Louis: Let's do it for Billy

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches promoter John Louis has a special reason for wanting tonight's Sky Bet Elite League meeting with Eastbourne at Foxhall Stadium (start 7.30pm) to be a success.

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches promoter John Louis has a special reason for wanting tonight's Sky Bet Elite League meeting with Eastbourne at Foxhall Stadium (start 7.30pm) to be a success.

“I want us to do it for Billy,” said Louis, a team-mate of Billy Sanders who committed suicide 20 years ago this weekend.

“Billy is a Witches legend and he was a brilliant rider. He had a flair about him and a big hunger to win things.

“His biggest wish was to be crowned world champion, but it did not happen.

“I can remember meeting him at Foxhall Stadium when he arrived as a 16-year-old and he went on to become an adopted son of Suffolk and serve the club so brilliantly.

“I still miss him and know a great many of our fans do as well.”

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Although in turmoil about facing the prospect of a break up in his marriage after leaving his wife, Judy, in his native Australia, 29-year-old Sanders was riding at the peak of his form in 1985.

His last meeting at his beloved Foxhall was a League Cup encounter against Belle Vue on April 18 when for the third consecutive match he recorded a 12-point maximum in a meeting the Witches won 44-34.

Sanders also took the Golden Helmet from Chris Morton. Two days later Ipswich travelled to Swindon for a League Cup match which they lost 48-30.

Sanders took five rides and dropped just two points, losing the Golden Helmet to Bo Petersen.

This turned out to be Sanders' last meeting as he was a late withdrawal from the Ipswich fixture at Wolverhampton on April 22 with 'influenza'. He was found dead the next day.

In his last five Ipswich meetings, Sanders dropped just three points from 22 starts, and in the 1985 League Cup he was averaging a remarkable 11.53.

“Billy was a brilliant character,” added Louis. “If fixtures allow we will do our best to stage a memorial meeting in his name this year.”

Louis said that Ipswich would be seeking the aggregate bonus point in tonight's meeting, and also at Coventry tomorrow.

“Hans Andersen beating Jason Crump in a run-off for the extra point at Belle Vue on Monday has given us all a big lift,” added Louis. “This proves we are more than a match for the team who are favourites to win the title.

“It will not be easy tonight as Eastbourne have some talented riders, and the league is well balanced with no easy points on offer.”

Ipswich lost by three points against the Eagles last Saturday and they will be at full strength tonight.

Eastbourne have a powerful heat leader trio in former Witch David Norris, 2003 world champion Nicki Pedersen and Adam Shields.

Australian Shields' scored an amazing paid-21 point maximum a couple of seasons ago while riding for the Eagles at Foxhall in 2003.

Reserve Davey Watt is in good form after being paid for 15 points on Saturday. Eastbourne make one change with Adam Allott coming in at reserve in place of Steen Jensen, who sustained a dislocated thumb at the weekend.

Tonight's line-ups

Ipswich: H Andersen (7.95 average), K Baran (4.50), K Jansson (4.74), C Louis (7.41), P Protasiewicz (8.79), D King (3.00), R Miskowiak (4.50). Team manager: Mike Smillie.

Eastbourne: D Norris (9.10), A Moore (3.90), D Barker (5.46), A Shields (7.82), N Pedersen (9.16), A Allott (3.00), D Watt (3.50). Team manager: Trevor Geer.

Referee: Mike Posselwhite

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