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Kings of Anglia Issue 9 Magazine Offer

Speedway play-off comment: Hawkins and his team have given fans season to be proud of – now can they win the title?

PUBLISHED: 12:09 29 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:44 29 September 2017

Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins pictured in the pits at Sheffield. He was hugely disappointed we lost, even more so than when I beat him for the Tin Cup at golf last week!

Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins pictured in the pits at Sheffield. He was hugely disappointed we lost, even more so than when I beat him for the Tin Cup at golf last week!

© Copyright Stephen Waller

All roads lead to Foxhall Stadium tomorrow night as Ipswich Witches look to turn over a 16-point deficit against Sheffield Tigers in the Championship play-off final, second leg, start time 7.30pm.

On what should be a thrilling night of speedway action, the Witches know they have a tough task ahead of them. But it’s one they are capable of, having beaten Sheffield by 11 points and 14 points so far at Foxhall this season.

The fact that 11-point victory also included an 8-1 tactical ride win for the Tigers – something that won’t be available tomorrow as tactical rides are not allowed in the play-offs – means it could still be squeaky bum time for the Yorkshire outfit at some stage during the night.

The Witches have a good home record but will need to be on it from the off.

There are no second chances tomorrow night. Sheffield will be confident they can see out the tie, but they won’t be naive enough to think it will be a walk in the park, either.

The news that Tigers’ No.1 Josh Grajczonek is out injured and being replaced by former Witches favourite Scott Nicholls adds even more spice and excitement to the tie.

However, on the night, it’s all about momentum.

Cameron Heeps leading Kyle Howarth, Jan Graversen and team-mate Kyle Newman in heat seven of the Sheffield v Ipswich play-off final first leg.   Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comCameron Heeps leading Kyle Howarth, Jan Graversen and team-mate Kyle Newman in heat seven of the Sheffield v Ipswich play-off final first leg. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Should the Witches get off to a good start and an early lead, then you never know.

Many speedway meetings over the years have gone down to the final heats. There is little to suggest this won’t.

At Sheffield on Thursday night, five Witches won individual races, all of the riders are hugely capable.

Just imagine if they all click on one night?

Hopefully the Foxhall fans, so loyal in their support, will turn out in huge numbers.

Whatever happens, this has been a thoroughly entertaining year for Ritchie Hawkins’ men, who have come through the most horrendous injury issues during the season, never shirked a challenge, stuck together and worn the Ipswich Witch with pride. They are a credit to themselves, the club and the town.

Rory Schlein leading Todd Kurtz and Nathan Greaves during heat six of the Sheffield v Ipswich play-off final, first leg on Thursday night.Rory Schlein leading Todd Kurtz and Nathan Greaves during heat six of the Sheffield v Ipswich play-off final, first leg on Thursday night.

Hawkins has been a model manager.

He wears his heart on his sleeve, but isn’t the jumping around, mad as a hatter boss you see managing some other teams, and not just in speedway.

Indeed his calm demeanour has been a huge plus to the side and his loyalty to the cause undiminished.

Surely a Great Britain speedway boss for the future, the former Witches captain, is growing into his role with real aplomb, including the way he deals with fans and press, as well as his riders.

“I feel a responsibility, my ambition for many years now has been to bring a title back to Ipswich so I am feeling the adrenalin and the buzz for it,” he said.

“I am happy with the team I have got and have every confidence in them, they impress me every week.

Witches promoter Chris Louis, left, talks with Rory Schlein at the play-off final. Louis has been buoyed by the fans' support this year. Photos: STEVE WALLERWitches promoter Chris Louis, left, talks with Rory Schlein at the play-off final. Louis has been buoyed by the fans' support this year. Photos: STEVE WALLER

“Everyone knows their roles and we have all spoken in the week building up to this. It has been another year of learning with new personalities and egos in the team and last year was the same. I think we are doing alright and are doing something right somewhere along the line. We just need to go that final step now.”

Certainly the pride has been well and truly been instilled in the Witches badge and for this the club should be proud.

But it would be so nice to win some silverware.

It won’t be easy to beat the Tigers tomorrow night.

But you can guarantee one thing... The Witches will leave nothing on the track, 110% effort is guaranteed – Hawkins will make sure of that.

And how Witches fans would love it, just love it, if their boys could do it.

Tomorrow night’s teams

Ipswich: D King, R/R, C Heeps, K Newman, R Schlein, N Greaves, A Bowtell.

Sheffield: S Nicholls, T Kurtz, L Bjerre, J Bates, K Howarth, J Graversen, G Wood.

Children under-15 go FREE to tomorrow night’s meeting.

Witches last five home results v Tigers:

12.07.17 W52-38

25.03.17 W52-41

08.09.16 W59-34

23.04.16 W51-39

23.07.15 L43-47

On Saturday afternoon, there is a grasstrack meeting at Manor Farm, Gosbeck IP6 9SH, 1.30pm start.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert is leaving no stone unturned in his search for January reinforcements.

Ipswich Town are committed to signing loan player Janoi Donacien on a permanent deal once his immigration status is rubber stamped.

In our daily feature, we take a look at what happened on this day in Ipswich Town’s history. Today features Darren Currie scoring on his debut in a win at QPR and the Blues win over Leicester City.....

Former Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell has been appointed director of football at League Two club Swindon Town.

Mark Heath, Stuart Watson and Andy Warren are back with the latest episode of the Kings of Anglia Podcast.

Ipswich Hospital patients were treated to a visit from the stars of Ipswich Town as they made their annual trip to give out presents on the wards.

Ipswich Town’s Under 23s drew 3-3 with QPR at Playford Road this afternoon. Andy Warren cast an eye over the Young Blues.

Trevoh Chalobah is confident he can help fill the void left following Cole Skuse’s knee injury.

Ipswich Town will field a strong Under 23 side when they take on QPR at Playford Road this afternoon (1pm).

It’s been another week with more losses – but the double whammy on this occasion is that these have been suffered both on the pitch at Stoke and off the field of play, in the reporting of our latest set of accounts. In all honesty, there’s no surprise in either.

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