He’s the Aussie with speedway’s tiniest home travelling expenses, a highly questionable taste in English football teams, encyclopaedic knowledge of collarbone surgery; a links golfing star who was once the unwitting victim of one of the most infamous sporting headlines in Edinburgh newspaper history.
Not to mention a two-time Premiership play-off final winner and a racer who, on his day can be virtually unbeatable, especially around Shielfield Park, a track that he could reach by freewheeling downhill the half mile from his Berwick home.
Seven years a Bandit, three-times rider of the year … the place just wouldn’t be the same without Jye Etheridge.
With a 29th birthday looming in April the 2024 Etheridge vintage is hugely different to the fresh-faced 20-year-old who swapped the Newcastle of New South Wales for the “comforts” of Armadale in 2016. Suffice to say that it turned out to be far from a match made in heaven, the Monarchs releasing him after 11 meetings amid some less than classy local media headlines.
A short spell at Redcar saw the points begin to trickle and an invitation to race in the 2016 Stars of Tomorrow, a field put together by then Bandits team manager Scott Courtney and sponsored by brother Jamie via his Minibike Championship business would prove to be a gamechanger for all concerned.
Eight months later the brothers, by now club owners, were looking to put the brakes on a five-match losing streak which was severely testing their patience and that of the Shielfield Park faithful.
Dimitri Berge and Claus Vissing disappeared along with local lad Liam Carr as changes were rung, including Jye Etheridge who had been racing in the Danish leagues having failed to find a British club during the winter.
After a steady but unspectacular start, Reggie found his feet with back-to-back double figure returns against Workington and Newcastle, two of six such scores before the season ended.
There may even have been a touch of extra satisfaction with the final 10+1 haul in September which consigned Edinburgh to an eight-point Shielfield Park defeat and cemented a more than satisfactory final average for the season a 5.06.
Premiership Belle Vue signed Jye to double up in 2018 and he also hit the ground running in the Championship with a maiden paid maximum (14+1) in the thumping defeat of Sheffield.
The traditional pits gate bumps celebration was earned after Jye led home Charles Wright and Kyle Howarth in a pulsating heat 15 after his good friend and mentor David Howe had bagged a clean sweep 15 points the previous heat.
Breaking the curse of the Bandits Rider of the Year Jye not only won the award for a second time but returned the following season one which would see him steadily progress despite suffering shoulder injuries.
Again, no question about the highlight – his second paid maximum in Bandits’ colours … against the Monarchs.
Although even that wasn’t the biggest talking point from the season-closing double header, a night when the Borders took on Scottish speedway and Shielfield Park rocked. No-one present will forget the electric atmosphere of the second meeting against Glasgow or the kerfuffle which followed Jye’s heat 15 clash with Tigers’ number one Craig Cook – not the last on-track scuffle he would be involved in in these parts.
We all left desperate for more that night but would have to be patient as 2020 was all-but wiped out by Covid.
Berwick and the Aces called again when the sport rebooted in 2021, a year which saw Jye spend a spell as our number one and took over the club captaincy from Aaron Summers.
A third paid max came against Plymouth in the last action of an inconsistent campaign, a fourth followed against Oxford early in a 2022 campaign which would be peppered with injury, not least the one which sidelined Jye for the second leg as Belle Vue beat Sheffield to lift the Premiership title.
Jye continued to haunt his original employers in 2023, another campaign peppered with painkillers and x-rays but his 9+1 included the match-securing ride as we won at Armadale in the BSN Series and there was 14 in a losing cause against the Monarchs at Shielfield.
There was also 12+2 at the tricky Plymouth circuit in a strong end to the season and a match-winning guest appearance as Sheffield clawed back a substantial second leg deficit to land the Premiership title.
Improved scores on the road have already been pinpointed by Bandits’ boss Stewart Dickson after Jye was announced as one of only two returning 2023 Bandits but there’s no question that an Etheridge in full flow around Shielfield is a sight well-worth seeing.