Back on track: A dragon’s return

Published on 4th January 2023
Author George Dodds

Currently the only Welsh-born rider active in British speedway – and one of a, thankfully, select group whose machinery has ended up the wrong side of the Shielfield Park barriers our all-action reserve is looking to make a big impact in the points’ chart in 2023.

Nathan Stoneman’s Berwick career has been brief so far but far from lacking in either incident or effort. His re-signing was both anticipated and welcomed by the Berwick faithful who warmed to the 26-year old’s  wholehearted efforts following his arrival at the club as part of the double team switch which included Jonas Knudsen last season.

Nathan first crossed our radar as early as the second week of the 2022 season when he rolled up as a member of the Oxford Chargers team and became one of the few riders to defeat Kyle Bickley around Shielfield in the 2023 National League on his way to a 10 point haul.

The former Somerset, Plymouth and Kent thrillmaker had been tempted out of retirement by the revival of Oxford speedway by Berwick co-owner Jamie Courtney, the stadium barely a stone’s throw from his current base.

A fortnight later when the university city’s Championship Cheetahs visited he was pressed into action in place of the injured Josh MacDonald and contributed a solid 6+1 from the number seven berth, including a heat eight win over Bickley and Ty Proctor – the two men destined to be replaced in the team reshuffle.

Paid 14 in the return NDL match – Ace Pijper the only Bullet to take a point off him – and a string of guest appearances for his parent club encouraged the Berwick management to call him up, Nathan’s debut coming at Poole in June.

Along the way there were some memorable moments, not least a heat two victory in the Championship Jubilee Shield match against Edinburgh celebrated in style.

But attempting to force his way past Plymouth’s Harry McGurk, having started 15 metres back after ploughing through the tapes, it all went horribly wrong and the resulting high speed back straight crash launched his bike over the third bend fence. Thankfully the carnage resulted only in the relatively minor – in speedway terms – broken shoulder blade, but it ended Nathan’s season in August just as he seemed set to bloom.

He’ll be a Bandit come April but will have the Bullets in his sights again as an Oxford Charger when the NDL sides do battle and the one thing for certain is that there’ll never be a dull moment involving one of the sport’s real characters, and the Y Ddraig Goch which has honoured our previous Cymro Bandit Tom Brown will be proudly unfurled on the third bend in 2023.

  Pictures: Nia Martin, Keith Hamblin, Mark Hall, Taz McDougall
George Dodds
George Dodds

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