FORMER world champion Peter Collins has led the tributes to Pirates legend Malcolm Simmons, who died yesterday, aged 68.
Super Simmo, as he was affectionately known by the Wimborne Road faithful, had been suffering from emphysema and passed away in a hospice near his Kent home.
Runner-up to Collins in the 1976 world final in Poland, Simmons was recognised as Mr Poole Speedway during his six years with the club between 1975 and 1980.
He partnered Collins when they lifted the world pairs crown in 1977, while the duo helped England to a hat-trick of world team cup titles in 1974, 1975 and 1977.
Speaking to the Daily Echo, Collins said: “I knew he had been struggling for a few years and was disappointed not to get the chance to speak to him again. I rang on Sunday morning but he was in and out of consciousness. I was deeply saddened to learn he had passed away.
“He was a good mate and a big part of what we did for England. He was reaching his peak at the same time as me so he was one of my greatest rivals individually and the fact he finished second to me in the world final was testament to that.
“At the time, I remember him saying it was almost what he had wanted but not quite. Unfortunately, I was the one to deprive him of his world championship.
“Like everybody else, he had a few faults, but I always got on very well with him and we never had a cross word.
“He was a fantastic competitor, a great rival and a wonderful team-mate. We did big things for England and our greatest achievements together were winning the world pairs and the world team cup on two occasions. Those trips to Poland were a massive part of our lives.”
Simmons made 205 league and cup appearances for Poole, amassing 2,148 points. He also won the club’s prestigious Blue Riband on no fewer than four occasions, a record which still stands and is unlikely to be equalled or beaten.
Pirates team boss Neil Middleditch, who rode with Simmons, told the Daily Echo: “Everybody looked up to him and he was an absolute class act. He was always immaculately turned out and was the ultimate professional. Everybody is like that now but, at the time, he was head and shoulders above a lot of other riders.
“He certainly set a trend. He was always very smart, both on and off the track, and was a credit to the sport. I spent a lot of time with him and we were great friends. It is a great shame to lose him.
“In that era, you would drive round Poole and see Super Simmo car stickers everywhere. He was that much of an icon in this area. Although Poole weren’t doing too well as a team, individually he was tremendous. He had his brushes with authorities, on and off the track, but he said it as it was. Some of the things he said perhaps upset a few people but he told the truth and that was Malcolm.”