SEVEN MONTHS, ONE WINNER

Published on 21st January 2022
Author Dick Barrie

Not only doth my cup runneth over, it spilleth all over the floor…..

It’s the waiting and hoping that makes it a long winter, but once we see the fixture list the light at the end of the tunnel gets a whole lot brighter.

Just checking the dates this week and thinking about away-match travels has bucked me up like a hefty dose of Doctor Somebody’s Tonic Swamp Juice.

The season beckons. Seven months, one winner.

And why shouldn’t that winner be us? At this point in time, everyone starts even.

Yes, yes, I know we haven’t publicly named the seventh part of our carefully-constructed jigsaw of the Bandit brigade — but don’t we have faith that the lads, the bosses, the boys in charge will get it right?

I see Sister Sarah has punted a few names about – any one of which would certainly complement the squad – but to be honest, the six guys already named look to be so solid we could announce Dipper Sixpence, Slider McGlumpher or Tits McPudding as the last man and I’d still be enthusiastically checking that EasyJet website with a view to looking in on venues like Plymo uth, Poole and maybe Oxford, come the darling buds of May!

Going back to Oxford will be a bitter-sweet experience.

My last trip to Cowley was in 1991, on the night the Banditos won the big-league Gold Cup, but that magnificent victory was stained by a terrible crash in the final heat – a race that mattered little, as we had already won the trophy – which ended Mikael Blixt’s career (less than a week after he had appeared in the World Final) and took Kelvin Tatum out of our line-up long enough to dampen our dream of winning the British League, too.

But “what-if’s” don’t put trophies on the piano, and “what-might-have-beens” only serve up ulcers if you let them gnaw at your guts..

Worrying about the past is unhealthy. It can take an hour off your life and give it to Keith Richards.

So let’s look forward – at full-team level we’re contesting the Championship, the KO Cup and even this new hybrid Summer Cup (which is to culminate in an odd-looking three-club,18-heat final, contested by six-man teams at Sheffield on an autumnal Sunday).

If we’re going to win something, which do you fancy us for?

It might be our year for the KO Cup again……

We’ve been given a first-round bye, and will meet either Redcar or Oxford in a quarter-final, come May.

I never tire of watching Bandits’ glorious 1989 victory over the mighty Poole team of that season – I’ve played it so often, the DVD’s got a hole in it…..

Of course, as well as the Banditos, we’ve got the utterly-refreshing Bullets to follow as well this season.

Eight teams in the NL, and play-offs are back, too. Plus a KO Cup, which has our young ‘uns drawn against Leicester in what will essentially be the semi-final.

With Newcastle and Eastbourne disappearing from the roster that began last year’s National League – and neither dropped out because of any lack of interest in NL racing, that’s for sure – we have Oxford and Plymouth coming in to keep the numbers up.

The one new venue to the competition isn’t really new at all, as Kent’s Royals — forced out of their plush Central Park by a cynical landlord — will relocate to the long-running training track at Iwade, still in the Sittingbourne area.

I’ve never been there, having only watched speedway in Kent at Canterbury and Crayford, back in the ‘seventies.

Crayford was a odd place, a tiny track in a big stadium, but with awful viewing angles and a nasty little son of a bachelor making life difficult in the pits car-park, but I liked Kingsmead, where Canterbury ran for about twenty years in the shadow of that magnificent cathedral – like Berwick, they were founder-members of the old Division II in 1968 – and can especially recall, even now, the girl who used to come into the pits there to sell us raffle tickets before a meeting.

A lovely Kentish lass – if she wasn’t totally man-hungry, she was certainly peckish.

Happy days……
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Disagree with Dick – as so many do? He is always be happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk

Dick Barrie
Dick Barrie

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