Bandits aiming for end of season league play-offs

Liam CArr
Berwick Bandits Speedway 2016 squad
Liam CArr Berwick Bandits Speedway 2016 squad

Berwick Bandits , who are currently sitting in second place in the Premier league table, will attempt to enhance their play-off hopes with two away meetings in two nights this week.

The Bandits, who have not raced since a week past Saturday, travel to take on Ipswich on Thursday and Peterborough on Friday.

Manager Scott Courtney admits they will be two difficult fixtures for his side, but says they will not go into the meetings with an inferiority complex.

“I think we have defied a lot of people by climbing up to second place in the table,” he said.

“We may not hold onto that, but out aim now has to be to get into the play-offs at the end of the season, and I think that is a real possibility.

“Not many speedway followers would have given us hope of doing that earlier in the year, particularly with all the injury problems we have had.

“But the lads are a spirited bunch - they never seem to know when they are beaten - and that is what I am looking for in the meetings that lie ahead.”

Berwick’s next home meeting is not until Wednesday, July 27, when they take on Glasgow Tigers (currently top of the PL) at Shielfield Park in a re-arranged fixture.

“We could have done with a few more home meetings during July,” admitted Courtney, “but that’s the price we have to pay for Shielfield being a Saturday track.

“It will be all systems go come August, with a full home programme, so hopefully we can kick on from there.”

The attention will focus on youth at Berwick speedway this weekend when the club stages a ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ meeting on Saturday.

And as an added bonus, there will be a 125cc championship event, which has full ACU accreditation.

The Stars of Tomorrow is an event which dates back to the early days of the sport at Shielfield Park, with past winners including the likes of Rob Grant, who went on to become club captain.

This year it is being organised by Berwick team manager Scott Courtney, junior boss Gary Flint and club stalwart Dennis McCleary.

It is being sponsored by ‘Minibike Champs,’ a brand owned by Courtney’s younger brother, Jamie.

Riders taking part this year include: Danny Ayres, Dan Bewley, Kevin Whelan, Luke Ruddick, Shelby Rutherford, Lee Payne, Mitch Davey, Rob Shuttleworth, Ryan Burton, Connor Coles, Jye Etheridge, Ryan McDonald, Stefan Farnaby Joe Lawlor, Chris Widman and Berwick’s own Liam Carr, who will start as one of the favourites.

The 125cc final will feature Joe Thompson, Dan Thompson, Harry McGurk, Jordan Palin, Mickie Simpson, Sam McGurk, Corbin Pavitt and (representing Berwick’s NJL Border Raiders) tiny nine-year-old Luke Harrison.

Neil Vatcher, the GB U21 coach said: “In recent years we have run the event with 12 riders, but this year we have two extra rounds of the British Youth Championship of which the 125cc has been run as a support class, so there are plenty of meetings at which riders can compete.

“It would be fair to say the eight riders who will compete at Berwick for the British title are the top eight from the rounds that have been completed this year.

“The Young Lions would like to thank the Berwick promotion for agreeing to host the Final, and the BSPA for their support.”

With an extended programme of 27 races, it has been decided to start the meeting at 6.45pm, which is 15 minutes earlier than the normal start time of 7pm.