A team set up to win – especially at Shielfield Park.
New Bandits’ team boss Stewart Dickson gave that uncomplicated assessment of his plans for the 2024 season.
Interviewed by Steve Heywood during the end of season presentation night at the Black and Gold the popular Scot said that supporters could expect at least two or three new faces when the team comes to the tapes for the new Championship season, Berwick’s 56th.
Although the make-up of leagues and teams will not be formally ratified until the British Speedway Promoters annual general meeting on November 15-17 it has been widely reported that teams will be capped at 38 points in the second tier.
“It is important to build a team which can turn Shielfield into a fortress,” Dickson told the audience on Saturday night, “that will qualify you for the play-offs and put you in contention at the end of the season.
“I can guarantee you that the team will be putting everything into every race and that I will be quick to react tactically if it is not working.
“I can’t promise miracles, but I can assure you it will be better than the last few seasons.”
Dickson also revealed that his arrival at the Shielfield Park helm was within hours of happening five years earlier.
He explained: “I got a phone call from Scott Courtney in September 2018 sounding out pretty much the same offer as this winter. I’d been out of speedway for six months at that point but earlier that day I’d agreed to take over at Leicester, who at the time were in the same division as Berwick.
“Mark, Sean, Jamie, and Scott had all ridden for me at Glasgow and I already had a fondness for the town through my father, but it was just the wrong time in 2018.
“Once Leicester moved into the top league it became a possibility once again and the boys, along with Gary Flint and Steve Dews were very clear what they want me to do, leaving them to concentrate on their work strengthening the foundations of this remarkable club.
“Just standing here I can feel the energy from the supporters who have turned out tonight and that is something the 2024 team will be able to plug into.”
One of the biggest cheers of the evening was reserved for Thomas Jorgensen who made the trip from his Lincolnshire home.
TJ suffered fractured vertebrae in a season-ending crash at Edinburgh in July and has only recently been released from a specialist neck brace. He told the audience that he had been able to start jogging and was determined be fit to return to racing next year.
“When I was sat in the ambulance at Edinburgh in pain my first thought was this is a crazy sport and I’ve had enough. But next morning I began to wonder how long it would be before I could get back on a speedway bike,” the ever-smiling Dane said.
Jorgensen, along with multiple-award winning Connor Coles, benefitted from the generosity of Berwick fans put money into collections to get them back on their feet. In addition the annual BEN Fund collection at Shielfield Park raised £2,000, a sum second only to Premiership Ipswich in 2023.
Club co-owner Jamie Courtney praised the generosity of the fans. He said: “The BEN Fund was the biggest ever at Berwick despite it being on a night when we had one of our poorest crowds. In addition Thomas and Connor also benefitted from huge collections which dwarfed many other BEN Fund efforts.
“I cannot thank our fans enough for the generosity they always show when riders are hurt riding in our colours.”