17 May 2022
The Dirt Xtra
Saturday night, simply put wasn’t in the script. The Bandits had previously…
I think just about everyone in the stadium felt just a little bit cheated.
Why were we denied the eagerly-awaited Heat 15 clash we were expecting on Saturday night between Bomber and Lee Complin?
Bomber had been magnificent, imperious and looked absolutely unbeatable.
Lee had been getting better and better over his five races – Heats 12 and 14 were as good as anything he had shown us a decade ago – and the prospect of their coming together in the nominated race was indeed mouth-watering.
But it was not to be.
The rules are simple and straightforward, and – ironically — specifically designed to prevent reserves, who are usually lower-paid than the top guys, being shoved out in Heat 15 to save their promoter money while failing to give the paying public a chance to see “the best v the best”” in the last race.
The rule (011.1.27b) is quite clear, only riders in the 1-5 can be nominated, unless a reserve qualifies by being among the team’s top three scorers (including bonus points) on the night from his programmed rides.
Great! Lee was Newcastle’s top scorer on Saturday with 10+2 – get him out there, get it on. Look out, Bomber!
But in a fine display of micro-management – mis-management, as it turned out – the Geezers had, during the match pulled Mr Complin out of two of his programmed races. Yes, they put him in other heats, which was their perfect right if they thought the changes might reverse their fortunes, but the rule is there to be followed and, come Heat 15, when they nominated Lee to race in the yellow helmet, the referee he say ‘no’……
From the only two programmed rides he contested (Heats 2 and 12) Lee scored 3+1 and was only fifth in the team’s scoring. The nomination wasn’t acceptable. Think again, Mr Team Manager……
Cue much dashing about and shouting in the pits from the Newcastle camp. Lee himself was (understatement alert) more than unhappy. But all the yelling and shouting did them as much use as a chocolate teapot would have done for their interval brew.
Did it matter in terms of the match result? Not a jot – the Diamonds were well beaten, with or without Lee in Heat 15.
But in terms of serving up excitement, to have everyone – and I mean us all, Bandit-fans, Geezer-groupies and neutral officials – denied the race of the night by a club failing to realise what their micro-management might end up doing at the end of the evening — well I personally felt cheated of a race between the two stars of the night which I would have loved to watch.
Going on from this, it might make a few other team managers stop and think before trying to be smart and doing this flip-flopping of their reserves during matches.
Yes, if one reserve is going markedly better than the other, of course you should use the good guy in one of the rides. But giving them each other’s races throughout the night? Well, it smacks of “I’m doing it because I can” rather than any great common-sense.
To my mind, this might be better-achieved by weighing up their options before submitting their line-up to the referee beforehand, and allocating the 6 and 7 race-jackets on a horses-for-courses basis, match by match?
(Of course, Newcastle could quite simply have told James Wright to sit in the pits and get excluded under two minutes before Heat 15 – and then brought in Lee as the reserve replacement!)
What else from the weekend? Well, despite the ominous warnings from our mucked-up (that’s rhyming slang) visit to Birmingham, both Scunthorpe and – as we know – Newcastle each imposed long, long delays upon their paying public by failing to have sensible medical cover in place.
Some years ago, we at Berwick realised how the centralisation of A&E units and NHS ambulance stations was increasingly placing an impossible burden to our expectation of serving up the best evening of entertainment we could, and after a couple of false starts settled into the current arrangement of having two ambulances and two qualified paramedic practitioners in place for every meeting.
Other tracks watched and learned – often the hard way.
2021 was first year the effects of the pandemic on NHS services became apparent.
Last season Edinburgh had twice to end meetings early, and send punters home grumpy As a result, Armadale meetings have since been covered by the magic 2+2 medical formula, and – like at Shielfield – their meetings have progressed without major delays, even after serious crashes.
Other tracks will already have proper, sensible cover too, I’m sure.
Those who have up until now been doing it on the cheap, crossing their fingers and hoping for the best, praying it won’t happen to them, should – perhaps especially after our misadventure at Perry Barr – be thinking of protecting their businesses and upgrading cover.
Hopefully, more and more will now be doing this sensible thing, and going for 2+2..
After all, making people (who paid good money to watch the bikes) stand around for a couple of hours, doing nothing and getting less and less excited about speedway, isn’t really the way to build a profitable operation.
But anyway, moving on — we’re switching our attention Bulletwards this week. At Oxford on Wednesday, and back home against the famous Belle Vue Colts on Saturday night.
Let’s go skidding………….
Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do)? He is always happy to hear from interesting people on firstname.lastname@example.org