An archive of Rob Godfrey’s programme notes from the Scunthorpe Speedway programme.
FROM SCUNTHORPE SCORPIONS V PETERBOROUGH PANTHERS
Sunday April 2nd, 2017
AS we start a new season, I would like to reflect on the winter passed.
I would like to firstly thank Richard and Anne, Graham and Dan and all the volunteers for keeping the track action going throughout the winter whilst I was busy elsewhere.
Then there was Nigel Franklin, who has spared as much time as he could throughout the winter to do the essential maintenance and the much-needed painting with Dave Cook to keep an eye on him. I thank them both.
Then there’s the team who helped erect and transform the 10 buildings into a clubhouse that I am so proud of…and I hope you all are too.
Many, many hours have been spent on it and I would like to thank Ian Becroft, our resident builder, for the block work and ramp; Ian Hunter from Sheffield Windows for the new doors he generously gave us; Shaun Halder, who sorted the leaks out on the roof when I had given up; and Andy Harrison for the handrails. I thank them all.
To Shane, Mandy, Gail, Tom and Gavin for the many hours that were put into the clubhouse to make it what it is today and once again Dave and Nigel for the paintwork.
Paul Cook for his support and help with cranes and steel supplies and a big thanks to Dawn and Colin for putting the cafe back together after the winter’s weather.
Hopefully, you will have visited the clubhouse by now. We hope to have the cafe relocated into it by the end of the year and plan to use it as much as possible, with presentation nights as well as get-togethers.
Anyway, thank goodness the winter’s over… I can have a rest, enjoy our favourite sport and look forward to what I believe will be a very good season for us. We took the pain last year so now I am looking for the gain and to hit the ground running and hopefully put early points on the board.
We get started this evening with a visit from the Peterborough Panthers, so it’s a big Eddie Wright Raceway welcome to Ged Rathbone, Carl Johnson and the Panthers riders, as well as their supporters who have made the trip up the A1.
For the benefit of any of you who may not have been following the winter developments in speedway too closely, don’t be confused by the SGB Championship! No, we haven’t been promoted or relegated, we’re in the same division as last year but the Premier League has been renamed, that’s all!
It may be very early days but we know we’re in for a tough match because we’ve already faced the Panthers at their place a week last Friday. About this time last season in the League Cup, they gave us a right hiding there but last week we gave as good as we got and put up a hugely improved display. Okay, we may have lost but a 51-42 scoreline away against a team that most people seem to be tipping for a good year gives us plenty of encouragement as the new season gets underway.
So, with no introductions necessary (that’s because it’s the same team as last year!) let’s get behind the lads for what should be a good year.
One final word…and it’s to you, the supporters. I thank you all for supporting this great sport and I hope we can put a smile on everyone’s face this year, including mine.
FROM SCUNTHORPE SCORPIONS V GLASGOW TIGERS
Sunday April 9th, 2017
NOT the start to the season any of us had hoped for or expected, that’s for sure.
Last Sunday’s home defeat by Peterborough was a huge disappointment, coming as it did after two very bright and encouraging away performances.
Had the 46-44 scoreline against the Panthers been in our favour instead of against us, this column would have been all about our positive start to the season, with three league points on the board and two battling, confidence-building away displays.
Unfortunately, it ended up being 44-46, not 46-44, and on such fine margins we’re now contemplating three straight defeats to open the season.
That’s the bizarre thing. We had two good away ones, so you expect that we’re up to speed and we’ll nail Peterborough on our own track, as our lads all rode here last year and theirs didn’t.
That’s life but when you have expectations, and I did, one of the reasons I brought the same team back was because we’d have familiarity.
Unfortunately, it didn’t make a ha’porth of difference last Sunday.
It all puts a bit of pressure on for this week now. We were on our travels again on Friday, away at Edinburgh, and we have the return match against Glasgow this afternoon.
The Tigers are one of the sides expected to do well again this season and most people would have them marked down as top four material, so we know we’re going to have our work cut out getting the better of them. But I still have every faith in our boys. I wouldn’t have brought the same team back if I didn’t feel it was good enough to be competitive and seeing as we matched Glasgow on their track for more than two-thirds of the match last weekend, we should have the belief that we can defeat them today.
