CLUB NEWS: Coventry ready for Elite League return

Coventry Cycle Speedway club will complete their final lap of their amazing recovery over the past four years when top tier Elite League racing returns to the city next Sunday afternoon (3rd April) at 2pm.

Their remarkable “phoenix rising from the ashes” story will be completed when a reinforced Coventry, brimming with international and home grown talent, tackle East Anglian giants Ipswich in an expected bone-charring encounter at Hearsall Common.

One of the biggest Elite league crowds in the history of the competition is expected. Admission is free for the event and the Coventry club are pulling out all the stops to make it a day to remember. The first reasonable weather of the year is also forecast.

Next Sundays Elite League return is all a far cry from just four years ago. There had been no racing at Hearsall Common since 2007 until a determined group of Cycle Speedway enthusiasts made three unsuccessful attempts to revive the club, which had been originally formed in 1978.

Led by present day club chairman Dave Foster, a veteran of Coventry’s Cycle Speedway scene, the club made one final attempt in 2011 to get the wheels turning again to keep alive the pedal sport in Coventry, which after the war had a team in every district of the city.

This final attempt exceeded everyone’s expectations.  Soon, the club returned to competitive Midland League racing and led by energetic star rider Myke Grimes, who also doubles as club coach, the club were soon overran with a whole new generation of Coventry `skid kids`.

Two major showpiece staging’s, the 2013 British Final and last summer’s Great Britain V Australia Test match, brilliantly presented and promoted to the highest professional standards, and played out before four figure plus crowds and TV cameras, showed that Coventry`s re-emergence as an Elite League outfit would just be a matter of time.

Chairman Foster takes up the story: “It’s been a long, and sometimes sombre road, but when the tapes fly-up next Sunday against Ipswich, it will have been worth all the tremendous effort.

Coventry chairman, Dave Foster.

Coventry chairman, Dave Foster.

“Cycle Speedway has a rich and great heritage in Coventry. The city has produced great teams and many outstandingly talented riders down the years, including Ray Oliver, the 1988 World champion.

“It is truly astonishing what we have achieved over the past four years, it just keeps getting better. We have managed to seamlessly blend all the older members together with all the many new members we have managed to attract over the past few years”.

Looking back, Foster identifies June 2012, when the fledgling revival really took hold and led to the club becoming a beacon of success and to become one of the best known amateur sports clubs in the whole city.

He said: “Over the course of June 2012, the Marsh, Reynolds, Drewett and Morris families all joined the club. These local families have played a great part in what we have achieved by their tireless volunteering and also produced riders Josh, Sammi, Shaun, Dan, Ollie and James”.

Coventry's big winter signing, Andy Angell racing for Team GB at Hearsall Common in 2015. Photo by Mark Phillips.

Coventry’s big winter signing, Andy Angell racing for Team GB at Hearsall Common in 2015. Photo by Mark Phillips.

Looking ahead to Sundays clash with Ipswich, one of the June 2012 intake, Lee Marsh, now the clubs hugely respected team manager, said: “It promises to be a wonderful occasion, and with fair weather forecast, we would urge all Coventry sports loving fans, who attend our big events at Hearsall Common in such big numbers, to come and support us”.

Marsh is keeping his team selection options close to his chest but has confirmed star winter signing, the three times British champion Andy Angell, will be leading the Coventry attack, together with GB star Grimes and Australian ace Bobby McMillan.

To help offset the high cost of Elite League racing, and with no charge for admission, the Coventry club are urging all spectators to buy a match programme next Sunday and buy raffle tickets to help with costs. Refreshments will also be available.

The only downside to Coventry’s Elite League preparations is news the club’s winter deal to bring their former Polish favorite Przemek Binkowski back to the club has hit the rocks. The rider will now continue his British career with top Manchester outfit Astley.

Pzemek Binkowski won't be featuring for Coventry this season.

Przemek Binkowski won’t be featuring for Coventry this season.

Following confusion over his signing, the sport’s governing body, British Cycling, blocked the transfer last week. However, all Coventry`s other winter signings have been officially approved.

Team manager Lee Marsh said: “We are disappointed but we accept totally British Cycling’s jurisdiction and authority in this matter”.

Coventry continue to stage their very popular `Clubnight` practice sessions every Wednesday night, from 6pm. The sessions are open to youngsters keen to have a go at the fast and exciting sport of Cycle Speedway. Bikes and safety equipment are available free of charge to first time newcomers.

For more information on Coventry Cycle Speedway club, please go to:

Coventry v Ipswich poster

Cov v Ipswich-web