Smith tops Bandits’ supporters’ poll

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KOZZA Smith has been voted as Berwick’s ‘Rider of the Year’ by fans.

The Australian, who rode on loan with the Premier League side from parent club King’s Lynn, landed the award after topping a supporters’ poll.

The 24 year-old was named as the recipient of the trophy at the Bandits’ annual end of season dance, which was held in Berwick Rugby Club on Satuirday.

Unfortunately, Smith was unable to accept it in person as he is currently back home on Oz, recovering from the broken shoulder which brought his season to an abrupt end.

He picked up the injury whilst racing for the Stars in a televised Elite League meeting in September and decided to return ‘Down Under’ in order to recuperate and prepare for next season.

Smith, who was something of a surprise signing last winter, quickly established himself as a crowd favourite at Shielfield, where his dashes into the home stand to celebrate race wins became a regular feature of his repertoire.

“Kozza really was like a breath of fresh air,” said promoter John Anderson, “and it really didn’t come as any surprise that he should top the supporters’ poll.

“He was a firm favourite with the fans, but he was also very popular in the pits with his fellow riders.

“He may have been considered as something of a wild rider in the past, but during his time with us he matured a lot and his quality of racing improved dramatically as a result.

“He was a solid scorer both home and away and it was just a pity his season ended in the menner it did.”

Meanwhile, Berwick’s new number one, Sebastian Alden was named as the Supporters’ Club ‘Rider of the Year.’

Alden also finished the season on the injured list, with a broken toe, but like Smith, he breathed new life into the team at a time when it was going nowhere and he too emerged as a popular recipient of the award.

“Seb came in to replace Charlie Gjedde,” said Anderson, “and with fellow Swedes Alex Edberg, Ludvig Lindgren and more latterly Linus Eklof, he helped turn our season around.

“He was the number one the fans had been craving. He set a new track record at Shielfield, and who can forget the pass he pulled off on the last bend to win the Bordernapolis - that was simply sensational.”

Alden, it would appear, is a cast iron certainty to lead the team in 2012 after making a full transfer to the club, but the inclusion of Smith remains uncertain as he is a King’s Lynn asset. Before leaving for Australia he said he would return to Berwick ‘in a heartbeat’ if circumstances allowed, but that of course will depend on whether or not the Norfolk side want him to ‘double up.’

Berwick’s other end-of-season award-winners were Lee Complin (highest points scorer) and Jade Mudgway (most bonus points).