Elite League Or Battle Of Britain Which Is Better?

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Updated: February 11, 2018

Now the Battle of Britain series has been in operation for a season I thought I might ask the question ‘Which is better, Elite League or Battle of Britain? As you know I have been away from the sport now for over a year, however I keep tabs on how things are going for Sheffield and the racing in general.

When the Elite League was scrapped I did fear the worse, as for me the Battle of Britain was nothing more then the old County League which had died a death sometime back in the 1990’s. Looking at the way the Battle of Britain has fared in the Northern Region, I don’t think it’s been exactly ‘the few’s’ finest hour. The same old problem of the Junior riders having to double up with the Senior riders to get a team out seemed to be prevalent, also some of the names that were missing from the Senior team stood out like a sore thumb.

One thing the Elite League offered was a sense of belonging, I never worked with a set of better riders in my time as Team Manager and regardless of the fact of who you were eg Mkye Grimes from Coventry or Andy Angell from Hull, Mikey Hewitson from Edinburgh or Pawel Idzorek from Heckmondwike on that Sunday, you were all Sheffield riders. It was ‘Star’s Day’ every rider gave there all and the Camaraderie was second to none.

In the early days of the Elite League Sheffield were heavily criticised for the number of Polish riders they used. The fact of the matter was in all the year’s Sheffield raced in the top league we only ever flew one rider in for a match! How many of the other teams can say that? All our other Poles lived and worked in the UK, the majority in Sheffield, the same with our Australian racers Mitchell Spear and Bobby McMillan. As a club we went that extra mile to find these guys jobs and homes, it wasn’t magic that made it happen, but taking ownership of the situation. Every time someone grumbled about all those Poles, my answer was simple, do what we do, unfortunately its much easier to moan.

In our time in the Elite League our squad was a veritable whose who of the greatest riders in the World, just think for a moment on these names, Symanski, Kozlowski, Sieradski, Pilas, Handke, Burchardt, Zareba, Jamroschek, Idziorek, Birks Jono & Ashley , Gambles Martin & Simon, Angell, Parr, Brown Jamie & Vicky, Hewitson, Beharrel, Grimes, Smiths Lee & Matt, Hoyland, Ball, Grange Ian & Lee, Chambers, McMillan, Spear, Winwood, Turner, Burke, Phillips, Stephenson, Cossey, Read, Groves, Hudson Rob & Rich, Morton Luke, Niall & Ed, Watson Adam & Laura, Holland, Knowles, Owen, Webster, German, Smurthwaite, Parrott, Pearson, Carmichael and Eaton.  We had World Champions, European & British Champions. Our total squad was in the region of 58-60 riders.

I don’t think its any surprise that our Junior and Lady riders came on as they did in this period, Marcin Symanski training sessions were brutal and being around all these top riders gave our youngsters that believe in themselves and winning. Look at what Vicky Brown achieved, Laura & Adam Watson, Rich Hudson, Niall & Ed Morton, Kyle Holland, Aiden Owen and Mason Phillips.

Personally, I think the Battle of Britain will limp on awhile longer but for me it just does not harness that excitement that the Elite League did.

One area of racing that seems to have been a great success is the Grand Prix series that runs on a Saturday, with the advent of prize money, it’s given the racing that impetus that’s been wanted for a long time. However, in the great tradition of the sport it is one step forward and two back as I have noticed that cash awards to the Junior riders have been scrapped. A 300-mile trip for a quarter of ham and a packet of custard creams is no substitute for £50. Let’s face it all Cycle Speedway riders, Parents, Volunteers do more then enough paying out for the love of the sport as it is.

This is just my take on things, let me know what you think, e mail me at shaun@cyclespeedway.biz and I will post your comments on the Website.

As the new season approaches I just like to wish everyone good luck in which ever area of racing you are competing in, Up the Star’s.

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