George Dodds's picture

There’s a lot to like about Drew Kemp, the teenager who makes his team racing debut at Shielfield on Saturday night when the Tigers of Sheffield visit in the first Championship fixture of 2019.
Not only is he a member of the group of ridiculously talented British mid-teen terrors which includes our own Leon Flint and Kyle Bickley but Drew, via his rather impressive social media presence, managed to solve one of the great mysteries of the season so far.
I’m sure that it must have been keeping more than just me awake at night but why did the Sheffield riders seem to have their race bibs on back to front when they faced Glasgow in the KO Cup last Sunday?
If you – as I am prone to do in an idle moment – like to trawl the Facebook accounts of the sports’ bountiful supply of excellent photographers (including our own Taz McDougall) – you will have spotted that while the Glasgow riders had a Tiger on their natty race suits at Owlerton last Sunday, Sheffield didn’t.
Instead their chests were emblazoned with a large white number inside a red circle – reminiscent of pictures from 1960s and 70s East European speedway.
What was the meaning of this I pondered – which proves how dangerous it is to leave me with time on my hands … and it’s only going to get worse now that they’ve cancelled The Jeremy Kyle Show.
Was it a cunning plan to confuse Cookie, to make him wonder whether he was coming or going? If it was it failed as he chalked up another maximum.
Had the SCB brought in a hitherto unpublicised regulation during the traditional winter rulebook mystification process which makes it illegal for teams with matching logos to race on the same track? In fairness to the sport’s rulers adopting the primary school solution to such a problem wouldn’t work – shirts and skins is a no-no with shale flying at 80mph.
Did Sheffield’s boss leave the body colours pegged out on the washing line and have to borrow training bibs from neighbouring Sheffield Wednesday?
Had the Tigers’ management booked time in the world-famous Sheffield University aeronautical research unit’s wind tunnel and discovered that the drag coefficient on the back of a race jacket is half the velocity squared of its front?
Had some hapless mechanic put the thing on back to front and his boss failed to notice?
Well thanks to Drew, who promptly answered a fan query via Facebook, I know the answer.
Sheffield, along with a number of other clubs, are celebrating their 90th anniversary this season and the KO Cup race jackets were a retro look designed to reflect the Sheffield colours in the days of yore.
Which was a relief to know.
Newcastle are another who have bought into the anniversary lark with a return to the big white Diamond on black background. Traditional, unmistakable, striking.
A bit like Sheffield’s roaring Tiger.
In fairness both clubs hit upon a perfect design and stuck with it.
Another of my guilty pleasures is looking through the superb John Somerville Collection – not least because the man himself allows the Bandits’ matchday magazine, The Dirt, to use his amazing historical pictures to illustrate my ramblings among others.
The early days of the Bandits show a rather less than inspiring design of a big B and what looked like handwritten Berwick and Bandits.
Birmingham chose similar, albeit with a red B. Although in fairness it did allow the two promotions to come up with the least likely trophy of the 1970s when they clashed - home and away - for the, never to be repeated, Four Bs Challenge – unless Jamie fancies filling an empty Saturday with our own bit of retro that is.
If we are being brutally honest until the days of sponsorship and the rather excellent Drybrough designs our offerings remained somewhat basic to say the least.
One thing that always slightly niggled me was that for a Bandit we were less than menacing; always erring on the jolly side – more Captain Pugwash than Dick Turpin.
Which all changed when the Courtney boys took control and the dark, brooding Bandit with the years in his eyes became our identifier – although it is the back of those race jackets that most of the opposition is seeing this season.
I know not which way Sheffield will wear their numbers on Saturday night but I do know that Danny King is usually worth the admission fee on his own, Broc Nichol caught the eye of a lot of people watching the SofN last Saturday, young Australians such as Zaine Kennedy tend to love Shielfield and Kyle Howarth is rather good around here.
Although let’s hope that the Ty Proctor who turns up is the Workington/Sheffield racer and not the Redcar guest who turned heat 13 into an extended version of War and Peace last season.
Hopefully you plan to join hundreds of schoolchildren, assorted bikers, mournful football fans, the South Yorkshire Massif and regular Bandits fans through the gates on Saturday.
See you there.
Tapes up at 7pm.