Stuart Douglas with Hammers No 1 Andreas Jonsson
Having given the result at Belle Vue a few days to sink in, the time gives me a chance to put the Play-Offs and our 2016 season as a whole in perspective.
The score line at the new National Speedway Stadium did not reflect actually how competitive we were, although we have to be honest and acknowledge that we lost the semi-final on home soil – albeit to a very, very strong Belle Vue team. They built a good side and conducted themselves well throughout the season and I wish them every success in the Grand Final.
We must not be too disappointed to go out at the semi-final stage, however. Our club is run on a much smaller budget than most in the Elite League and as a whole, we punch well above our weight.
We progressed as far this year as the mighty Poole Pirates, who have been champion contenders for most of the season, so overall not too shabby a performance, I think.
We are able to keep going at this level thanks to the time, patience and dedication of the many staff and volunteers who give to this club consistently, to ensure we can race. Seriously, without them there would be no speedway – like you, the fans, I am enormously grateful for their loyalty, spirit and dedication to the club, much of it going under the radar. Phenomenal.
Presenter Andy Young (centre)
This time last year we were staring at the Wooden Spoon. Now, despite losing our talismanic Number 1 – again – we finish in the top four of the league.
By any criteria, that has to be seen as progress, and a great achievement. I think Jon and Kelvin have done a tremendous job throughout the season, and even for someone with as much speedway experience as Kelvin, the day to day running of a team and all the unseen, unsaid events that take place, was, I feel, an eye opener for him.
Kelvin mid meeting chats with Richard
I hope he has enjoyed his first season in a different role in the pits. It’s great to see Paul Hurry moving into a Team Manager role too. A club always needs someone with the spirit and determination of a person like Paul.
Jon and I will now go away to assess our season openly and critically, and work out what we can do better.
We can’t control the weather, although many callers to the club seem to expect that we can, and sadly the disaster that is the the M25/Dartford Tunnel/general roadworks combination is also beyond our scope.
The stuff we can improve, we will. Jon is the heartbeat of our club, and I doubt there is a better, more knowledgeable, speedway leader in this country – but he can’t change the world on his own. As ever, everyone has a voice, and all wish to be heard, so progress is sometimes slow and painful, but we will do our best.
I’d like to send my thanks to all of our fantastic squad of riders and also those riders who have also worn the crossed Hammers as guests this year, and of course our sponsors, who are an invaluable part of the club.
Thank you to you, the fans. I know it is not always easy to get to your speedway, and sometimes we all feel conspired against, but turn up you do to support the lads. In return I feel it is fair to say that we have seem some truly excellent, excellent, RACING at the Raceway this season.
We have a reputation as a trick track, but anyone who has visited recently has to acknowledge that we actually watch racing here, not just gate ‘n’ go.
Gerald and his team work incredibly hard to provide that, often against nature herself, and I think credit where it’s due, and I’d like to thank all of the track staff for the entertainment we’ve seen this year.
Work in progress
I am sure the off season will throw up many challenges for the sport, it always does, but I look forward to 2017 with renewed optimism after the progress we have made this year.
Up the Hammers!
The Lakeside Vortex Hammers 2016
The Hammers would also like to send their thanks to:
Bethany Gorringe our trackside photographer through www.anticlockwisephotography.com and Rafal Wlosek for the supply of images.