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George Dodds's picture

Slapped wrists time.
Some of you - and you know who you are - were M.I.A. at Shielfield last Saturday.
Others – and their reward will come long before heaven – earned their stripes by cheering on all and sundry in the Stars of Tomorrow, did their bit for the Duns training track in the Black and Gold afterwards, grabbed a couple of hours’ kip before boarding the Supporters Club’s BSPA Appreciation Sunday Tour coach to the Peterborough Fours, arriving home at quarter to silly o’clock having out-sung, outwitted – and in all likelihood out-drunk – the best that the rest of the Championship could offer.
Two meetings in as many days was probably too much of a stretch for some – costing somewhere not too far adrift of £200 just in case Rory Schlein or Craig Cook is reading this – but those who opted only for a day out down the A1 missed a typically entertaining Starza.
Pre-meeting favourites Dan Bewley and Max Clegg were unable to make it – Dan cementing his status as one of Britain’s hottest young properties with a double figure score for Kings Lynn in the Premiership – but those who did put on quite a show.
Now the actual line-up caused a bit of a stir on the message boards. One regular contributor – and in fairness one who is not afraid to put his hand into his pocket to help riders – harrumphed that it should be renamed the Stars of Two Years ago.
It doesn’t take much to induce apoplexy among users of digital media – indeed it often seems that Twitter was invented simply to allow people to live in a state of outrage.
The fact that many of them believe that this state of outrage is a former member of the USSR – somewhere between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan and Estonia – with a population made up largely of those “taken” and returned to earth following experimentation by little green men doesn’t necessarily void their right to express those opinions.
But, even ignoring the history of an event first staged nearly 50 years’ ago, on a more pragmatic level surely those that are not stars today will, or won’t, become the stars of tomorrow – no matter what their age or experience is.
As the rain poured down almost non-stop between the final whistle at the football and scheduled start time for the speedway there were some anxious looking track staff and promoters.
“Don’t worry these lads will ride in anything,” a wise old head opined as the puddles were brushed away.
How true, how refreshing and how rewarding for everyone inside the stadium that all 16 riders got on with the job without any pit gate meetings or demands for track grading.
Admittedly Nathan Greaves probably cursed the luck of the draw which saw him out in heat one when conditions were at their trickiest. Rather than settle for two points the Ipswich youngster hit the deck going for the outside run.
It turned out to be his only mistake of the night as he then rattled off three aggressive qualifying wins as the track quickly dried out, followed that up with a semi-final victory and then left Coty Garcia, Jacob Buckhave and Mitchell Davey to pick up the minor placings in the final.
A well deserved victory but spare a thought for Dane Tobias Thomsen who, for the second successive year in a row looked impressive in qualifying only to fall heavily in the semi-final.
Home town hero Luke Ruddick was another whose efforts were not truly rewarded by his final points’ tally but once again he showed that the Mildenhall air seems to agree with him as he continues to progress nicely.
Another to catch the eye was Frenchman John Bernard – a team-mate of Leon Flint at Marmande – who looked stylish, if a little underpowered, and definitely improved with every ride.
This Saturday it is back to league duty and the visit of Peterborough.
After waiting 19 years to beat the Panthers at Shielfield we are now in a position of bidding for back-to-back victories.
Premiership commitments with Rye House mean that Chris Harris will not be leading the Panthers but Newcastle’s Stevie Worrall is an excellent replacement.
Jack Holder’s release to ride in Poland rather than last Sunday’s Fours was a major talking point in the build-up to the Alwalton showpiece.
Despite his absence the Panthers lifted the title with Shielfield track specialists Simon Lambert and Ulrich Ostergaard providing the back-up for Harris.
Nick Morris returns from his own Polish exploits to lead the Bandits but it will need another gutsy performance to secure the double over Peterborough.
The only predictable thing about this 50th season at Shielfield is that tapes go up at 7pm – the rest has been an unscripted roller coaster ride.
Feel free to jump aboard … and scream if you want them to go faster!