If you look back at the Peterborough meeting last Sunday, it was pretty obvious to anyone where it was won and lost. Our top five came up with 42 points and had only one last place between them, which ought to have given us enough of a platform to win. But poor old Fritz had an absolute nightmare at No. 6 and didn’t even score a point and young Josh managed only a second place in Heat 2. Compare that to the Peterborough reserves, who managed 15 paid 17 between them and, well, I don’t really need to say anymore, do I…
What made it even more frustrating was that Fritz had been impressive in both of our first two away matches. He won Heat 2 at Peterborough and Glasgow and had two race wins in each match, so to come here and score nought was way, way below what was expected obviously. Had he even just won Heat 2 again, that would have tipped the balance in our favour.
But anyway, it’s all water under the bridge and there’s nothing we can do about it now, other than concentrate on improving and trying to win today’s match.
We’ll be busy again next weekend, with a trip to Workington on Saturday followed by a home match against Redcar on Easter Sunday. Don’t forget the action will be starting earlier next Sunday at 3 pm because we have a double header for you. The Stags will be taking on Halifax after the main match between the Scorpions and the Bears.
FROM SCUNTHORPE SCORPIONS V REDCAR BEARS
Sunday April 16th, 2017
BOY, did we need that! What a match and what a result for the lads last Sunday against Glasgow as we managed to put some league points on the board with our first win of the season.
I think we all recognise that it’s been a tough start this year with a few things going against us and if we’d lost again, we really would have had some thinking to do. But as I said last week, I have faith in the riders because I wouldn’t have brought them all back this season if I didn’t. And finally, we got a win our efforts deserved and one that has restored a lot of confidence to the team as well.
When Glasgow got themselves in front in the middle part of the meeting, after we’d been six points up early on, there must have been a few people out there who doubted whether we could pull the match out of the fire and get the win. But these lads are made of stern stuff, they all dug deep and in the end we managed to turn it round and get the better of what is, don’t forget, a very strong Glasgow side that I’m sure will be up near the top of the table all season. When you take that into account, it just underlines what a great result it was for us.
It was hard to single anyone out after the match but Josh Auty deserves special praise for his performance, which was absolutely vintage Josh. Some of his passes from the back had to be seen to be believed and that’s why we all love this sport.
Michael Palm Toft was excellent with three wins; Wilko did what Wilko does with a typical rock solid seven paid eight from No. 2; Lewis kept his head after two blanks to come up with four points and a crucial 5-1 with Tofty in Heat 9; and what can you say about Ryan’s ride in Heat 13 to get past Aaron Summers on the last two corners? World class, is what I say!
Young Josh Bailey won Heat 2, which is what we like to see, and I thought he deserved more points to be honest because he was really getting stuck in. Matt Williamson came in as a guest to replace Fritz Wallner and, like young Josh, he was worth more. We were all glad that he managed to walk away from what looked a very nasty crash on the second bend of Heat 11.
We will need to book a guest again today because Fritz is going to be out for a while after breaking his hand in the away match at Edinburgh on the Friday before the Glasgow meeting.
That’s a real blow for us because, apart from the nightmare he had against Peterborough, Fritz had been shaping up as one of the best reserves in the league this season in our early matches.
We will have to consider what options we have open to us in the coming days and weeks once we have fully established the extent of the break and how long he is going to be out.
Our visitors this afternoon are Redcar Bears, a team who have injury worries of their own after Tobias Busch crashed at Peterborough last Sunday. A big EWR welcome to everyone who has journeyed down from Teesside and let’s hope for another match as exciting as last Sunday’s…with a similar favourable outcome of course!
Next Sunday, we have another toughie when Edinburgh, who always seem to do well here, will be providing the opposition (back at our normal 5.30 pm start-time of course). I’ll see you then.
FROM SCUNTHORPE SCORPIONS V EDINBURGH MONARCHS
Sunday April 23rd, 2017
IT might have to be a case of ‘back to the drawing board’ as we reconsider our options in the wake of last Monday’s unexpected home defeat by Redcar.
I must admit, after the great victory over Glasgow the week before and then an excellent performance away at Workington where we only lost by three and collected a losing bonus point, I was fully expecting us to put Redcar to the sword.
Unfortunately, things went completely awry and we ended up on the wrong side of a 46-44 scoreline for the second time in three home meetings.
While there were a few mitigating circumstances which contributed to the eventual outcome, one thing is very clear: because we basically built the team around strength-in-depth and having one very strong reserve, the injury to Fritz Wallner is crippling us right now.
With broken bones in his hand, Fritz is unlikely to be back with us very soon, so that effectively forces us into making a team change to replace him at the earliest opportunity we have.
