RETIRING UNDEFEATED

Published on 2nd July 2022
Author Dick Barrie

It’s been a wee while since I blogged here – making Sarah seem positively prolific by comparison – but I have the excuse of being busy, honest….

What with attending Shielfield on the night Scunny were to be put to the sword, only to be washed away by the arrival of (understatement alert) a wee shower….

This didn’t just arrive. It broke over our heads with thunder, lightning, hail, rain, sleet, dead cats, howls, tantrums and palpitations of panic.

Fifteen minutes later, the sun was shining again, but the damage was done. Any chance of racing that night was aff.

My next adventure was a few days later, when we went back to Poole – from where we were diverted while on the road from Plymouth last month – where the weather was positively balmy.

Last time I saw us there was away back in 1991, when we (gloriously) beat them in the so-called ‘big league’ and I was reasonably confident of giving the Pirates a wee bit of a fright again.

The Poole track, which has had its fair share of critics in recent years, has been smoothed out and looked in good shape, although smoothness and a comparative lack of dirt did make it difficult to pass if you missed the start, or were squeezed out on the first turn……

Just for a change, Bomber was making starts! He made six of them – and a paid 18-point maximum, as emphatic a showing by a Bandit on away shale as I can recall since Ricky Ashworth at Scunthorpe in early 2012 or maybe Jimmy Nilsen’s return to Swindon (who had told him he wasn’t wanted that year) in our colours in 1991.

Sadly, Poole had too much strength-in-depth for us – referee Simon Humpty-Dumpty didn’t seem to be seeing things our way either – and, not for the first time in recent times, we racked up a respectable 40+ point haul, yet drooped agonisingly short of the 42 we’d have needed to collect an away bonus point.

Yet, I have to think – it wasn’t that long ago we were coming away from meetings on the road, fairly happy that we’d avoided humiliation by scoring over thirty!

To say nothing of those lazy, hazy, crazy summer days of the 1970s when, at circuits such as Eastbourne, Exeter or Rye House, if we managed 20 points it was looked on as a major achievement!

We might still not quite be as solid on the road as we’d like, but by golly we’re getting better!

So home from Poole, and a call from Flintie to ask if I’d team-manage the Academy lads at Armadale on Friday evening.

Sure! Then he leaked the information that we’d only have three riders and no race-jackets.

Just the thing to make a team manager feel unprofessional.

However, I feel I rose to the challenge nobly.

Firstly, I recruited a ‘ringer’ to beef up the team – many thanks to Gregor Millar for accepting the role, and for his two wins and one retiral.

Then, I explained to the referee that the famous Berwick Academy were so well-known and respected that we didn’t need race-jackets for the public to know who we were. He smiled, but didn’t report us for not having our bibs.

Finally, no little thanks to a three-ride maximum from Stene Pijper, we won 19-17!

Allowing me to hand back control of the official Academy team pencil, and retire from management.

Undefeated.

I might also add that, unlike the aforementioned Mr Flint, I didn’t get fined for saying the wrong things about official rulings, or the official making them…….

I’m a good boy, I am.
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Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do)? He is always happy to hear from interesting people on dick@crystalfm.co.uk

Dick Barrie
Dick Barrie

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