So it ends…….
The Bandits’ fifty-fourth season, and still no Championship title. Just as there was never a Division II title, a National League title nor a Premier League title.
But — we’re still here!
Since our formation in 1968, take a look at so many of the clubs, teams and tracks who have beaten us to those championships.
Canterbury, Crewe, Boston, Newcastle, Rye House, Long Eaton, Ellesmere Port, Hackney, Arena Essex, Reading, Exeter, Hull, Workington and Somerset.
Meanwhile, our bonny, bouncing Bandits of Berwick continue to excite, enthral and exasperate us each season without ever finding the luck required to come out on top of the pile.
Last Saturday, with nothing much at stake and both Bomber and Leon called up for national service, I saw an encouraging number of good citizens still turning up to watch the team take on Scunthorpe.
These virtuous burghers of Berwick were there as usual to be entertained, to watch motor-bikes going sideways and to enjoy the ambience, the banter with their friends and quite simply to enjoy what they, their parents and probably their grandparents have found to be the best show in town – Saturday night at the skids!
Now there are some – who all seem to have keyboards handy – who will sneer at these words, claiming that going to speedway is of no interest to them if their team is not winning relentlessly, topping the table yet wobbling dangerously towards the financial implosion than will almost invariably follow a small-market promotion which tilts alarmingly at such windmills.
Now I want to see the Bandits finally winning the title that has eluded us for more than half a century as much as anyone, but not at all costs.
Each springtime, we see the team lining up and feel pretty confident that “this could be the year”……….
The riders appear to be a good mixture, we can see there is a budget to be observed, yet with our great sponsors, and additional income from our 5-1 scheme and the like, it could just, with fingers firmly crossed, be the “The Year”.
Then Lady Luck gathers up her skirts and kicks the club firmly in the nuts.
Injuries happen – seemingly never the fault of the unlucky Bandit involved – at exactly the wrong time. Every bloody season!
Even when a change has to be made – and it should be noted that, over the past five years, Berwick have made fewer line-up changes than any other club in our league – it somehow goes awry….
For example, Kyle Bickley – who I had been confident would considerably increase his scoring this season – was pretty clearly struggling to get the points at Championship level.
Now Kyle was doing his best, he was clearly a competent rider and he was one of a team.
But, if we were to make the giant step, to sneak into the play-offs and beyond, the line-up had to be boosted.
Put it like this: Kyle was doing his bit, but he was Pete Best. Jonas Knudsen was Ringo!
He made the team, the band and the future brighter and better.
But the Beatles never had to contend with a Tory government creating Brexit and failing dishonourably on promises to provide visas within aexpected schedule.
So the injuries to Leon, Jye and Ty Proctor, plus the disappearing visa, put paid to the hopes and dreams of springtime.
But, the club is still going, the promotion are still planning and tomorrow is another day…….
Bring it on!
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