‘When Chris Louis called I thought, ‘oh no he’s going to ask me to ride’’ – new Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins

Danny King (left) shares a joke with new Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins. Photo: STEVE WALLER

Danny King (left) shares a joke with new Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins. Photo: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ritchie Hawkins is back with the Ipswich Witches – as team manager.

The 32-year-old former captain, who parted company with the Foxhall Heath club half-way through last season after a disastrous run of form and a fall-out with then-team boss Phil Hilton, is taking over the reins in 2016.

It’s an amazing turn of events for the popular Yaxley-based former racer, with Hawkins admitting the opportunity came out of the blue.

“I must admit I didn’t expect it,” Hawkins said. “In fact when (director of speedway) Chris Louis called and said he had a question for me, I thought ‘oh no, he’s going to ask me to ride.’

“I would only have taken a team manager’s job if it was with Ipswich. It’s the only club for me and I have always loved being at Foxhall. It’s a special club with a special history.

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“I can’t wait to get going.”

The irony of Hawkins’ appointment is that, as captain, he had an acrimonious falling out with Hilton last season that led to an ugly war of words in the press.

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However, it’s something Hawkins wants to put aside.

“All the stuff with me and Phil is history as far as I’m concerned,” Hawkins said.

“It’s all in the past, it’s gone and has been gone for a while in my eyes.

“The team this year has changed dramatically and that is what was needed. It is very much a team that needed freshening up.

“I’m not going to make predictions about the side.

“You don’t win races on paper, but I want the boys to wear the Witches badge with pride, like Danny King and Morten Risager do.

“I say what I think and I say what I believe but I also like to think I know when to speak and when not to.

“This opportunity has given me a great boost as I honestly didn’t know if I was going to get involved in the sport again. The job will get my full commitment.”

Meanwhile, Louis said: “I’m excited about it. After I had spoken to Phil and knew he wasn’t doing the job, I called Ritchie, but didn’t know what his reaction would be.

“He wanted a good think about it.

“He’s enthused, as am I, and I know the fans will support him.”

What do you think about Hawkins’ appointment? Let me know – email me at mike.bacon@archant.co.uk or tweet me @Mike_Bacon.

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