MATT Ford last night hailed Jason Crump as one of speedway’s greatest.

Crump yesterday announced his retirement from the shale sport after revealing he would need surgery for some long-standing collarbone injuries, ruling him out of the entire 2013 league season.

The 37-year-old quit Grand Prix racing in October after a glorious 16-year world championship career that saw him claim three global crowns and finish in the world’s top three every year between 2001 and 2010.

Crump first rode for Pirates in 1991 and was part of the Division One title-winning team in 1994, before returning the following season.

Spells at Peterborough, Oxford, King’s Lynn and Belle Vue followed, before the Aussie signed for Pirates in 2007 on a full transfer from the Aces – just months after winning his second world title.

Although Pirates were unable to claim any team silverware that year, Crump swept to the Elite League Pairs title alongside Poole team-mate Bjarne Pedersen.

Crump is 18th on the club’s all-time scorer list, with 1,596 points and, when he left Poole in 2007, he averaged 10.30.

Ford, who brokered a club record deal to bring Crump back to Wimborne Road five years ago, told the Echo: “Without doubt, Jason is one of the greatest riders the sport has ever seen. I doubt we will even see his like again.

“For him to be on top of his game for so long, and finish in the world’s top three for 10 consecutive years, was a remarkable achievement and it will take a monumental effort from someone to repeat that kind of form.

“I always found Jason to be a pleasure to deal with and bringing him back to Poole in 2007 was one of the best moments in the club’s history.”

Following his 2007 exploits, Ford was forced to choose between Crump and Pedersen as his number one the following season. He chose Pedersen and Crump never rode in the skull and crossbones again.

Ford added: “That was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but Jason’s average was just too high for us to use him that year.

“I did what I felt was right at the time and the fact we won the league title that year suggests it was the right thing to do.”