Heathens final sends Jan O on nostalgia trip

Jan O Pedersen (right) with Heathens manager Will Pottinger

Jan O Pedersen (right) with Heathens manager Will Pottinger

First published in Sport

JAN O Pedersen says reaching the National League Knockout Cup Final with Dudley Heathens brings the memories of his own career flooding back.

Pedersen won the top-flight Knockout Cup a staggering five times during a glittering career with Cradley and now, as team coach, he’s played his part in getting the modern day Heathens to a major final.

They were handed a place in the final after their abandoned semi-final at the Isle of Wight was allowed to stand with Heathens taking a 34-point aggregate win.

Now they will face either Stoke or Mildenhall in the final — their semi-final will be decided next month.

Pedersen said: “I have a lot of fantastic memories with the Heathens back in the 80s. “I remember 1983 when we won pretty much everything — that was such a great year for me and it set me up for the rest of my Cradley career.

“I had one season away on loan but that was because it was necessary because of team averages. “After that I was straight back into Cradley and enjoying lots of success — especially in the cup competitions.

“I know how much it means to the supporters here, I really do know and I know the feelings they go through.

“They are such a big part of the club and I know that the supporters and the town are such a big part, which is why we are fighting nail and tooth to get our own track back in the area.”

And Pedersen is hoping the achievement in reaching the final will once again help raise the profile of the club in their search for a new home.

He said: “I am here now to put the team in the best position to win, as I see that the whole issue with winning is a matter of putting pressure on the council because the more we win the less they can ignore us.

“As a result, the cup final is massive for us not just because of how much it would mean to the club in terms of the history but also because of how it might help in getting our own track again.

“It is looking like we could possibly win a league and cup double this season.

“It is very important to me as a racer even though I don’t race competitively any more to see the team be successful.

“I take things really seriously when I am there working with the team because I am as desperate as anyone to make the club successful again.”

Heathens continue their push for top spot in the National League when they face Rye House at their adopted Monmore Green home next Tuesday, August 28.

The Rockets include Jason Garrity, the man Heathens fans love to hate, and Heathens are expected to be at full strength.

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