George Dodds's picture

When he’s not leading from the front, climbing every mountain, building motocross tracks, learning how to make Berwick safer from fire and removing the odd puss from a tree, captain Kev writes a pretty damn good column for the matchday magazine – our big brother The Dirt.
In keeping with modern British speedway he also has a doubling up contract which means that you can read his pearls of wisdom on our new, environmentally-friendly website. You see we recycle columns to reduce our carbon footprint and improve the life expectancy of giant pandas, especially those living in the West Allerdean rain forest.
Which is a rather long-winded way of saying that the skip is typically forthright about our chances of reaching the Championship Shield Final.
It would be fair to say that, after an OK start, things went a little adrift in the first leg in Leicester last Sunday.
Spud was excellent, Kev and Jye blew hot and cold, Leon continued to do his job with a little bit extra for good measure, Busk had another nasty attack of the gremlins and Dany continues to struggle at tracks nmed after parks beginning with B.
As a result we are 18 points adrift going into tonight’s second leg at what – thankfully after the well-chronicled woes of last Saturday – is forecast to be a dry Shielfield Park. Whisper it but there is even the possibility of sunshine and warmth but I would be happy with rain-free.
Which makes us the underdogs against a Leicester side which currently tops the league having added Somerset on Wednesday night to their impressive list of victims so far this season and narrowly lost out at Glasgow last night.
A tough ask for the Magnificent Seven, no doubt about it.
But, according to Kevin – and when he talks it’s always worth listening – being underdogs suits us just fine.
Indeed it’s where he would rather be.
You see our storming start to the season which blew away Newcastle – home and away – Glasgow and Edinburgh and come within a few bends of an unimaginable victory at Sheffield meant that teams have been more wary of us in recent weeks.
They’ve brought their A game and one or two in-meeting track preparation tricks to make sure that results-wise we’ve been off the boil a little
The one that got away in that early season period was at Armadale. We could, probably should, have won there as well.
But in the last heat decider Josh Bates, guesting for Busk, clipped the back wheel of Aaron Summers and was dumped to the shale, gifting Edinburgh the win in the process.
No finger pointing, no blame attached to Josh, a superb guest for us that night and one of the exciting crop of full throttle riders who make modern speedway worth watching.
But it just goes to show how fragile a sport speedway is. One second glory beckons, the next you’re wondering why Sarah Bulman keeps waving two fingers in front of your eyes and asking you to name the president of Uzbekistan.
We are a tough nut to crack on home shale – have been for the best part of 18 months now – Busk and his guru have, hopefully, found a way of splatting the gremlins, Coty and Jye are pretty much match-fit after their injury problems and, well, Dany can beat anyone on any day around his beloved Shielfield Park – just ask Cookie.
We need all seven to fire again tonight. It can be done. It’s only a couple of weeks since they did.
We also need to build the sort of atmosphere that makes the impossible possible.
It’s not quite the one-in-a-lifetime offer of last week because – well that would be the second time in a lifetime which would defeat the whole point of a once-in-a-lifetime offer and risk getting us in trouble with the pedantry police and the advertising standards agency – but it’s still not a bad one from the bosses.
They want us to party like it’s 2015 and have rolled back the prices accordingly. So it’s £15 for adults £11 for concessions, kids free and matchday magazines £2.50. And if anyone tells you any different, even the Newcastle Journal, they’re fibbing.
Produce a re-admission ticket from last week and get £10 off that price. It’s valid for all future home meetings but prices may vary as the season continues.
Sanctified holders of the small but beautiful Bandits 2019 15 Match Season Pass can use them this week but should be warned that this will take the number of home meetings this season to a minimum of 16 (with additional finals, play-off semi-finals and finals to be arranged).
In true Ronseal style the Bandits 2019 15 Match Season Pass does what it says on the tin (or in this case the laminated plastic) so you may have a decision to make at some point over which of the 16 you want to pay for.
We like to challenge our supporters on more than just a sporting level – it’s good for them, good for us and, allegedly, good for the environment (warning this is an unverified claim which may contain traces of nuts).
Mind you one of them managed a spectacular mental faceplant into an online cowpat earlier this week when, in reply to a post I made saying that the programme this week would be £2.50 this individual whinged away in a language only vaguely linked to English about being robbed of 50p until some kind soul pointed out that it was actually 50p cheaper this week.
Some people you would go the extra mile to encourage and help – others you just feel like steering towards The Shard and inviting them to lick as many windows as they desire.
Right Jim, here is your mission. Should you choose to accept it – and if you don’t may Saturday night TV leave you in a Zombie state for the rest of your natural life – drag as many mates as you can find along with you to Shielfield Park for 7pm. Proceed, via the matchday magazine kiosk, tea-bar, bar – preferably all three before attempting to unsettle Leicester’s number one and inspirational leader by making pithy criticisms of his fashion sense – in particular shirts – and proceed to roar the Bandits to one of the greatest comebacks since Sinatra.
This will be the true underdog tale.
Tapes-up 7pm – self-destructing is not an option.