It's a honour to lead Witches - Leigh

LEIGH Lanham today said it is an honour to skipper his home town speedway club.And the 31-year-old revealed that he plans to ride for Ipswich Witches for the rest of his career.

Elvin King

LEIGH Lanham today said it is an honour to skipper his home town speedway club.

And the 31-year-old revealed that he plans to ride for Ipswich Witches for the rest of his career.

Lanham, who lives a stone's throw from Foxhall Stadium, began his career with Ipswich before spending the last 11 years riding for Lakeside.

He doubled-up with Danny Bird for the Witches in 2002 and 2003, and says he is delighted to be back full time.

“It is an honour to be asked to captain Ipswich,” said Lanham. “And it is a big thing to take on.

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“I asked team manager Pete Simmons for a couple of days after he came to see me as it was a bit of a shock.

“We then sat down and had a chat, and I was pleased to take up his offer.

“Hopefully by the end of the season the rest of the team - and our supporters - will look back and say that I did a good job.”

Lanham plans to keep team spirit high, and added: “I want to bring us all together and ensure that we are all as one before meetings.

“I want to see some banter between the riders and make it a bit of fun.

“Jarek Hampel is one rider I don't know that well and I'm sure this team is capable of going places.

“I captained Lakeside last season when Adam Shields was injured and enjoyed it.”

And talking about his form, Lanham said: “There is nothing I would like more than to finish my career with Ipswich.

“John Louis rang me as soon as he knew I was not in Lakeside's plans and it has all fitted in well.

“I am experienced enough these days to get to grips with the Foxhall track and win over any doubting supporters.”

Lanham will continue to have his brother Nikki working as his mechanic, and both boys spend time working in the family fish and chip shot in Reynolds Road, Ipswich run by father Mike, who was a Witches rider in the seventies and eighties.

Ipswich have hopes of naming Australian Under-21 champion Darcy Ward as their number eight this year.

He was originally named as one of the club's doubling up riders, but this was knocked on the head as he did not have a 2008 average.

No one with an assessed average can double up. Ipswich are waiting on a management committee decision as to whether Ward can ride for King's Lynn in the Premier League - and also be the Witches number eight, and effectively come into the team at any time for any injured rider.

Carl Wilkinson and Kossa Smith are to share one of the Witches reserve berths, and their Premier League fixtures with Scunthorpe and Lynn respectively only clash once - and not until August.