I’m pretty sure that most folks would agree that 2020 was a strange year. One to forget and one best filed in the dustbin, never to be spoken of again.
2021 on the other hand has been much improved, a year where some degree of normality has returned to our lives. But perhaps more importantly, fans were able to return to the terraces, the bikes were able to return to the track and speedway got underway again.
But that isn’t to say it hasn’t still been somewhat of a strange year, especially in speedway terms. Now this isn’t anything new or ground-breaking because as a sport, speedway has never been afraid to embrace it’s inner strangeness, but let’s look at some facts.
In the Championship we have witnessed meetings featuring Troy Batchelor, Bjarne Pedersen and Hans Andersen and in the British Final we saw Chris Harris and Scott Nicholls rolling back the years and battling it out like the days of old.
Some have compared it to a time warp, but the reality is that’s just speedway in 2021. But perhaps the strangest thing of all, or at least the most unlikely is that three time world champion Jason Crump, a rider who has seen and done it all in his career, has been riding in the Championship for the Plymouth Gladiators.
Jason Crump riding anywhere in 2021 seemed somewhat unlikely.
Jason Crump riding in the Championship in 2021 seemed highly unlikely.
But Jason Crump riding for the Bandits? You’re having a laugh aren’t you?
Well, no. I’m not actually, I’m deadly serious as it goes.
Yes, as if Speedway in 2021 could get any stranger Jason Crump will don the famous black and gold and ride for the Bandits this Saturday night.
How mad is that?
Now I imagine that winning a Grand Prix, World Cups and World Championships is all fine and well, but fulfilling a birth right and a lifelong dream of riding for the Berwick Bandits will likely be the highlight of Jason’s career.
Of course the appearance of Jason Crump in a Berwick race jacket is a monumental occasion but it is tinged with a little sadness as he replaces one of our own in Nickolaj Busk Jakobsen. Busk is off with exhaustion and has given his all for the Bandits and I think I speak for every Bandits fan when in thanking him for his efforts and wishing him the speediest of recoveries.
Another man who has given his all for the Bandits since his arrival in 2018 is Aaron Summers and this weekend he will take to the track for the final time as he is retiring from speedway at the end of this season. Again, I’m sure we will all be wishing Aaron and his family all the best for the future.
It does seem rather fitting that his last meeting should be against his former club Glasgow and what better way to end the season than on a high, having sent the Tigers packing with no league points to their name!
At least that’s the plan anyway!
I will likely cover the season overall in greater detail a little further down the path, but in terms of results, its pretty fair to say it hasn’t entirely gone to plan and languishing in the lower half of the table wasn’t in the script.
There have been times when it would be easy to fall out of love with the sport and think about chucking it in altogether…not so long ago I was considering the same, again I may get into that in greater detail another time.
So when I read on Twitter that another of our very own Steve Hayward may have been calling his last Bandits match from the box, the alarm bells started to ring. Now I consider Steve a great mate of mine so we speak on the regular about all things speedway and he has been a massive supporter of mine since the very beginning, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.
As a club Berwick have always been very lucky to have many willing volunteers on board who bring lots to the table all for the sheer love of the sport and without them speedway in Berwick simply wouldn’t happen. Steve fits into that bracket and in my opinion, there is nobody better at what they do than him.
Simply put, he’s pretty much the Jason Crump of Speedway announcers and that’s not hyperbole, that’s fact.
Not only that, he does a mean Jimmy Somerville impression on the karaoke! Google it kids!
Much to cover and much to come back to but in the mean time there is the small matter of some Tiger taming which you can witness live and in glorious high definition this weekend.
Shielfield Park, Saturday night, 7pm, Bandits Vs Tigers… I’ve got that feeling it’s gonna be an absolute barnburner!
Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with the Mythman, have an idea for a feature, or you simply want 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 send me a tweet @Mythman666.
Until next time…and there will be a next time.
Right I’ll hae’tae gan