Andy Cambell's rapid rise to Heat leader status during the 1982 season saw him leave Exeter to try his hand in the B.L and promptly joined Poole. John Barker and Les Sawyer had both decided to retire, and so again, the Falcon's faced the new season without their top three points scorers.
But as with the previous season, it was to be from the pool of youth that Exeter's campaign was salvaged from disaster and all in all, Exeter's season was not a bad one. As it was, they finished the season in tenth place and crowned the season with an exciting one point win in the KO Cup Final against Weymouth, what a way to go out of a season. That Cup victory made up for almost all the season's ups and downs, and from it all emerged a new star in the form of "home grown" Keith Millard, who established without doubt that his crunching 1982 season was no fluke.
He had upped his average slightly, but Keith's sparkle was muted by the glory of other home grown talent. Lads like Alun Rossiter who, in his first full season, whooped it up to an average of over seven points. The previous year he'd been given just two matches, both away from home. In 1983 theyy used him 40 times and watched him build his nine point aggregate from 1982 into a massive 329.5 point tally. One such find would have delighted most teams but Exeter had more.
Teenager Kevin Price left the County Ground during the 1982 season try his luck swarming around the Midlands. He came back this year and told Oakes that if he gave him a real fling, either Exeter would have a star turn on their hands or he'd bother them no more. And when poor Marcus Williamson received crippling injuries in his - and Exeter's - first match, in went Price and he never came out again.
At first it looked like they'd got a world beater, then the steam ran out of that early enthusiastic attack. It came back when Exeter needed it most in that very early part of the season. Rob Ashton was signed from Halifax when it became clear last year's number one in the averages, John Barker, was not going to accept the new pay terms and really did intend to retire. A broken ankle soon put Rob out of action. And Price, at that precise time, turned it all on again starting with a devastating dozen against Mildenhall. He did struggle away from home, it's true. But for a boy who did not get a team ride the year before, he really was summat of a revelation.
And if that wasn't enough "Finds" for one season, the Falcon's hadn't finished yet. From a reserve tailender, Steve Bishop started to make his move, not in a steady fashion, but more of a straight to the top fashion. And so Exeter had three major discoveries in one season, what a future any team with that trio, plus Millard, could have looked forward to the following year.
But by the end of the 1982 season, Peter Oakes announced that there was to be no such year again. Either Exeter would make their way in the senior section or they'd shut up shop. After all the effort he had put into the promotion, the track was struggling to survive and Peter believed that only top flight Speedway would fill the terraces again.
Nothing daunted, he expected, and got, heat leading scores from Keith Millard, re signed Robert Maxfield, a former Falcon who had strayed to Ellesmere, and then snapped up Ashton shortly after the start of the season. They did their job well enough, and Oakes put together a side with strength balanced throughout. From top of the averages (Millard 8.73) to number seven (veteran Bob Coles 5.74) is only a two point difference.
As ever Exeter's main strength was anchored in their tremendous home advantage. In fact they only won two away matches in the season, both at Canterbury. At home they lost just twice, to Mildenhall and to Berwick. The Mildenhall match they avenged with a massive humiliation of the Fen Tigers when they clashed a second time at the County Ground during the semi-final first leg of the KO Cup. And after it there was no real need for a second leg as Exeter won by an amazing 74 points to 21 that day as they did everything so right that Mildenhall could do only wrong. It was Exeter's biggest win of the season and brought off against the team that was to finish second in the league.
Away from home though, was Exeter's undoing. By the end of the season they were beginning to look far more sprightly on their visits. To make matters worse there is every sign that they have far from reached the bottom of their junior talent barrel. The likes of Mike Simmonds and Michael Coles look good enough to make the same break through as the aforementioned former juniors. And Exeter's delvings into junior league racing promised even more new names to have us marvelling at.
Elsewhere in 1983
The year began in turmoil as the future of the N.League was in grave danger as a new Pay Scale is introduced. The riders stated that they would not ride if it was operated, whilst several Promoters, including Peter Oakes at Exeter, threatened track closure if it wasn't.
After 10 Years, Scott Autrey announced he would not be returning to race here again ,though would not confirm he was actually retiring. However it was indeed the last time he rode in Britain.
Egon Muller is Crowned World Champion in Norden. He scored a faultless 15 point maximum to beat runner up Billy Sanders (12pts) and third placed Michael Lee (11pts). Chris Morton had triumphed in the British Final scoring 12pts to beat runner up M.Lee (11pts) and Andy Grahame (10pts).
Phil Collins (Yes Phil not Peter and Pictured Left), won the Overseas Final scoring 12 points to beat Kenny Carter and Mitch Shirra following a run off, both riders having score on 11 points, whilst Hans Nielsen took the Inter Continental Final. He scored 14 to beat Michael Lee (12pts) and Erik Gundersen (11pts.
Erik Gundersen did however win the B.L Riders Championship final. He scored 14pts to beat Michael Lee (12pts) into second place and Hans Nielsen (12pts) into third after a run off.
Denmark win World team Cup. They scored 37pts to beat the England (29), USA (21) and Czechoslovakia (3) whilst in the World Pairs, England's Kenny Carter and Peter Collins won Final held in Gothenburg. Carter scored a maximum and Collins 10 of Englands 25pts to beat Australia (24), Denmark (19), Sweden (16) West germany (12) and New Zealand (11).
Shawn Moran wins World Longtrack Final, Exeter's Keith Millard won the Junior Championship of Gt Britain scoring 13pts to beat Simon Cross (13) and K.McKinna (12). Steve McDermott is crowned N.L Riders Champion after a run off with R.Knight, both riders having scored 13 in the Final. Third was Martin Yeates on 12pts.
Exeter win the NL KO Cup by a solitary point over two legs as they beat Weymouth 96-95 on aggregate, whilst the Weymouth pairing of Martin Yeates and Simon Cross beat the Glasgow pairing of Steve Lawson and Jim McMillan to win the N.L Pairs trophy.
Newcastle (21pts) won the N.L Fours Title from Mildenhall (17pts), Milton keynes (6pts) and Long Eaton (4pts), Cradley beat Coventry 86-70 on aggregate to take the 1983 KO Cup, and B.Vue beat Coventry also 86-70 to win the League Cup.
Pictured Right, League Cup winners Belle Vue. Peter Carr, Andy Smith, Louis Carr, Chris Morton, Kenny McKinna, Peter Collins and Larry Ross.
Cradley collected 52pts and are crowned B.L Champions, dropping only four points in the entire season as they beat runners up Ipswich on 45pts and third pace went to Coventry with 38pts. That was a new B.L record, beating the previous best set by Belle Vue in 1972 when they dropped only five points.
Newcastle are crowned N.L Champions having totalled 51 points ahead of Mildenhall on 48pts and third placed Crayford on 46pts. That in itself set a new record as they became the first club to win the Second Division Championship for the third time, having won it in 1976 and 1982.