CRADLEY Heath speedway fans have been mourning the sudden death of former club rider Danny Ayres.

The 33-year-old died suddenly at the weekend, former Cradley promoter Gary Patchett led club tributes to the rider who spent the 2017 season with Heathens and was currently signed to Ipswich Witches.

The announcement of his death sent shockwaves throughout the sport and Patchett, the man who brought him to the club, paid his heartfelt tribute.

He said: “I'd never met Danny Ayres before he guested for the Heathens in 2016.

"Normally a guest rider turns up, hopefully does his bit and goes on his way.

“Danny was different. He lit the place up with his enthusiasm and dedication and we knew then he was just the rider we wanted to lead the team the following year.

“He was late to the sport and rode every race like he making up for lost time. He had a knack of getting everyone else to raise their game.

“Speedway is not just a sport it's an entertainment and Danny was a throwback to the days of old when part of your job was to put on a show.

“Danny Ayres put bums on seats and was a true showman. I hope he has found peace now because he will be sorely missed.

“At this dreadfully sad time our thoughts and prayers must be with those he has left behind.”

Meanwhile former Heathens manager Will Pottinger added: “I’m absolutely gutted about Danny.

“What a legend of a guy and it was an honour to manage him at Cradley during 2017.

“Every manager wants a team of characters like Danny. My thoughts are with Danny’s family at this difficult time.”