George Dodds's picture

It was a bit like the infamous shower scene from Dallas all those years ago.
Aaron Summers and Thomas Jorgensen in Bandits’ race jacket, Chris Louis thundering into the first bend on an old, noisy upright engine, heading towards a bouncy castle, Matty Wethers and Seb Alden back on track, Mike Bennett resurrecting the spirit of Smashy (or was it Nicey) on the centre green and a big Shielfield Park crowd sweltering in temperatures similar to those I had been enjoying in Hanoi just four days earlier.
But, unlike Bobby Ewing, for me it wasn’t all just a dream and when the dust – remarkably little bearing in mind the heat – finally settled I imagine that Kevin and his testimonial committee gave themselves several pats on the back for a job well done.
I believe the celebrations had just about fizzled out when I set off for work at 6am the next day.
Roy Clarke had promised this would be a shorts day in Berwick; many scoffed but the man with the magic mike proved his mystic worth.
The Ghost Race in memory of Kenny Olsson, Paul Fry and Ash Jones was an innovative and poignant tribute to three fine riders as well as a subtle nod as to the dangers faced by the young men who provide entertainment for the fans every week.
Hopefully the skipper had the chance to enjoy the evening, safe in the knowledge that the varied and innovative fare on his Big Day Out is likely to become a blueprint for future testimonial events.
I especially look forward to the day when wheelie bin racing becomes a team event.
As always Ben Barker was at the centre of the action – as he was again on Monday night when he finished fourth in the British Final.
There’s never a dull moment when Ben is in town – as he will be again on Saturday when he rolls up with Redcar Bears.
It’s only a few weeks since the Redcar mob last visited and, on an eventful to say the least, evening curtailed by the curfew, left with the league points.
Since then the Bandits have comfortably seen off the challenge of Workington and Newcastle at the Stade de Shielfield – three in a row will do us just fine.
But it has come at a cost with Lee Payne and now Lewis Bridger sidelined by injury.
Lewis has been replaced in the line-up for the next 28 days by Joe Jacobs – surprisingly left without a club this season but a young Brit who took full advantage of his outing in Kev’s testimonial and produced an outstanding audition for a team place.
But it is a shame to learn that Lewis has been sidelined after what they tell me was a terrifying tumble against Workington and the resulting back and neck injuries.
It would be fair to say that Mr Bridger’s battles with the opposition, occasionally team-mates and often his own machinery have made him something of a fans’ favourite and a Shielfield cult figure in a short space of time.
Some will look no further than the drop in his average before coming to a conclusion about the success or otherwise of his signing.
Too many speedway fans seem to assess the value of a rider solely on the number of points scored and average.
Worse still are those whose knowledge is based solely on the opinions of other, culled via the internet or from the speedway updates site.
I have been known to call on the updates site on occasions but rarely look much deeper than the box scores having, many moons ago, stopped putting much faith in the accuracy of the race by race synopsises.
But I had to chuckle on Monday night when I checked in to see the result from the British Final at Belle Vue.
I had managed to catch a couple of races on the TV during a quick pub visit and was especially entertained by Chris Harris’ efforts in heat two.
For those of you who didn’t see it Bomber missed the gate completely, swooped round Lewis Kerr, dived inside Kyle Howarth and only just failed to catch Lewis Rose in a cracking ride, underlining just how good speedway can be when the right riders and right conditions combine.
Technically the speedway updates texter was right to call it “from the gate” – for the winner it was – but sometimes you despair of those who are supposed to be fans of our sport.
Finally congratulations to Mr Cook on his British title triumph on Monday night.
After being the bridesmaid for a couple of years it would take a cold heart not to be glad for our favourite Comet.
Following in the tyre tracks of Danny King we again have a champion for whom the British crown – and indeed the Team GB captaincy –seems to mean more than just another bit of silverware and payday.