Shielfield to stage Grand Prix Qualifier

The new speedway season gets underway at Sheilfield Park in the Tyne/Tweed Trophy
The new speedway season gets underway at Sheilfield Park in the Tyne/Tweed Trophy

BERWICK Speedway have been awarded one of the most prestigious meetings in their 44 year history with the confirmation that they are to stage a Grand Prix Qualifier at their Shielfield Park stadium next year.

The news comes just months after the Bandits’ promotion announced that they are to install a new polyfoam safety fence at the track in time for the 2012 season.

Co-owner John Anderson is naturally delighted at the prospect of seeing such a high-profile meeting come to Berwick, believing it is a vindication of all the hard work put in by the club during their three years in charge.

“When we took over my promise to supporters wasn’t that we’d win league titles,” he said, “but first that we’d improve the infrastructure and stature of Berwick as a major speedway venue.

“To be recognised in this way is such a boost, not just for our club, but for the town of Berwick upon Tweed.

“There will be people coming to this event from all over Europe as well as Britain, and the local economy will surely be enhanced dramatically.”

News that Berwick had been awarded the meeting came via the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme) which is the world’s governing body controlling motorcycle sport.

The meeting, on Saturday June 16, is one of five to be staged in Europe - the others are in Tarnow (Poland), Gustrow (Germany), St Johann (Austria) and Miszkolc (Hungary).

And as its name suggests, the qualifiers are a way for riders to progress through the pyramid system and ride in the 2013 Grand Prix Series, which is of course the world championships.

“Although the event is still a provisional date for our calendar, this is a fantastic boost for Berwick and for speedway in the north,” said Anderson.

“The polyfoam fence must be installed and the track and stadium have to be approved by FIM representatives, and most importantly of all, our own local council authorities have to green-light some factors surrounding such a huge occasion.”

News of the meeting originally broke on the internet on Friday, but it was confirmed by Anderson when he addressed fans at the club’s annual end of season function which was held in the Berwick Rugby Club on Saturday.

The event was attended by around 200 supporters and the majority of riders who have raced for the club in 2011.

During the course of the night the Bandits’ Supporters’ Club presented the promotional team with a cheque for £3,000, money which will go towards their fence fund.

The polyfoam fence, which will be the first of its kind to be installed by a Premier League club, will cost around £50,000 and to help finance it a meeting against an Edinburgh select, when riders rode for expenses only, was held towards the end of the season.

Team manager Ian Rae, who is also the track curator, says news of the GP Qualifier has galvanised support for the border club, and work on taking down the old safety fence will begin as early as this weekend.

“We plan to start on Sunday, November 13 at 10am,” he said, “and any volunteers who would like to come along and help will be made very welcome.”