Published on 26th February 2024
Author Dick Barrie

After a break from blogging for a while, this new year, coming new season and interesting mainly-new team have combined to revitalise interest in this part of our website.

So what’s new, pussycats?

Obviously, the new faces. Your bonny bouncers have been refreshed, and hopefully revitalised by the arrival of Lewi Kerr, Drew Kemp, Danyon Hume, Bastian Borke and Freddie Hodder – plus Stewart Dickson as our new team manager.

This has been a clear-out, a new broom sweeping in, such as we haven’t seen since the days of Wee Peter.

Will it work out? Ask me again in October!

Of course, I’m as optimistic as ever. I start every season in the same Pollyanna mode, and hope against hope we won’t be messed about by the unlucky injuries which have plagued our recent campaigns.

Last year alone, we had a squad at times hurting like they’d been trampled by a herd of frenzied young bulls at Pamplona
However, one optimistic note I’ll offer is that, while team successes at our regular level (Second Division, under whatever name we give the competition) haven’t been exactly been spread thick on the ground over the past 55 seasons – two KO Cups and a couple of National Fours victories, each one celebrated like a Calcutta Cup win is on a Saturday night along Princes Street – these victories were all achieved under Scottish team managers!

So, as I’ve written elsewhere – no pressure then, Stewart!

The fresh season’s coming up quickly – there’s the BenFund Bonanza over on the left-hand coast less than three weeks away and the following weekend (March 22/23rd) we kick off with the traditional Pre-season Party in the Black & Gold on Friday night, and the full-scale Press’n’Practice on Shielfield shale from 6.30 on Saturday 23rd.

Both these events are of course open to everyone – no set charge for either but we would appreciate a donation, whatever you feel right about – every penny of which will be funnelled into the upkeep and ongoing operation of our invaluable Training Academy at Duns.

If you can’t make it to either of these pipe-openers – although if not, why not? – then the big night for you will be the following Saturday – at Easter – when the Bandits roll their bikes out of the pits in earnest for the first match of the year.

Which will be, for the first time since 2018 – a long, long time ago, pre-Covid and all that nasty stuff – against the Comics.

Workington have been reborn at a splendid new facility at Northside, thankfully consigning that dreadful Derwent Park arena to the history books, and we will welcome them back into our league with genuine pleasure.

After all, local derbies are the stuff and substance of sport. They make people go as curly as corkscrews.

A good local derby can be like a war, minus the shooting. Since we lost Newcastle, our nearest neighbours have been Edinburgh (80 miles) Glasgow (98) or Redcar (99 miles away) and, while the coast-to-coast journey to and from Workington is actually a little further away at 115 miles, this is the derby we really savour.

To borrow the phrase from Frankie (who went to Hollywood) it is like two tribes going to war
The fact that we will usually be racing the Comets on Saturdays – or maybe a Sunday afternoon over there – means it is easier for their camp-followers to get over here to Shielfield (and in return for us to go west) than battling Friday-night traffic-after-work to watch us race the Monarchs, Tigers or Bears.

So let’s get at them! These two Easter meetings – here and there – will be for the Border Trophy, which was the same event (although not for the same actual piece of silverware, I suspect) we first met them in, back in 1970. When we won the thing!

So let’s do it again…………….

Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do)? He is always happy to hear from interesting people on dick@crystalfm.co.uk

Dick Barrie
Dick Barrie

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