Published on 28th September 2020
Author Dick Barrie

Oh, to be in Ethiopia, now that 2013 is here….

Eh? What? What the……?

Well, y’see, I was watching a daytime documentary about this landlocked country in the Horn of Africa – not much else to do in lock-down, eh – and gleaned a startling fact……

For reasons I can now explain, the calendar down there runs – depending on the time of year – seven or eight years behind our time!

True story. Seems the Ethiopian churches, while agreeing most of the main bible stories we are familiar with, believe Jesus was born a few years later than we think. Who knows,maybe they’re right?

This means they started counting down – or up, I suppose – from a date in the middle of our year AD 7 – and, with a rather different calendar (they have thirteen months in their year for a start) from the rest of us.

They still have a Christmas and Easter on certain days, and celebrate New Year (they’ve just clicked over into 2013 as Hogmanay there falls in early September) but, even after two thousand years, haven’t caught up……

Thus, although 2020 in our own highly-respected Gregorian calendar may well come to be known as the year speedway slept, in Ethiopia it’s still only 2013!

Meaning that if Shielfield was situated nearer Addis Ababa than Alnwick, we’d still be seeing live speedway, not watching old videos, bootlegged Russian feeds from the GPs or dodgy live streams.

Because – if we can consider ourselves Ethiopian – your Bandits would have just had a full 2013 season of action.

Let’s party like it’s 2013, enjoy the dream as if we were Ethiopian and we’ve just been at all the meetings……..

We started with the BenFund Bonanza (won by Mads Korneliussen). It was cold.

As the season unfolded, we staged our first Sky-TV match (losing to the Diamond Geezers, but winning at the turnstiles) and enjoyed, if that’s the word, a mixed bag of team results. We won at Glasgow, always nice, but tumbled to a landslide home thrashing by Somerset, led by a certain J.Doyle, who collected a maximum.

The boilerhouse of our squad – the riders who figured in twenty-plus league matches – were Kozza Smith, Matty Wethers, David Bellego, Robin Aspegren and Nicky Barratt, with an honourable mention for Eddie Kennett’s mid-season cameo (during which he recorded a 9.31 away average, which has to be something of a record) and proved Bandits’ ability to pick up the odd surprise signing.

In August we had a huge high and a terrible low. The tragedy struck at Scunthorpe at the beginning of the month, when Ricky Ashworth fell awkwardly, but on his own and in mid-track, and didn’t get up. He lay in a coma for 91 days, and as we know, is still feeling the awful effects of his injury.

Later the same month, Shielfield saw the crème de la crème of FIM racing come to town when we staged the World U-21 World Final.

I’ll just repeat that. We staged a World Final. By golly, that’s as good to write now as it was to watch back then!

Zmarzlik, Dudek, Lebedevs, Millk, Pawlicki, Mikkelsen (and Busk Jacobsen) all came, prepared to thrill. Thrill they did – except the unlucky NBJ, who lasted until bend 1 of his first outing – and we were astounded by the spectacle.

In Britain, I’m writing this on September 28th 2020, but on Ethiopan time, the last meeting of the Shielfield season will take place on September 28th, 2013 – tonight!

It is to be a fund-raising challenge for Ricky Ashworth, between his former club Sheffield and our Bandits. I fancy a draw.

It will, I’m sure, prove both a financial success and an entertaining end to the season. I’m especially looking forward to watching how a 22-year-old Pole called Jakub Jamrog will attack our track……………….

Oh, if only, if only…..

Well, we can all dream. I’ll leave you to yours, I’m off to Ethiopia, to find a good bookie’s shop.

I want to place a treble there in 2013, predicting three outsiders coming home in 2016.

Who wouldn’t give me good odds for my treble of a Brexit referendum voting us out of Europe, Leicester City winning the Premier League – and Donald Trump becoming US president?

…..and you think 2020 has been a crazy-bad year?

Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at

Dick Barrie
Dick Barrie

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