Following the A F Stocktaking Hammers match at Eastbourne on Saturday evening their captain, Kelvin Tatum MBE, announced that he has been forced into retiring from the sport due to his ongoing hip problems.

A very disappointed Tatum said: "I simply cannot continue racing Speedway as my hip is constantly giving me severe pain. I didn't want to let down my Promoter at Arena-Essex, Ronnie Russell, my teammates or the loyal Hammers supporters but my hip cannot take much more."

"I know that I require major surgery on it but I hope to be able to continue racing Longtrack until the end of the season. I really want to win my fourth Longtrack World Championship. I am in the lead at the present time and it would be a nice way to end my career by regaining the title I last won in 2000."

This decision will come as a major disappointment to Speedway fans up and down the Country as Tatum is one of Britain's all-time greats in the Sport.

His Promoter at Arena-Essex, Ronnie Russell, stated "The retirement of Kelvin is a big blow to the Sport and, in particular, to Arena-Essex. He is in his second spell with the Club, rejoining us in 2002, when we rode in the Premier League. He opted to go up with us at the start of this season into the Elite League and, after a spell at reserve moved up to second place in our averages."

"He has been an inspirational captain always willing to help his colleagues with either advice or, on occasions, equipment. He will be sorely missed."

"His hip problem has affected his speedway more than his Longtrack as it is a completely different style of riding required between the two forms of racing. He has been able to adapt his style of riding on the Longtrack to account for his hip problem but on the smaller tighter Speedway tracks this has proved to be increasing difficult in recent weeks for him"

40 year old Kelvin Tatum took his first rides in Speedway at the old Hackney Training School back in the winter of 1982-3 having been a three times British Schoolboy Moto-Cross Champion. His first season of racing was in 1983, when he rode for Wimbledon. He stayed with the London club for two seasons before moving to Coventry where he established himself as one of the top British riders.

He remained at Coventry for six seasons but then signed for Berwick in 1991. He stayed at the Borders club for just one year before moving to Bradford. After two years at Bradford he then had his first spell with Arena-Essex in 1994. In 1995 he rode in only eight meetings (six for Poole and two for Eastbourne).

He returned for a full season the following year when he rode for London at the revamped Hackney Stadium. However, when London closed down he moved, on loan, to Peterborough for the 1997 season. Then, in 1998, he had 12 further meetings for Poole before moving again - this time in 1999 when he went back to Eastbourne. Despite continuing racing on the Grass and in Longtrack he wasn't to grace the speedway circuits again until he signed for Arena-Essex prior to the start of the 2002 season.

On the individual front Tatum made his International debut for Young England in 1983 when he rode against the National League in a meeting at Crayford. His senior international debut came a year later in the match between England and the U.S.A. held at Swindon. In all he has made 74 appearances for his country at senior level.

In addition to his three World Longtrack Championship wins Kelvin has been Speedway's Inter Continental Champion once (in 1989), Overseas Champion twice (1991 and 1997), Commonwealth Champion four times (1987, 1998, 1990 & 1992) and British Champion twice (1987 & 1990).

He was European Grass Track Champion in 1995 and Grass Track Masters Champion four times (1996, 1999, 2000 & 2001). Tatum had the honour of captaining his country on numerous occasions and he was captain the last time England (or Great Britain) won Speedway's World Cup, which was back in 1989.

He was awarded the MBE in the 2003 New Year's Honours List in recognition of his services to Speedway. However, as a youngster, motorcycles were not his only sporting achievements as he played squash for Sussex Juniors and had trials for Sussex County Cricket Club.

In addition to Kelvin attempting to compete in the remaining rounds of this season's World Longtrack Championship he also works as a presenter for Sky Sports on their live Speedway coverage. He has built up a good reputation as an excellent presenter and it is hoped that he will continue in this role in the future.

He badly broke his hip several years ago whilst racing Speedway and it is as a result of that accident his hip has been giving him trouble in his later live. A hip replacement operation will, hopefully, resolve the problem but Kelvin had hoped to see out this season in the colours of the Hammers at Arena-Essex.

Everyone at Arena-Essex in particular and the Sport of Speedway in general will miss Kelvin racing around the tracks but he has been a great ambassador for the Sport and through his work with Sky Sports he, undoubtedly still has a lot to offer.

In conclusion Ronnie Russell stated: "It was an unfortunate way for Kelvin to finish his career when we were at Eastbourne but I hope that he will be fit enough to attend our next home meeting at Purfleet on Wednesday (18th August). Our supporters will then have the opportunity of thanking him properly for all that he has done for us in the three seasons he has raced for the Hammers."