Tuesday June 28, 2022
SHEFFIELD Speedway would like to thank supporters for their patience and understanding during Monday night’s home fixture with Ipswich.

The Tru Plant Tigers moved to the top of the Premiership with a 43-35 win over Ipswich in a match curtailed due to the curfew at Owlerton.

A lengthy delay was experienced following a high-speed crash for visiting captain Danny King in Heat Seven – and while club bosses do understand some frustrations vented their way, they are urging people to focus on the positives ahead of the next fixture in the Steel City against reigning Champions Peterborough on Thursday, July 14 (7.30).

Club promoter Damien Bates said: “Monday night was a bizarre one for us, it really was.

“The team got the win we were after and that we needed and after moving to the top of the table, we should’ve left the stadium on a real high.

“However, as a promotion, we probably left feeling lower than we have done for a long, long time.

“We know how frustrating the length of the delay was between the first staging of Heat Seven and then the re-run, whether that be for the supporters who had paid to come into the stadium or those who had stayed at home to watch live on Eurosport and Discovery+.

“But I can honestly, honestly tell you now it was such a rare, unique, freak incident, I’ve never seen it happen before and I’d be surprised if we see it again.

“Where Danny and his bike hit the air fence on bend two, it burst a couple of bags.

“But somehow, the angle everything has hit, it destroyed the inflatable tube which gets the air flowing between each bag.

“Replacing an air bag is usually a ten minute job at most, but with this ‘air pathway’, if you like, damaged, it was a much more complicated job.

“To add to the issue, it was the air bag that connects to the gate that opens and closes to let the tractors and ambulances out on bend two.

“This is a slightly different type of air bag to the rest and has to be at a certain level to connect with the rest of the air fence.

“Our track staff tried several things before having to come up with a makeshift solution on the spot – and had they not figured that out, the meeting would’ve had to be abandoned at that point, we wouldn’t have seen any more racing, we wouldn’t have got a result and everyone would’ve had to have left there and then and we’d have had to have all came back and do it all over again on another night.

“Do I understand people’s frustrations? Yes, of course I do. But there was genuinely nothing else we could’ve done to speed things up unfortunately.

“It may have taken time but at no point could we ever put the safety of riders at risk by not having a fully inflated air bag.

“Every now and again, something happens that you’ve never experienced before and are unlikely to experience again – and this was one of those moments I think.

“It wasn’t ideal for Eurosport who had to fill live air time, it wasn’t ideal for the supporters in the stadium who were keen to get on with the racing and it wasn’t ideal for us as a club either.

“We had invited a number of local junior sports teams and scout groups and things like that who were coming to Speedway for the very first time, we had loads of new junior supporters there as well and those are the sorts of nights where you pray everything runs smoothly.

“It spoilt what should have been a great night at Sheffield because some of the racing was brilliant, it was a close meeting throughout, we were heading for a tense finale and, even when racing did get going again, there was a great atmosphere in the stadium.

“Those who come to Sheffield regularly will know how swiftly we normally push racenights on at Owlerton – I can’t think of too many nights over the past few seasons where we’ve gone past 9.15pm.

“I’ve seen social media since and like I said, while I understand some people’s frustrations, I was saddened and annoyed to see what some people had got to say, some who are known for jumping at any chance to knock our sport when they can.

“On the other side, it was heartening to see some people sympathising with us and understanding there was very little else we could do at the time.

“It’s times like these where I wish everyone would pull together rather than jumping at the chance to slate us or British Speedway – thankfully, we have a good, loyal fan base here at Sheffield and that is one thing we have always been grateful for from the moment we first walked through the door.

“On behalf of myself and the rest of the promotion I’d like to thank our supporters for their patience on Monday night, for their continued support and for sticking with us.

“It’s something we always do anyway, but I’d urge regulars even more to keep spreading the word about what a great night out it is for all the family at Owlerton and how good a sport Speedway is – you only have to watch the clips Eurosport themselves tweeted at points throughout the night to see that.

“Yes we’re all feeling pretty deflated and run down a little after Monday, but there’s still a long way to go this season; it’s a year where as a club we’ve still got plenty to look forward to and that means plenty more occasions to put all the doom and gloom surrounding one, rare, unique incident well and truly behind us.”

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