By Liam Baldock
For those without the knowledge of the niche sport in Cycle Speedway, a short introduction is necessary.
Managed by governing body ‘British Cycling’, Cycle Speedway is a form of bicycle racing on short oval dirt tracks. Similar to its motorcycle counterpart, there are no gears nor brakes. However, there is no sliding around turns and a lot more peddling.
Ever-growing in the Dorset area, this sport is well-represented by Poole Comets who have already secured fourth place in the Cycle Speedway Elite League as their campaign draws to an end. With the tie at Newport left to play, The Comets hope to bring their tally to 6 points.
The 2015 season started off unlucky, with a trip to Elite League holders, Horspath. Ex-Hammer Steve Harris was among the three cyclists to accumulate the most points alongside the immaculate Greg Gluchowski and Gavin Wheeler earning 15+1, 20, and 16 respectively. The Comet’s trackcraft wasn’t enough come the end despite their resilient effort, being pipped 89-88 at The Village to begin the campaign with zero points.
Looking to start May with a victory eluded The Blues as they crashed to a 94-78 defeat up in Sheffield. Despite leading during Heat four thanks to Bristowe and Smith, it was a runaway victory for the team in orange.
Race three saw Harbourside set the scene for Newport to visit with weather and track conditions near perfect. What wasn’t perfect though was the Welsh side’s turnout who arrived with a number of non-availabilities with their squad’s riders. There would not be a better chance for Poole Comets to earn the two points, and that they did so, comfortably winning 105-74 thanks to help from the in-form Gluchowski dropping only one point.
Team Manager Colin Sutton spoke to the Bournemouth Rock about the Polish rider: “He’s one of the top riders in the world. The benefit we get from him, not just the points he scores in matches, is the benefit we get from his training. He can pass on good training tips to our younger riders and the rest of his team-mates.”
It was a tough spell for the Poole Comets faithful from May to September as they suffered heavily. Four consecutive defeats were followed up by a whopping display by table-toppers and undefeated Wednesfield as they cruised to a 113-64 victory over the team from Poole. Sutton kept the team settled before their penultimate match adding: “Other racing that went on in that time, it’s always about the next match. We cannot dwell on the last match.”
In the most important tie of Poole Comet’s season, Ipswich travelled to Harbourside in a match in which Poole needed to earn a victory in order to secure a place outside the bottom two. Confidently and securely, Poole came out on top with a 99-77 advantage – a thrilling end to the campaign which saw the teams with serious financial resources storm the Elite League.
Already optimistic about next season, Sutton said: “‘We don’t tend to have a benchmark. You balance all the time. The balance has to be wanting to have a reasonable team which is good for morale and getting the crowd to matches. It’s our ethos - having home produced riders and bringing younger riders through.” A warming quote from a genuine club.