Over the last 20 years or so, your Berwick Bandits have often put together some rather cosmopolitan looking line ups, in fact so much so I spoke about it in a previous blog.
And I enjoyed it so much I’ve decided to revisit the subject…well that coupled with the fact that I’ve virtually sod all else to write about…
Anyway, it may not be something that floats everyone’s boat, I must be honest and say I kind of like that international flavour that it brings about, don’t ask me why, I just do.
However while we have been well served over the years by the likes of Michal Makovsky and Adrian Rymel, both of whom would go on to become Bandits legends, there are some imports that were considerably less successful.
Take Dany Gappmaier for example, he may have his critics as every rider does, but there is no question he is by far one of our success stories…especially compared to his fellow countryman Manuel Hauzinger, who’s name it took longer to say than his Bandits career lasted.
Tero Aarnio was another rider who found success as a Bandits rider and he became a favourite for his tenacious showings in Black and Gold…but his fellow countryman Jarno Kosonen, well he was Finnished before he started.
We have seen an influx of Swedish and Danish riders in our ranks over the last few years, and for every Sebastian Alden and Nickolaj Busk Jakobsen there has been a Benny Johansson and a Jan Pedersen.
Please don’t think for a second that I am disrespecting any of these riders, I have the ultimate respect to anyone who throws their leg over a bike, but not every rider can be a success story.
This sport, and life in general simply isn’t like that.
There are however a few riders over the years who showed flashes of what they were capable of, before disappearing off into the sunset and leaving you wondering what if?
Slovenian rider Matic Voldrih has a very short stint with us back in 2015 and while he found the going a little tough at times, he wasn’t short on bottle and looked to be getting the hang of Shielfield Park at least.
That was until a horrendous accident in his homeland resulting in a broken leg put him out of action indefinitely and to my knowledge, he never rode again.
Then there was Norbert “Warm and Cosy” Magosi, the Hungarian rider was a fantastic back up to Adrian Rymel and the two formed quite the partnership. He was a rider who would have done a fantastic job for any team but after a spell with the Bandits he was lost to British speedway.
Bevan Compton was one of very few South African riders to make waves in British Speedway. An import of Peter Waite he signed for the club in 2001 and posted a very respectable average of just over five points a meeting.
With an eye catching leg trailing style he looked destined for a bright future but a knee injury (if memory serves) curtailed his season and his Bandits career in one fell swoop, and again to my knowledge he never rode again either.
Another couple of riders who spring to mind were a pair of German riders Steffan Mell and Joachim Kugelmann. Mell was a lanky rider with a strange style who racked up plenty of points at the start of 2002 before departing never to be seen on these shores again.
2004 saw the arrival of Kugelmann, who proved to be a decent scorer too but after 14 meetings he was gone too, and that was that, another rider lost to British speedway…oh what could have been.
Of course there may be more to these stories than I know, and I’m sure someone out there will be dying to tell me I’m talking bollocks and remind me how wrong I am.
But one thing I do know is that perhaps the biggest case of this came in the form of Carlos Villar. The unknown Argentinian became an instant hit with the Bandits fans with his spectacular style and general fearlessness!
However tragically at the end of the 2003 season, he would suffer life changing injuries in a fairly simple looking crash in the last meeting of the season against Newport. Had Carlos made it through that meeting unscathed, I firmly believe that he would have went on to cement his place among the all time greats of Berwick Speedway.
Before folks jump down my throat, I’m not claiming that Carlos would have went on to be a world champion, but what I do know is that he was robbed of the chance to fulfill his full potential.
With a bit of backing and better equipment Carlos would have become a very handy rider at this level and perhaps even became a stand out if given the chance.
What if indeed…
Speedway is filled with plenty of what if tales?
Who you got? I’d love to hear about it!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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