Opinion: Why King’s Lynn Stars will be smiling well into 2014
- Credit: IAN BURT
If the quality of speedway matches the amount of laughs at the club's fans' forum, King's Lynn will be a force to be reckoned with in 2014.
The injury-cursed and bad refereeing decision plagued Norfolk Arena wasn't always a happy place this year, despite team boss Rob Lyon's best efforts to keep everyone's spirits high. A fifth-placed Elite League finish was remarkable given the bad luck that came the Stars way.
However, there was an obvious move to consign 2013 into the past on Thursday night when Lynn's immediate future was unveiled. A brief chat about the season that was seemed a clear indication that everybody wants to forget a campaign that promised so much and delivered so little.
Lyon and owner Buster Chapman went on the charm offensive from the off to ensure any hangover from an annus horribilis was blown away. The pair joked all night and Lynn's owner even delivered a cheeky slip of the tongue dig to Poole Pirates' owner Matt Ford – a rivalry that has simmered for a number of years.
But this week was all about looking forward and that's what Lynn fans can now do with a smile on their face. They packed the Linnet Lounge at the town's football ground to see what riders would make up the core of their team next year.
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And inbetween snippets of humour, Lyon and Chapman showed they have been doing something serious off the track. Their one to five line-up should see Lynn also meaning business on it.
Returning to a huge ovation from his adoring public is world number three Niels-Kristian Iversen. During his past three seasons at Saddlebow Road he has gained the confidence to become a genuine world beater.
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He will be partnered by returning countrymen Nicklas Porsing and Kenneth Bjerre – neither of which were in attendance on the night. 'Big' Bjerre as he is known, because of his younger brother Lasse, was there in spirit mind with Chapman whipping off a sheet to unveil a cuddly toy bear. Some joked it was taller than the ace who rode for Peterborough Panthers last year.
Australian asset Rory Schlein is back and Lyon has also given a chance to the supremely talented Robert Lambert. Norfolk's 15-year-old hot prospect has been tipped to become a future world champion. And he showed last term during his appearances for the National League Young Stars that he will take some stopping.
Add young local lads Lewis Kerr and Lewis Rose into the mix and the Stars look like they can shine brightly when speedway returns in March. The pair, described as surf boys jokingly by Chapman, were there to join in on the fun.
And that's what excites Chapman most. Homegrown trio Rose, Kerr and Lambert spoke about realising their dreams of riding for Lynn's senior side for the first time. Iversen is ecstatic about continuing his spell at Saddlebow Road. And Bjerre – who last rode for the Stars in 2011 and turned down other clubs following the Panthers' demise – and Porsing jumped at the chance to return 'home', according to Chapman.
He added: 'Nicklas is that committed he's actually bought himself a new van and wants to come and live in England, the same as Niels and our other riders do. He really wants to be here and show people what he's about. He's fully committed and I'm just so pleased for him really. He's like these young lads here (Rose, Kerr and Lambert), when we told him that we was thinking about putting him back in the side he was just over the moon.'
If that feel-good factor and excitement continues, those involved with the Stars look set to remain happy well into the New Year.
Visit www.edp24.co.uk/sport to see a video and picture gallery from the supporters' forum.