Johnston lashes out at some teammates

STEVE Johnston has hit out a failure of certain members of the Ipswich Evening Star Witches 2008 side to dedicate themselves to the Elite League speedway club.

Elvin King

STEVE Johnston has hit out a failure of certain members of the Ipswich Evening Star Witches 2008 side to dedicate themselves to the Elite League speedway club.

The 37-year-old Australian did not miss a competitive fixture as the Witches finished fourth in the table before losing at Poole in the play-off semi-final.

He took over as captain in April when Chris Louis was ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a broken arm.


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Being the winner of the Ipswich Supporters Club Bonus Point King award highlights the dedication shown by Johnston, who is by no means certain to keep his place at Foxhall Stadium as his average might not fit in with the club's 2009 team building.

The engaging Aussie, who has now returned to his home country for the winter, said: “Full marks to Piotr Swiderski for his success and for dedicating himself to Ipswich.

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“But he was the only Polish rider in our team to show up on a regular basis.

“If you sign for a club you have got to dedicate yourself and not call off with a sore toe or something trivial.

“Riding with just five of our riders for a number of meetings was too much for us. It could have lost us the title.

“It was tough, and it would have been so much easier if the sad loss of Chris (Louis) had not been compounded by losing other riders at vital times when the feeling was that they could not be bothered to turn up.

“Once Rory Schlein arrived it was nice to have a full complement for the final weeks of the season until Jarek Hampel was unfortunate to be banned for the vital last couple of weeks.”

Hampel and Robert Miskowiak are the two Polish riders Johnston is referring to, and it remains to be seen whether they will be included in Ipswich's 2009 team.

With Brits Scott Nicholls, Chris Harris, young Russia sensation Emil Sajfutdinov, and 23-year-old Swede Fredrick Lindgren gaining the 2009 Grand Prix wild card places, Hampel may well be keen to ride in England again next year.

Talks will take place with him, but the signs are that Miskowiak will not be a Witch in 2009 after being a regular since 2005.

Witches promoter John Louis and his rider/manager son Chris are both at the British Speedway Promoters Association's annual conference in Spain at the moment.

The outcome of their meeting will be known next week when it is expected there will be a dilution in quality to keep the sport within manageable financial levels.

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