Mildenhall Fen Tigers speedway team set their sights high and aim for the play-offs... at the very least
- Credit: Gregg Brown
The sun was shining and Mildenhall Fen Tigers promoter Kevin Jolly was just that... In a jolly mood. And why not?
Positivity at the West Row track is high this season, with new owners of the circuit, sponsorship deals up and a team not just to entertain the loyal Tigers’ fans, but a team that will hopefully bring some silverware to west Suffolk this year.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers faced the cameras today at their annual press day, Jolly feeling he has the ‘perfect mix’ this year.
“We have a great bunch of lads,” Jolly said.
“It’s a good environment we have here at West Row, it’s brighter, lighter and lots of pride in the place. The team is a great bunch – for me the perfect mix.
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“I believe in these boys, I really do. This year already has a good feel about it and I can’t wait for the season to start.
“Jon Armstrong will prove a great captain and we see Connor Mountain improving each week at Ipswich. Dan Halsey is another strong rider who bounces well off Jon, they make a good pairing. The other boys are all good racers, who I expect to improve as the season goes on.”
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Mildenhall finished sixth in last season’s National League and out of the play-offs.
Plenty of teams have put together strong line-ups again this year, but Jolly is confident his side have enough about them to make the top four.
“We’ve got to make the play-offs,” he said.
“Every club has done well putting their teams together, so have we. We are aiming big and so we should.
“I’ve learned a lot in this job and I’m still learning. We have got a good hardcore set of fans and it’s up to us to take it to the next level.
“We’ve put together a team who have done that.”
Meanwhile, Jolly has praised former Fen Tiger Connor Coles and current No.1 Mountain, who have both stepped into the Championship this season – Coles with Newcastle and Mountain with Ipswich.
“This has always been my dream to see my young riders move up a league or two,” Jolly said.
“Sadly, we couldn’t keep Connor Coles because Newcastle race on Sundays but I was at Ipswich on Thursday to watch Connor (Mountain) continue his progress. He, particularly has so much potential.”
Mildenhall begin their season on Sunday, with the Fen Fours challenge meeting, parade 2.45pm.
It’s a chance for the riders to blow away a few cobwebs, with Luke Ruddick especially keen to get racing.
“I’m really looking forward to the season and I really want to do well,” said the Berwick-based racer, who was dropped from the Fen Tigers team midway through last season.
“Last year was not a good year for me with injury and a drop of confidence, I made some mistakes but I have learned from that experience and I am working very hard to put everything in place over the winter.”
Ruddick will be a second string, along with new boy Danno Verge, who joins the Fen Tigers from Kent.
“He has potential,” Jolly added.
“He could well be an excellent middle order rider for us.”
At reserve the Fen Tigers will be using Sam Woods, the Boston-born rider joining the Fen Tigers after spending two seasons with near rivals Rye House, where he was an important part in the ‘Raiders’ 2016 Four Team Championship success at Coventry.
Jordan Jenkins, 15, is the exciting talent also in the reserve position and a rider Mildenhall have great hopes for in 2017 as he is given a starting berth.
He impressed in the British Youth Championship and had stepped up from demonstration races at Mildenhall to the National League side following his 15th birthday in August, the highlight being a paid 13 against Cradley, at West Row last season.
After the Fours event on Sunday, Mildenhall race Kent home and away in the Easter Challenge – at Kent on Good Friday, before the return fixture on Sunday the 16th.
Mildenhall’s opening National League clash is a tough one – away at Cradley on April 17.