‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again..’ – the iconic words attributed to the legendary Robert The Bruce certainly hopefully will apply to those preparing the track at Leicester Speedway, battling this week the increasingly inclement October weather elements as Mildenhall DJS Fen Tigers – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – are scheduled to be back there this Sunday (22nd. October). There’s a little matter of the National Development League’s [NDL] Knock-out Cup Final needing to get settled – with the second leg called off in controversial circumstances at the first time of asking up in the East Midlands last Saturday.

The dust certainly hasn’t settled (not that any dust is likely in the current climatic conditions) on the huge storm - indeed a storm which makes Babet seem a gentle squall - that the sudden, out of the blue cancellation gone start time on Saturday caused. With the Mildenhall promotion having expressed their concerns to the sport’s governing body, the BSPL, over a range of issues concerning the delays in the first place of getting the KOC Final (which they qualified for back in April) scheduled in at all, only for such a late postponement to affect so many of their travelling fans. 

Attention now turns back to the action hopefully to be seen on track on Saturday, though the Fen Tigers have been hit by another blow team selection-wise. George Congreve, Mildenhall’s hugely popular New Zealand National Champion has flown back home to NZ – Congreve understandably working on the assumption that by the third week in October his NDL commitments with the Suffolk club that he’s served so well would be over. So, a flight was booked for this week and Congreve is now back in his Christchurch home.

The loss of Congreve for the rescheduled KOC Final second leg has been compounded by the decision of the league’s management board to regard his absence as “withholding his services”, rather than more straightforward non-availability and so no Rider Replacement facility has been granted.

Mildenhall team boss Jason Gardner has had to shuffle his back with the inexperienced Andrew Braithwaite moving into the main body of the side, a daunting prospect for the rider attempting a racing comeback, facing the Cup holders on their tricky at the best of times track; with former Leicester man, Kai Ward slotting in at reserve. Ward scored a useful paid six in the recent NDL match at Leicester, so it looks at least like a much-needed strengthening for the DJS Fen Tigers at reserve. 

Gardner states,

“After such a frustrating evening at Leicester last Saturday we go again on Sunday afternoon - hopefully this time they manage to sort out a suitable race track. We have been placed second in a double header following on from the Lion Cubs’ first leg NDL Play Off Final vs. Oxford, so fingers crossed the first match goes smoothly and we can actually get to see the Fen Tigers in action this time.

“It's disappointing that George [Congreve] will be missing, through we totally understand that he was keen after a long season to get back home. Speedway rules being what they are, we are forced to track a 2nd unattached three point rider when Rider Replacement would have helped.

“Once again the team are keen to finish on a high and put in a good performance and, well, if Leicester suffer some bad luck, we need to be ready to pick up on the opportunity and see what happens after 15 heats.”

It's hard to remember a Mildenhall match where the build-up has seen such impassioned feelings and even though many who spent time and money travelling in vain last Saturday are likely to be missing this time, there’s no shortage of Suffolk-based fans and more than a few neutrals who will be urging on the DJS Fen Tigers to make up the 11 points deficit and bring the silverware home.

The double header begins at 3pm on Sunday 22nd with the Mildenhall match hoped to begin around the 4.45pm slot.

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2023 NL KOC Winners
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