Time is right for Nathan

Published on 25th June 2022
Author George Dodds

Timing is everything for Berwick FTS Bandits, powered by Keenwood Karpets’ new signing Nathan Stoneman as he sets his sights on establishing himself in British speedway’s second tier.
Despite an impressive National League pedigree stretching back to Mildenhall in 2012, the year after he won the British Youth 500cc title – Championship team places have largely passed the 25-year-old by.
“When I was scoring well, especially for Kent and then Plymouth, I expected the phone to ring with the offer of a team spot,” Nathan admitted.
“Even when it did things never really worked out through injury, mechanical issues, getting dropped and then Covid.”
Misfortune has definitely played its part in restricting the all-action Stoneman to just 23 Championship outings in a decade. A broken leg ended his first Championship foray, with Sheffield in 2017, after just two meetings and Nathan featured eight times in Somerset’s march to the 2019 play-offs after being dropped mid-season by Birmingham.

Leon and Nathan battle on opposite sides in April. Picture: Nia Martin

Covid put paid to a contracted return to the Oak Tree Arena in 2020 and the after-effects of the pandemic to the venue itself, which was sold to developers the following year, a season when he sat out bar a few forays in the Isle of Wight’s alternative campaign.
Berwick’s third bend Vexillologists will no doubt have already sourced a Baner Cymru for the only currently active Welsh-born rider in British speedway, although there is little trace of the native accent left as Nathan was brought up in Devon and now lives just a stone’s throw from Oxford’s Cowley Stadium.
He was heavily involved in the renovation of the virtually derelict stadium, under the guidance of Berwick co-owner and Oxford promoter Jamie Courtney who persuaded the likeable landscaper he would be a perfect fit for the relaunched club’s National Development League side, the Chargers.
Their first outing was at Shielfield Park in April; Nathan scoring 10 points against the Bullets that night and a further 12+2 when the teams met at Cowley the following month – the Bullets’ only defeat so far this season.
Indeed all four of his Chargers outings have yielded double figure scores – that imperfect 10 being his “worst” performance – and there was a further 6+1 guesting for the Championship Cheetahs against the Bandits, one of a number of appearances covering for the unlucky Josh MacDonald.
“To be honest the chance to ride for the Cheetahs after Josh was injured on Oxford’s re-opening night came just a little bit too early,” Nathan admitted.
“I had only ridden that one meeting at Berwick after virtually two years off the bike. I wasn’t going to turn the opportunity down but, that one half decent score against the Bandits aside, it didn’t really happen.
“I felt under a bit of pressure living in the city and my machinery wasn’t up to scratch. Since then my sponsors have helped me invest in better equipment and I am match-fit from riding regularly.
“One promise I can give Berwick fans is that I give 110 per cent in every race. I have been handed an exciting opportunity and it is up to me to grab it.”
Nathan was the man Berwick turned to when they were looking for a rider to complement the signing of Jonas Knudsen and keep them under the points’ limit in a double switch which saw the injured Ty Proctor replaces along with NDL skipper Kyle Bickley.
The new reserve pairing makes its bow in front of the British Speedway Network cameras at Shielfield Park on Saturday night, start 7pm, before heading to Poole on Wednesday.
“When Jamie said that Berwick were interested in signing me it was a no-brainer really.

New colours … Nathan Stoneman

“They are a good club, well run by good people who can be trusted to help you as a rider, stand by their word – and pay you on time!
“I’ve spoken a lot with Jamie and Gary Flint and know exactly what they expect from me and I feel that they – along with Scott and others who work so hard behind the scenes – provide an environment where hard-working riders such as myself can thrive.
“They are good at building relationships with riders and collaborating with them to get the best for both the individuals and the team.
“I’m joining a strong seven but one which has been badly hit by injuries over the past few weeks.
“I know exactly what is expected of me and I cannot wait to go racing.”
The time is right for Nathan Stoneman and the Berwick Bandits.
Tickets for tonight’s Championship clash between the Bandits and Scorpions are available from berwickspeedway.com/tickets and the meeting, as well as Wednesday’s at Poole, is being livestreamed by the British Speedway network watchbritishspeedway.co.uk

Bandits: Paul Starke, Theo Pijper, Jye Etheridge, Ricky Wells, Leon Flint, Jonas Knudsen, Nathan Stoneman.

Scorpions: Ryan Douglas, Simon Lambert, Zaine Kennedy, Broc Nichol, Tero Aarnio R/R, Connor Coles, Jordan Palin

George Dodds
George Dodds

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