FOURTEEN days after their Shielfield Park win over Premier League favourites Workington Comets, Berwick’s speedway Bandits find their line-up decimated by injuries as Rye House Rockets soar north for this Saturday night’s fixture, writes Lawrence Heppell.
“Only three of the riders who defeated Workington will be on duty,” explained Berwick team boss Ian Rae.
“We’ve had four away matches since then – and had a rider crash out in each of them. Four riders out injured – and to be honest, only one of the crashes was our guy’s fault.
“We lost Jason King at Newcastle, when an opposing rider reared up and smashed into him, breaking his arm – that has sidelined him, probably for the year.
“At Ipswich, Seb Alden came down on his own, sustaining a hand injury. He’s taken a chunk of bone out of the back of his right hand, which is in plaster – Seb might not be back for up to three weeks.
“The next night, skipper Lee Complin was winning a race, but a chasing opponent seemed to hit him from behind. In the melee that followed, poor Lee suffered a broken right collar-bone, has broken a small bone in his lower back and further damaged his left hand. None of these injuries will benefit from orthopaedic operations, so I’m afraid he’s facing a lengthy spell out of action.
“Then we went to Leicester and had the weirdest one of all. A race began, but the referee declared a false start and put the red lights on. Our two riders obediently slowed up, but a young Leicester rider didn’t see the lights and ploughed straight into our new Danish rider Klaus Jakobsen at full speed, scattering both of them down the track!
“Klaus has aggravated a previous shoulder injury and has flown home for treatment. He has already had an x-ray and a scan, and will see another specialist tomorrow. Hopefully he could be back by next weekend, but he is also out of this Saturday’s line-up.
“So that’s the sorry story – of the regular team, we’ll have Ricky Ashworth, David Bellego, Robin Aspegren and new Australian teenager Robert Branford on parade, plus two guests.
“Of course, it had to be this week. When Charlie Gjedde comes back, doubtless full of confidence that he’ll be able to ride our track, with our new fence. Since his departure from our colours last year, Charlie hasn’t been back – we’ll have to see what he has to say for himself now.”
Rae has surveyed his options for his two weekend fixtures (the A & J Scott Bandits are at Glasgow on Sunday) and will use the same two guest riders – both are Australians – in both matches.
“We had young Nick Morris replacing Lee Complin at Leicester,” said club director John Anderson.
“He did everything we could have asked him to do, and reacted well with our travelling band of supporters – who were themselves quite marvellous – so it was a no-brainer to have him continue as our guest for this weekend.”
To replace Klaus Jakobsen (who carries a lower average) manager Rae had fewer options, and has invited Adelaide-born Robert Ksiezak, who is currently racing for Plymouth Devils.
“We like ‘Bobby K’ a lot,” said Anderson. “Like Nick Morris, he is a former Glasgow rider, so both are hopefully going to score some points for us on Sunday, as well as here on Saturday against Rye House.
“It’s a huge ask, putting our depleted team against a very handy Rye House squad.
“But our secret weapon could be our supporters. The travellers have urged the boys to victory in the Premier Fours at Peterborough and last week help us pick up an away point at both Scunthorpe and Leicester. If everyone shows the same level of enthusiasm on Saturday, they could be worth a good few extra points to the team.”
Berwick Bandits: 1, Ricky Ashworth; 2, David Bellego; 3, Nick Morris (guest); 4, Robin Aspegren; 5, Seb Alden (rider-replacement); 6, Robert Branford; 7, Robert Ksiezak (guest).
Rye House Rockets: 1, Charlie Gjedde; 2, Luke Bowen (rider-replacement); 3, Anders Mellgren; 4, Ritchie Hawkins; 5, Jordan Frampton; 6, Ben Morley; 7, Jason Bunyan.