It’s officially silly season and the rumour mill is headed into overdrive as speedway promoters crunch the number and riders weigh up the options. There are returns, there are farewells and there are rumours, lots and lots of rumours.
However, from a Berwick Bandits point of view, we have our 2023 septet in place and suffice to say there are a couple of surprises. But before we get to that, the glaring omission from the line up is Chris “Bomber” Harris, who is off to pastures new. I think I speak for every Bandits fan in saying that Chris has been nothing but a pleasure to watch in 2022 and we were truly spoiled to have him as a Bandit for a season. By all accounts it was an amicable split between the club and a true professional, the way it should be.
There isn’t a lot else to say other than thank you Bomber, it has been an absolute pleasure and upon your return I’m sure a warm reception awaits you.
So, we move on and look ahead to 2023 and our new look line up, which a few of you have been asking my opinion on. Now, here’s the thing, at the start of this season, I looked at our line up and thought we were a lock on for the playoffs and maybe more. On paper, we looked strong, but we all know we don’t race on paper.
On track is where it matters and while things started really well, the wheels fell off and we fell short of expectation. No excuses, just facts.
We have four returnees from our class of 2022 in the shape of Leon Flint, Jye Etheridge, Nathan Stoneman and Jonas Knudsen and I’m pretty sure that most will be happy with that. Leon was a no brainer; he had the season of his life in 2022 and surely another season of progress is on the cards for 2023.
Nathan Stoneman was desperately unlucky not to play more of a part in the proceedings of 2022 and he earned his spot for another go around. Jonas Knudsen was nothing short of a revelation since his mid-season arrival and surely, he was near the top of the wish list of returnees.
The case of Jye Etheridge is a more curios one and perhaps many fans felt that he may be headed for pastures new, however he is once again part of the team. Now over the last couple of seasons, Jye has been the victim of injury which has led to him having long spells out and that has been all but impossible to cover for.
In my opinion, this is a huge season for Jye as IF he can stay fit, the Bandits will win meetings because when he’s on form, he is all but untouchable, especially around Shielfield Park.
So that’s the returnees, what about the newcomers?
First up we’ll look at Thomas Jorgensen who makes his return after five years away. TJ is a proven quality performer at this level, and he also arguably had his best season as a Bandit during his first spell with the club. There are question marks over his starting average, but I’m not going to get into that argument. Point is, Thomas is all action, all effort and you know exactly what you’re getting.
Again, if he can stay fit and healthy during the season, he will win races and he will score points. I know a few online experts have had their say, and that’s fine, they’re entitled to their opinion, but I seem to remember a few having an opinion before Thomas’s first spell as a Bandit and he proved them all wrong then too.
The signing of Connor Coles certainly came as a surprise too, but he is a rider who has had chances at this level before and for whatever reason, hasn’t been able to make them fully stick. However, any time I have seen him he has always shown plenty of effort and generally he has always ridden fairly well at Shielfield Park. Yes, there will be pressure on him and Nathan Stoneman to add to their starting averages, of course there will but for Connor, I feel this may be a season of now or never if he is to progress in his career.
Onto our final signing and this one was out of leftfield for sure as Rory Schlein makes his comeback to the sport following his “retirement” at the end of the 2021 season. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’ve always been the biggest fan of Rory Schlein because no doubt someone will dig something from the archives to make me look like a fool.
The one thing I will say is that when he is in the mood, he will win races and he will score points, but does he still have that hunger after a year out? Time will ultimately tell.
So there we have it, your 2023 Bandits fully announced before the year is out and as I have said before, it really doesn’t matter to me who dons the famous black and gold, they will always have my full support and our new look side is no different.
Negative comments do not help, we are lucky to have speedway in the town of Berwick, especially in the current climate.
Ask an Eastbourne fan if they would be happy with that line-up?
Ask a Newcastle fan if they would be happy with that line-up?
Ask a Swindon fan if they would be happy with that line-up?
I rest my case.
This team has my full support, and if all goes well, maybe I’ll be back to shout about it when the season rolls around!
Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with the Mythman, have an idea for a feature, or you simply wish to chew the fat over all things speedway, you can email me email@example.com or get in touch via the JB Speedway Media Facebook page. If your compliments, or indeed gripes can be contained to limited characters you can tweet @Mythman666.
Until next time…and there will be a next time.
Right, I’ll hae’tae gan.