BERWICK Bandits will face Sheffield Tigers on Saturday night without team manager Ian Rae, who was rushed to Wansbeck General Hospital on Monday with chest pains, writes Lawrence Heppell.
The latest report on Rae’s situation (as of late Tuesday evening) is that he has suffered a minor heart attack, and will remain hospitalised to undergo a routine cardiac procedure later this week.
“As someone who was unfortunately placed in a similar situation less than a year ago, I know how stressful running a speedway club can be,” said Bandit’s director John Anderson.
“Since adding team management to his duties as track curator – in addition to holding down a full-time job, of course – recent pressures on Ian in respect of a need to make changes in our line-up, have been colossal.
“His workload while working on all the problems – ironically recognised by the club with a special presentation to Ian on Saturday night – was incalculable, and it is just awful he’s fallen ill just as we can see light at the end of the tunnel.
“As always at Berwick, we will rally round and share out Ian’s duties until he’s well again.”
On Saturday, the Bandits’ line-up will have a new look, with Swedish riders Sebastian Alden and Alex Edberg being joined by Australian Mitch Davey, formerly with Glasgow Tigers, in the Berwick squad.
“Sheffield are always a tough set of opponents, and will be again, for sure,” admitted a Berwick spokesperson this week.
“They demolished league leaders Somerset on their own dirt earlier this week, and we need seven good men out there in black and gold on Saturday.
“It will be a baptism of fire for Sebastian Alden, who will fly in on Friday, facing his first British meeting for three full years – and wearing our No 1 race jacket into the bargain.
“However, the new look of our side is all down to Ian Rae – it is to his absolute credit the last thing he arranged before becoming unwell was to broker the deal to bring Mitch Davey (who hails from the far north of Queensland) into the squad.
“Mitch will ride at reserve, replacing Hungarian Tamas Sike – who has found the going a bit tough of late, not least since he sustained head injuries in a very heavy crash last month.
“Obviously we thank Tamas for all his efforts so far – there can be no complaint about that, he tried so hard for every lap of every race he was in – and hope that one day he’ll be able to return to the team.”
With Josh Auty overseas for a World Under-21 elimination event, Sheffield will enjoy a guest facility to cover his absence on Saturday, recruiting the brilliant Aaron Summers of Redcar Bears to wear Auty’s race jacket.