Lee doesn’t mind the gap

Published on 2nd April 2024
Author George Dodds

Looking back to what’s ahead this weekend

Only the names have changed …

This weekend’s rivalry between the Jewson Bandits, powered by Keenwood Karpets and Glasgow’s Tigers will be every bit as keen as it has always been since the clubs first clashed in 1977 (1974 if take the Coatbridge era into consideration).

On May 2011 future Bandits but Tigers’ guest for the night Matty Wethers and former Shielfield number one James Grieves kept out Lee Complin to win a last heat decider and take a 46-44 victory which helped them towards lifting that season’s league title.

Of the 13 riders on show that night – Tigers ran rider-replacement for Christian Henry – only Craig Cook and Complin will be riding this season, although Theo Pijper will undoubtedly be in son Ace’s pitbay on Saturday.

Complin the Bandit takes on Jason Lyons at Birmingham

Cook’s appearance in the Black and Gold number one bib wasn’t one of his most productive Shielfield appearances, the then Edinburgh Monarch scoring just 5+1, but the man he was standing in for produced one of the biggest cheers of the night, even though – indeed because – he wasn’t there.

It came around heat nine when meeting presenter Dick Barrie announced that the Bandits’ brief encounter with Charlie Gjedde was over after just 12 under-performing meetings.

The Dane, a former GP wildcard and World Team Cup winner, had been signed amid much fanfare – some even suggesting that it was one of the biggest signings in the club’s history.

To say that he failed to deliver would be an understatement and there were soon grumblings of discontent among the Bandits’ faithful that Charlie was saving his best efforts for his other team – Belle Vue.

The facts seemed to back that up as he averaged more for the Aces in the top league than for Berwick.

That this Charlie, who was few people’s darling, went on to join Newport and average over 10 points – almost three a match more than for the Bandits – had the conspiracy theorists choking on their Belhaven Best.

He was soon gone, if never quite forgotten and certainly never forgiven, although the man announced as his replacement, Swede Seb Alden, would go on to become a firm fans’ favourite.

Alden would team up with fellow Swede Alex Edberg who made his debut against the Tigers that May evening, replacing Czech Hynek Stichnauer. Edberg’s season would later end with a horrific crash which saw him demolish the fourth bend fence in pre foam barrier days and be lucky to get away with just shoulder and back injuries.

Debutant on the night Alex Edberg. Picture: Colin Poole

Bandits’ top scorer that night, Kozza Smith, still rides for fun in Australia. Complin bowed out after another year with the Bandits, Pepe Franc is still a top exponent of longtrack and grasstrack on the Continent while Jade Mudgway is a promoter at Redcar and Tamas Sike was a familiar face around the Shielfield pits for a number of years.

In the opposition ranks injury ended the stellar career of number one Joe Screen while Grieves retired – having been a supreme servant to Northern and Scottish speedway – in 2013 while Pole Michal Raykowski has not been seen on these shores since a handful of outings with Redcar in 2012.

Berwick Bandits and Glasgow Tigers meet in the BSN Series at Shielfield Park on Saturday, 7pm. Online tickets are on sale (berwickspeedway.com/tickets), priced £18 including booking fee. After midnight on Friday online tickets are £20 as is adult cash admission with concessions paying £18.

James Grieves, Paul Bentley and David McAllen in first bend action
Pictures courtesy John Somerville Collection
George Dodds
George Dodds

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