Witches blasted for sour grapes

SWINDON team manager Alun Rossiter has accused the Ipswich management of sour grapes after the Evening Star Witches' official protest at the Robins use of Joel Parsons in Monday's Elite League meeting at Foxhall Stadium.

Elvin King

SWINDON team manager Alun Rossiter has accused the Ipswich management of sour grapes after the Evening Star Witches' official protest at the Robins use of Joel Parsons in Monday's Elite League meeting at Foxhall Stadium.

Ipswich say that Parsons' average was too high to allow him to guest for the Wiltshire-based side at reserve in a meeting the visitors won 50-43.

But Rossiter hit back last night to say: “I think it's a case of sour grapes from Ipswich. If he had scored four or five points nobody would have said anything, but all of a sudden Joel is the hero and people start asking questions.”


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Rossiter says that there is nothing he could have done after getting a phone call at 4pm on Monday.

He explained: “I was driving around the M25 when I got a call from referee Chris Gay to say the green sheet averages had been changed.

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“Joel (Parsons) was already on his way from Hull, and I don't think anybody expected him to do that well.

“The interim average is only for team building purposes. We did nothing wrong. As Speedway Control Bureau manager Graham Reeve said nothing could be done.”

Ipswich claim that the Sheffield rider Parsons was not eligible to guest and score seven crucial points for the Robins from the reserve berth.

It is understood that referee Gay was contacted by Reeve prior to the meeting confirming that Parsons could ride.

This is because the British Speedway Promoters' Association failed to issue an amended 'interim' average for Parsons until Monday - too late for Swindon to change their use of guest for the injured Theo Pijper.

Parsons' 'interim' average after three home and three away official Sheffield 2008 fixtures is 6.96, which equates to 3.48 in Elite League terms.

Cory Gathercole, the unavailable Swindon number eight, has an average of 3.01, and any guest should be less than that figure, which Parsons' was before he completed six official meetings.

“I am absolutely disgusted,” said Witches promoter John Louis. “The rules are crystal clear and were in use last season.

“I rang Shaun Tacey about getting a race jacket back and he told me that he had been asked on Monday afternoon to guest for Swindon, but after getting his kit ready was then rang back to say he was not needed.

“I am not accusing Swindon of any underhand dealing, but rules are rules.”

Mike Smillie, the former Witches team manager and now an advisor, said: “It is incidents like this that make me glad I am not actively involved in a sport like speedway any more.”

Parsons completed his sixth Sheffield meeting on April 5, and his new interim average came into effect seven days later, but was not confirmed by the BSPA until Monday.

“The BSPA appear to have made an oversight, but that does not alter the fact that Parsons' average was too high for him to ride on Monday,” stormed Louis.

But regardless of the rights and wrongs of Parsons' points it was still a pretty woeful final 11 heats for the Witches on Monday.

And skipper Chris Louis promised action to get Ipswich back in gear again.

He said: “Things have got to be put right. Monday night was very disappointing, and we have thrown away meetings with second half collapses far too often this year.

“I did not expect a team like Swindon to come to Foxhall and win. We have to do something.”

Ipswich ride at Swindon tomorrow and then Peterborough on Monday, and by the time they entertain a strong Eastbourne team tomorrow week they could be cut adrift at the foot of the table.

elvin.king@archant.co.uk

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