Ipswich Witches boss hopes to emulate his dad - with help from Jason Crump!
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins was just eight years old when he watched his dad manage Peterborough Panthers to a remarkable treble of League, Cup and Four-Team tournament titles.
The year was 1992 and Ritchie's dad, Kevin Hawkins was in his first year as team boss of the Panthers. His ace trump card that season - a certain Jason Crump.
The then 16-year-old Crump had flown over from Australia and started that season with just a two-point average. By the end of the year, he had upped it to almost eight - and was pivotal in the team's success.
Fast forward almost 30 years and Ritchie Hawkins is hoping Crump, now 45, can do it all again!
While not in his first-ever year of team managing, it's a real coincidence that Hawkins Jnr now finds himself Crump's team boss - just like his dad did all those years ago.
"I remember that season well, when Peterborough won the treble," Ritchie said.
"It was really my first season watching the sport regularly. I was eight-years-old and of course my dad was the team boss, so I went to lots of meetings. That was my first real memory of speedway.
"Jason was the key man that season and he was only 16. The Panthers won everything. What I'd give for a season like that in 2021 for the Witches - with Jason doing it again!"
Speedway is on course for an April start next year after the sport was wiped out this summer because of the pandemic.
It's been difficult time for everyone involved, from the riders to the fans. But hopes are high for a full campaign next year.
"Things are still in the pipeline as regards the Witches," Ritchie said.
"We want to keep as much as the team as we can from the one that would have gone on track this summer. We'll have to see.
"The season is going ahead and that is the main thing. There is light at the end of the tunnel."
The Witches were Premiership runners-up in 2019 after losing to Swindon in the final. 2020 was set for a big year and Hawkins is hoping the momentum taken from 2019 can still find its way into the 2021 side.
"It is a shame we lost this summer because we wanted to build on 2019," he said.
"But our aim is to win the Premiership. Firstly, get in the play-offs and then build on winning it. No point in starting if that isn't going to be our goal.
"I think Crumpy will be a big rider for us. He did well in the limited meetings he had this year. I kind of expected a certain level off him because that's how good he is. But certainly it was great to see him do well.
"But I think the main rider to benefit this summer has been Drew Kemp. He has been doing more riding than most and that is all good for him going into next season. It has been great seeing him do well."
The Witches are set for opening race night on April 1, next year.
The fixture list is expected out soon.
"Roll on Easter," Ritchie added. "I've actually missed everyone at Ipswich to be honest. You see the same people each week and get on so well with them. It will be nice to catch up with all the fans.!"