RENOWNED sports commentator Dave Lanning believes Malcolm Simmons was “one glance” from winning speedway’s ultimate prize.

Pirates legend Simmons, who had been suffering from emphysema, died on Sunday, aged 68. 

Lanning, who also promoted West Ham in the 1960s, was the voice of speedway on ITV and was on the mic for the 1976 world championship in Poland.

The event, watched by a crowd of around 110,000 in the Silesian Stadium in Katowice, was won by Peter Collins who finished a point ahead of Simmons.

Lanning, pictured, told the Daily Echo: “I remember it being one of the greatest finals in world history and the heat involving Peter Collins and Malcolm Simmons was crucial.

“Malcolm was in front after a lap and glanced over his right shoulder looking for Peter who came through the other side of him.

“I honestly believe that had Malcolm not been looking for him and if he had just put his head down and gone, he could have beaten him. It was the only point Simmo dropped.”

Lanning, who signed Simmons for West Ham when he was a teenager, added: “He was beautifully-balanced.

“At West Ham, he formed a very effective partnership with Ken McKinley. Of all the partnerships I have seen over the years theirs ranked alongside those of Middleditch and Louis, Schwartz and Penhall, and Ward and Holder. They had an almost telepathic understanding.”

Malcolm Simmons factfile

  • Born in Tonbridge, Kent
  • Signed for Poole from King’s Lynn in 1975 and rode for the club until 1980
  • He made 205 league and cup appearances, scoring 2,148 points
  • World Pairs champion – 1976 (John Louis), 1977 (Peter Collins), 1978 (Gordon Kennett)
  • World Championship runner-up – 1976 to Peter Collins
  • British champion – 1976
  • Poole Blue Riband winner – 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978
  • World Team Cup winner – 1974, 1975, 1977
  • Also rode for Hackney Hawks, West Ham Hammers, King’s Lynn Stars, Wimbledon Dons, Swindon Robins, Hackney Kestrels, Arena Essex Hammers