Kevin Holden



Kevin Holden in action for the Exeter Falcons
(Photo courtesy Exeter Falcons website)

Born near Southampton, Kevin Holden Holden had a speedway pedigree in that his uncle, Bill Holden, had ridden for Southampton and Poole in the fifties. Kevin began his speedway career at the Weymouth training school of Lew Coffin in 1970, where he quickly became a star pupil. Spotted by the Exeter management, Holden was signed up for the Falcons. He so impressed Maurice Morley during pre-season practise that Morley snapped him up on loan for Romford, where he served two seasons' apprenticeship.

It didn't take long for Holden to begin making an impression for the Bombers - 11 points in the home leg of the 1970 Ken-Ess 4-team tournament included three race wins during which he claimed the scalps of established Div. 2 stars Graeme Smith and Barry Thomas. His potential was clear and his drive and determination to succeed soon won him an army of fans at Brooklands. But it was the 1971 season which saw Kevin emerge as one of the stars of the Second Division. Early season "paid" maximums in challenge matches were quickly followed by his first full League maximum, against Berwick in May. He attained heat leader status and made the Bombers no. 1 spot his own, finishing his second full season with an average of just under 9 points and with Young England international honours to his credit. Kevin also appeared three times for Exeter during 1971.

The following season saw Holden move with the Bombers to West Ham and he was just getting into his stride at Custom House, with back-to-back maximums against Ellesmere Port and Sunderland, when the Bombers' temporary tenure came to an abrupt end. Holden had the distinction of being the last ever race winner at the famous Custom House venue, when he won the second half event in the final meeting. Kevin moved up to the senior division full time, making 23 appearances for Exeter and averaging over 6 points per meeting.

Kevin Holden proudly wears the British Lions racejacket on the 1974 tour of Australia & New Zealand

Holden maintained his progress at Exeter in 1973, when the Falcons secured the services of multiple world champion Ivan Mauger. Kevin was ever present for Exeter that season, again averaging 6 points but already beginning to benefit from Mauger's experience. "Ivan made all the difference at Exeter", Kevin told Speedway Star magazine. "You could always rely on him being in there helping the team". Holden was selected to tour Australia and New Zealand in the winter - "Riding all year is the answer", confided Kevin. "I don't like working - I've just finished a month on a milk round to get a bit of cash together!"

1974 saw Exeter lift the Division 1 championship, Holden's average increasing to 7.25 but, surprisingly, Kevin was never completely at home at the County Ground, saying, at the end of the 1974 season, "Exeter was never a track I fancied much from the few rides I had there as a Div. 2 rider. I still don't like the track now, but I'm beginning to master it". His decision to seek a move away from the large, sweeping County Ground led him to sign for Poole in 1977 but, tragically, he was never to show his full potential for the Pirates. A crash in heat 5 of a knockout cup match against Reading at Wimbourne Road on 27th April 1977 cost Kevin his life and cut short the career of the most promising talent ever to have emerged from the Romford Bombers ranks.


Bombers team-mates Bob Coles and Kevin Holden in Exeter Falcons colours