‘The pressure is on’ admits Ipswich Witches skipper Danny King with 2018 set to start with a bang!
PUBLISHED: 12:15 24 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:28 24 January 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Witches skipper Danny King has said it is vitally important the Suffolk side ‘hit the ground running’ in 2018.
The Foxhall Heath team are looking to go one better than they did in a memorable 2017, when they were runners-up in both the Championship play-off final and the knock-out cup final.
However, to do that they will have to compete in a Championship with fewer fixtures.
Put simply, while last year teams rode each other home and away twice in the Championship – in 2018 they only ride each other home and away, once.
“Yep, the pressure is on from the start,” King said.
“For everyone, not just us. But we must make sure we hit the ground running.
“You can’t say you will do better on your return to a track a second time, because there isn’t a second time.
“In saying that, I think we have one big bonus on our side. As much as many other clubs will be learning to gel with each other, we are already good pals as most of us rode with each other last year.
“We had a winning team last year, bad luck just meant we didn’t end up winning anything.”
The Witches fixtures were announced this morning and the Suffolk side begin their season with home and away Championship Shield clashes with Lakeside on Good Friday.
Only the winners of the Witches’ Shield group, that also includes Peterborough, are guaranteed progress to the final. In the knock-out cup, the Witches meet the winners of Lakeside v Peterborough.
But it is the Championship that all eyes will be on, with promoter Chris Louis also admitting the pressure is on from the start.
“There is no margin for error particularly with our Championship Shield group, as it is the smaller group because of the odd number of teams,” he said.
“You can’t afford to lose at home straight away so there is pressure on the boys but they will be well prepared.
“They are not new to each other, only Michael (Haertel) is new to last year’s press day.
“They are already interlinking and there is a lot of chat among the team about training and techniques. All of that information is being shared – we look a team already.”
Louis is also buoyed by the return of a Good Friday meeting at Foxhall.
“Good Friday meetings have been a tradition at the club for years, it is really good to have that back.
“I’m looking forward to it being against the Championship new boys Lakeside who have put together an extremely strong side, so we couldn’t have a tougher opposition to open up with.
“The whole league being only home and away once adds to the pressure and it is the same pressure for every team.
“We have got a relatively experienced team in this league. Connor (Mountain) having had a full season, Danyon (Hume) is still the one to travel to all the tracks.
“We all know what Danyon’s attitude is to his racing and I don’t think that will affect him too much, especially being surrounded by a good team willing to help him. Michael hasn’t been to any tracks of course so with only going once to away tracks he needs to perform to a reasonable standard and I am convinced he will.”