Bandits shop down under for duo

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BERWICK speedway owners George Hepburn and John Anderson haven’t been making too many announcements so far this winter, but that doesn’t mean they have been idle, writes Lawrence Heppell.

“With team manager Ian Rae fully involved in setting up our deals, we are now in a position to announce another two names to be added to the already-signed Josef Franc and Lee Complin, back-boning our 2011 line-up,” said Anderson at the Saturday night Christmas Disco, organised by the Bandits Supporters’ Club.

He added: “With an Englishman and Czech already inked onto Berwick contracts we seem to be putting together a pretty cosmopolitan team – they’ll be joined by an Australian and a New Zealander.”

The first of the riders is a hero from last season – Jade Mudgway from Wellington NZ. The other is a new face in extrovert Aussie Kozza Smith. The 22-year-old is described as a ‘crazy never-say-die, fence-bouncing crowd pleaser’ – who has raced for the past two seasons at King’s Lynn.

“We would have been lynched by the fans if we didn’t bring Jade Mudgway back,” admitted Hepburn. “It was fairly well-known Jade was getting sneaky offers from other clubs – but his heart and mind belong to Berwick Bandits, and he’ll be back in business for us in March.”

Anderson, making his first public appearance since undergoing cardiac surgery in September, was warmly welcomed by the assembled fans and confirmed the Berwick team’s commitment to entertainment while refusing to risk the club’s financial security.

He explained: “There are other outfits in the Premier League who must have very wealthy backers, clubs apparently hell-bent on self-destruction if the financial inducements to riders we hear about are to be believed.

“Here at Berwick we have a budget on which to base our rider-recruitment – and we will not break that budget if there is any risk of breaking the club, just for a quick fix of fly-by-night success.

“Speedway has been a Saturday-night staple in Berwick-upon-Tweed for more than 40 years – and we are laying solid foundations to keep it here for at least 40 more.”

Tickets for the next Bandits’ function – the annual All-Star Forum & Talk-in at the Black and Gold Club, at Shielfield Park on Friday, February 11 will be on sale shortly.