Thrills, spills but Bandits are left battered and bruised

David Howe in blue tried to give home fans something to cheer
David Howe in blue tried to give home fans something to cheer



Berwick’s season of misery continued when they suffered a fifth home league defeat at the hands of Redcar.

And there was more woe for the already battered and bruised Bandits when they finished the meeting with only five riders after both David Howe and reserve Lee Payne were forced to withdraw after heavy falls, this after Jy Etheridge had already found himself on the sidelines with a damaged shoulder, Jack Parkinson-Blackburn being used as a guest.

That’s not to say the Bears escaped unscathed, as they too finished a man down, with the unlucky Danny Ayres also ending the night on the sidelines, and in hospital.

The upshot of an eventful evening was that Redcar collected four match points to fire them up the Championship table, while Berwick remain anchored at the foot with only one win to their credit.

But, again, for the second week running, the meeting would not have been possible without the effort of the club and their helpers in covering the track during the afternoon when rain threatened.

A thunderstorm hit the area just a couple of hours before the start, and had it not been for the covers racing would almost certainly not have gone ahead.

The evening also started with a minute’s silence in memory of all those who lost their lives in the Manchester Arena atrocity, which was observed impeccably.

As for the racing itself, two opening 2-4s put the visitors in the driving seat early on, before the sides swapped 5-1s to make it 10-14 after four.

The all action Jason Garrity, who went on to complete a 12-point maximum, won his second race in five before Berwick reduced the deficit to two at 17-19 courtesy of Nick Morris and an out-of-sorts Dany Gappmaier.

Payne had picked up a shoulder injury in heat two when he crashed into the back of Ayres, and was withdrawn.

But there was another setback for the Bandits in nine when Howe clipped the fence up the back straight, and Ayres piled into him with nowhere to go.

There was a lengthy delay while two ambulances were deployed to the track to treat the injured pair, who both walked away, but were both later withdrawn.

As an aside, one of the first aid team also picked up a leg injury when he appeared to be struck by a cartwheeling bike after the cut-out failed to kill the motor.

By this stage Berwick were six points down and struggling to make an impact on the Bears, for whom Garrity and reserve Ellis Perks (unbeaten in his first four rides) were the obvious match-winners.

Redcar then took advantage of Berwick’s situation to hammer home their superiority with four successive heat advantages which stretched their lead to 31-47.

Lewis Bridger won heat 14, to offer the beleagured home fans something to cheer about, but it was little comfort and they were put out of their misery by the referee who called a halt to proceedings as the 9.30pm curfew had been reached.

Afterwards, team manager Gary Havelock said: “I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, when your luck is out it is out, and tonight it was out big style.

“Dany (Gappmaier) obviously had problems, but to lose two riders in the manner we did is a big blow. We beat the rain again with the covers, but it just feels like we are being hit in the face with a cricket bat every week.”

Promoter Scott Courtney added: “I feel absolutely battered after that and I am pleased everyone escaped relatively unscathed.

“It wasn’t much fun and I can only feel grateful things didn’t end up a lot worse.”

This weekend Berwick have two meetings in two days. On Saturday they are home to Workington, and on Sunday travel to take on Glasgow.

Berwick: Bridger 10+1, Morris 9, Doolan 5, Howe 4, Parkinson-Blackburn (guest) 4, Payne 1, Gappmaier 1.

Redcar: Perks 12+2, Garrity 12 (max), Wright 8+1, Barker 7+1, Garcia 5, Andersen 4+1, Ayres 2+1.