A FORMER Poole speedway rider hailed for his team spirit - and daredevil capers on the track - has died aged 79.

Pete 'Bronco' Munday, who rode for Poole and Swindon between 1962 and 1971, fell ill in June and died at the home he shared with long-term partner Pauline on October 18.

He worked from the age of 15 until a diagnosis of mesothelioma forced him to stop shortly before his death.

Pirates' archivist Gordon Day has paid tribute to Mr Munday, who was known as a "star performer" on the southern grass tracks. He was given an opportunity by the Knott family to move to the shale sport for second half outings at Poole midway through the 1962 season.

He made his first team debut in the home Provincial League match against Edinburgh, barely a month after taking his first ride at Wimborne Road, and was paid for five points from his two reserve outings.

Retained for the following year, he became a regular member of the side forming a more than useful reserve pairing with fellow Poole junior, Pete Smith.

Mr Day said Mr Munday's "harem scarem fence-scraping escapades" quickly made him a favourite with the fans and earned him the nickname 'Bronco'.

"He was absolutely charming - a truly gentle man," he said.

"Put him on a racing bike and he was completely the opposite of that.

"He was like a rodeo rider."

"Bronco was a real team player," Mr Smith said.

"He loved being involved with the club and the fans.

"We started out against each other in the second halves at Poole and then made it into the team at about the same time.

"He could be a bit wild, but was a really good team rider and would let me slide around the inside while he buzzed around the fence.

"On his day he could beat anyone and I remember winning a 'best pairs' with him at Weymouth."

The two men were good friends away from the track, and Mr Munday was Mr Smith's best man.

"Our families remained close after we finished racing and he was always good company. I shall miss him a great deal," Mr Smith said.

Mr Munday remained a Pirate until the end of the 1965 season when he was transferred to Swindon by the Rider Control Panel. He was a member of the Swindon side that won the British League in 1967 and became the first reserve to score a four-ride maximum in the British League, a feat he achieved at Swindon against Poole.