Something has got to be done because we’ve lost six out of our first seven matches and, as I’ve already said publicly, I am not going to stand for another season like the last two.
Fritz’s injury is clearly a big blow but what is particularly frustrating is that we are not far away at all from being a very good side. We are obviously not a bad side because we’re not getting hammered and if only those two home matches against Peterborough and Redcar had come out 46-44 in our favour rather than against, we’d be on 10 points and sitting pretty at the right end of the table amongst the early frontrunners.
Instead, I have some thinking to do as to how we proceed from here. The No. 6 situation has got to be addressed first and foremost but if I also think changes to other areas of the team need to be made for the good of the club, I won’t hesitate.
Broadly speaking, the top five are doing their jobs. None of them had what you would describe as a bad meeting against Redcar and all five of them won a race, which is good. But, at the end of the day, we still lost the match and that’s the bottom line so they all need to be thinking to themselves, ‘how can I score at least one more point every match?’
Looking on the bright side, it’s a long season this year thanks to the winter changes in British league speedway so we’re not at the stage of all-out panic just yet! We meet every team home and away twice, and seven matches does not a season make…
We’ve had a much busier start to the season than everyone else and it continues again this weekend because we were due at Berwick last night before dashing back to take on Edinburgh this evening.
A warm welcome to the Monarchs’ riders, officials and supporters who have journeyed down from Scotland. They are a side who know what it’s like to win at the Eddie Wright Raceway because they have done so on more than one occasion in the past and they are sure to give us another great match.
No one can complain about the entertainment levels in our first three home meetings of the season and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if we get another 46-44 today. But please, God, can we have the 46 this time for a change…
FROM SCUNTHORPE SCORPIONS V BERWICK BANDITS
Sunday April 30th, 2017
LET me start this week by offering a big Scunny welcome to our new signing Stefan Nielsen, who joins us on loan from Swindon for the rest of the season.
Not that Stefan is a total newcomer to the Eddie Wright Raceway, as he began his career here in 2011 in the combined Scunthorpe and Sheffield NL team which won the league that year. It would be nice if he could repeat that feat, eh!
Stefan has been sitting on the sidelines since the start of the season waiting for a club to offer him a team place. He was our number one choice to fill the gap at reserve caused by Fritz Wallner’s hand injury and I’m delighted to have got our man.
Fritz’s injury was a severe blow to the team because, as I said last week, we basically built our team around having a big-hitting reserve – which was Fritz. Take him out of the equation and you have problems, as has become painfully obvious since he was hurt.
We wish Fritz well in his recovery and I’m sure we have not seen the last of him at Scunthorpe, but for the time being, we had to take action when we had the chance and it would have been madness not to sign a rider of Stefan’s calibre when the opportunity presented itself.
He rides our track very well and I know for a fact that he is not a reserve, even though that’s where he will be starting out in the team. He’s way, way better than that and I fully expect him to be moving up into the top five when the next set of averages comes out. Basically, our season starts again right now with the team restored to full strength.
Realistically, we probably all knew what the outcome of last Sunday’s match against Edinburgh was likely to be once we lost Lewis Kerr to injury in the match at Berwick the previous night (and what a win that was, by the way!). No Josh Auty. No Lewis Kerr. No Fritz Wallner. And unbeaten Edinburgh rocking up. Great, just what we wanted!
I was amazed when we were 19-11 up early on and full marks to our two guests, Dimitri Berge and Richard Hall, and all the boys for making a decent fist of it until Edinburgh’s much greater strength wore us down in the end. We just have to write that one off because of the state we were in, with three-sevenths of our team being out injured.
The good thing, of course, was that we managed to get three points up at Berwick from our first away win of the season – and hopefully not our last. It was a great performance from the lads and it could have been four match points if Michael Palm Toft had managed to keep Lewis Bridger at bay in the last race.
I’ve got to mention Tofty at this point, who has been absolutely superb for us so far this season. He really did rise to the cause and he’ll be our No. 1 from today as well now that the new averages are out.
A warm welcome to the Bandits riders, officials and supporters who, like us, have not enjoyed the best of starts to the season. Let’s hope this meeting marks the turning point of the season for us and we can start putting an unbeaten run together.
We’ve got to go to every away track now believing we can win and we’ve got to start winning all our home matches to get ourselves back in the play-off race.
It’s going to be mega tough but I think there’s a lot more points to come out of this team, so keep the faith!