Buster: 'Stars are bigger than Darcy'
KING's Lynn Stars supremo Buster Chapman insists his club have proved they can cope without Darcy Ward.
KING's Lynn Stars supremo Buster Chapman insists his club are bigger than teenage prodigy Darcy Ward.
The World Under-21 champion Darcy Ward has attracted much interest since the end of the season - the likes of Coventry, Peterborough and Swindon rumoured to be ready to make an approach.
And Stars fans are currently fearing for the worst after the 17-year-old's recurring back injury controversially ruled him out of Lynn's crowning KO Cup glory.
“A lot was said and written about the situation with Darcy and him missing meetings over these past few weeks,” said Chapman. “The team is not about Darcy Ward. He is very good, in fact more than that, he is a sensation but he is not the be all and end all of the club. It is a team effort. There were two or three times towards the end of the season when he didn't race but we still came through with flying colours.
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“That is no disrespect to Darcy but it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's the team which matters. We can bring in a guest rider and they love getting the call from us because they know they will come into a professional, well-run club. From the lads who work on the start gate right to the riders and management, we're all in it together.”
Chapman watched proudly as Norfolk's most successful sporting institution in recent times collected their tenth trophy since 2005 with the midweek Premier League KO Cup win over Edinburgh.
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The club will now be honoured at a civic reception in the town next week to herald the Stars' latest grand slam-winning season of dominance in the sport's second tier.
“It's brilliant, just brilliant to get this sort of recognition,” he said. “It shows what we have done for the town over these past few years and it reflects well on not just King's Lynn but Norfolk to have a team who is so successful nationally. It can only help raise the profile of our area.
“It's easy to become a bit complacent but people should never just expect us to go out and win trophies. You can't take these moments for granted.
“Its hard work and luck along the way - there's no secret - and sometimes the harder you work the luckier you get. I just think it's about the atmosphere you create and getting the right people in the right areas of the business. If you get to a stage where everybody is as important as everybody else then you can build a solid club.”
Chapman ranks Lynn's latest treble above the club's maiden 2006 clean sweep after a season dominated by injuries. Chapman, team boss Rob Lyon and co-promoter Jonathan Chapman - the Norfolk Arena brains' trust - were on the back foot from the outset after John Oliver announced he was staying in Australia for family reasons.
“We started with a team that, let's be honest, many people didn't believe in,” said Chapman senior. “Myself, Jonathan and Rob did and there were a lot of negative comments but we knew they could perform as a team. We lost the likes of John and Christian Henry but got stronger and stronger as a team. Of course it was hard at times but Rob has been fantastic again.
“For me, I think this is a better achievement than 2006 because we had so much to contend with on the injury front. Now we have try and repeat it. We know other teams will be gunning for us but it has also felt at times that other people within the sport, maybe higher than the teams, have been gunning for us as well to try and stop our success. That shouldn't be the case because everyone in the league has the same chances. Nobody ever gifts us anything. We have to work really hard for everything we get and we are very resilient as a club.”
Chapman admitted planning for Lynn's 2010 Premier League treble defence had already begun.
“It's been manic since Wednesday night,” he said. “Almost as soon as one season stops you have to start working towards the next one - so many things to go through, people to sit down with, and so on. We've got the promoters' conference in a couple of weeks' time and we have to be prepared for that. It is a little bit sad to break up a side like this, but that is the sport.
“What we have to do is put out another team to come back and beat everyone else again. It's very hard when myself, Rob and Jonathan sit down over the winter. We have to make decisions you don't want to do and lose riders you don't want to lose, but at the end of the day we hope to arrive at a team that will be competitive to give ourselves a fighting chance.”
Rider-of-the-year Emiliano Sanchez along with Redcar's reliable guest Ty Proctor have already firmly nailed their colours to the Chapman mast for 2010, but, while riders may come and go, the club's figurehead has no plans to step down.
“The nerves were dreadful about an hour before the Edinburgh meeting,” says Chapman. “In a funny way when you stop feeling like that is maybe the time to call it a day. I've always said that I'm just a custodian for this great club and our ambition is always to try and win everything. Personally, I do not want to go Elite League but if that day comes and we win the play-offs then somebody else would come along and step in. I still love it at our level and it will take a lot for me to stop enjoying this sort of success.”