A Matter of Opinion....Tony Fletcher....11/01/2004
Tony has followed Speedway and the Hull Vikings since 1997.
Tell us about 2003
A disaster from start to finish really. The team started off badly and got worse as the year progressed. Thorpy and Steady were reliably big scorers in 2002 but both struggled much more for points last year. The promotion, who I really think did their best in difficult circumstances, changed the team but it wasn't for the better. Lee Dicken and Neil Collins were both really unlucky to lose their team places to foreign lads who simply weren't up to the job.
What are the prospects for 2004
Much improved I'd say. The new promoter seems to be really keen and we've got Eric Boocock back to help him along. It's early days on the team front but I think we'll see much improved scores from Thorp and Stead. Danny Norton is a good signing for the reserve berth as he's got a bit of experience now. Emil Kramer and Ross Brady are both solid riders so the ingredients are there for a decent side. I think we'll finish mid-table and hopefully do well in the cup.
Edward Kennett has made the move into the Elite League - How will he fare?
Well with me being based on Humberside I've not seen too much of him. It's certainly a brave step for a 17 year old to move up, especially when you consider he didn't even get an eight point average in the Premier. He did well last season before he got injured, that injury being another factor that shouldn't be overlooked, but it looks like a gamble on his part. I really hope he does well as we could do with a few more Brits racing at the top level.
The Premier League has lost three clubs this year (Arena, Swindon and Trelawny) is that a concern?
I don't think it is in these circumstances, it would be if these clubs had gone bust. The League has still got sufficient numbers to provide a balanced fixture list so we can definitely live with it. It's good that a couple of clubs have moved up to the Elite League, this should increase the stability of the Elite League which will help preserve the current Premier League structure. It would be nice to have some new clubs in the Premier , hopefully some of the Conference teams will move up for 2005.
What annoys you most about Speedway?
Probably the annual changes to the rules and competitions. I consider myself a keen fan of the sport but it's very difficult to keep up to date with the changes. It's always noticeable at the start of a season that some of the fans have no idea what's going on, this year I expect many fans will be calling for tactical subs to be introduced as soon as their side is six behind. If dedicated fans can't get to grips with the rules then what chance do newcomers have?
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This article was first published on 11th January 2004
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