As you've probably guessed by the title, it is indeed that time of the year that presumably no one has been waiting for but I do a huge season preview anyway, all for the sake of filling in a few column inches!
However, before I go any further and start to delve in about our Championship rivals I must pass comment on the recent feature on BBC Breakfast where they looked at the progress of our very own Ricky Ashworth since his terrible accident almost six years ago.
If you haven't yet seen it, I strongly advise that you do and if you don't have a tear in your eye there is a chance you are made of stone.
Ricky Ashworth continues to defy the odds and remains a huge inspiration to us all, and as we all used to say during his racing days..."Go on Ricky Lad!"
Now without further ado, let us take a look at what lies ahead for us in 2019 as I cast my eye over the team sheets and make my bold predictions for the forthcoming season, this time out I take a look at Birmingham, Eastbourne, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Birmingham make a welcome return to Championship level and they have built themselves a side without any standout stars but in Ulrich Ostergaard they have a rider that is capable of winning the big heats when it counts. A hard as nails, no nonsense rider, Ostergaard will be expected to provide the main scoring threat for the Brummies. He can't do it all on his own though, and Kyle Newman will be expected to make the second heat leader position his own with back up from Ashley Morris, who joins the club after a very productive spell at Newcastle. Brummies fans can expect total commitment from these three and the same can be said of James Shanes and Zach Wajtknecht, who are arguably two of Britain's brightest rising stars. Two relatively unknown quantities in Tobias Thomsen and Paco Castagna complete the lineup. While Thomsen has impressed in open meetings over here during the last few seasons, how he adapts to league racing will be a major factor on the Brummies success and perhaps once he gets a proper average it may allow for changes to be made to the side. While this isn't Castagna’s first rodeo in Britain, he will need to improve massively on his previous performances or I can see him being the sacrificial lamb if changes are to be made.
Key Man - James Shanes
The young Englishman has been around a few seasons now and has improved steadily year on year, but if the Brummies are to make a push for glory, I feel that he will need to be seriously challenging for a heat leader role within the side. With obvious talent in abundance, this isn't out with his grasp.
Mythman's Prediction - This is a building year for the Brummies and as a result I don't see them being near the playoff picture, but it is fantastic to see them back in the league they ultimately belong in.
Eastbourne are another new and welcome addition to the Championship and the tight confides of Arlington will prove an intimidating place to go for visiting sides and I think the Eagles have assembled a side with that very much in mind. Richard Lawson, Edward Kennett and Lewis Kerr are as fine a heat leader trio as anyone and all of them have the experience to score big points both home and away. The thing is…they will ultimately have to if the Eagles are to pose a huge threat away from home. Young Tom Brennan is making his debut at Championship level and while he is regarded as somewhat of an Arlington specialist he will be seeing a lot of other tracks for the first time so it could well prove a steep learning curve for him. In Alfie Bowtell and Georgie Wood they have two young lads with a very bright future in the sport, and while both of them have some Championship experience, it is a huge ask for one of them to score big points in the main body of the side. Ben Morley is another rider who seems to have been on the go forever but is still only 24, and he is starting to make strides in the sport, he will be hoping he can back up the heat leaders and lead the Eagles to glory.
Key Man - Ben Morley
Despite his young years, he is one of the more experienced guys in the side and he really should be looking to be challenge for a heat leader spot, especially at home. Could be a big year for him.
Mythman's Prediction - Despite a long tail, I believe the Eagles home track advantage will see them do enough to make the playoffs, providing they can pick up the odd point on the road along the way.
The Edinburgh Monarchs will be keen to make up for their 2018 shortcomings and with Ricky Wells returning to lead the side, they have someone likely to be near the top of the leagues overall averages. He will be ably backed up by Justin Sedgeman, who returns to the club he enjoyed such great success with not that long ago. Completing the heat leader trio is surprise signing Cameron Heeps, but as something of an Armadale specialist he shouldn't take too long to settle in. Josh Pickering and Joel Andersson also return to the club and while their progress has been steady rather than spectacular, both have shown glimpses of their true potential with some great performances. The reserve pairing is a fascinating one as Willie Lawson is returning to the side having made a brief comeback last season after around eight seasons out of the saddle. Without a doubt a talented rider on his day, if he can recapture even some of his old magic then the Monarchs could be a huge threat. He is joined by young Luke Ruddick, who has impressed in a number of guest appearances at Championship level in the past but this time he will be taking the plunge on a full time basis, This won't hold too many fears for him and don't be too surprised if he does make big strides forward in 2019.
Key Man - Cameron Heeps
This one is a tough one but I have gone for Cameron Heeps. He could prove to be a master stroke signing and the change of scenery could well be the catalyst for him becoming a top rider at Championship level
Mythman's Prediction - You can never write off the Monarchs, as much as I would like to sometimes! But the simple fact is they have an uncanny knack of producing results and I can't see them being too far away come the business end of the season.
The Glasgow Tigers have put together a rather eye catching lineup and in sealing the return of Craig Cook they have the leagues top rider, of that there is no doubt. But much like the days of Steve Lawson, Cookie can't do it all on his own. The returning Claus Vissing had a fantastic 2018 season with the Tigers and he will be keen to replicate that form and if he can steer clear of injury, there is every chance he will. Also returning is Paul Starke, who by comparison to Vissing, endured a fairly subdued season last year, but on a potentially false average, he could easily be one of the leagues big improvers. Completing the quartet of returnees from 2018 is James Sarjeant, who will have to make a second string position his own and hold his own in the main body of the side. He is a rider who, at the start of his career looked to be going places but he seems to have levelled off in recent seasons, however he could still have a say in Tigers’ chances of glory. On to the trio of newcomers and Danish star Rasmus Jensen makes the switch from Workington, where he had a hugely successful spell. He hasn't scored particularly well at Ashfield in the past but is a very capable performer and if he can get to grips with his new surroundings he will provide solid back up to Cook and Vissing. Completing the side is the reserve pairing of Joe Lawlor and Luke Chessell which looks to be one of the more inexperienced pairings on paper. However, Lawlor has impressed in open meetings and is certainly a wholehearted trier who will take a few big scalps as time goes on. Luke Chessell will be making his first plunge at Championship level and time will tell how he does, but the Tigers will need at least one of their reserved to be scoring above and beyond their starting average if they are to be successful in 2019.
Key Man - Rasmus Jensen
Another difficult one to call, but Rasmus Jensen gets the nod for me here. A surprise and much publicised signing who simply has to live up to the hype and deliver the back up to Cook and Vissing.
Mythman's Prediction - This might be an unpopular opinion, but for me the Tigers are too top heavy and I don't see where the consistent back up for Cook is coming from. The two reserves will need to over deliver on expectation and I think the Tigers will flatter to deceive as a result.
Next time out I take a look at the fortunes of Leicester, Newcastle, Redcar and Scunthorpe, where I will deliver more, presumably unpopular opinions upon the Championship League.
Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with the Mythman, have an idea for a feature, or you simply want to chew the fat over all things speedway, you can email me Mythman666@hotmail.com. If your compliments, or indeed gripes can be contained to limited characters. You can send me a tweet @Mythman666.
Until next time...and there will be a next time.
Right I’ll hae’tae gan