Eastbourne Speedway are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Gordon Kennett last night, days after his 70th birthday.
Kennett made his debut at the Arlington Stadium in 1970 and celebrated his testimonial ten years later. In a 24-year career he also rode for thirteen other British Speedway teams. But he is widely considered Eastbourne’s greatest ever rider, and by the end of his final season in Sussex, 1991, he was the club’s record scorer with 2,300 career points in Eagles colours. He contributed no less than 20 maximum scores in the club’s land-mark title-winning 1986 and 1987 seasons.
Kennett was also one of England’s leading riders during a boom spell for the sport in the late 1970s. In his debut World Final appearance in front of 92,000 fans at Wembley, he came within touching distance of a shock World Championship title, missing out by only one point at the hands of Ole Olsen. But Kennett did earn an FIM gold the following season at the World Pairs Championship, when he and Malcolm Simmons beat the likes of Olsen and Mauger in Chorzów for England.
Kennett remained in close contact with the sport after his retirement and was still seen taking part in track days into his 60s.
Our condolences go out to the Kennett family at this sad time.
1978 Speedway World Championship - Final
Gordon Kennett wins silver at the 1978 World Final
Eastbourne Eagles’ all-time record highest points scorer David Norris has been awarded the ‘Ultimate Eagle’ by the ‘Save Eastbourne Speedway’ group
David, affectionately nicknamed ‘Floppy’, was handed his prize last week at the Arlington Stadium, where he spent no less than 17 seasons as an Eagle in four spells with the club. Norris beat the likes of Gordon Kennett, Nicki Pedersen and Martin Dugard with a remarkable 47.38% of over 1,500 fan votes in an online poll conducted in the early part of 2020.
Norris made an immediate mark on his debut for Eastbourne in August of 1988, aged just 16, scoring ten points at home to Stoke. He went on to win major silverware with Eagles Cup-winning sides of 1994, 1997 and 2002 as well as with the club’s latest top-flight title in 2000. He went on to surpass Gordon Kennett’s career total of 5,339 paid points to become the club’s record all-time highest points scorer in 2007 before retiring in May of 2009 with 577 career appearances to his name.
At the time of his Farewell meeting in 2010, Norris said: “I think I was six years old when I first went, and I looked at the Eagles as heroes. Eastbourne has been my passion – that’s why I stayed there for so long. It’s been a pleasure to ride for the club.”
Norris also spent spells away from Arlington, notably with Ipswich in 1990 when he attracted a £12,000 transfer fee; he returned to Sussex in 1993 and aside from one season – 1995 – with Reading, he was a one club man for the rest of his career. Norris remains best remembered for his stunning 2004 season in which he out-scored Nicki Pedersen to top the Eagles’ averages, finished tenth at the British Speedway Grand Prix at Cardiff and won an FIM silver medal with Great Britain in the Speedway World Cup Final at Poole.
Despite his impressive career accolades, Norris was as much a supporter of his beloved Eagles as the next person, his family – Dad Mick, Mum Sue, Sister Sarah as well as David – were very much a part of the furniture at Arlington. He has now settled in to enjoy family life with lovely wife Ellie and strapping sons Ashley and Jack; David also retains his love of fishing. Norris still lives in Hailsham, and retains a keen interest in the fortunes of the club he loves and ongoing efforts to ‘Save Eastbourne Speedway’. On receiving his award he commented: “As expected returning to Arlington for the first time in over ten years there were many different emotions. Obviously it was a full-on exploration of reminiscing and of new discoveries though little has changed. It was a proud moment receiving my ‘Ultimate Eagles Award’, made that bit better by receiving it from David Graveling. In supposedly gloomy times as an Eagles fan David together with Michael and Steve are the light left keeping hopes alive and their passion and dedication is so much appreciated. Let’s hope that one day soon there could be a Part 2 to my return to Arlington with a positive twist, who knows, you can’t live life without a dream or two……. Love Floppy X.”