24 September 2023
GHT BULLETS, POWERED BY STS 44 BELLE VUE COLTS 46 So…
It’s a legacy stretching back to Mark Hall which along the way embraces legendary Berwick speedway heroes and characters.
Hall, real name Walter Elliott, captained the Bandits on opening night in 1968 and since then the likes of Alan Paynter, Maurie Robinson, Graham Jones, Steve McDermott, Jim McMillan, Doug Templeton, Ricky Ashworth, Paul Clews and Kevin Doolan have led the Bandits into battle.
Some such as Rob Grant Senior, Kevin Little, Paul Bentley and Lee Complin have even held silverware aloft as Bandits’ captain.
And it is in their footsteps that 2023 leader, Leon Flint aims to follow as he becomes the second Berwick-born Bandit – after David Meldrum in the early noughties – to lead them into action.
Still only 20, Leon also takes the Woolly Bully’s mantle as our youngest regular skipper, just one of the new challenges awaiting him after a monumental 2022.
Retaining the British under-21 title clinched in imperial fashion at Birmingham two years after finishing runner-up to Dan Bewley – although he is now too old to defend the Under-19 crown collected in equally emphatic style at Redcar – a full-on assault on the GP2 series, leading the Great Britain age-group on the European and World stage are all on this year’s agenda along with repeating the points-scoring cameo at the British GP at Cardiff, although, sadly, the Principality Stadium will not stage a round of the Under-21s this year.
All while continuing the upward trajectory with both Berwick in the Championship and Premiership Wolverhampton and equalling team-mate Jye Etheridge’s feat of three successive Bandits’ of the Year awards.
After bursting onto the British scene as a 15-year-old with Birmingham in 2018 and making his Bandits’ debut the following season, every year since has been marked by rapid progress.
Last year, despite dislocating a shoulder in a freak post-race incident with team-mate Theo Pijper, he took over the mantle of second heat leader and celebrated his first paid maximum in FTS Bandits’ colours against Plymouth.
Signing for the Wolves in 2020 meant that Leon had to give up the Bullets’ captaincy due to a rule – since rescinded – which blocked riders from appearing in all three British leagues simultaneously.
With play-off appearances as a Belle Vue and Wolverhampton rider our local hero is determined to complete the set by leading the Bandits to this year’s revamped end of season jamboree.
A master of Shielfield, especially his swoops around bends one and two, last year also saw Leon scoring heavily on his travels, rattling in the points on circuits as diverse as Edinburgh, Oxford, Poole and Plymouth.
Bandits career (excluding challenges): Debut 2019, 69 matches 440 points, 62 bonus points.