The Peterborough speedway pair hoping to lead GB to World Cup glory...and they're off to a great start

Peterborough schoolboy discoveries Oliver Allen and Simon Stead can write their names in speedway history this week.
Tai Woffinden. Photo: MAJA SUSLIN/TT/AFP via Getty Images.Tai Woffinden. Photo: MAJA SUSLIN/TT/AFP via Getty Images.
Tai Woffinden. Photo: MAJA SUSLIN/TT/AFP via Getty Images.

The duo came through the famed Panthers’ youth programme in the nineties and are now in join charge of the Great Britain squad at this week’s Monster Energy World Cup in Poland.

And if they can go on to strike gold in Saturday night’s final, they will end a title drought of 33 years!

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Allen insists: “We can win it. I think we have the best top three of all and if our fourth rider can chip in with points we will do it.”

GB are captained by three-times World Champion Tai Woffinden, Belle Vue’s Dan Bewley and ex-King’s Lynn skipper Robert Lambert, all three regulars in the Grand Prix series and currently ranked in the world’s top nine.

Making up the squad are Sheffield’s Adam Ellis and a second rider from the Premiership champions Belle Vue, 22-year-old Tom Brennan who is named as reserve.

GB had their opening round at Wroclaw, Poland, on Tuesday night and sailed through to Saturday’s Final, finishing ahead of Sweden, Germany and the Czech Republic.

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Allen is in confident mood, claiming: “We know what Tai, Dan and Robert can do and that’s beat any other riders in the world. They have been brilliant for GB since Simon and I came in and have been with us all the way.

“It’s all about Adam getting some points to back them up and if he does that, we can look forward to another gold medal.

“It’s been a long time since we won the World Cup, but we have shown how strong we have become in the Speedway of Nations [for three rider teams] in the last two years with a gold and a silver despite, on both occasions, losing Tai to an injury after he had top scored on the way to qualifying for the Final.”

The Lions haven’t been victorious in the World Cup since 1989 and the pair, who have known each other since they were seven or eight, will become only the tenth and 11th to take the national side to World Cup glory.

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And the closest GB have come since the victory at Bradford, in a meeting marred by a first race crash which ended the career of multiple world champion Erik Gundersen, has been five second places, in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2016.

Norwich-born Allen, whose father Dave spent six seasons with the Panthers between 1981 and 1986, started having exhibition rides when he was only 14 and was joined by Stead, a close family friend even though he lived in Sheffield, a few weeks later.

Stead made his debut for the club’s all-conquering, title winning Thundercats academy side shortly after his 15th birthday and Allen followed a month later when also turned 15, the youngest age that anyone could rider in a competitive match.

They moved up to the senior Premier League side the following year and again ended the season with league championship medals.

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They were big hitters in an eight-year golden era for the Panthers in which they won four league titles (at three different levels) and nine other major trophies!

Allen left to join second tier Swindon on loan in 1999, but was back at the East of England Showground in 2002 and again in 2012 and 2015, when he retired from racing.

Stead was also loaned out in 1999 (to hometown club Sheffield) although he also has a further spell in Panthers colours in 2001 and 2002.

He packed in at the end of 2016, but went on to manage the Yorkshire club and then the duo paired up again to take charge of the national side at the end of 2019.

In their three years as co-managers they won the Speedway of Nations at Manchester’s National Speedway Stadium in 2021 and finished runners-up to Australia in Denmark last year.