We've almost made it, it's been a marathon but the finish line is in sight. The entire Championship has been dissected team by team, rider by rider and now we enter the third and final installment of this season preview...
Destination Owlerton and the Sheffield Tigers next and they have a very attractive looking line-up after what can only be described as a disappointing 2018 season. Danny King was the big blockbuster signing and while the former British Champion is one of the league’s top performers, he is returning from a very nasty arm injury which had threatened to end his career. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and he has been cleared to return to action, and given a few meetings I am sure the standard high scores will become the norm once again. He will be looking for back up in the form of Ty Proctor, who returns to the club after winning the treble with Workington last season and Kyle Howarth, who will be keen to put the disappointment of a poor 2018 season behind him. Young American rider Broc Nicol was a late addition to the Tigers side last season and after a number of impressive displays he is back in 2019. He had certainly showed glimpses of his capabilities last season and will be eager to build on that. The same can be said of Kasper Andersen, he was also a late season introduction to the Tigers side and the stylish Dane impressed the promotion to earn a call up for 2019. Drew Kemp was probably one of, if not the most sought after British youngster with a string of clubs after his signatures. He has settled for Sheffield and big things will be expected of him, having burst on the scene with Ipswich last season. Finally, another Aussie newcomer in the form of Zaine Kennedy completed the Tigers septet. Another product of the seemingly endless Queensland conveyor belt, this will be his first season in Britain having impressed the Tigers promotion in an open meeting but we are assured he is one to watch.
Key Man – Kasper Andersen
Much of the talk will be about Drew Kemp, and rightly so, but I feel there is a lot to come from the Danish man and 2019 will be a big season for him and the Tigers.
Mythman’s Prediction – Sheffield will be among the favourites for glory and if they steer clear of injuries, I don’t see them being too far away when the medals are handed out.
Way down the Country to Somerset now and the Rebels have put together a side which is beyond top heavy, but one they believe will carry them to Championship glory. The top two of Rory Schelin and Chris Harris need little introduction and have just about seen and done it all between them. Schlein is one of the most consistent performers out there and Harris still provides many a magic moment every now and again. Nico Covatti proved a popular addition to the Rebels side last season and he has come back to join them as they drop down to the Championship for 2019. The Argentine is an eye catching rider and is more than capable of backing up his fellow heat leaders. Slotting into second string positions will be Todd Kurtz and the relatively unknown German Victor Grobauer. Kurtz returns to the club after a spell with Sheffield and Grobauer comes in as a replacement for the enigmatic Dimitri Berge, who left the club before turning a wheel. The reserve pairing is arguably one of the least experienced in the league, but with plenty of experienced campaigners around them, it will be hoped they can settle in and find their groove quickly. Henry Atkins has only just turned 18 and joins the club having started out as a mascot for the Rebels as youngster. A former British 125cc Champion, he has done plenty of laps around the Oak Tree Arena but this will be a huge step up for him. His reserve partner Anders Rowe hasn’t yet turned 17 and will also find the going tough, but a couple of seasons in the National League with Kent will have served him well for the big step up this season.
Key Man – Todd Kurtz
Well thanks to Dimitri Berge waving the white flag upon his Somerset career, this had to be rewritten and reconsidered. It is a virtual impossibility to pinpoint one key man, however I believe that one of the newcomers will need to hit the ground running and adapt quickly to life in the Championship if Somerset are to be in the hunt later in the season. This puts huge pressure on the lower / middle order riders and for no other reason other than that he is the most experienced, Todd Kurtz gets the nod.
Mythman’s Prediction – Originally I believed that the Rebels' home form would see them there or thereabouts in terms of a play-off place and that any potential weaknesses would be exposed on the road. The loss of Dimitri Berge may have put paid to that, however time will tell and the Rebels may well be as enigmatic as Berge himself.
Saving the best ‘til last, the Berwick Bandits...and how I think they will fare. Well, the line up looks as solid as anyone, and having trawled through the rest of the league I believe we are in with a shout. Kevin Doolan will do as Kevin Doolan does and that is producing the goods on a consistent level whilst driving his team mates to give that little bit extra. Aaron Summers often carried the brunt of the teams away scoring in 2018 and while he will be expected to do the same again; there is room for improvement from him to solidify himself as a top line Championship rider. The cool and stylish Nickolaj Busk Jakobsen was a model of consistency for the Bandits in 2018 and there is far more to come from the Danish man, and with former team mate David Howe in his pit corner, this is a huge season for him. Jye Etheridge is another man who has enjoyed a fruitful spell as a Bandit and in 2019 he should be aiming to nail down a heat leader spot and make it his own. Dany Gappmaier is blessed with an abundance of talent and at home in particular, he can look nigh on unbeatable. If he can improve on his scoring away from home ever so slightly then the Bandits could be on to a winning formula. Argentine rider Coty Garcia returns to his first British club and after a highly productive spell with Ipswich towards the end of last season, he will be keen to carry that form into this season. Last but by no means least, local youngster Leon Flint completes the side and he must surely have been one of the most sought after two point riders out there. Remaining loyal to his local club, this is a big season for Leon and despite there being very little pressure on him, he will be out to make his mark and continue his rise up the speedway ladder.
Key Man – Coty Garcia
The man hailing from Colonia Baron has had a somewhat stop start career in Britain; however his spell with Ipswich last season showed what he is truly caplable of. With a settled run in a team from the start of the season, he doesn’t need to play catch up and that can only benefit him and the Bandits.
Mythman‘s Prediction – Missing the playoffs by a solitary point in 2018, the 2019 Bandits will be keen to go one better, and to be honest I believe that will be the expectation from riders, fans and the promotion alike. While the Bandits won't be on many folks radars as potential champions, they certainly shouldn't be written off.
Well I hope you all enjoyed reading my season preview as much as I did piecing it altogether and thanks for taking the time to read through it all. May you all have a fantastic season and enjoy your speedway.
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