Roger and out for jolly Pirates

Published on 13th July 2022
Author George Dodds

So can someone explain to me exactly how Poole ended up with five points and Berwick a piddling one from their Championship face-offs?

Other than the fact that the Pirates scored 94 points and we managed 86 over 30 heats and British speedway’s scoring system is designed to favour those performing well on opposition shale while still keeping GCHQ codebreakers sharp and on-point of course.

And that, ladies and gentlemen is the difference between top and bottom. Glory and disaster. Success and failure.

In a world where any self-serving, morally bankrupt, fiscally suspect, insensitive, narcissist sock puppet can grow up to be British Prime Minister those at the top are doing it right, those at the bottom are more to be scorned than pitied.

Turns out from reading the BS Forum – second only to The Beano and Daily Mail as my favourite repository of comics – that Wimborne Road is something akin to a cross between Hyde Road, the National Speedway Stadium and Wembley 81 when it comes to racing quality while passing at Shielfield is, of course, impossible. Yawn, yawn.

Perhaps with all the Russians parking their yachts and roubles on the south coast riviera it’s not surprising that they are able, as highlighted by Channel 4s The Undeclared War, to tune into a version of the truth tailored to their needs; the Britiski Speedway Netski if you will. The clue being that in their version Howlin Hayley was partnered by the Bolshoi’s  most famous Nutcracker soloist Piotr Pieski. It certainly looked suspiciously like a case of Fake Follicles.

Those of us watching the domestic version, approved by the Australian born and French domiciled media moguls who’s hired mouthpieces  decide what is best for Britain, surprisingly enough what makes them richest, saw the dusty blue line of Poole – is that why they used to call their big individual event the Blue Riband? – traded for a Northumbrian grip fest.

Which was especially enjoyed by Bomber who became the third fastest man around Shielfield in heat one. And fourth fastest in heat ten.

Only Dan Bewley and Craig Cook have ever ridden four laps quicker and I’m prepared to share with you my view that had he not just hung back to check that Theo had the measure of Steve Worrall in heat one before opening the throttle then he would have probably shaved DanBew’s record.

Anyhow it wasn’t his four laps in the beginning but the three and a bit at the end which maroons us to the bottom of the table.

Which is tough on his other four breathtaking rides and the other 13 riders – especially Danny King – who worked so hard to make Saturday a night to savour long after we waited for the Aftasun to kick in.

Everyone had their moment in the sun – Poole’s Partonesque Pirates finding something cooking – Ben as it happened – lower down while the more equitably composed FTS Bandits and their powerers from Keenwood Karpets showcased the perfect combination in support of Bomber.

Who looked unbeatable by anything human. Which as it turns out was pretty much the case.

Bike one – the most celebrated Rocket in Northumbria since George Stephenson’s heyday – spluttered to a halt on the first bend, fortunately just after Willie Dishington had put on the red lights due to Danny King’s startline thiswaythatwayforwardandbackways.

Cue discussion on whether Mr Harris was under power when the red lights came on. A moot point I would assume as the offence was an unsatisfactory start so the race technically ended as soon as the tapes rose.

Nathan Stoneman looked as if he was trying to pinch an extra ride as he roared out of the pits but it turns out he was simply delivering Rocket II for our skipper who by this time had arrived, slightly breathless, from the back straight, sans machine and with under two minutes to get to tapes.

An option was the awaiting Jye Etheridge’s Raging Dingo combo but with noticeable differences in physique it’s not surprising that CH jumped on one of his own.

It’s no secret that things didn’t go as scripted. The machine ended up parked nose first in the pits polyfoam while its owner let the words drat, flip, fudge and blimey pass his lips, among others.

One of the joys of being sponsored by the country’s leading experts in fire safety is that we have state of the art equipment all around the stadium. Which is just as well as Rocket II tried to add insult to misery by combusting on its way back to the pits.

So two points went up in a puff of acrid white smoke. Poole went home with two they didn’t deserve.

Sport? Nothing else in life kicks you in the shins so often but tempts you back again and again.

Just out of interest the non-faked version of BSN was playing on the Black and Gold megascreen as we dissected the events with a pineapple juice or two well into the night. And in high definition I would say that Danny King twitched every bit as much in the restart of heat 15 as he did in the original.

Oh how much difference would that have made if Willie Dishington had been watching a replay. Or not.

Bugger me if we then didn’t have to suffer another last heat decider the following day when the Bullets just failed to defend their two point advantage going into heat 15.

Which opened up an interesting debate on what in what matters most when it comes to the Bullets in particular and National League racing in general.

I’ve already mentioned Poole’s Partonesque team-building but Kent make her look not only justified and ancient but flatter than Lake Baikal in the depths of winter, although the ice cream van was welcome on another scorching day.

Alfie Bowtell (six-ride paid maximum), Ben Morley (six-ride paid maximum), Danno Verge and four others.

Now in 15-year-old guest Jody Scott we had rather a major contributor ourselves but it is fair to say that with B&M involved in eight of the 15 heats Kent take some beating, especially around the quirky Old Gun circuit.

Our rather more balanced team stuck to its task but then the question became more and more nagging.

At National League level what is more important? That riders gain experience and knowledge of alien conditions which will aid their development and could become vital knowledge in the future?

Or winning a meeting?

In other words hook the guy not scoring and throw in the reserve that is. A no-brainer in the Championship or Premiership – although perhaps also why some number sevens never progress – but what about the NDL.

Indeed would the question even be asked if the Bullets were mid-table or lower? Does it become more important to win because they are top of the league?

Answers on the back of a 20 rouble note, c/o Conservative Head Office, The Kremlin, Rugby.

George Dodds
George Dodds

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