LEE Complin has quit speedway.
The Berwick skipper has announced his retirement with immediate effect and says he has no plans to make a comeback in the future.
Complin, who is 27, is hanging up his race suit and goggles because of debts and spiralling costs, and an injury which failed to heal properly, preventing him from climbing back into the saddle before the end of this season.
The gritty Yorkshireman spent three years at Shielfield, when he became a fans’ favourite for his never-say-die attitude to his racing and his ability to wind it on from the back.
But the Sheffield asset, who has been sidelined for almost three months with a broken collarbone, says complications over his injury, which did not heal properly, plus the offer of a full time job, were two of the major factors which forced him to make his shock decision.
“At the end of the day I just cannot afford to do it any more,” he said. “I am currently more than £5000 in debt, and with no chance of riding again this season, and therefore not earning any money, it means I would be in even more debt before next season comes around as I would have to upgrade all my equipment.
“I have a young family and I need to put food on the table, so when the chance of a full time job came along and I was offered it, it helped me make up my mind.
“I spoke to a few close friends and also my family and they all agreed it was the right thing to do.”
Complin said that if things had gone according to plan he would have climbed back in the saddle before the end of this season.
“Had that happened things might have been different,” he said. “But my collarbone didn’t heal properly. I had to have it re-broken and set again and that meant more time out than I intended.
“All the time I wasn’t earning, so when the offer of a full-time job with OpenReach (BT) came along I knew I had a decision to make.
“I’ve been around speedway a long time and I love it. Racing gives me a buzz, but if it’s not paying then I just can’t afford to carry on doing it.
“Costs are spiralling out of control. When they introduce new regulations over exhausts etc it’s the riders who have to pay for it, and it’s never cheap.
“I am glad I have had my time, but I wouldn’t like to be starting out now, it’s just so expensive.
“I think what we need to do is get back to basics. All the riders need to be on identical engines, tuned in the same way, then we would see which riders have the most talent.
“At the moment it’s all about who has the most money, who has the best sponsors.
“By all accounts next season will probably see a few more changes kicking in.
“Clubs are struggling in the current economic climate and they are all having to make cuts. They need to cut their cloth to try and balance the books and one of the ways of doing that is to cut back on riders’ wages, travelling and signing on fees.
“I can understand the clubs need to survive - if they are not there, there is no speedway, that’s another reason I think it is the right time to get out.”
Complin, who was hailed as one of Britain’s brightest young prospects when he burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced teenager, says he has no regrets about his time in the sport.
But if he had his time again he would not have taken five years out, as he feels that had a serious effect on his development.
“That’s just the way it was,” he said. “I was young and I thought I could come back at the same level, but of course you can’t.
“I would like to think of myself as an honest type of rider - I love to race and I never give up to the chequered flag, which is what I know the fans want to see.
“But then sometimes the red mist comes down and that’s when it can get a bit scary.
“What I can say, however, is that I honestly loved my time at Berwick.
“It was the most enjoyable spell of my career and it was a pleasure to finish my racing days at a club I really have a soft spot for. The management, my sponsors (in particular George Hepburn) and the fans all treated me well and I couldn’t have asked for any more.
“Living near Skipton in Yorkshire it was a two and a half hour journey up the road every Saturday for home meetings, but the fact is I didn’t mind, because I really liked riding there. The track suited my style. I’m not the best of gaters, but if I didn’t make a start I always knew I could wind it on and still make a race of it.
“I just wish I could have given more back to Berwick in my time with them. Winning the Fours this year was a definite high, one of the highlights of my career, but that day I was riding with broken bones in my hand, broken ribs and, although I didn’t know it at the time, a broken bone in my back.
“There have been a few lows along the way like my car crash and the broken arm I sustained on my debut meeting after signing for Berwick. But that’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed it, because I have.
“Now though, my family must come first.
“My boy, Ryan, will be two in December and I need to look to the future.
“At the end of the day I just feel I can’t afford to do it any more, that’s the main reason I am getting out.”