My favourite ever Ipswich Witches 7.... HENRY CHARD

Favourite Witches teams... lots of response Photo: STEVE WALLER

Favourite Witches teams... lots of response Photo: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Well, Mike Bacon’s favourite-ever top seven Ipswich Witches certainly got you chatting! There have been loads of responses. Today, we take a look at Witches digital media man HENRY CHARD’S favourites.

Exciting racing at Foxhall. PICTURE: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Exciting racing at Foxhall. PICTURE: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

I started watching the Witches in 1996 when I was six years old and although memories are a little hazy from those earlier days, I can remember the 1998 season.

Obviously, I was far too young to appreciate it properly, but I have been following them ever since and am now 28.

Top flight speedway is what I was accustomed to growing up and the move down a league coincided with my university years where sadly going to speedway wasn't really possible in London.

After completing my degree in journalism and news media, I have ended up in a role at Ipswich Speedway as the digital media manager alongside my full-time job, something I certainly never envisaged as I stood on the terraces as a kid in my Witches coat holding my programme board!

Chris Louis. Photo: SIMON PARKER

Chris Louis. Photo: SIMON PARKER


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1 CHRIS LOUIS (c)

The first name on the team-sheet without a doubt.

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As an Ipswich fan, what more could you ask for than an Ipswich lad leading your team? Of course, let's not forget he was one of Britain's best and one of the world's best during his career. When I was on my mountain bike as a kid I would be Chris Louis and I still have a signed photo of us in the pits from all those years ago.

Jarek Hampel. Photo: SIMON PARKER

Jarek Hampel. Photo: SIMON PARKER - Credit: Archant

2. JAREK HAMPEL

He must have been one of the quickest gaters the Witches have ever had and if he made the start you were not catching him.

He held the track record for some time at Foxhall and came so close to a world title - it is such a shame injuries have held him back in recent years.

3 TOMASZ GOLLOB

Tomasz Gollob. Photo: MIKE PATRICK

Tomasz Gollob. Photo: MIKE PATRICK - Credit: Archant

I perhaps am a little too young to truly appreciate what Tomasz did in Witches kevlars but as an adult I have watched him so many times and how lucky we were to have him at Foxhall.

He never said a lot, but his racing was more than enough to keep us entertained. I am so glad he finally won a world championship before his career in the sport ended.

4 HANS ANDERSEN

Hans was a great number one when he represented the Witches.

Hans Andersen. Photo: STEVE WALLER

Hans Andersen. Photo: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Stephen Waller

Lightning from the gate and aggressive in that first turn, the Dane was always immaculately turned out, bike gleaming and he was a showman. The highlight of my school week would be staying at the end to see what kind of wheelie he would produce - there is not enough of that these days in my opinion.

5 MARK LORAM

I remember more of Mark's latter years in the sport than perhaps his 'glory days' of winning a world title but I am just glad I remember some of his racing.

That unmistakeable red bike, that beautiful style, what a joy to watch.

Mark Loram. Photo: SIMON PARKER

Mark Loram. Photo: SIMON PARKER - Credit: Archant

I remember some fantastic heats from him and Louis, as one blasted round the outside and the other would nip up the inside. What a one and five pairing for heat 13.

6 DANNY KING

I remember when Danny started at Ipswich.

I was on the only one sat on the fourth turn with my dad. My early memories of Danny are of him going through the air fence and giving everyone the fright of their lives. A raw talent back then, learning his trade he has since blossomed into one of Britain's best riders, culminating in his British final win in 2016.

Danny King.. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Danny King.. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Danny is an Ipswich stalwart and has a passion for the club which is sorely needed in modern speedway.

Fortunately, these days, I get to call him a friend as well, and have even shared a biscuit or two round at King HQ.

7 TONY RICKARDSSON

Not a bad rider to have at reserve, hey?

Tony Rickardsson. Photo: Steve Waller

Tony Rickardsson. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Stephen Waller

A multi world champion, we are so lucky to have seen him at Foxhall as part of that stunning treble winning side in 1998.

The reason he is at reserve is purely because I can't recall too much of his riding at Foxhall other than his gold on his bike, but I can remember that wall of death ride at Cardiff and I couldn't not put him in!

RESERVES

Piotr Protasiewicz: Another fast-gating Pole, I took a shine to him and his Pentel sponsorship.

Rory Schlein: A funny guy and every team needs a joker to entertain!

Nico Covatti: A lovely guy who I can talk some Spanish with. On a bike he is pure entertainment.

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