by Keith Hamblin
Berwick open their racing season this weekend “quietly optimistic” about what lies ahead.
The Bandits begin their new campaign with home and away challenge fixtures against old rivals Newcastle in the Tyne Tweed Trophy.
The teams meet at Shielfield on Saturday in the first leg, with the return at Byker on Sunday.
New Berwick co-promoter George Hepburn admits to being “quietly confident” about the forthcoming season.
Hepburn, who took over from the outgoing Lynda Waite midway through last year, is embarking on his first full term at Shielfield Park. “I’m quite optimistic about how things might go,” said the Berwick-based builder.
“We have assembled a good side, already the team spirit is shining through amongst the riders already. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed that everything goes well.
“As everyone knows, speedway has a nasty habit of kicking you in the teeth sometime. Look what happened last year when Lee Complin broke his arm on the opening night of the season.
“If we can steer clear of injury this time around, and the riders perform like we know they can, I am quietly confident about our chances.”
Team manager Ian Rae added that team spirit was a key ingredient which could work in Berwick’s favour this season.
“The lads are already starting to gel,” he said. “We all went for a Chinese meal on Saturday afternoon and the banter between them is good.
“Charlie Gjedde is a class act and his experience will hopefully rub off on a few of the younger guys.
“Lee Complin and Kozza Smith are already starting to bond, and they have agreed to a fine system if either of them turns up late or with a dirty bike.
“It’s great to see, and I have to admit the spirit is already a marked improvement on anything I have seen in the past.”
Complin, who was only recently named as Bandits’ captain, says he is settling into the role, but doesn’t feel there is any added pressure on him.
“We have a great bunch of lads here, we all seem to get on really well with each other, and that’s half the battle.
“Personally, I just can’t wait for the season to start. I virtually had to write off the whole of last year after breaking my arm, but coming back the way I did and winning the Bordernapolis was a great achievement for me.
“We have a great set-up here at Berwick, from the promotions, down to the riders and through to the fans, and this year it would be really nice if we could reward them with some success, because I really think the club deserves it.”