Kevin Doolan's picture

I’d have expected it from some shadier members of the press; even an overly-enthusiastic club press officer or programme editor.

But I have to admit that I didn’t think my preparations for the 2019 season would be sideswiped by my Number One Fan.

So --- before we go any further I’d like to address what I will refer to as “the non-announcement of an important announcement.”

Graeme Doolan – Uncle Dools – certainly set the cat among the pigeons when, from Victoria, he took to Facebook last week and informed the world that this would be: “Kev’s final year as a pro rider. Good luck Dools”.

As a result I was inundated with goodwill messages wishing me a safe and productive final year. As a sportsman it’s always good to be liked … but the truth is that speedway fans may have to put up with me for a while longer yet.

In many ways Uncle Dools isn’t too far off the mark.

I am experienced enough to be taking my speedway one season at a time, having been lucky enough to spend the greatest part of 20 years travelling the UK and Europe, meeting great people and sampling great pints of beer.

Along the way I have achieved more than I ever dreamed possible and been honoured to captain some great teams – none more so than the Bandits of recent years.

I have nothing left to prove to myself or others so at the end of this season I might return to Australia ….or I might stay here and keep racing.

I have definitely not made any decision yet. The honest truth is that I don’t know.

What is certain is that I’m loving my racing, am still competitive and excited to go into the racing season feeling as ready as I have ever been to lead the Bandits.

And I’m the 2019 Bordernapolis champion.

Now that really was a good way to open the season. The temperature may have been a little on the frosty side on Saturday night but the on-track action was red hot.

I’ve talked many times before of the advantages of open meetings to riders but the fans also got a taste of what we have to offer them this season and, from what they told me afterwards, are every bit as excited by the team which Jamie and Gary have assembled as we are to be part of it.

The fact that six Bandits reached the semi-finals and three made it to the Grand Final showed that we are ready to fire for 2019.

A big mention must go to the track preparation staff who have worked their magic over the winter and that hard work ensured a great race-track which allowed us to pass inside and out at both ends of the stadium, despite heavy mid-day rain and the evening dew which was starting to settle around tapes-up time.

Obviously it was a great night for me personally. I felt comfortable from Heat 1 and that I was getting faster as the night grew progressed.

There was a cracking atmosphere in the pits with good banter and friendly rivalry as well as the supportive spirit that has become a Bandits’ hallmark.

All the Bandits won at least one heat and we all felt that it was great to be racing competitively and enjoyable to do it on a track that allowed different lines and passing opportunities.

I saw first-hand how fast and dialled-in Aaron was in my first race and had kept an eye on him during the night so I wasn’t surprised when he went through the heats as top point scorer.

My starts had been good and I was happy with my speed after chasing Nikolaj to the finish in our semi so I was confident I could challenge for the win in the final.

It was close with Aaron getting past me on the second bend first time around before I pressured him for the whole race and was able get pass him off the fourth bend and on the run to the chequered flag.

So much fun and I’m sure you could see my smile wherever you were in the stadium.

Now its time to take our individual form into the quest for Championship Shield points as we take on Newcastle home and away over this weekend – and keep an eye on Uncle Dools’ Facebook feed!