I think I’ve had this deju vu feeling before …

Published on 22nd June 2022
Author George Dodds

There’s something approaching an opening night vibe in the build-up to Saturday night.

Back in April we asked ourselves: how will the new boys go?. Will the number one live up to all the expectation and hype? How will it come across on the British Speedway Network? Should I get the pink rabbit costume out of the loft for the cameras? Would the dirty vicar with the missing backside come across better in the April dusk?

Now it’s June and the questions are: how will the new boys go? Will the number one live up to all the expectation and hype? How will it come across on the British Speedway Network? Will crowdfunding pay the fine after the unfortunate incident on the way home involving the detachable carrot, chicken Chow Mein and three recumbent, semi-retired nuns?

Just in case you’re in any doubt about the need for a Bandits’ season reset compare and contrast the two combatants preparing to perform in front of Ian Brannan and the boys from the livestuff.

Berwick Bandits: ninth, three places outside play-off qualifying, lost at home to Redcar, Leicester and Glasgow. Away points one. Points to be deducted following the implosion of Newcastle, 4.

Scunthorpe: sixth, currently in the last play-off qualifying spot. Beaten Leicester (first), Glasgow (second), Poole(third), Redcar(fourth) at home –  lost to fifth-placed Plymouth. Away points one. Points to be deducted following the implosion of Newcastle 0.

So there you have it. Nine meetings left to race and realistically not one of them can be pointless if we harbour hopes of post-season racing for the Bandits. And no more home whoopsies whatever the reason.

Hence the appearance of Jonas Knudsen and Nathan Stoneman, the welcome return of Jye and booking Craig Cook to fill the Bomber-sized hole at number one left by the European Grass Championships – which really should be held in Amsterdam and not a field in Trine Jepsen’s Danish alma mater.

While hopefully a goodly number will be basking in the sunshine on Saturday I suspect most of us will have the curtains drawn to keep the soleil from spoiling the picture on Wednesday night when the BSN boys have us in the frame again from the millionaire’s playground of Poole.

Who are probably still trying to work out how Leicester had the temerity to win at the home of speedway’s Man United last time out.

Well the brightest among us are well aware that Man United have won as many titles as Newcastle United and Sunderland combined over the past decade. And probably that despite their many and palpable failings the boys from Salford have always strived to be at football’s top table rather than bounce up and down leagues in search of glory.

Ever the Glazers baulked at the thought of dropping into the third division just so they could celebrate winning the Papa John’s Cup and having a day out at Wembley.

Mind you they do share a certain demographic of hard to love fans. Who presumably will stay on their yachts when the Pirates are our next Championship callers on July 9 in yet another “must-win” Bandits’ encounter.

While the FTS boys are left fire-fighting the Bullets have similarly taken a leaf out of their sponsors’ book and refuse to take any sh!t – especially at home.

Their play-off qualification is all but assured but it has to be said that which bar the silverware ends up in is shaping into a tidy three-way battle between them, Mildenhall and Leicester.

With Oxford perhaps coming up on the rails now that Luke Killeen has finally become a bonafide rubber-stamped Brit and certainly hit the ground at full throttle.

Those of us who saw him blasting it halfway up the first bend funbags at the pre-season practice may have raised an eyebrow when on his debut – on the somewhat tighter Plymouth turns – he wrestled it around The Coliseum and scored paid 15 on debut, earning a call up for the Cheetahs on Wednesday night in the process.

With Lee Complin heading up to Armadale along with an enthused-again Elliott Kelly the NDL is beefing itself up as the season goes on.

So far the Bullets have managed to find a new hero whenever go-to NDL superman skipper Bickley has needed a hand. Messrs Crang, Pijper, Ronaldo Blair and last week, Ben Rathbone all producing their take a bow and strike a pose moment in the spotlight.

Plenty more to come with cup, league and play-offs awaiting the Bullets.

In fact if Martin Hunter and Ben Duffill have nothing better to do then perhaps they can strike a deal to give the rock and roll rebels of the NDL some exposure at the business end of the season.

But first they need to focus on the battle royale that is Cookie’s Bandits, led from the front by Flint the Younger, featuring a cast of scrappers and battlers assembled from all corners of what even members of the Flat Earth Society refer to as the globe, producing the speedway equivalent of bug spray to send Rob “Never on a Friday” Godfrey back to Lincolnshire with a singed sausage or two.

It could be x-rated but in all likelihood will be completed before the 9pm watershed.

Buy a ticket, slap on the sunscreen and join us trackside. 7pm.

George Dodds
George Dodds

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