Taffy Owen, one of the riders who helped establish Workington Comets in the 1970’s, has died at the age of 85.

A proud Welshman, born in Anglesey, Owen spent seven seasons with the Comets when the club was launched in 1970 by Ian Thomas and Jeff Brownhut. He became synonymous with Workington speedway as one of their most popular riders.

He joined Thomas when he took over at Newcastle for the 1977 season but later revealed he should never have left Derwent Park as that was his last season in the sport.

“Looking back I should have stayed at Derwent Park. I never really wanted to move away but was asked by Ian to join him at Newcastle.

“Comets days were good and I enjoyed it there. The fans were good with me and it was home really.

“At that time I had a speedway spares shop in Manchester that was doing well and taking a lot of time up. I found it harder to commit time to racing, my form had dipped and I wasn’t really enjoying at anymore,” he said.

Owen had come relatively late to the sport at 30 when he rode for Belle Vue and during his career rode mainly for Sheffield, Rochdale and Newcastle but most of all for the Comets with whom he contested 199 meetings. He proved to be an immensely popular rider at Workington.

Taffy – who was christened Owen Owen – leaves three sons and a daughter who announced his death on social media this morning.

They said: “He will be missed by many but remembered fondly for his Welsh charm and spectacular crashes that he was so lucky to walk away from to reach 85.”

Any messages or memories are asked to be sent to 1.taffyowen@gmail.com