Yes folks …. We’re at the point of knocking on the those stadium doors… the smell…..yes! that smell … it’s time to fill the lungs again.
The time is nigh for a large proportion of us to come out of hibernation (or maybe it is just me that has no life) which means it is time to go head deep into a season preview and prediction for 2019.
For our own beloved Bandits, we start with 5 of the 7 who took us so very, very close to the play-offs last year.
Out from ’18 have gone Theo and David and in come Coty Garcia and Berwick’s own Leon Flint.
We know what we can expect from our five returnees. Coty comes back to his parent club with much more experience than he started with and Leon arrives ‘home’ at reserve following a very good first year in the National League!
What we have to remember when it comes to Leon is that this young man has only very recently turned sixteen. He does have an abundance of talent and we at Berwick are very lucky he has chosen to start his senior career with us – but we will also have to have patience!
There is no doubt he’s going far, but the step up between these two leagues is huge, and we will need to let Leon grow at his own pace.
His transition may be just slightly easier by knowing he will be racing against many other of similar calibre, such as Luke Ruddick, Charlie Powell, Tom Brennan, Luke Chessell, Kyle Bickley and others.
As a team, I’d like to think we’ll be pushing for the play-offs again…. The constant strength we are likely to have at reserve could be match-winning both home and away – we will be dark horses, so to speak!
With regard to the rest of the league, well…..
Edinburgh: Damn this team! Why do they always put out a decent-looking 1-7? They’ve taken a gamble at reserve giving our Luke Ruddick his chance among the big boys, partnered with William Lawson. If Willie can even somewhat replicate his scoring of old, that would lift the pressure on Luke and, yet again, the Monarchs will be on a winner!
They have also brought in Cameron Heeps who comes north for the first time in his career. Justin Sedgmen returns ‘home’ too, following a time away from the ‘Dale.
Glasgow: A huge chunk of pointage taken up by Craig Cook means they will again have a strong top end and be a little bit weaker at the lower end. A team change was made following an ‘incident’ which saw Joe Lawlor shoved oot the door and Kyle Bickley ushered in (I’m saying nowt!).
Their top end should be enough to see them across the line at home, but they may get found out away!
Newcastle: Oh dear, oh dear… should I address the way Viktor Palovaara was so unceremoniously dropped just weeks before the season through no fault of his own? I don’t agree with what’s been done here… yes, it is unfortunate if Nike Lunna said he was taking time out… but surely something needs to be put in writing to ensure riders don’t find themselves jobless in this manner?
I’d say the same if it was my club…. I just don’t think it’s fair at all…. and neither was the supposed way Viktor was told about it …. text message … ‘still shaking my head. The’ve brought in Steve Worrall and Simon Lambert as replacements which has strengthened their top end but leaves them, like Glasgow, vulnerable at the bottom end!
Redcar: Hmmmmmm….something deep inside me says look out for the Bears this season. No stand-out names, but all riders who could contribute to the scoring!
Sheffield: Unless something goes badly wrong, this team has play-off contenders written all over it!
They have, IMO, one of the potential signing of the season in Drew Kemp at reserve. Their top three (King, Howarth & Proctor) won’t drop many points between them. There is only one way they can go after 2018, anyways!
Scunthorpe: An unknown Aussie… an inexperienced reserve pair… a very unlucky young man who has had a lot of injuries in a short career… hmmmmm.
But that said, it is a team that will do better at home than away! Still, it might be a long year for Scunny fans – but at least they’ve got a great race-track to enjoy!
Leicester: Another team on paper that I think look good…. And not just their top 5…. I mean all the way through! Jack Thomas and Connor Mountain are a young pairing but they’ve both had experience in our 2nd tier now. With a very solid top 5 to go along with them, there’s no way I can’t see the Lions making the play-offs.
Birmingham: On paper…. Hmmmmmm…..I applaud the Brummies for taking the step up…. They should have stuck in this league all along… but I know I won’t be the only one predicting a rough ride for Birmingham this season!
Big pressure on young mens’ shoulders!
Eastbourne: This team could prove to be very tricky to deal with this year. They’ve been very much built to ensure no points will be dropped at home, but are vulnerable away! Edward Kennett should be leading the way, racking up double figures each week – especially at home, which many in our 2nd tier won’t have seen before – and he will likely provide invaluable support to their very young bottom end off the track, too!
Somerset: On paper, they show a very solid top 4…. But, my goodness, they better get used to seeing reverse scoires in Heat 2 for a while! The Rebs need to be looking at their top 4 along getting 40 points between them. It will also be interesting to see what their new German rider comes up with.
My Championship Prediction:
See you at the Bordernapolis, Banditos!
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