ALEX Edberg was a surprise if not unwelcome visitor at Berwick on Saturday.
And the Bandits supporters expressed their appreciation for the stricken Swede by holding a collection which raised over £1,000 for the rider who watched proceedings from a wheelchair.
Edberg suffered multiple injuries just a week earlier when he was involved in a horror smash against Rye House.
He sustained a damaged bone at the base of his spine, a punctured lung, broken collarbone, cracked ribs and head injuries when he was thrown into the safety fence at high speed after clipping the back wheel of an opponent.
After lengthy track-side medical attention from paramedics, he was taken by ambulance to the Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington, before being transferred to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary where he underwent surgery on his back and collarbone.
He is expected to be in hospital for several weeks and will not ride again until next year.
But on Saturday he sent a text message to Berwick team-mate and fellow countryman Sebastian Alden, asking for him to arrange transport so he could watch the Bandits’ home meeting against Somerset.
After watching the meeting from the sidelines he was introduced to the crowd at the finalparade when he said:
“I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I asked the hospital if I could get out for a few hours to watch the speedway.
“I just wanted to see the boys race and to thank the medical staff at the track for all their help last week.
“I honestly can’t remember anything about the crash. I thought it happened on the first bend, not the fourth, but that was in my first race when I also came off.
“I had an operation on my back this week and they also pinned my collarbone, so I am a bit sore.
“I expect to be in hospital for a few weeks yet and when I come out I will probably go back to Sweden.
“I have already said I want to come back to Berwick to race next season and I think the club want me back, so that’s good.”
A collection for Edberg, organised by the Bandits’ Supporters’ Club raised a fantastic £1,012. Collecting tins will remain in the club shop for the next two home meetings (against Workington and Glasgow) when it is hoped the figure will be added to, and the money will be presented to Edberg at a later date.
Another welcome visitor to Shielfield on Saturday, and indeed the week before, was former Bandit Adrian Rymel, who himself suffered multiple injuries whilst racing last season.
He witnessed the Edberg crash and said: “It brought back a lot of memories for me. It was a bad one and I couldn’t look. But I can’t believe he is here tonight, just a week later, he must be mad.”
Rymel, who is making steady progress in his rehabilitation, has been in Berwick for a friend’s wedding and was also due to take in the Czech Republic’s World Cup meeting on Monday before returning home.
Meanwhile, Bandits are due to race against Workington at home on Saturday and Newcastle away on Sunday, when they hope to have a replacement for Edberg making his debut.
“I think everyone accepts we cannot run for the rest of the season with rider replacement,” said co-promoter George Hepburn.
“We have been looking at one or two possible riders and we hope to have someone signed up for this weekend coming.”