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George Dodds's picture

“It’s on until it’s not” is the standard answer to those phone calls to the speedway office when the weather – as is its wont on a typical Berwick Saturday, is less than perfect.
And at Shielfield Park that usually means it’s gonna happen; 2018 adding the twist that visitors will arrive and depart soundly beaten.
In fairness Edinburgh are one of the few teams who have turned up to marvel at the Bandits’ world famous covers only to turn around and head for home without an engine being fired in anger, the original staging of the Championship Shield match; one of two washouts at the very start of the season.
While covers are not 100% effective however, I make that 11 track coverings over the past two seasons and nine meetings raced despite thunder, lightening and torrential rain in the hours leading up to 7pm on a Saturday night.
But still the experts told us via the forums, Facebook and Twitter that because of thunder in Cornhill, torrential rain in Berwick, black clouds over Granthouse, a rip in the space time continuum, a sharp fall in the value of the Cambodian riel against the Vietnamese dong it was looking unlikely that the meeting would be on.
Rubbish, illogical, flying in the face of history and wrong; in other words typical messageboard fodder.
As always the truth turned out to be the winner, the forecast was right, the covers came up in a breezy sunshine at 6.30; Razor fired up the bowser and put some water down and we got on with the now traditional demolition of the visitors.
We welcomed Jye and his new helmet back to the fold, saw Matty Wethers roll back the years as guest for the longtrack title-chasing Theo, Dany win a heat 15 nomination, Kev and David Howe prove that stalking and overtaking is not a lost – in addition to The Phoenix’s team-riding heroics.
There was also a hint that, despite the efforts of politicians to smooth over the matter, there is still some underlying bad feeling from Operation Weserübung – or maybe Denmark’s finest just doesn’t like having his leg taken out from under him by a rash German dive up the inside. Whatever the issue it was a decent swing in front of NBJ’s adoring third bend posse.
So far this season Lakeside, Ipswich, Sheffield, Glasgow Redcar and Edinburgh have gone home with nothing but the thanks and good wishes of the victors to show for their efforts.
Despite all that it would be fair to say that, for a team built on strength in depth, we have yet to see all seven riders fire on the same night.
Last week the man left shaking his head was Aaron, his low points’ return inevitably leading for messageboard calls for his replacement.
Whether or not we replaced him would show the ambition or lack of it by our owners according to one poster, inevitably one hiding behind a nom de plume.
Obviously a string of double figure scores must be ignored and the whole season revolve around one really bad points’ return.
Of course a drop in average will see Aaron drop from the number one racejacket – which immediately means he will not be spending most of his evening racing against the big-hitters of those sides who have gone for a top heavy approach to team building – like those that we have so soundly hammered so far this year – perhaps a blessing in disguise and an average boost come next month.
Beating the weather doesn’t happen by accident, it takes a lot of thought and planning – indeed the call to the volunteers who were covering the track at 7am on Saturday came during one of the interminable delays at Lakeside (see I can manage not to call it Arena Essex!) on Friday night.
Air fences that deflated, un-noticed, during a race and two long injury delays resulted in the meeting finally finishing around 11pm.
Again a trip to the messageboards saw the Lakeside apologists shrugging their shoulders. Had to wait for the doctor to come back after treating Kyle Newman what can you do?
Well you can do what Berwick does, indeed what Edinburgh and Glasgow do, and employ two paramedics and two ambulances so that when a bad accident happens the rider gets the necessary treatment on track but as soon as he can be safely transported off site then the racing can resume.
The only drawback is that it costs additional money for the promotion – same as buying a set of covers which ensure that, even when it pours at Shielfield the bikes roar.
Except this Saturday when Germany versus Sweden in the World Cup on the telly is your sporting choice.
But we’ll be back, covers at the ready, for the Monarchs home and away in the KO Cup next weekend.