Dick Barrie's picture

Well, the season fast approacheth, and I think it is time………

A pre-season preview.

I see the Marvellous Mythman and Scintillating Sarah have offered their thoughts, so I’ll just tag mine on too.

Not for all the clubs – who cares? – but for the good guys.

El Banditos.

Firstly, it’s the fullest of congratulations to the promotion for once again – second year in a row – bringing back five of the previous season’s 1-7. Unheard-of loyalty, creating continuity and allowing supporters to get to know our riders as Bandits and not just “another suitcase in another hall” journeymen passing through.

This year’s squad are also blessed by having the majority of the team as Berwick club assets, again something that I suspect isn’t going to be the case at any other club in the league. Again: Go, Bandits!

But what’s going to happen on track? Let us consider….

Starting at the bottom, LEON is at last sixteen and a Bandit. His learning curve will be a sharp one. While he scored well in the NL, this is speedway in a different league. It’ll be hard, and especially at first points might not flow – but I have every faith in the kiddo and in the club to keep the faith (as Worky did with Kyle Bickley last year) to let him find his feet. Or his steel shoe. No pressure, young Flinty, and remember as soon as you collect your third point, you’ll already have outscored your old man (four matches, two points) as a Bandit….……

His Heat 2 partner is COTY. Back to being a Bandit after half a season in 2015. Since those raw beginnings, the wee man has been away industriously learning his craft and, if he can return in the form he was showing at Ipswich at the end of last year – and get on top of a potent enough engine – he can certainly pick up enough points to rival just about any reserve in the league.

DANY is now a fixture in our squad, and after the skipper our longest-serving rider, joining up in 2016. His scoring around Shielfield is absolutely acceptable and he’s proved our trump card in more than a few close-run things. With this being his fourth year, Dany has now seen the away circuits often enough to get to grips with stranger shale – adding a couple of points to his away average has to be his target in 2019.

Our main man, starting the term at the top of the team, will be SPUD. Although a proud Aussie, he’s now more or less a local lad, having lived ‘just down the road’ for several years. Aaron has it all, ability, experience, reliability and professionalism – if he continues his season-closing form and maintains his CMA from last year, any team-mate aiming to get hold of that No 1 race-jacket is going to have to really up their game!

Skipper KEVIN is now in the top ten of all-time Bandits, both in the number of matches raced (218) and total points scored (1,846). But that’s the least of his contributions to the club. His form over the past two or three years has been quite superb, and his leadership qualities in the pits are probably the best in Britain. He’ll be up there again, winning the vital races – especially on the road – and piling up enough points to get him over the two thousand mark by mid-season. What a guy!

The “worst rider in British speedway” (copyright: Edinburgh Evening News) must be looking to 2019 as the year he really moves up the pecking order among UK-based Aussies to follow contemporaries such as Kurtz Jr, Holder Jr and Max Fricke up their totem pole. JYE has proved an absolute revelation since coming aboard in 2017, deservedly finishing last season as our third heat-leader. This year? There’s no doubt he can follow the Bandits mantra – onward and upward, Reggie!

Finally, the man who to my estimation will add two points to his average, finish the year as our top scorer and prove the world-class potential I first saw him displaying in FIM World Finals in Argentina in 2012 and Australia three years later. Injuries and a family tragedy slowed his progress after these early peaks, but now – with David Howe as his mentor – NIKOLAJ is poised to resume his Greatness as our Dane. As well as heading the Berwick charge toward some silverware – remember, you read it here first…….

Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk