Published on 19th August 2022
Author Dick Barrie

What a fine old week I’ve had!

Starting at Plymouth, where the Bullets went at the local Crusaders tooth and nail, never giving up and taking the tightest of victories (44-45, wowser!) at the end.

I suspect I was the only camp follower on the scene that night, but some of you may have followed the action on the Plymouth stream, and enjoyed it was much as I did.

Mind you, the weather helped – a sweaty 35C – as did the hospitality provided by the locals.

Then it was on to Birmingham, where the Bandits nicked a single point from the locals, which was a tad disappointing, yet a fair enough result on the night. If Jonas had been properly visa-ed by Priti Patel in time I think we’d have won quite easily, but she didn’t, he wasn’t and we had to rely on a magnificent 5-1 by Bomber and Leon to get us the point. No complaints.

Probably the best thing to come out of the evening was a chat with club owner Nigel Tolley about his hopes for the Brummies for the longer term. Just a few months ago, the fannies were screaming that Perry Barr was a dead zone, the Brummies had no chance of surviving the season, etc, etc…… Well, they have done, and Nigel is saying onward and upward. Good news indeed.

Given the choice of WBA playing Sheffield United, a limited-over cricket match or some speedway the next night, I – unsurprisingly – chose the skids.

Over to Ipswich in more glorious weather, and a nice night out. A huge crowd – by far the biggest I’ve ever seen at Foxhall – and another cracking meeting, with Jason Doyle just a cut above the rest.

Spud has linked with the Witches – some retirement he’s having – and his points probably made the difference in a tense little 46-44 home win.

The Ipswich visit was a pleasant relaxation, as Berwick didn’t have a dog in the fight and I could view things as a neutral. The following evening it was Oxford for the Pairs, and of course, the Bandits were in the mix.

With Leon at Cardiff, Bomber and Jye were our two top-average men and came sooooo close to getting into the semi-finals, Poole only putting us up to the bar early by virtue of countback.

Nice touch was that our two guys, plus management and pit-helpers, walked around the dog-track to salute our supporters on the third bend.

Once that had happened, a couple of other teams followed suit. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery!

While everyone at Oxford seemed to be heading for Cardiff after the meeting, I was going in the other direction – to the airport, to get home to Bonnie Scotland.

Where I could watch the GP on Saturday from the comfort of an armchair and then on Sunday, while fulfilling my broadcasting commitments at Crystal FM, check our Leon and Jonas’ progress in SGP2 on my phone.

There’s been a helluva lot of complaining about the temporary track at the Principality Stadium, but in truth I’ve seen an awful lot worse around the world.

Yes, you’d want it to have been better, but it was what it was. There have been 20 GPs in Cardiff, and that wasn’t the worst surface by far – was it the heat which made everyone so grumpy?

Next year it’ll be fixed, racing will be different – maybe not as exciting! – and the critics will find something else to complain about.

My biggest moan was that the cancellation of the SGP2 semi-finals prevented Leon and/or Tom Brennan from taking what would have been a deserved place on the podium. The track was no different after Heat 20 than it had been after Heat 2 – regardless of what excuses were trotted out, I think we can feel cheated.

But mention of Jonas at SGP2 brings me to this week’s bumper news……

Priti Patel has somehow discovered his long-overdue visa application at the back of her cupboard, and – thanks to some pressure from Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP (I knew that somewhere, someplace there was an effective Tory) – his paperwork is now in order.

As I write, our gallant young Viking is flying in – all set to flourish his visa in the face of immigration officials – and take his place in the squad at Scunthorpe tonight.

His partner at reserve will be Luke Crang, fully-deserving a run-out in the “big team” after his exploits with the Bullets since returning from that premature retirement.

Let’s be clear – while the GHT Bullets have been magnificent at their own level, and seem favourites to finish on top of the pre-play-off NDL standings – the “wee team” is there to provide new blood for our big-league FTS Bandits from within.

As natural wastage allows senior figures – looking back, we’ve seen stalwart servants such as Kevin Doolan, David Howe, Spud and even Dany Gapp moving away from Bandit duty – we have to look to the Bullets to fill out our squad in the longer term.

Having already seen Leon move on and up from the Academy, through the Bullets to the Bandits (and ‘way beyond!) it is probable the next pocket rocket to come fizzing up through the system will be Ace Pijper. He’s still only fifteen, and can’t race at Championship level until next season, but……

However, that will be then and this is right now. If Belle Vue Colts can soundly beat Leicester’s Cubs tonight, our lads will top the table, and their play-off opponents will become clearer.

For the Bandits, a win tonight against the Bell Ends and another next Saturday will leave us with a happy smile after a season blighted by injury, il-luck and government maladministration.

Was it not ever so………………

Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do)? He is always happy to hear from interesting people on

Dick Barrie
Dick Barrie

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