Smith makes unexpected return as Bandits sign four riders for new season

Kozza Smith of Berwick Bandits.
Kozza Smith of Berwick Bandits.

BERWICK have started their team-building for 2012 with the confirmation of four riders for next season.

And it will mean the Bandits taking on a familiar look with track record holder Sebastian Alden, fellow Swede Alex Edberg, captain Lee Complin and popular Australian Kozza Smith all making a welcome return to Shielfield Park.

Seb Alden. Sebastian Alden

Seb Alden. Sebastian Alden

Promoter John Anderson had promised to unveil the first rider when fans gathered for the Supporters’ Club Christmas dance in the Rugby Club on Saturday.

But when he addressed the gathering he revealed that team-building plans were at a much further advanced stage, which meant he was able to announce the first four starters.

With Alden having joined the club last season as a full asset following his transfer from Elite League Swindon, and with Edberg having seen his average drop to only 4.5, which means he is likely to start at reserve, the Swedish pair had been seen by many as nailed-on certainties for the 2012 campaign.

The return of Complin will be seen by some as a positive move, as he revels in his role as skipper and is a very entertaining rider around the Border track.

But the gritty Yorkshireman admitted before last season’s end that he did not know what the future held as he was uncertain of the club’s plans.

The return of Smith is perhaps the biggest boost.

Many thought he might opt for a club closer to his southern-based roots, or take the plunge and make the step up full time to the Elite League, perhaps with parent club King’s Lynn.

The 23 year-old was a big hit with Berwick fans last season, and despite ending the year on the injured list - he broke his shoulder whilst racing for the Stars - he said he would return to Shielfield ‘in a heartbeat’ if the opportunity arose.

And he certainly looks as if he has fully recovered from his injuries, for he has already competed in two meetings ‘Down Under’ . . . and won them both.

“Kozza won the New South Wales Long-Track title a fortnight ago,” said team manager Ian Rae, “and he followed this up by winning the NSW State Championship as well, so I suppose you could say he is fully fit again.”

Rae added that he was delighted with the way the team was shaping up. He is currently in talks with other riders with a view to filling the three remaining team places and expects to be in a position to make further announcements soon.

Meanwhile, the club has confirmed that A and J Scott (sawmills) of Wooperton near Wooler, will continue in their role as main team sponsors for a third successive year.

“This is just such great news,” said commercial manager Phil Newton.

“In speedway, sponsorship deals often don’t make it into a second season – I guess the mutual extension for this third year shows how much we appreciate their backing and that A & J Scott are more than happy with the exposure we are able to give their organisation, not just locally, but throughout Britain from Plymouth to Glasgow – and all points in between!”