Berwick Bandits, who signed a new rider in midweek, emerged as one of the surprise packets when the speedway Premier League Four Team Tournament was held at Peterborough at the weekend.
Dawid Stachyra joined the club on Thursday and was ineligible to ride at Alwinton.
Many people had thought the Bandits were heading to the East of England Showground, simply to make up the numbers. But in Saturday’s semi-finals they pulled off a major shock by topping their group, which qualified them for Sunday’s final.
On Saturday they scored 21 points to finish ahead of Edinburgh Monarchs (20), Rye House Rockets (17) and Ipswich Witches (14).
Thomas Jorgensen top-scored for Berwick with eight points from his three rides, whilst Kevin Doolan and Theo Pijper both scored five, with Matty Wethers on three.
That put them through to the final with Plymouth and Workington, who had topped their semi-finals, with Peterborough guaranteed a final spot as hosts.
In the first half of Sunday’s final, Berwick put up a gallant effort and at the half-way stage they had ten points, putting them only four adrift of leaders Peterborough.
However, they slipped from the scene in the second series of eight heats, scoring only five points in the process, to end up with 15, which put them fourth behind winners Plymouth, runners-up Workington and Peterborough.
After the meeting Berwick manager Scott Courtney said: “It was a tremendous effort from the lads who battled all the way. I am so proud of what they have achieved, because I don’t think anybody really gave us a chance before the start. The fans were also fantastic. They cheered the riders all the way, through every race. These lads would go to hell and back for each other ... I wouldn’t have any other team.”
Meanwhile, Berwick have confirmed the signing of 30-year-old Dawid Stachyra as a replacement for the injured Sebastian Alden.
The Polish-born racer was announced at the weekend and he was due to make his debut for the club in last night’s (Wednesday’s) Premier League meeting against Glasgow at Shielfield.
Stachyra first raced in the UK for Ipswich in 2009/10, and he has also represented Elite League sides Swindon, Belle Vue and most-recently Poole, when he was a club member as the Pirates raced to the Elite League title.
“I have been well aware of the hours and hours, and pounds and pounds on his phone bill! Scott has invested in locating and then recruiting Dawid,” said a Berwick club spokesperson. “I don’t know if I have ever known a team manager as dedicated to a cause as is Scott.
“Of course, after finding him and recruiting him to ride as an Olympus Marquees Bandit, we still had to get the deal ratified at so many levels.
“The paperwork, and red tape, involved in bringing a Pole to Britain is frightening, and Scott’s enthusiasm for the task has only been matched by the dedication of Dennis McCleary in carefully building our case to gain Dawid’s release from Włókniarz Częstochowa, and also by the PZM this being required before he can be granted an ACU licence, all of which has to be in place before we can re-declare our 1-7 to the BSPA!”
There is no meeting at Shielfield this Saturday because of the World Team Cup Final, but the Bandits are in action at Somerset on Friday.