BERWICK have announced details of their first meeting of the new season which will be held to launch the new safety barrier at the Border track.
The Bandits are spending over £45,000 towards the installation of a new polyfoam fence, which will be the first of its kind in the Premier League.
And to kickstart the season the club is organising a fund-raising event on Saturday, March 17, where all the riders will be providing their services free of charge.
This follows on from a similar venture towards the end of last season when Berwick met an Edinburgh Select in a challenge fixture.
The meeting, which will be an individual, will feature all seven of the 2012 Bandits.
And the first four guests were named at the weekend, including Elite League stars Davey Watt and Oliver Allen, both of whom expressed their desire to be part of such a unique occasion.
Watt, who is captain of Poole, and who last season lifted the Elite League trophy and KO Cup as a member of the all-conquering Pirates team, is a rider who has raced at Grand Prix level and finished second in the recent Australian National Championships.
He says he wants to be part of the meeting ‘to put something back into speedway.’
Allen, who races for Peterborough Panthers, finished second to Berwick’s own Sebastian Alden in last season’s Bordernapolis at Shielfield, when the Swede produced a breathtaking last bend pass of the Englishman to land the £1000 first prize.
“That’s one of the reasons I want to come back,” he said. “I want to support Berwick in their fence fund, but I also want to show Mr Alden my back tyre for a change!”
Other riders who will be appearing include Glasgow’s Australian Josh Grajczonek – making a racing return after missing most of last season through injury – and Czech Matej Kus of Redcar.
Kus, who has spent the winter racing in Argentina, has a proud record of winning every race he contested around Shielfield Park in 2011 – doubtless he’ll be aiming to maintain that perfect record in 2012!
The remaining five riders will be announced by the club in due course, but the club’s commercial manager, Phil Newton, is keen to express that all will be volunteers.
“We have to understand that in this event, we are inviting volunteers – the riders will not be paid, and all turnstile takings and other receipts will go directly to top up our Fence Fund,” said Newton.
“While it would be wonderful to have a clutch of World Champions here to bless the new fence, not all these guys are available – or even in Britain – that night.
“The riders who are competing are doing the meeting to – as Davey Watt has said – put something back into speedway. We are so proud that they are!
“On the subject of the polyfoam fence, can I clarify that it will carry giant advertising panels, and the club is anxious to offer this space to local, as well as national organisations.
“They’ll get their names and motifs emblazoned on it, of course,” confirmed Newton. “But time’s getting tight. Just get in touch with me while there are still spaces to sell!”
Enquiries to Phil Newton on 07955-211618 or email@example.com
Preparatory work has already been carried out at Shielfield Park with the existing safety fence moved back a short distance to incorporate the new barrier - this work means that none of the track’s racing lines will be lost.
The barrier is due to be installed the first weekend in March (2 and 3).
Also on Friday, March 2, the club is organising a speedway talk-in at the Black and Gold social club at Shielfield.
The evening will give supporters their first chance to get up close and personal with new signing Ricky Ashworth, who will be one of the guests on the panel.
Ashworth will be joined by his former Sheffield co-promoter Dave Hoggart, and other members of the Berwick promotion, who will be keen to answer any questions fans may have.
Admission to the event is £3, payable on the door, and organisers say that if all goes well those in attendance may even get a sneak preview of the new safety barrier which is being installed the same weekend.
On Saturday, March 10, the eve of season launch party will be held at Berwick Rugby Club, Scremerston, when all seven 2012 Bandits will be in attendance. Order tickets from Julie Newton on 07840-998845 (Julie@berwickbandits.co) or from Lisa Youngman on 07773-759864 (firstname.lastname@example.org).