The team-riding between Nick Morris and Jye Etheridge in Heat 10 last Saturday did more to refresh my enthusiasm for watching speedway than anything else in a week of crappy decisions happening elsewhere.
Two 22-year-old Aussies, going shoulder-to-shoulder for four full laps around Shielfield, blocking every effort by firstly Ty Proctor and then James Sarjeant to get past. In the slowest time of the night, even!
Their manoeuvring brought the grandstand patrons to their feet, and deserved every single clap of applause.
Nick was the main arranger, maybe orchestrator, of the duet, filling the gaps in Jye’s lead vocal with perfect harmonies. As I said, a palpable masterclass.
Team riding is a rare spectacle these days, and indeed has never been as widespread as folk would have you believe.
George Hunter was superb at looking out for his partner, and Mark Courtney could be cute in blocking off an opponent’s run – but real team-riding should be a two-man ballet, each playing his part.
In my time at Berwick, I can recall just two partnerships who could work well together to keep even the best at the back.
In the early ‘70s, Willie Templeton used his experience to guide the younger, probably faster Andy Meldrum into the right places – often in vital last-heat deciders – while nearly twenty years later we had Richard Knight combining with David Walsh in the big league, shutting out quite a few world-class opponents in the process.
At other times, there have certainly been times where a rider has covered a partner’s tracks with clever tactics, but in the main real team-riding has to come from a couple of riders who can appear telepathic in their moves as they thwart the advances of hot-on-their-heels opponents.
What was so stimulating on Saturday was that Jye and Nick are so young, haven’t been Bandits long enough to watch one another racing much – even in Australia they won’t have crossed too many swords, living as they do some 400 miles apart – yet seemed to tune onto each other’s wavelength. Effortlessly.
Great stuff – and the only problem I see is that, with our team structured as it currently is, they won’t be getting too many opportunities to do it again for a while, given that Nick (No 1) doesn’t get to race with any partner except No 2 and (in Heat 13) No 5 in our home meetings……….
Finally, just a note of thanks to Jim Kennedy and Gordon Benson, each of whom have recently taken the time and trouble to contact me (address below) regarding recent blogs.
I’ve obviously replied, but just wanted to thank you publicly for your interest.
Want to disagree with Dick (as many do?). He will always be happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm