‘Pepe’ wants to Czech in at Shielfield again

Josef Franc of Berwick Bandits.
Josef Franc of Berwick Bandits.

JOSEF Franc is keen to sign a new deal with Berwick for 2012 . . . but the popular Czech is uncertain if he figures in the Bandits’ plans for next season.

Speaking after he rounded off his year by dropping just one point in the 48-42 home win over Newport on Friday he said: “I would like to be back at Berwick next season, but I honestly don’t know what is happening yet.”

‘Pepe,’ who is due a testimonial, admits his European Longtrack schedule probably stands in the way.

“I missed a few meetings for Berwick this year because I was away riding longtrack, but the club knew my calendar before the season started.

“I know some people saw it as a problem, but it was all agreed beforehand.

“If we can agree a deal for next year I will be happy to come back, but at this stage it is probably too early to say if I am in their plans or not.”

Franc first arrived on these shores back in 2000, along with fellow Czechs Michal Makovsky and Adrian Rymel, in what at the time was seen as a controversial move by then promoter Peter Waite.

So, all these years later, did he honestly think he would still be at Berwick.

“When you are 22 you think you can ride forever,” he said. “Eleven years on I still love my speedway. It is what I want to do, and at this moment in time I am thinking I can still ride for another ten years yet.

“Some people might think that my best years are behind me, but I still think I have a lot to offer.

“I still have the ambitions to be the team’s number one rider, and I think you need that sort of drive to keep you going.

“This season has been a little bit up and down for me. I started well, dipped in the middle, but I changed back to my Jawa’s a couple of weeks ago and things have been going well for me again.

“I did well at Rye House last weekend, where I won four of my races, and that surprised me because I don’t normally do all that well there.

“The changes I have made may have helped, I don’t know, but I am happy anyway.”

As a Berwick asset Franc spent four seasons at Shielfield before switching to Newcastle, where he also enjoyed four successful years. He returned to Berwick for another season in 2009 but in 2010 was put out on loan to Sheffield before returning for a third spell with the Bandits in 2011.

“Berwick will always be my home track,” he said, “but whether or not I am riding here in 2012 we will just have to wait and see.

“I am happy here, I am just waiting to see if the club contact me over the next few weeks to discuss a new deal, and to be honest I don’t think it would take much for me to say ‘yes.’”