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A review on Elite League King’s Lynn Stars’ year to forget

PUBLISHED: 09:19 30 September 2016 | UPDATED: 09:19 30 September 2016

Robert Lambert, left, and Niels-Kristian Iversen celebrate another 5-1 heat advantage. Picture: IAN BURT

Robert Lambert, left, and Niels-Kristian Iversen celebrate another 5-1 heat advantage. Picture: IAN BURT

The Elite League season that Lynn are so desperate to end still isn’t over. As they wait until Friday October 7 to visit Leicester and put the 2016 campaign out of its misery, sports reporter GAVIN CANEY looks at some of the key reasons behind why things went wrong at the Adrian Flux Arena.

Stars boss Rob Lyon. Picture: Ian BurtStars boss Rob Lyon. Picture: Ian Burt

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY BUSTER

Since becoming the head of the British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) in the close season, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that Lynn owner Buster Chapman has been beyond flat out at times. It’s one of the reasons why he sold King’s Lynn Town Football Club in May. Chapman said “something had to give” as he struggled to deal with “a crazy few years”. Speedway and the Stars have always been the legendary figure’s first love. But have other pressures affected his focus at the Adrian Flux Arena? Perhaps not all year. Yet there’s no doubt that at times when he’s been so busy spinning plates, certain ones have had to be turned a tad slower than usual.

ADMIRABLE LOYALTY HASN’T BEEN REWARDED

2016 results

March

25 – Lakeside A – 36-56

25 – Lakeside H – 51-39

31 – Belle Vue H – 39-54

April

13 – Coventry H – 46-44

21 – Leicester H – 51-42

23 – Leicester A – 45-45

May

19 – Swindon A – 38-55

26 – Swindon H – 45-45

30 – Wolves A – 44-49

June

2 –Wolves H – 48-42

22 – Coventry H – 41-49

30 – Belle Vue H – 50-40

July

1 – Belle Vue A – 21-45

11 – Coventry A – 47-46

14 – Leicester H – 54-38

August

4 – Swindon A – 38-52

10 – Poole A – 25-65

11 – Poole H – 38-55

18 – Swindon H – 41-51

24 – Belle Vue A – 49-41

25 – Wolves H – 40-52

29 – Wolves A – 29-61

September

1 – Lakeside H – 48-42

2 – Lakeside A – 32-60

7 – Poole A – 29-61

13 – Poole H – 39-53

16 – Coventry A – 48-41

* Leicester A on Friday October 7

Buster Chapman, Rob Lyon and Dale Allitt took a huge gamble when they named Rory Schlein and Troy Batchelor in their seven-man team. Both – Schlein especially – were recovering from serious injuries. While some would have steered well clear of the pair, Lynn’s management trio felt they deserved a chance. Unfortunately for all parties it didn’t pay off. Batchelor has shown his best form far, far too late in the campaign while skipper Schlein crashed and injured himself again before being axed for his poor displays. It’s been heartbreaking to watch because everybody dreamed of successful returns. It’s such a shame they never materialised.

TWO-MAN TEAM AT TIMES

Far from dismissing any of Lewis Rose’s exploits this term – he’s come on leaps and bounds – the Stars have relied so, so much on a couple of their other riders. Niels-Kristian Iversen and Robert Lambert have simply carried the Stars for a huge chunk of the campaign. The pair’s home heat 15 5-1 race-win heroics ensured there was at least something to cheer about during the middle of the season. But they needed far more help than they got.

Buster Chapman. Picture: MATTHEW USHERBuster Chapman. Picture: MATTHEW USHER

THE NUMBERS DON’T ADD UP

In an eight-team table, the aim is always to finish in the top four and reach the play-offs. While Lynn, if they pick up all four points at Leicester, will have only ended up falling seven points short, it would still be their second lowest points tally since returning to the top flight in 2011. A defeat could see that disappointing 2012 haul of 36, gained against nine other sides, matched.

Dale Allitt. Picture: IAN BURTDale Allitt. Picture: IAN BURT

TERM OF TRANSITION ON AND OFF THE TRACK

Rob Lyon has become part of the fixture and fittings at Saddlebow Road. The team boss has brought huge, huge success to Lynn since taking up the role in 2005. Yet increasing worries about the day he decides to walk away have been around for a couple of years now thanks to his obvious displeasure at some aspects of the sport and increased work commitments. With Young Stars team boss Dale Allitt becoming a co-promoter before the start of 2016, there’s been an air of transition around the Stars – and not just on the track. While Allitt is no doubt learning from Lyon, a former Great Britain boss no less, some fans have wondered who is calling the shots. Have riders thought the same? It’s unlikely. But any confusion, however slight, won’t have helped cool rumours that Lyon, a co-promoter, is about to end his 12 years in the pits.

A FAR TOO FAIR RACEWAY

Rory Schlein. Picture: Ian BurtRory Schlein. Picture: Ian Burt

Lynn’s track is loved by riders around the world. Which is why opposition clubs look forward to coming to Norfolk so much. Buster Chapman prides Saddlebow Road on being a fair raceway that produces great racing. But that has become to the Stars’ detriment. They simply have no home-track advantage. Six home defeats and a draw out of 14 is a big reason Lynn have failed to reach the end-of-season shoot-out. Lakeside have and they’ve won only twice away. But crucially they’ve lost only once on their own shale.

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