George Dodds's picture

The end may indeed be near. It could be said that we are facing our final curtain … at least for the 2018 season.
But rather than ‘ol Blue Eyes, I’m taking my inspiration from the Blue-eyed Boys.
While many clubs have been happy to let their seasons tail off into oblivion Scott and Jamie have rewarded the Bandits’ massif with one of the best end of season offerings in our 50-year history.
Saturday’s Bordernapolis promises to be right up there with 1980 (for any younger readers tempted to this section thinking it was a celebrity gossip column, or worse, that was our first Knockout Cup victory) or 2008 (an extraordinary fight back, ultimately in vain, against Workington in the Young Shield final) as a season finale.
Despite the counter demands of Knockout Cup and Premiership Shield elsewhere our savvy owners have put together a field which contains some class, some unknown quantities, some popular old friends and in which virtually all of the 16 has a realistic chance of competing for a semi-final place.
Wolverhampton’s Sam Masters is probably the post-meeting favourite but the fact that he hasn’t ridden Shielfield this season could count against him. The same could be said for Somerset’s Josh Grajczonek.
Tero Aarnio has been in superb form in the latter stages of the season both for Newcastle and in the Swedish league, as has Berwick asset Coty Garcia who has been racking up the points from Ipswich and I have a strongly suspect that Aaron “Rocky” Summers and Nicolaj Busk Jakobsen will lead the Bandits’ charge.
However, it would a brave man who chose to ignore Kevin Doolan – who first came to our attention as a last minute replacement in the 1999 ‘Napolis, the night that Mark Loram showed that you can pass on a waterlogged speedway track – in his own kingdom.
Jye proved the sense in not re-enacting the shower scene from Psycho on his Belle Vue kevlars last month by saving the Aces from total capitulation to King’s Lynn in the Premiership playoff semi-final on Monday night.
Mark Riss’s retirement gave El Dragone an opportunity which, typically, he took with aplomb. Engraving his name on a prestigious individual title would be right up young Master Etheridge’s street.
The after-effects of his grass tracking spill a couple of weeks ago means that David Howe is sidelined, leaving The Brothers to search for a replacement as the send button was hit on this offering.
Joe Jacobs has already accepted the call to replace another concussion victim Lars Skupien.
Poles have a reputation for liking Shielfield’s high speed banking so Rafal Kanopka will feel right at home while Kyle Howarth and Jason Garritty are two riders for whom the term all-action could have been coined. Something always seems to happen when these two are on track – not always in a good way.
In contrast Matty Wethers, Kasper Anderson and Paul Starke, are no less entertaining but normally rather more in control!
A wheelie competition is promised – presumably celebratory in nature although considering the Bordernapolis’s conception as a handicap event, perhaps the rules will dictate that one of the four laps in every race must be completed on one wheel. It could even be like rally-cross’s joker lap.
Surely worth a go.
Speaking of handicaps, the Mascot Match Race needs to have some innovative weighting otherwise I fear that Bertie – who has neither a motorcycle or a cape – may need a seriously cunning plan if he is to get the better of Buddy … who has both in addition to an amazing ability to grow or shrink by up to half a foot on any given race night, depending on weather conditions.
There’s an after-meeting party in the Black and Gold which may even give the opportunity to go home wearing a snazzy Kitson Windows 2018 Bordernapolis race jacket.
History suggests that it is not beyond the realms of possibility some will go home wearing little else.
Autographs, photographs and hangovers will also be freely available.
It’s all – rather like the posters which you may have seen splashed all over social media, pubs, clubs, businesses and Spittal bus stops – exceptionally impressive and eye-catching.
Not least is for the fact that our owners have resisted the temptation to slap a premium on admission for this high class event and, instead, pegged prices at £15 for adults, £11 concessions and free for accompanied under-16s. Although it is worth noting that, like the Stars of Tomorrow, season passes are not valid.
With the Grand Prix format of 20 qualifying heats, two semis and final that means just over a quid a race for a top quality field, 50p if you’re of a certain vintage and free for ankle-biters through to mid-teens.
For the last time this season it’s tapes-up at 7pm.
As Frank, Scott and Jamie would all say: “start spreading the news”.