Nobody would argue with you if you said that on the whole, 2020 has been a year to forget, a year of enforced change and year of doing things very differently. Adapting to the surroundings has been the name of the game and that has been the same for British Speedway.
In saying that, there is always good to come out of bad and we can learn from 2020 and use that blueprint to move forward into 2021 and beyond.
Let’s take the recent live stream meetings from Belle Vue where we saw an Aces select side featuring Jason Crump take on the ATPI All Stars select. Two pretty evenly matched sides fought out a pretty competitive meeting with the home side coming out on top.
A very high quality affair in terms of action and presentation with a blend of youth and experiencing toughing it out on track, what’s not to like?
The likes of Leon Flint, Kyle Bickley and Jordan Palin had the opportunity to rub shoulders and bang handlebars with the likes of Jason Crump, Rory Schlein, Brady Kurtz and Chris Harris to name but a few, and this experience could well prove to be a building block to the future.
Further proof of this was evident in the British Final, also streamed from Belle Vue with the likes of Drew Kemp and the Thomson Twins giving some of their more experienced counterparts a real run for their money at times.
Much had been made of the line-up and who was in it, who should and shouldn’t have been in it and whatever else, but whether we like it or not, Rory Schlein has his name etched alongside past winners like Barry Briggs and Ivan Mauger, both of which weren’t British either in case we’re keeping score.
Does it really matter? I fail to see why, especially in a year where little to nothing has made any sense anyway!
Nobody in New Zealand was upset when Jason Bunyan won their national title on numerous occasions and I don’t suppose the Argentinian speedway contingent were all that bothered when Adrian Rymel picked up their national title either.
Irrespective of whether you think Rory Schlein deserves this title or not, there’s little doubt that he has been a great servant to British Speedway over his lengthy career. Sure he has his critics for the way he conducts himself at times, but he has done as much if not more for British youngsters making their way in the sport than many other riders have.
Had Jason Crump picked up the win would people have been so quick to say he shouldn’t have been in the meeting? Or would they hail it as a great comeback? We’ll never know, but I didn’t see too many complaints on social media when he was rolling back the years in the qualifying heats…
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it’s the British Final and not the Australian final, but when the likes of Craig Cook opts not to ride and Dan Bewley is unavailable, surely Jason Crump and Rory Schlein are able replacements, especially given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the event.
But let’s just say that in 2021 we are back to some degree of normality and more meetings can be staged, how about some qualifying meetings for the British Final throughout the season? Do away with seeding and let everyone have a fair crack at the whip as it were.
Let’s for example say that there are 100 British riders, why not have 5 qualifying meetings up and down the country where the top four from each meeting go on to the final.
That way there can be no argument against who should or shouldn’t be in the field for the final as everyone would be there on merit, and as the late, great Danny Ayres proved last year, anything can happen on the night of the final.
Whoever the victor would be will have truly earned their spot at the top of the podium and it allows for a nice blend of youth and experience in the field, perhaps even one at the expense of the other.
What’s to say that Jordan Palin and Drew Kemp wouldn’t qualify for the final ahead of Chris Harris and Craig Cook? Anything can happen in speedway after all.
The flip side of that is that these youngsters are on the up and up, and will continue to progress and get better by rubbing shoulders with riders perceived as being better than them, before they eventually surpass them. There is a strong argument that these youngsters should perhaps be used as reserves in the Premiership to allow them to progress.
You only need to look at the conveyer belt of talent that Poland has produced over the years to know that the system works. I know it perhaps wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the old draft system did benefit a number of riders and I would argue that the standard of British riders at a youth level is perhaps as good as it has been for many a year.
So why not have the likes of Jordan Palin, Jason Edwards, Drew Kemp, Leon flint etc in Premiership sides at some point in the future?
We all want British Speedway to thrive, so why not shake things up a little in order to help it along the way?
Is it plausible that the streaming of meetings becomes then norm going forward and clubs will set up virtual season tickets? Who knows, but it isn’t outwith the realms of possibility and it’s already been proven to be more than doable.
If 2020 has taught us anything it’s to think outside the box, so why not continue that trend into 2021 and take some shred of positivity from a largely forgettable year?
Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with the Mythman, have an idea for a feature, or you simply want to chew the fat over all things speedway, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via the JB Speedway Media Facebook page. If your compliments, or indeed gripes can be contained to limited characters, you can send me a tweet @Mythman666.
Until next time…and there will be a next time.
Right I’ll hae’tae gan