Team Sponsors

It was a time for reflection, celebration, thank-yous, awards and a very significant goodbye as Mildenhall Speedway Club – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – staged their 2022 Presentation Evening at Beck Row Community Hub on Friday (18/11).

At the end of a hard season when the Fen Tigers faced more adversity in the way of injuries than anyone can recall, the bottom line was that the side finished runners up in the National Development League (both in the final table and in the Play Offs) and also took silver in the division’s Knock Out Cup – so a case, equally, of so near yet so far but more than that, satisfaction at an incredibly plucky effort to reach two Finals- hugely against the odds.

Opening proceedings, promoter Greg Palmer spoke emotionally about what it takes to put on Speedway at West Row,
“It’s a massive effort each meeting that goes on behind the scenes and I can’t thank enough the incredible work done by the track staff, the pits team, the riders.  You work hard to get everything together and it’s just such a feeling of great satisfaction to then see the tapes rise on heat one and Jason [Edwards] out there winning for the Fen Tigers. I feel it as a fan because that’s exactly what I am and what the rest of our management team here at Mildenhall Speedway are.

“There was sadly disappointment at the position we were put in at the end of the season, which really shouldn’t have been a position we were put into and I have strong feelings about that; but, look, we run a sports team and we want to see the riders who wear the Fen Tigers race jacket develop and for us a club to play our part in that and as a team we really saw that this year. It was a hell of an effort from all”.

The Fen Tigers’ hugely popular young skipper Jason Edwards won the most prestigious trophy on the night, the Supporters Rider of the Year, voted for by the fans – and just, as many with years of experience watching the sport at West Row have said over recent months, the 20 year old from Billericay is one of the very best riders ever to don the famous Fen Tigers colours, he is also one of the most popular and he spoke about what has been a memorable campaign for him personally,

“The season did go well for me and though one can always say things could go better, I am happy to have captained Mildenhall to runner up finishes in both major competitions and ride also in the Championship [with Redcar] and get a Premiership berth [with King’s Lynn]”

Edwards went on, “As I always say, as a rider I want to be busy and that is certainly what I was this year – maybe too busy at times.  I’ve had time to work it out now and it was something like three-and-a-half meetings a week, which showed that I could go full-time as a rider ; it was a case often of take a deep breath, turn up at the next track and just keep going”

Regarding his season with Mildenhall – the youngster’s third with the club, Jason reflected, “This season we had plenty of meetings which was good.  It’s been hard at times, we lost a lot of riders along the way – some were able to come back, others were out for the duration but then James [Shanes] who got a really nasty arm injury was there each week after his accident ruled him out of racing, helping all the lads.  And those that had spells out, returned and all trying their best; when Greg [Palmer] put on a practice all the team were there and we have a brilliant team spirit.

“I’d say that to get second in the League was a pretty amazing achievement to be honest.  Halfway through the season, especially after that home defeat to Leicester left us all feeling quite deflated, I was certainly saying for a spell, well we’ve just got the KOC to go for now but we launched an amazing fightback, had the best away record in the division and got to the Play Offs only losing in the Grand Final in the end”.

And Edwards was keen to point out what a team effort it was,
“As Captain, what I was most pleased about was how we put our best feet forward all the time. I missed just the one match, at Kent and there we got a result with Josh [Warren] scoring 17 points. Jack [Kingston] who came on board early on, returning to the sport hadn’t seen most of the tracks for a number of years and some he’d never been to at all – and we all helped him to set up and in fact he got some of his best scores on those tracks.”

For the hugely impressive young man there was some personal highlights too – one which stood out was going to Cardiff’s Principality Stadium to ride in the inaugural GP2 there,

“Riding at Cardiff was the fulfilment of a childhood dream as I’ve been taken there as a kid from the age of something like three years!  So to be in the pits this time and walking out on parade was a real experience. I was only first reserve so wasn’t expecting to get out on track much, if at all but frankly I’ve never seen so many riders break the tapes so in the end I really got loads of track time and picked up a fair number of points.

“It’s odd in the pits, at Cardiff because though it’s a huge and noisy arena, it’s completely quiet in the pits and you just have a TV screen to see what’s happening on track. I was rubbing my hands together every time someone broke the tapes and I could get to ride!  It was certainly a great experience and put me in better stead and I’d say that showed in my performances after the Cardiff meeting and onto the end of the season”.

Jason finished by thanking all at the club, the fans who’d voted him their Rider of the Year,
The management, Jason [Gardner] and Malcolm [Vasey), the ownership team, the main sponsors, Manchetts, the track staff and everyone behind the scenes and I have to say the fantastic fans. Our final home meeting ended just a minute or two before midnight and yet all you fans were still there – which speaks volumes for what amazing supporters you are and how much you love Speedway and the club”.

The other awards went to Josh Warren, picking up the Graham Clark Trophy for ‘Most Improved Rider’ – an accolade fully endorsed by everyone in attendance, after an exceptional second season in the sport for the rider from Peterborough;  and the massively popular Yorkshireman, Luke Muff took away an impressive haul including the prize donated by the Darling family for the most points scored in Heat Two (in memory of Carol’s late father); the Danny Ayres Trophy for most Entertaining Rider; and the Bonus Point King award too – that one being presented by Clerk of the Course, Neil Southam. 

And the good-bye? Well that was to the long serving, legend of National League Speedway Malcolm Vasey who now an octogenarian is hanging up his clipboard and handing over the reins of Team Management to his ‘apprentice’ for this season, Jason Gardner. 

The evening was a great success including a money-raising auction, raffle, delicious buffet and a disco which opened up with club favourite song, Tiger Feet!

As Neil Southam summed it up, “What a great club this is!”

MORE TO FOLLOW ON MALCOLM and further news from the Presentation Evening in further PRs later this week.