By Mike Bacon
Ipswich ‘Tru Mix’ Witches promoter Chris Louis says his side were lifted by the fans in the Knockout Cup final – and he hopes for more of the same this Thursday, as Belle Vue visit Foxhall in the Sports Insure Premiership play-off, semi-final, first leg – 7.30pm start.
Witches fans made their voices heard throughout the evening before pouring onto the centre green as their heroes lifted the Knockout Cup after victory over Sheffield Tigers last Thursday. It was the club’s first major trophy in 25 years.
Now Louis and his team are hungry for more – with champions Belle Vue standing in their way of reaching the play-off final.
“Last week was great, the celebrations, the way the crowd were throughout the meeting helped carry us along,” Louis said. “The fans can lift us again.
“The noise, the atmosphere was unbelievable. I haven’t seen and watched or felt such celebrations since I lifted the trophy in 1998.”
Louis admits that even his own riders were taken aback with the outpouring of joy seen at the stadium last Thursday. And he knows it has left a mark on all of them.
“I was watching the faces of our riders when the fans came onto the centre green, and you could tell a few of them were surprised to see how much it meant to everyone,” Louis said.
“That night will sit with them, and they are under no illusions now why we do what we do at Ipswich – and why people come to watch and support us.”
The Witches face a stiff challenge against Belle Vue if they are to reach the final where they would race either Sheffield or Wolverhampton, having not beaten the Manchester outfit in four outings this season. And they will have to do it without star man Jason Doyle who crashed heavily at the weekend in Denmark.
Not that Louis has ruled Doyle out of this season’s play-offs.
“Jason is a waiting game,” he said.
“He needs to feel comfortable and be ready to ride. He has no broken bones, all I will say is, he’s not ruled out for the season, but he is ruled out for this week.
“It will be a tough couple of fixtures, we know that. But we are riding well, are confident and we will look to build up a lead on Thursday.”
IPSWICH WITCHES v BELLE VUE ACES, Sports Insure Premiership play-off semi-final, first leg, Foxhall Stadium, Thursday, September 21, 7.30pm.