It’s a teenage rampage at Mildenhall as the Fen Tigers face the cameras
- Credit: Archant
Mildenhall Fen Tigers faced the press today at a sunny West Row. There have been plenty of changes in the winter for the Fen Tigers personnel. MIKE BACON went along to find out more.
Out with the old and in with the new!
That’s Mildenhall Fen Tigers in 2018 as the west Suffolk side took to the track for the first time today.
Kevin Jolly’s side faced the cameras – a plethora of young guns and teenage stars – all keen and raring to go.
Led by 16-year-old captain Jordan Jenkins, the Fen Tigers have a new and very fresh look about them this season.
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A look that is sure to get the speedway fans of West Row off their seats with excitement in the months ahead.
Six of the team are under 21, five are teenagers, with Claydon-based Drew Kemp the youngest at 15. Danny Ayres is the senior rider at 30.
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It’s an extraordinarily young team and must be one of the youngest-ever put together, not just by Mildenhall, but by any club in British speedway.
Not that it concerns promoter Jolly, who can’t wait for the season to start.
“This is a new era for Mildenhall Speedway,” he said.
“We lucky that we now have six very young riders, many of them local to the area.
“Only 17-year-old Matt Marson is coming over from Australia, but he’s on a British passport. It’s the way I was brought up at Ipswich when I rode, being part of a local team. It can pay such dividends.
“But they are not just young riders, they are talented riders as well.”
Certainly, that appears the case with Jolly admitted the likes of Jenkins and Kemp have been attracting interest from Premiership clubs already, as well as Championship ones.
“We have had interest from two Premiership clubs, but we are fending that off,” Jolly said.
“We want them to learn their education with us here at Mildenhall.
“Jordan (Jenkins) rode as a No.8 for Ipswich at the end of last season and that was good to see. It certainly makes a lot of sense for Ipswich to be taking an interest in these boys.”
Jenkins is a very mature and grounded young man and it is a credit to him that Jolly and fellow promoter James Easter see him as captaincy material.
Still studying for three A levels, he is looking forward to his challenge, both as a rider and the captain.
“I must admit I wasn’t expecting the captaincy,” he said.
“I was always looking forward to coming back as I love it here at Mildenhall a lot. It’s a dream come true to captain the team.
“I think it is going to be good as the team has so much energy in it.
“We may well do moves on the track that other riders won’t think of. We are definitely in most people’s predictions to be among the top sides and I don’t see why not.”
The sun was out as the Fen Tigers, resplendent in their orange and black kevlars, chatted to the press at West Row.
It’s been a long winter and the opportunity for the riders to get on a bike – only Marson who jets in next week was missing – was something for them all to look forward to.
Josh Bailey will lead the Fen Tigers at No.1 this season.
The Norfolk flyer comes in on an 8.87 average to form a formidable heat leader partnership with the all-action Ayres.
Bailey, 20, has plenty of Championship experience for his young years and has shown a particular liking to the Fen Tigers track, while proving a heavy scorer at most National League tracks.
His track craft and all out racing style will complement Ayres at the top end of the team as they lead an exciting quintet of talented teens.
Ayres, himself, is ‘buzzing’ for the season ahead.
“I’m really excited about joining Mildenhall,” Ayres, who is based at Bury St Edmunds, said.
“It’s all a bit overwhelming really. I used to come to watch the Fen Tigers as a kid and now I’m a rider.
“I think its a solid team, with young lads that will just keep improving. I think it’s a team that could clear up this season.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge but I’m fresh to the game myself. I’ve only been riding four years.
“But I will give my all to lead the lads.
“I just need to keep a lid on the box when things don’t go right, that’s something I need to work on. But honestly, I’m buzzing.”
Mildenhall’s season starts on Easter Monday with the Fen Fours individual. It’s a 3pm start.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 2018: Josh Bailey, Danny Ayres, Jordan Jenkins (captain), Ryan Kingsley, Sam Bebee, Drew Kemp and Matt Marson.