David Howe announces retirement at Ord House
Bandits close 2018 season as David Howe announces his racing retirement
It was an emotional rollercoaster at Berwick Speedway's end of season event at the Ord House Country Park on Saturday night with the traditional fun and games boosted by the fine team-spirit that typifies what Berwick Speedway is all about led by the
Courtney brothers, Gary Flint and Dennis McCleary, but it was David Howe's soliloquy that hushed the large assembled crowd.
Taking the microphone before MC Steve Hayward conducted his interview, Howe read out a prepared statement after what has been a well documented difficult season for him to get through, but was full of praise for the way his club which had brought "The Phoenix" back to life last season.
"After my injury in 2015 I hadn't even been to a meeting for nearly a year," he told the fans, "Scott and Jamie [Courtney] gave me a chance to change that and from the moment I joined , this club and team felt different, and that bond has become stronger over the last 18 months.
"It's no secret that I didn't know what he future held for me, but I do know that I will always be thankful to the Bandits for giving me a second chance to do this my way, and I feel that even though I'm nowhere near the rider I was, I have regained a bit of pride and dignity.
"So on that note I would like to use this opportunity to announce that the Bordernapolis was my final meeting as a speedway rider, but I say this happy and content, even though it's tinged with sadness.
"I think deep down I knew before the Bordernapolis that this would be where I was heading as I was able to put more into it mentally. I just wanted to lay it all out there and to see what happened, and it was almost the perfect ending. Okay, so I didn't win, but I managed two things, not only did I beat Jye [Etheridge] in our final race, but I out-gated him and I'll never let him forget that.," referencing the phenomenal bond the pair have developed over the last year.
He went on to say: "I also beat Nikolaj [Busk Jakobsen] that night, and he's since seen the funny side that he has a mechanic who can beat him! On that point I will still be heavily involved in the sport, and if I have my way Berwick too as I will be working full-time in the UK and abroad for Nikolaj and hopefully help to guide him to the big things we all know he is capable of.
"I've always given it my best on the day and worn the Bandits logo with immense pride!"
Howe then received a lengthy standing ovation as the Berwick supporters showed that the pride of which he spoke was a solid two-way thing, when not too many dry eyes in the house.
The Bandits' Academy collectively received the young rider of the year award, Theo Pijper took the "Riders' Bandit of the Year" trophy as Jye Etheridge again too the fan-voted "Bandit of the season" Trophy, the pair taking some of the most impressive trophies the domestic sport has seen on a great night typical of what Berwick Speedway has become.
Backroom staff Jean Foster and legendary track curator Ian Rae were also given lifetime achievement awards for decades of unrelenting service to the club.