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George Dodds's picture

As part of the 50th season overhaul at Shielfield you may have noticed that the between heats music has more of a hard rock edge to it.
But as a child of the flower power era I’ll stick with Thunderclap Newman because last Saturday night there was definitely “something in the air”.
Caroline, my ultra-glam co-host at the Ducket Bistro, Piano Bar and Pie Emporium, hit the nail firmly on the head. “I’ve got a good feeling about this,” she said after heat one proved to be fast, furious and, unusually this season, a Bandits’ heat advantage.
Nick Morris and David Howe conjured up a 4-2 – it would not be their last contribution on a night when everything we love about speedway and its fans, was on show.
Heat two demonstrated that while Jack Parkinson-Blackburn may still have a lot to learn about gating he knows how to pick a fast line and has no fear about taking it out wide and into the dirt, majestically sweeping around fellow guest reserve Tom Wooley.
But in true Berwick 2017 fashion simple is just not allowed.
A number of riders in those early heats had found themselves straightening up going into turn one. As the track staff made their way towards the tractors I asked: “What’s up?” “There’s a berm,” came the reply.
Strange time to be doing bad Allo Allo impressions I thought but all was soon explained as trackman Razor ejected the tractor driver and set about reprofiling the bend with a commitment and ruthlessness rarely seen outside of last orders.
The berm was successfully defused.
Dany stuck to the outside line as he powered home in heat five with a ride which had the third bend gang reaching once again for their Afro wigs.
King Kev and Nick won the Kangaroo slugfest as Jack Holder was left in their wake and two heats later Nick glanced back to see our National League wunderkind had blasted his way from last to second.
The third bend had a new hero … and a quandary. With the best will in the world a valedictory chant, song and dance involving Jack Parkinson and Blackburn is never going to be easy but rest assured they are on the case; they will not be defeated.
We were flying, ten points clear; the visiting black Panther and his wife were crying into their bowls of milk.
And then we were brought back to earth with a bump – two in quick succession as first Jack Holder and Simon Lambert teamed up for an 8-1 tactical ride and then Nick, not for the first time against Peterborough this season, hit the deck heavily, along with the ultra-competitive Ulrich Ostergaard.
Ulrich disappeared in the ambulance and we feared his evening was over. Nothing of the sort as he came out in the rerun and relegated a shaken Nick to last place.
Suddenly our lead was just one point.
Peterborough guest Stevie Worrall was next to overcook it, locking up dramatically and leaving Ostergaard nowhere to go but hard into the shale again.
God knows what they feed their babies in Odense but they grow into tough young men as the Dane seemed to be cruising to victory in the rerun until David rolled back the years and opened the throttle to pip him in the run to the flag.
But as sure as Ying follows Yang in 2017 our joy was shortlived as JPB picked off both Paul Starke and Simon Lambert – big scalps around Shielfield – only to thump into the second bend fence and stay down.
It took a while to get the youngster into the ambulance – as it should when a rider is reporting neck discomfort – and the atmosphere was a little subdued when the three remaining riders came back to the tapes.
Not for long though as Dany produced his second rocket fuelled outside pass of the night. Two more shared heats and it seemed like the points were comfortably coming our way as Kev comfortably held second spot behind superman Ostergaard.
Then suddenly Kev and his bike were independently thundering down the home straight after his throttle jammed wide open. Amazingly Jye Etheridge and Lambert managed to avoid the stricken skipper as he crossed the finishing line on his backside. Even more amazingly Kev was back on his feet and had cleared his bike of the track almost before Willie Dishington had pressed the red light switch.
An awarded 1-5 meant that suddenly we were a point adrift with one race to go, the 9.30 curfew just minutes away and the fence needing to be inspected for signs of damage caused by Kev’s runaway steed.
With just a minute to spare the fabulous four reached the tapes for the last heat decider. It had to be a clean start – any rerun would have been over our planning permission dictated cut off point – we had to get a 4-2 or better.
In the previous week’s blog I had urged readers to “scream if you want them to go faster”. It seemed that many hundreds of you followed my advice.
Nick perhaps had the easier of the jobs, keeping Holder behind him as David found himself with the unenviable task of trying to keep Ostergaard at bay.
But that is exactly what he did to the kind of roar as he crossed the line to seal our one point victory on the night that would not be out of place had we won the league/cup double.
The message was clear. This may not have been a season of on-track glory but most of the crowd on Saturday night buy into the new promotion’s aim of making Shielfield the place to be for entertainment on a Saturday night.
To do that they have assembled a team which is prepared to put its body on the line in an effort to win; a team in which no-one is going through the motions or just picking up a wage packet at the end of the night.
New heroes are being made, old ones rising to the challenge.
About the only thing that could top the euphoria was the news that JPB’s injury was not serious and that he was back home the following day.
Scunthorpe are in town on Saturday, tapes-up at 7pm as always. Our dj is hopefully rummaging through his collection for some Bachman Turner Overdrive as we plan to be “Takin Care of Business” and, for certain, “You aint seen n-n-nothin yet!”