Welcome to the new website and my new monthly column feature. Throughout the season I’ll be writing a column casting my eye back over the month gone by whilst looking ahead to the upcoming fixtures.
I write this having just finished Press Day and once you get to this stage you just want to get on with the season now and crack on and get the first meeting out of the way. I feel the same as when I was riding in that respect. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of managing the side and it feels different but I’m feeling relaxed and confident in the role and am looking forward to get going. In a lot of ways it was an easy decision to say yes when Chris (Louis) gave me the call and asked me to be Team Manager. I wouldn’t say it was a shock because we all know that anything can happen in speedway but it was unexpected. I took a couple of days just to be sure but I always wanted to do it and it’s always been something that has interested me and something I’ve thought I could go into. I was really pleased to be asked and to have been recognised by Chris that I’d be good at the role. Once I’d got everything into place with work and made sure I could fully commit then it was not a difficult decision to make.
Some say that making the transition from rider to Team Manager can prove to be a difficult one and I know it did not work out for Chris when he tried his hand at it. I think a lot of that is due to the fact that he had a lot of other roles going on at the time with Mildenhall and trying to prepare the track and I think it was all a bit too much. It’s a bit different for me in the sense, it is my sole role in speedway although I’ll still be helping Danny (King) away from Ipswich privately. As a Team Manager and former rider I don’t frustration will get the better of me. I think I’ve made so many mistakes myself throughout my career that I’ve got that perspective of understanding the way they are going and as much as I’ve had a lot of success I’ve also had a lot of down times, so I’ve experienced both sides of the coin. Using my own personality I think that aspect to the job will be fine.
The team is one that excites me and I’ve been really impressed with everyone’s attitude and all their equipment looks good. Their focus and the way they speak about things all seems really really good as with all the younger riders nowadays. I know they are all around their middle twenties, but they are mature and that’s made me more relaxed, knowing they’re doing everything they can, it takes the pressure off a little.
Obviously I know Danny well but I’ve known Morten (Risager) for years too, we were good friends when we were riding together and I’ve got to know Lewi (Kerr) quite well. I’ve known Nico (Covatti) since I was working for Danny when they were both at Birmingham together and I’m getting to know the other boys better day by day. Our pre-season trip to Italy was a great success even though it was a bit of a disaster really! Everyone came away buzzing from it and texting each other when you could have come away looking at it in a negative light. It cost a lot of money for the time they got on track, with the rain preventing the lads from a second day of practice amongst other things, but the time they got away together was a massive success.
On the track my main target is to win the league, there’s no point entering if that’s not what you are trying to do and I think it’s a realistic target. I don’t think we need to be banging on about what we expect and constantly putting pressure on everyone to win every match and be top of the league by May, I want to take the pressure off them in that respect but the minimum expectation at Ipswich is the play-offs. That’s the goal and there won’t be constant pressure but the boys are capable of achieving it.
We start the season at home to Scunthorpe at Foxhall in the League Cup and it’s always hard starting a season straight away without any challenge matches and going straight into competitive action but it’s their first meeting as well. It may be a potential banana skin in that respect but the boys are fully capable, if they relax and win their first race, of winning the opening meeting. We are capable of opening with three wins in fact, with trips to Scunthorpe and Peterborough to follow. I’d prefer them to learn stuff that’s going to help them throughout the season rather than just put pressure on them to go and race those three meetings and win and not have learnt anything. If they make a mistake I’d rather they made it in the League Cup than anywhere else. They are both tracks you can go and race at. Scunthorpe is a bit tricky but having five new riders it’s not like Ipswich ‘traditionally’ go well there, it’s a different team so we don’t know what will suit us yet.
See you all soon