Smillie wants same again for Witches

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches general manager Mike Smillie wants the Elite League speedway club to build on the same lines as this year.The former Ipswich team manager will have a big say - along with promoter John Louis, rider/manager Chris Louis and current team manager Pete Simmons - on the formation of the Ipswich 2009 side.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches general manager Mike Smillie wants the Elite League speedway club to build on the same lines as this year.

The former Ipswich team manager will have a big say - along with promoter John Louis, rider/manager Chris Louis and current team manager Pete Simmons - on the formation of the Ipswich 2009 side.

And he wants to see a strong bottom end.


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“It worked well for us this year in always having a capable reserve,” said Smillie. “Teams struggle if they have a strong top end and are left with placing two three-point riders at reserve.

“We had either Tobi Kroner or Steve Johnston at our bottom end with Chris Schramm and this is one of the reasons we were able to compensate for the loss of the injured Chris Louis and finish in fourth place.”

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Ipswich have a blueprint of the side they would like to track, but they cannot do anything until the British Speedway Promoters' Association annual general meeting confirms the combined team average points limit at their meeting in the middle of November.The strength of rumours are increasing over a return to Foxhall of top British rider Scott Nicholls while Mark Loram and Chris Louis will come into the equation if they are fit to ride again.

Smillie sees an end to big transfer fees within British speedway.

“You could argue what is the point of having your own assets,” he said.

“Teams have to be fitted into the combined average and few sides carry a team carrying a majority of assets.

“We sold Shaun Tacey a while ago now for around £16,000. This would not happen these days with Coventry paying us £36,000 for Scott Nicholls and then loaning him to Eastbourne within a couple of years.”

Johnston knows the score after being a force in top flight British speedway for close on two decades.

The 37-year-old Australian will be returning to his home land in November hoping to return to Foxhall Stadium in 2009, but by no means sure that he will.

“It is a numbers game,” said the engaging Johnston, who spent most of this campaign leading the Witches side in the absence of Louis.

“My average is such that I have tended to move around from year to year, and I am well aware that it could well be the same again this time around.

“I have enjoyed myself at Foxhall and feel that we have done well. And if the opportunity arose I would jump at the chance to come back.”

Johnston will join other members of the side at the supporters' club end of season dinner and awards night on Saturday, and he added: “We got ourselves in a position to make it a memorable year, but then failed to produce on the play-off semi-final night.“But then again how many teams would have done well at Poole? Certainly Lakeside failed to do so in the final.”

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