Top riders willing to stay with Bandits

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RICKY Ashworth and Sebastian Alden, Berwick’s newly-crowned top riders for the 2012 season, are both willing to return if the club continues next season.

The riders picked up their awards at the annual presentation evening on Friday when Ashworth was named as the club’s ‘Rider of the Year’ recipient, whilst Alden was revealed as the Supporters’ Club choice.

And afterwards both revealed that providing Berwick run in 2013 they will both be happy to return to the Bandits’ camp.

Ashworth, who missed the last two moths of the season with a broken shoulder said: “Things didn’t go exactly according to plan, but riding for Berwick was a fresh change and it definitely gave me a boost.

“After ten years at Sheffield I probably needed to move on, but just how much I got out of it I didn’t realise until I came to Berwick.

“I seem to have fitted in very well here. I was riding well and scoring points, but it was so frustrating to sit out the last few weeks of the season because of my injury.

“I tried to make a comeback at one stage, but it was too early.

“I think I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to ride in the PLRC at Sheffield, because that was a meeting I had been targeting all season and I honestly think that if I had been fit I would have stood a very good chance.”

Ashworth says it is too early to say what will happen next season, but given the chance, and providing Berwick are running in the Premier League, he will be more than happy to return to Shielfield.

“I needed a fresh challenge and coming to Berwick gave me that,” he said. “The management and the supporters have treated me very well. I lost some sponsors when I came here and that made it difficult financially, but it looks like I might have some help if I come back to Berwick next season and that will be great.”

Alden, who helped Swindon win the Elite League play-offs, says he still has ambitions to ride at the top level, but due to the form he has shown in the final month of the season he will probably stay in the Premier League ‘for at least one more year.’ And if I ride in the Premier League next year it will only be with Berwick,” he said.

Alden finished the season in unbeatable home form, scoring maximums in each of his last four meetings at Shielfield.

“I think I rode reasonably well all season,” he said, “but at the start of the year I seemed to be better at some of the away tracks.

“As a racing track Berwick isn’t always ideal, some times it can be a bit bumpy, but that gives us a good home advantage and that’s one of the reasons I like it.

“Another reason I like it here is the fact it is so easy to get here from Sweden. The Saturday night race night suits me and Edinburgh airport is just an hour or so up the road so it is easy to fly in and out.”

Friday’s event in the Black and Gold Club was well attended and the evening was marked with additional presentations to David Bellego (most bonus points) retiring skipper Lee Complin (fastest Bandit in 2013) and the riders who lifted the Premier League Fours at Peterborough.

There were also two special presentations to Berwick promoter John Anderson.

The first was made by BSPA chairman Alex Harkness in recognition of the fact that Berwick, for three years in a row, had made the highest contribution to the Riders’ Benevolent (BEN) Fund of all the tracks in the country.

“This is a tremendous achievement,” said Harkness, “and this is the first time this award has been made.”

In recognition of their achievements Berwick, providing they run next year, have been awarded the prestigious BEN Fund season-opening meeting in March and Harkness said that was ‘a very deserving accolade.’

Anderson also accepted a cheque for £1500 from the Supporters’ Club towards the continuing fight to keep speedway at Berwick.

This follows on from a further £2000 which was presented by the Supporters’ Club to the Bandits at the end of the season.

Anderson said: “We will do everything we can to keep speedway at Berwick, because personally it would break my heart if we couldn’t run. We have one of the best Supporters’ Clubs in the country and this money goes to show just how important they are to our future survival.”

Berwick, who have also been granted a second FIM approved meeting at Shielfield next August in the shape of the British round of the World U21 Final, are currently on the look-out for additional funds to help them stay in business and key to this is a major team sponsor.