BRITISH Champion Ashley Morris is the first signing for National League Speedway newcomers Dudley Heathens.

Morris, who won the under-15 national crown last year, was unveiled during a momentous week in which it was confirmed the Heathens name will return to the sport.

The Dudley team were accepted into the League last Thursday and bosses have revealed the proposed dates for home meetings to be shared between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, starting on Wednesday April 7 against the USA Dream Team.

Two more signings will now be unveiled during a public meeting at Cradley Heath Liberal Club tonight (Thursday) at 8pm.

Club Chairman Nigel Pearson said: “This is a wonderful boost for us all. Ever since we announced the plans for the new club we have been keeping our fingers crossed and now it has become reality.”

Cradley Heathens raced in front of thousands at Dudley Wood Stadium from 1947 and the club was a focal point of the Black Country community.

They won numerous team titles, including the British League in 1981 and 83, and had world champions race for them at their modest home. It was lost to housing development at the end of the 1995 season when the club moved to Stoke for one ill-fated campaign.

Pearson added: “It's not Cradley, but it's the next best thing. Heathens fans have a league team to support for the first time since 1996.

“We’re expecting a big turnout at the Liberal Club. We’ll have three of our seven riders there and we will also have new merchandise on display and season ticket application forms.

“It should be a great night to celebrate the return of the Heathens – and what better place to celebrate than Cradley Heath?”

Morris, aged 15, established a useful 4.68 average last term with Scunthorpe Saints.

Born in Wolverhampton, Morris has a burning ambition to become the number one rider for the Elite League champions.

Heathens manager Will Pottinger said: “I'm very happy that we have signed Ashley. I got to know him well last season “He was always in my thoughts to include in the Dudley Heathens team.”

THUMBS UP: Ashley Morris is the first signing for Dudley Heathens