It has often been said that the art of team riding is dying within speedway, that is of course unless you've been watching the Berwick Bandits in 2018, who in my mind have been the very epitome of riding as a team.
David Howe spoke at great length in his interview on the centre green on Saturday night about how his team mates were the ones that kept him going through the hard times he endured throughout the season, keeping him going when he felt he wanted to give it all up.
The success of this season has been built solidly upon the foundation of that team spirit, when one guy has had an off night another has generally stepped up and went above and beyond the call of duty for the greater good of the team. Time and time again during 2018 that is what we saw, especially on home shale.
We ground out results as a team, and as the wins started to come, the belief in the team started to shine through and grow. I have long since maintained that I would rather see two guys score seven points a piece than one guy scoring 14 and the other contributing nothing.
So with all that in mind, I decided to do a little research and took it upon myself to see just what made the Bandits go oh so very close to pulling off the upset of all upsets and some of these stats may just shock you like they did me.
Whilst I have written at length about David Howe and his contributions to the Bandits this season, it is worth noting that despite all the well documented difficulties he endured, he did manage to score a full 15 point maximum and average over six points a meeting.
Whilst that perhaps wasn't the kind of season he was looking for I would say that deserves plenty of praise and his honest approach to his racing has made him one of the most popular Bandits of recent times. However those very same team mates that picked him up as the season wore on, are the very same heroes that made this season what it was.
Another man who had to endure difficulties off the track was Nickolaj Busk Jakobsen, but he bounced back by getting himself up to second in the overall Bandits averages at the end of the season. The stylish Danish man picked up only eight last places all season as he went about his business quietly with devastating consistency including a highly profitable spell at reserve where he racked up several huge scores.
There were a few raised eyebrows when the Bandits promotion announced the signing of Theo Pijper but the Flying Dutchman rolled back the years and once he found his groove he proved a solid signing. In fact, he picked up the second most race wins away from home as well as picking up the most bonus points with 33. Considering he spent the entire season at reserve, that shows you just the sort of strength in depth that the Bandits possessed in 2018.
Our skipper Kevin Doolan was once again rock solid and he proved that he is the King of Shielfield, picking up the most race wins on home soil, although he had to share that trophy with one of his team mates. Of course as we all all well aware,Kevin brings an awful lot more to the table than what he does on the track and that was never more evident than this season.
Not to be outdone by the skipper, Dany Gappmaier picked up the same amount of race wins as Kev as he pushed his home average to almost eight points a meeting. This of course included some huge scores when he was in the reserve berth and although his away form was perhaps little patchy, he can still feel very proud of his progress during the season.
Aaron Summers eventually finished the season where he started at the top of the Bandits averages. Having won twice as many races away from home than any of his team mates, Aaron can feel very proud that he led the Bandits charge on the road in 2018 and actually had an away average almost identical to his home average.
However, top of the home averages with a figure of just under nine points a meeting was Jye Etheridge, who also only had 11 last places all season home and away. For a rider that started the season at reserve and made the transition into the main body of the side and hold his own there I would say that suggests huge strides in the right direction, We also shouldn't forget that this is the man who Edinburgh dubbed as the worst rider they had ever seen wear their colours…silly silly Monarchs!
Collectively as a team these guys have given their all to the cause for the Bandits this season, and at home their lowest average rider was scoring around six points a meeting, That devastating level of consistency seen us go within a whisker of making some sort of history. I believe that these stats prove to you exactly what I was saying about riding as a proper team.
We didn't have any stand out superstars, we has seven of them all chipping in and stepping up when we needed it most! I'd say that constitutes as a roaring success!
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