BERWICK promoter John Anderson admits to being ‘quietly confident’ about his team’s chances for 2011.
But the Bandits’ boss is not going to get carried away and make any rash predictions, because he realises that a season is a long time in speedway and a lot can happen over the course of a six month campaign.
Anderson is looking for a marked improvement on his first two years in charge when the team finished lower down the table than originally anticipated.
This year he is looking for his side to be challenging near the top and with the team he has assembled he believes that is a real possibility.
“We have made a few changes,” he said. “We have freshened it up a bit and I honestly believe that this is potentially the best team we have put together during our three years with the club.
“We did what we could during the first two seasons, mainly because circumstances dictated. But this year we knew we needed to inject a fresh approach and I think that is what we have done with the team.
“Obviously we realised from an early stage that we weren’t going to be able to use Adrian Rymel (he has since announced his retirement from the sport after the injuries he sustained last season) but we still had people like Michal Makovsky and Paul Clews available to us and we thought that when we decided not to bring them back we would come in for a lot of criticism.
“But in reality that hasn’t been the case. Ever since the team was announced I have had people coming up to me, saying what an exciting looking side we have and everyone seems to be really looking forward to the new season getting underway.”
Anderson’s confidence is based on the fact that he thinks at least five, if not six of his riders are all capable of improving on their starting averages in 2011.
“And as everyone knows, if a team can do that they will certainly be in the mix come the end of the season,” he said.
“I think the exception will probably be Tamas Sike, who starts out at reserve on a five point assessed average. But I have told him there is no real pressure on him.
“Tamas will be given time to find his feet and I have told him if he can average a point from each of his races at home to start with I will be happy.
“He will find it difficult at some of the away tracks, I am sure, but gradually his confidence will build and I think he could surprise a few people, just like Jade Mudgway did last year.
“I have heard that Tamas has bought one of Michal Makovsky’s engines from last season, and if that is the case we know he will be on good equipment to start with, set up for the Shielfield track. He is also gettting some gear sorted out in Hungary.”
As for the rest of the team, Anderson believes they have the right blend of youth and experience, along with the ability to entertain, which he believes is paramount.
“Charlie Gjeddie, if he gets back to his best, could be one of the top men in the league,” he said. “He is a quality rider and with the likes of ‘Pepe’ (Josef Franc) and Lee Complin pushing him at the top of the averages we have a powerful looking spearhead.
“The middle order of Kozza Smith and Hynek Stichauer should be very entertaining, but they are also very capable, and with Jade and Tamas at reserve I think we look well set to hold our own.
“But there are a few other good sides out there, notably Ipswich, and I’m not going to be so naive as to think it will be easy for us.
“I am sure we will be tested, but if we can make it entertaining and the fans want to come back that’s half the battle.”
* Berwick fans will be given a first chance to meet new signing Charlie Gjeddie when he attends the club’s annual forum in the Black and Gold Club on Friday, February 11. Tickets, priced at £5, are available from:
Julie Newton on 07840 998845; Anderson’s butchers of North Berwick and East Linton; Mitchell’s newsagents, Chirnside; Jim Youngman Carpets, Berwick; and the Lime Shoe Company, Berwick.