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George Dodds's picture

The trouble with sport is that it isn’t always fair.
In speedway there are very few draws, even fewer dead heats.
Invariably there is a winner to every meeting; of every heat.
It means there are many who do not win … but that does not make them losers.
Not the snappiest of slogans for any budding t-shirt entrepreneur but food for thought as I queued, fiver in hand outside Bedrocks in the early hours of Sunday morning. That’s another story and one I’ll keep for when Mrs D isn’t reading.
Having got themselves into a situation almost as sticky as the legendary carpet in the aforementioned fun palace; the Bandits attempted to stage the kind of Great Escape even Steve McQueen would have declared impossible only to fall at the final hurdle with the winning post in sight.
It was quite a night to say the least when the Witches paid their third visit of the season to Shielfield (fourth if you count King Kev’s Big Day Out).
In bald terms we lost at home for the seventh time in 11 league and cup outings in 2017. Harbingers of doom fired up their laptops and boldly told tales of mates who swore they were never going back to Shielfield again.
If ever the facts failed to tell the full story this was it.
Nothing was as it seems on Saturday – beginning with the fact that the sun shone all day and Razor had to employ his water truck – windscreen wipers on full power – during the meeting.
It would be fair to say that there was a degree of grumbling when we trailed 17-6 after four heats – although it was nothing compared to later in the night when H Bar ran out of Fosters.
We thought we had seen just about everything already this season but then guest reserve Tom Wooley’s first bend mishap and King Kev’s exploding engine conspired for that speedway rarity – a 0-5.
Even to someone with my positive outlook it seemed like a case of damage limitation and some nervous glances at the record books.
Oh me of little faith.
It all began to change when boss for the night Gary Flint stuck the black and white helmet cover on guest for the night Ryan Douglas and watched from the centre green with the calm demeanour of one touched by greatness as Joe Jacobs rocketed from the gate and then had the presence of mind to slow down and let his Aussie team-mate through on the last bend.
A perfect 8-1 – followed in true 2017 Bandits’ style by a 1-5 and a 2-4 reverse.
Ah well, that was that then.
Nothing of the sort.
Heat nine saw Dany rediscover his speed and form of earlier in the season as he streaked to victory. The third bend went mental as Mindthe returned to the pits where he was greeted by his equally delighted team-mates and mechanics.
This was not a struggling side keeping its head down – it was a band of brothers battling together for the Berwick cause and the fans.
The Pits Posse was back two heats later when Jye and Kev banged in a maximum. Kev was at it again following Ryan home in a quite brilliant heat 13 in which Danny King went airborne more than once as he tried to cut inside the Bandits’ pair coming off bend four.
They had barely caught their breathe when David Howe rolled back the years and jetted from the start of heat 14 with Jye close behind.
It was monumental, it was epic; it needed more than just a polite round of applause and a centre green dance from Ramblin Roy.
And it got it in buckets; with knobs on; cream and marshmallows.
Now David’s been popular wherever he’s ridden but all the praise and silverware counts for nothing when compared to the equivalent of the Speedway Oscars – his very own celebration song, written, produced and performed by the Third Bend.
Forget Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gilbert and Sullivan, Rice and Lloyd Webber, Lennon and McCartney – their piddling little pop ditties are nowt compared to the finely honed and choreographed efforts of our very own dynamic duo.
If you haven’t seen the efforts of Tonto Tait and Cha’akmongwi Clarke then I strongly recommend a visit to Facebook where tribal tribute to Mr Howe is threatening to go viral.
Suddenly we were two points up with just the nominated riders race to come.
Sadly in true Hollywood style our fantasy was to fall foul of a pair of villains.
While Messrs King and Schlein may be more Dastardly and Muttley than Kray twins when it comes to being baddies they still snatched our dreams from us and made sure that, once again, the visitors took their seats on the truck for the victory lap.
It was a cracking meeting, a brilliant fight back which created a cracking atmosphere around the stadium and a night when, despite defeat, the Bandits from one to seven – and our loyal supporters – could hold their heads high.
Glasgow and their noisy hordes of travelling Tigers are back in town on Saturday night.
They will face a rejuvenated Bandits’ side and, if the rumours are true, a ribald band of braves and squaws.
Legends could be written, more tributes songs unveiled and the action on the track will be red hot.
It promises to be another night when you just can’t afford not to be there.