2004.
In recent years, they have been forced to race in the South West League following the closure of local tracks in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. Now the tapes could rise at the family-run Sussex club for the final time with the chequered flag coming down on 60 years of history.
Manager George Hollebon, 77, from Hampden Park, said: “If we don’t see some new blood between now and the end of the season we won’t survive. This is the last throw of the dice.
“There’s no cost involved in cycle speedway and we’ve got plenty of bikes but no-one to ride them. We’re down to a bare eight riders and we can’t survive on that.
“We need youngsters over the age of 11 and even if just three new riders joined it could turn our future around.”
Sons Martyn and Neil Hollebon have loyally donned the Lions’ jersey for more than 30 years combined and another stalwart, Eddie Ridley, came out of retirement to help make up the numbers this year.
Budding Bradley Wigginses been put off by travelling as far afield as Newport and Exeter and the Lions have been so depleted at away meetings that they have been left with as few as six riders - the bare minimum needed.
The shortfall has meant that Martyn Hollebon, at the age of 37, has had to fill the rider replacement berth in as many as seven races.
On Sunday (July 29) the struggling Lions lost at home to South Coast rivals Poole 82-97 with just four matches of the 2012 season remaining.
Cycle speedway is a form of pushbike racing which became popular after the Second World War when bombsites were used as tracks. Each race consists of four laps and four riders with no gears or brakes used.
The Lower Dicker raceway is owned by Hellingly Parish Council and if the club folds the track could be bulldozed and turned to grass. If you would like to join Hellingly Lions phone George Hollebon on 01323 506751.