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George Dodds's picture

Oh Dany Gappmaier – where did that come from eh?
Thanks must go to Austria’s number one bingo player who put the misery of Brough and the hardship of Ashfield behind him to provide me with a gold-plated addition to the list of epic “I was there” speedway moments.
This one now lines up alongside Brough Park 1980, Wimborne Road and Berrington Lough 1989, Peterborough 2002 as examples of supreme Banditry, against all the odds.
For those of us with too many miles on the clock it was a rerun of the never to be forgotten mid-70s moment when a, then, virtually unknown Berwick reserve called Dave Trownson flew from the gate and left both Tom and Joe Owen – taking a tactical substitute ride for Newcastle – trailing in his wake; something few did in those days.
But heat nine on Saturday was even better than its predecessor of 40-something years previous.
Why?
Well because instead of the 3-3 in 1976 this was a full-blooded 5-1 as Nicolaj shut the door decisively on Cookie’s tac sub ride and rarely looked troubled after.
These were the only two points dropped in ten heats of racing by the man destined to be the Championship’s top man by a mile. He’s probably too good for this level – but Glasgow seem to be the only side willing to pay his asking rate this season.
Only he wasn’t good enough to get past Dany and NBJ.
It brought the house down and also showed just what an influence David Howe is having in the Bandits’ pits these days.
DH is not just NBJ’s guru, motivator, spanner-man, brow mopper and general factotum but apparently he still has time to school the rest of the Bandits in the art of celebrating.
Because there is no doubt about it the on the pegs, fist pumping, superman posing victory lap by normally mild mannered, laid back Mindthe came straight out of the Howe playbook – cast your mind back to heat 15 of Peterborough’s visit in 2017 if you doubt me.
At one point I feared that in the euphoria of the moment Dany had got Bernoulli’s equation muddled with Pythagorean Law – but thankfully he did, even standing at his full height, just sneak under the starting tapes.
Much was made by some of Mr Cook choosing not to shake hands with the victorious Bandits at the end of the race.
Typically classless they raged, unsporting, shameful, threat to world peace and harmony, no wonder the Brexit deal is such a shambles etc etc.
Meh, who cares.
I would rather my sportsmen were honest than faked it for the sake of appearances or fake matey bonhomie. If they are fed up, furious, ticked off or simply can’t be bothered to hang out a paw for a passing handshake then so be it. Doesn’t affect me one iota and I doubt it took any gloss off the magic moment for either Dany of NBJ either.
Some feel Craig is all for himself – the concern he showed after team-mate James Sarjeant ended up in the first bend bouncy funbags and the amount of time spent posing at the pits gate for selfies with fans of both sides suggests that Cumbria’s number one is not as one dimensional as many would have you believe.
While some may argue that their captain lacks class – whatever that may be – the same charge could not be levelled at the Glasgow fans on the back straight.
Despite being on the end of a good old humping, the Tiggers faithful did their best to outshout the delirious Bandits, as always creating a cracking atmosphere in the process.
And when Leon produced his now obligatory “raise the roof” moment in heat 12, the ovation was almost as warm from the red and white masses on the back straight as it was from the posh seats.
I’ve made no secret in the past that I view Tigers fans, along with Berwick’s own army of enthusiasts, cut-throats and ne’erdowells, as the best in speedway.
In essence modern Tigers fans are cut from the same cloth as those who watched them at various Blantyres, Workington or Craighead Park. They make a lot of noise, boost the bar takings, get behind their team and create one helluva atmosphere wherever they go. That hasn’t changed, even if they now have owners with a few bob to chuck at the quest for glory.
And one of them even went home with Dick Barrie’s autograph on his typically excellent matchday magazine column. A night to remember for everyone.
Our own bid to give the experts permanently red faces this season suffered a hiccup at Ashfield on Friday night but we more than got back on track the following evening, despite having to do it without Jye who suffered a broken collarbone suffered on Friday night when he whacked the fence after the chequered flag.
One plating later he’s looking to be back within a couple of weeks – lunacy for a mere mortal, standard for a speedway rider.
Amid the efforts of NBJ, Leon and Dany it is easy to overlook just how effective Aaron and King Kev were again last weekend.
Aaron in particular can look back on one helluva week which saw him racing – and scoring big points – on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday.
And the Tuesday was spent sorting out the engine which rudely and expensively expired during the second of the two heats managed before Peterborough’s trip to Wolverhampton was abandoned last Monday.
Green sheet averages begin to make some sort of sense in the next week or two. We are seeing the makings of a genuine three-way battle for number one spot.
There’s an equally good battle going on to stay in the top five. Could that be why our early-season form has been so impressive?
Oh and for those who said we only won at Newcastle because the Diamonds were sh… I mean poor … I refer you to exhibit B – Sheffield’s 38-52 gubbing at Brough this weekend.
Just admit it. We were and are damn good.
No action this weekend which allows those who are not doubling up in the Premiership to get stuck into the choccy eggs.
Those who fancy a road trip can head to Manchester to see Leon’s debut for Belle Vue Colts on Good Friday or up to Glasgow on Easter Saturday to celebrate Craig Cook’s testimonial. Or both.
Or just save your pennies for the next meeting at Shielfield which is the British Under-21 Final on June 27.
It’ll be the one chance we get to see Robert Lambert and the now thankfully fully recovered Dan Bewley in action at Berwick this season.
Throw in Leon Flint and Kyle Bickley – who has made a tremendous start to the season – along with Luke Ruddick, if he makes it from this week’s semi-finals, and it promises to be a cracker.
Season tickets will not be valid for this meeting but admission has been reduced to £15 (£11 concessions) and kids for a quid.