Title-winning coach’s legacy will live on at the Fen Tigers

Kevin Jolly insists the legacy of Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ 1979 National League title-winning manager Ron Bagley will live on.

The former Fen Tigers manager passed away at the age of 80 after a short illness, with tributes flooding in for the man who guided the West Row club to their greatest success.

Fen Tigers promoter Jolly was signed by Bagley as a rider while in charge of Ipswich Witches during the 1970s, and paid tribute to his former manager, who won the British League twice in successive seasons with the Suffolk club in 1975 and 1976.

“Ron was a big part of speedway in Mildenhall and in Ipswich,” Jolly said.

“I first ran into him in the winter of 1975 at a training school at Mildenhall. Him and Mick Hines, an Ipswich rider, were very influential in getting me to sign for Ipswich and were a big part in my career.

“After leaving Ipswich, Ron went to Mildenhall in 1978 and took them by the scruff of the neck.

“He really turned it round and put together a fantastic side. To this day, people still talk about that ‘79 season and how good and very entertaining the side was. Ron had a way about him. He was very knowledgeable and could build your confidence up.

“That’s what we’re trying to do with the youngsters at Mildenhall, and that’s the legacy of Ron which will continue.

“Ron is still highly spoke of and his memory won’t be forgotten. He helped to achieve the biggest thing to date Mildenhall have done in winning the league in ‘79, in a league that was very competitive.”

Bagley was born in Ipswich on February 14, 1937 and started his speedway career with his hometown club in 1958. He went on to have spells with Yarmouth (1960), Plymouth (1961), Sheffield (1962-1964) and Coventry (1965), before returning to Ipswich after an almost four-year lay off in 1969.

Bagley retired from riding at the age of 34 in 1971 when he took up a role in Ipswich’s management team and guided the Witches to back-to-back British League titles.

Bagley took up the team manager’s role at Mildenhall in 1978 and a year later steered the Fen Tigers to the National League title, finishing a point clear of Rye House Rockets to be crowned champions.

He left Mildenhall the following year and had a brief stint as promoter at Workington in what was his last involvement with the sport in an official capacity.

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