Carl Baldwin signs for Witches
CARL Baldwin may be 38 in July, but Ipswich Evening Star Witches' latest speedway signing has all the enthusiasm of a teenager.The Hadleigh-based rider, who has not ridden since 1989, completed a couple of formalities and signed his contract last night.
By Elvin King
CARL Baldwin may be 38 in July, but Ipswich Evening Star Witches' latest speedway signing has all the enthusiasm of a teenager.
The Hadleigh-based rider, who has not ridden since 1989, completed a couple of formalities and signed his contract last night.
And the man who will continue working in the ceiling business predicted today: "If I come good Ipswich will win the league."
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He comes into the team with a three-point average and will partner Leigh Lanham in the Witches reserve berths. The former Mildenhall, Peterborough and Milton Keynes National League star has no intention of ending the year with the same average.
"I am not coming in to be a three-point man," he said. "I shall be aiming for some double figure scores and would like to think I can boost my average to around five points.
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"I know it will not be easy but I learned a lot in my three meetings for Ipswich last year. My brother Mark is going to look after my engines and I bought a brand new bike in 2001.
"Scott Nicholls' father Tommy is to keep and eye on my machinery.
"It will be like starting all over again for me, and I have the same enthusiasm now as I had 20 years ago - probably more so.
"Age does not concern me. I will not be running around the track after all!"
Baldwin damaged the scaphoid bone in his wrist in 1989 and despite an operation was unable to continue riding. But last year he felt that he wanted to come back and Ipswich signed him in July, with no ill effects on his injury when he stood in three times in August and September.
"I feel fit and am raring to go," he added. "It will be a bonus to be starting off in March at the same time as every other rider after the winter break."
Baldwin will be given two months to prove what he can do. If it does not work out Witches promoter John Louis will look elsewhere to complete the season.
"I can understand the thinking, and it is not a problem with me," continued Baldwin. "I am sure I will do more than enough to keep my place.
"The Sky Sports Elite League is extremely tough, and I am not kidding myself. I will have some low scores. But I am confident I will have plenty of good ones as well."
Louis said: "Carl will be given plenty of time to show what he can do. We thought hard about the rider to complete our side and considered a few up-and-coming riders from the Premier League.
"But we felt that Carl was a better bet to increase his average. He is a talented rider. It is asking a lot for a young six-point lad from the lower league to step up and score freely."
Ipswich still have one space left to fill for a season that begins with the Billy Sanders memorial meeting at Foxhall Stadium on Saturday March 16. Danny Bird, from the Isle of Wight, is expected to be the rider to replace Lanham when the latter is required by Arena-Essex. Bird is currently riding in Australia.
The club is still seeking a main sponsor and will welcome enquiries from companies who might be interested in taking over from Tim Woodward. The Evening Star will remain joint sponsor for the fourth consecutive year.
The Witches line-up for 2002 will be: Chris Louis (7.99 average), Scott Nicholls (9.92), Craig Boyce (8.08), Jeremy Doncaster (6.18), Joonas Kylmakorpi (5.35), Leigh Lanham (4.42), Carl Baldwin (3.00). Total 44.94.