Speedway: Championship title is ‘dream come true’ for jubilant Sheffield Tigers

Kyle Howarth and the Sheffield Tigers speedway team with the championship trophy. Pic: Phil Hilton
Kyle Howarth and the Sheffield Tigers speedway team with the championship trophy. Pic: Phil Hilton

Jubilant co-owner Damien Bates revealed it was a boyhood dream come true after watching his Sheffield side crowned champions.

A 46-44 win at Ipswich saw them romp to a 99-81 aggregate victory as 15 years of trophy starvation finally came to an end.

Josh Bates with the trophy after Sheffield Tigers win rhe championship   Pic: Phil Hilton

Josh Bates with the trophy after Sheffield Tigers win rhe championship Pic: Phil Hilton

For Bates it completes an individual life long goal in his fourth season with the Steel City club - and was in reminiscent mood after Saturday’s success.

“I’ve been a fan of Sheffield since I was a little kid,” Bates said. “I used to go down to Owlerton and watch from the stands with my family and my mates - now I own the club and we’ve won the league trophy.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride but it’s moments like these that make it all worth it.

“Everyone knows we took over late and in 2014 there were limited riders available.

Bumps for Kyle Howarth as the Sheffield Tigers speedway team celebrate winning the Championship trophy.  Pic: Phil Hilton

Bumps for Kyle Howarth as the Sheffield Tigers speedway team celebrate winning the Championship trophy. Pic: Phil Hilton

“We were on the back foot from the off and it was far from an ideal start.

“But year-on-year we’ve got better. We got to the Quarters two years ago, we got to the Grand Final last year and this year we’ve gone and won it at last.

“I sat down for even longer than usual over the winter and drafted that team together.

“And I was confident from the off that we could win the league this year.

“We’ve had a few team problems at reserve earlier in the year, but Jan (Graversen) and Georgie (Wood) solved them for us and they completed the jigsaw puzzle for us.

“This means a lot to everyone at Sheffield, but we’ve still got the Knockout Cup and the Promotion / Relegation with Leicester to come.

“But in the meantime we’ll enjoy every second of this and we’ll always remember winning the league at Sheffield.”

There was controversy from the start on Saturday when former Tiger Nathan Greaves was sent tumbling down the back straight after attempting a move around Sheffield guest Scott Nicholls. But it was the home man was excluded despite many being of the opinion that Nicholls had given him nowhere to go.

The hosts’ hopes were boosted when Nicholls couldn’t work his way past Cameron Heeps and Kyle Newman in Heat Five as the gap was reduced to ten on aggregate.

But that would turn out to be their only maximum of the night as the Tigers grew into the meeting.

An impressive last bend cut-back from reserve Graversen saw him snatch third place on the line in Heat 12 and when Nicholls took the chequered flag against his former club in the next, it made the title mathematically certain with two races to spare.

Owlerton Stadium plays host to the Championship Pairs event this coming Sunday (3pm).

IPSWICH 44: Cameron Heeps 13+1, Danny King 9, Kyle Newman 7, Rory Schlein 7, Nathan Greaves 5+1, Alfie Bowtell 3+3, Justin Sedgmen R/R.

SHEFFIELD 46: Scott Nicholls 12, Josh Bates 9, Kyle Howarth 9, Jan Graversen 7+1, Lasse Bjerre 6+1, Todd Kurtz 3+1, Georgie Wood 0.