THE new speedway season is only a few weeks away and Berwick manager Ian Rae is buzzing with excitement.
For ‘Razor’ has put together what he considers to be ‘the best balanced side’ he has ever assembled, and barring any serious injuries, which blighted their campaign last year, he fancies their chances of being in the mix.
The Bandits will have a very cosmopolitan look when they take to the track at Easter, for in their ranks they will have two Swedes, two Australians, a Dane, a Frenchman and a lone Brit.
“On paper it looks to be a very well balanced side,” said Rae, “and I honestly can’t wait to see them in action.”
The tapes go up on the new season at Shielfield on March 9, with the staging of the BEN Fund Bonanza meeting. There will then be a fortnight’s gap, during which the traditional press and practice will be held, before the team take to the track for the first time with home and away challenge matches against Edinburgh on March 26 and 27.
”It’s been a long, hard winter,” admitted Rae, “what with all the uncertainty over sponsors and the like.
“But I had to press ahead with my team building regardless, and once we learned that Seb (Alden) would no longer be riding for us, which was a blow at the time, the team came together very quickly indeed.
“I can’t remember Berwick ever naming all seven riders together, but that is what we did. It has meant there has not been a lot happening news-wise as far as the club is concerned, but I was more than happy to have the team sorted nice and early, rather than scratching around for riders at the last minute, which is often the case.”
Bandits will go to the tapes with a team consisting of Ricky Ashworth, Kozza Smith, Robin Aspegren, Matty Wethers, David Bellego and reserves Nicki Barrett and Alex Edberg.
“The team has a nice feel about it,” said Rae, “and I am confident that if we steer clear of injury we have as good a chance as anyone else.
“Ricky Ashworth is expected to be our number one rider. He is coming back from a broken shoulder at the end of last season, but I have no doubt that once again he will be one of the top riders in the Premier League.
“We are not too top heavy, but there are other riders in the side who can be big hitters on their day, and in any meeting there is a chance that our top scorer could come from any five or six.
“Not many sides can say that, which is why I am looking forward to the season so much.
“Down at reserve we don’t look too bad either, starting out with Nicki Barrett and Alex Edberg. We have real strength in depth and I think that is what will carry us through.”
This year Berwick will be resplendent in new team kevlars, provided by Edberg’s father, and this will be another first for the club.
“We are very grateful to Alex’s dad for the offer,” said Rae, “and I am sure the team will look very professional.”