Published on 16th November 2020
Author Dick Barrie

Quite a lot’s gone on since last I bloggered…..

We’ve had news of a vaccine that might ease our coronapox crisis, America had the good sense to get rid of that absolute clown in Washington, Boris and his boys produced several u-turns on past promises, Leon capitalised on an excellent display at our U21 showpiece by hooking up at Rybnik – and Doolan went home…….

That last bit’s sad. Although I’m obviously pleased for him to learn King Kev’s being restored to some sunshine, his departure leaves a huge void in the camp. Not on the track – we were aware he wouldn’t be in the line-up, had we had a season – but a hole in the atmosphere, his just not being there, on hand in the pits and in and about everything Bandito.

Mind you, he’ll turn forty in a fortnight. Maybe time for him to head back Down Under, get stuck into sorting out all their bushfires……….

Something that hasn’t been commented on as much as it maybe should is how your promotion have, while maintaining what seems like the same squad of riders for the past three years, managed to dramatically reduce the average age of the line-up.

How did that happen?

Simply by being pragmatic, about keeping faith with the riders we know and like and replacing their experience with younger talent when elder statesmen choose to step down.

At the end of 2018 we lost Theo Pijper to long-tracking and David Howe to a well-earned retirement – both in their late thirties – and brought in club assets Leon Flint (16) and 24-year-old Coty Garcia. A year later, when Kevin (40 this month!) chose to step back from league speedway, his replacement was to be Kyle Bickley, just 18.

With the 2020 season a no-no, we hope the same young Turks will be lining up for Berwick in April.

Thus, while the changes have been gradual and the core of the side remains the same, the lads have knocked a rather amazing 56 years off the total age of the team in three seasons.

Which is rather impressive. Of course the promotion is a young one too, by comparison with other clubs – Flintie’s the “auld yin” at 38 – and (leaving the meeting presenter out of the equation) Shielfield being awash with youth and vigour can only be a good thing as we follow our dream into this third decade of the millennium.

On that subject, am often asked how I retain my oomph and vivacity as the years roll by. Mainly, I suppose it’s by eating the proper stuff, although I’m by no means an organic-food-only freak.

I certainly don’t understand the fuss about genetically modified grub. I had a lovely leg of salmon the other day.

Going back to our youngest Bandit, Leon’s statement explaining the reasons behind the link to his new Polish club was well-explained by the lad.

He told us he sees the extension of his racing activities as a logical step in his ambition of becoming World U21 Champ by 2024 – adding the Polish club to his portfolio while in no way turning his back on Berwick – talking of “winning things with both the Bandits and Sharks”.

He’ll also benefit from the huge experience of Rybnik manager Marek Cieslak, a terrific wee guy I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since his riding days at White City over forty years ago……

But none of that will be happening for a good few months yet. Right now, as we await our vaccinations and the green shoots of springtime, we must be very, very patient, however tiresome it might be.

May the New Year be filled with all the good things this one’s avoided. Around Easter, let’s all put the Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” on our music-makers, and let George Harrison’s lyrics wash our cares away.

You can tell I’m fed up when I start philosophising, can’t you?

Right now, I’m locked down tight in Glasgow and as bored as an Amish electrician.


Disagree with Dick – as so many do? He is always be happy to hear from interesting people at

Dick Barrie
Dick Barrie

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