Well this early season weather is a bit rubbish isn’t it? All the excitement, build up and anticipation has been put on hold as the “Beast from the East” does its best to ruin the party.
However that hasn’t stopped the fans speculating about their clubs potential successes in 2018, and I was lucky enough to sit down with a couple of fellow Bandits fans and ask them what their thoughts were on the season ahead, both for the Bandits and further afield.
Huge thanks to Norman Clark and Chris White for taking the time to answer a few questions as I gather the thoughts from the fans perspective.
What are your thoughts on the Bandits 2018 side and how do you see them fairing?
Norman: - With a similar look to the 2014 side there is a real strength in depth and we have arguably the strongest reserve pairing in the league. In terms of finishing position we surely have to be looking at improving our lowly position last season, which was more to do with bad luck than anything else. I could see us finishing in the top six, and possibly better if luck is on our side.
Chris: - Looking at a team on paper can be a very different prospect to how they perform on track. Having said that, the line up looks very solid from 1-7, there’s a good mix of experience and young blood, and I think our reserve pairing of Gappmaier and Etheridge is particularly strong. It should be a great season of entertainment, and hopefully success at Berwick in 2018.
Who do you believe is the key man to the Bandits chances of silverware in 2018?
Norman: - For me, Nickolaj Busk Jakobsen has real potential to improve on his starting average. Always a prolific scorer at Shielfield in his Peterborough and Rye House days I can see him only improving at home and begin to carry that form away from home. With a settled, consistent and injury free run in the side he could even end the season as our number one.
Chris: - If you want to win trophies, you can’t have any passengers from 1-7 so the whole team needs to step up collectively. The real key will be seeing if our reserve riders can really come through at home and score a good number of points consistently. Once you have a fortress at home, going away becomes easier and the boys will take a lot of confidence with them. The evergreen David Howe has nothing to prove given his great career, but if he can galvanise the team along with another perennial Shielfield favourite, Kevin Doolan, and they allow their experience to rub off on some of the younger guys, it could make a big difference.
Who are you most looking forward to watching around Shielfield in 2018?
Norman: - Obviously John Lindman will probably have the most eyes on him and his eye-catching style will likely make him a huge favourite among the fans, I look forward to seeing how he progresses. In terms of visiting riders, it’s always nice to see riders with vast international experience fly around Shielfield, meaning that both Chris Harris and Scott Nicholls should provide plenty of entertainment when they visit with Glasgow and Peterborough respectively.
Chris: - For the Bandits, I’m looking forward to seeing Nikolaj B Jakobsen get himself round 4 laps. I wasn’t present during his all too short lived debut but from what I’ve heard, he sounds like a real entertainer! I also remember watching Chris Harris set the track on fire a few years ago at a Bordernapolis meeting in 2009 when he smashed the track record so it’ll be great to see him giving the track a whirl again.
Looking at the rest of the Championship, which sides do you see being at the sharp end of the table at the end of the season?
Norman: - While injuries and potential loss of form could well play a part, certainly on paper the likes of Glasgow, Ipswich and Lakeside look like the stand out sides for me.
Chris: - It’s a long season as any rider/promoter/fan will tell you, but aside from the Bandits (of course) I like the look of Sheffield once again, and the line ups at Glasgow and Peterborough are looking pretty solid too.
Finally, outside of domestic speedway, who do you see lifting the World Championship in October?
Norman:- I think Tai Woffinden will be there or thereabouts again, he is one of those guys who is always in the hunt and certainly doesn’t lack the confidence or ability to become Britain’s first ever triple world champ. Patryk Dudek had a sensational debut season and will be keen to build on that. Picking up his first GP win will have boosted his confidence too and if he starts to build up wins on a consistent basis, he could prove a real threat. Plus, Jason Doyle has proved that he is the man to beat and he will have all the pressure on him and a target on his back. Going to be another interesting year!
Chris: - As we saw last year, any one of the top 15 riders can win a GP if they perform to their full potential over 7 races on a Saturday night. It’s tough to look past Doyle once again, as he has arguably been the best rider in the world over the past three years and, had it not been for some horrendous injuries, he would no doubt have more than the one world title he currently has to his name. Aside from him, I’d love to see the old master Hancock return to his best, and Pedersen is looking leaner and meaner than ever after his injury lay off. Heart over head when it comes to these things though – I’ll be shouting for Tai when everything kicks off in Warsaw on May 12th!
So there you have it folks, that is what the fans think of the upcoming season, once again a massive thanks to Norman and Chris for their input, all we have to do now is see if they are right!
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