Raring to go – Bandits Czech out their squad

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BERWICK Bandits have completed their 2011 squad with the capture of 23-year-old Czech rider Hynek Štichauer (pronounced Stick-ow-er).

Born in Pardubice, Štichauer arrives at Shielfield Park with a glowing endorsement from countryman Josef ‘Pepe’ Franc, who has told the border club: “He can become every bit as big a Bandits’ legend as any of us older Czechs ever were.”

Stichauer won his nation’s U19 championship in 2005, and in 2009 was a member of Wolverhampton’s Elite League championship-winning squad.

“That’s something we like about him,” enthused team manager Ian Rae. “He’s used to winning things – so here’s hoping he can continue his winning ways with the Bandits.”

Štichauer completes a cosmopolitan Berwick side, joining Franc, Denmark’s Charlie Gjedde, Australian Kozza Smith, Lee Complin (from Yorkshire), Hungarian Tamas Sike and New Zealand’s Jade Mudgway in black and gold.

“We believe we’ve constructed a balanced side,” said co-owner John Anderson. “Each rider brings a positive contribution to the table, the line-up meets our projected constraints and now – with Hynek Štichauer having a bit of a reputation as a wild man on track – this season there should be a sackful of excitement every Saturday night.”

Anderson’s partner in the Bandits business, George Hepburn, explained that the club had made exhaustive enquiries at home and abroad prior to deciding Stichauer was the man for the job.

“We didn’t just want a rider who had a suitable average and met our financial plans to fill that seventh race jacket,” he emphasised. “We asked around, and the word coming back was always positive. This is a personable young man who is serious about doing well, an honest performer and at the same time a good club man who will always make time to speak with fans.”

Last week Berwick Speedway announced that their injured Czech star Adrian Rymel will retire with immediate effect.

Rymel, a Bandits asset since he arrived on these shores with Michal Makovsky and Josef Franc back in 2001, has ridden the majority of his time with Berwick. That all came to a sickening end, however, on September 3 at Edinburgh’s Armadale Stadium after a collision with team-mate Marcin Rempala.

Although a simple-looking crash, it was quickly evident that Rymel was seriously injured and the 34-year-old was taken directly from the circuit to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

His recovery in specialist units was rapid, but the damage to his spinal cord was causing the most concern, yet he managed to get back on his feet and walk 70 metres at his Scottish base, before jetting back to his home country where his progress is still continuing with daily rehabilitation in an attempt to gain as much fitness as possible.

But he has admitted this week his racing days are over, saying in an interview with speedwayfakta.cz: “I informed Mr Moravec (Prague Speedway) that for health reasons I finish my career. It makes no sense to be in the teams and compete in matches. I’ll be happy if I get back to full fitness.”

Rymel, who has a big testimonial meeting scheduled at Shielfield Park on March 26, has always been held in the highest regard by Border speedway fans.

Anderson commented: “Adrian has been a magnificent servant to the Bandits for many a long year and it’s saddening to think he has had to go into retirement.All of us at the club wish him all the very best.

“We know he’s a determined guy and fully expect he will continue in a positive vein to achieve his new goals. His testimonial is coming up and we can guarantee it’s a meeting no-one will want to miss.”

Tickets for the Bandits’ annual All-Star Forum and Talk-In at the Black and Gold Club (to which Charlie Gjedde has been invited) at Shielfield Park on Friday, February 11, are now on sale. Anyone wanting one should contact Julie Newton on 07840 998845.