Scunthorpe Scorpions 30 races away from making speedway history
Team manager Richard Hollingsworth has called on his Scunthorpe Scorpions riders to keep their focus for 30 more heats – and write their names into speedway's history books.
Victory this weekend over the Somerset Rebels in their two-legged Premier League play-off final would be a fantastic achievement for a club that didn't even exist 10 years ago.
It would also, according to their boss and one-time fan, rid the town of their 'Cinderella club' tag, imposed during the 1970s and 80s under the guise of the Saints and Stags.
"It would mean we were no longer a Cinderella club," Hollingsworth told the Telegraph, when asked about what becoming champions would mean to the Scorpions, who have consistently gone from strength to strength under promoter Rob Godfrey.
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"It would mean eight years' hard work had come to fruition.
"But most of all, it would mean we were doing something right.
"It would vindicate what we've done for these last eight years and hopefully we can continue after that.
"If you look at previews at the start of the season, nobody particularly rated us. We saw it coming but others probably didn't.
"And we feel one of the most important things is that we are sending out a message to the rest of the league that you can do well on a budget.
"We haven't gone out and paid silly money to get to the level we have.
"We try to develop riders and we feel that is the way forward."
Scunthorpe travel to Somerset on Friday night (October 26) before the Rebels visit the Eddie Wright Raceway the following Sunday (4pm).
It is 'without doubt' the biggest weekend in the Scorpions' still relatively fledgling existence.
But ensuring preparation for both meetings is the same as any other this season is key according to Hollingsworth, who is keen to ensure the tag of favourites doesn't add unnecessary pressure to what is likely to be an already emotion-fuelled occasion.
"We're ready for it, very much so," he continued.
"We've performed consistently well for some time now. So if we can continue our recent form, we should be there or thereabouts.
"I know we can do that, but speedway is a funny old game. The beauty of it is you've got 30 races and anything can happen really so we'll turn up and we'll hope our best is good enough.
"The occasion can get to riders. I try not to build up the pressure – I don't expect to do anything any differently this weekend to what we would any other meeting.
"The pressure will build anyway in the riders' own heads, so anything I can do to release some of it is more beneficial than building it up.
"If the pressure gets too much, riders will attempt things they can't pull off. That's the problem.
"Everyone just needs to stay focused and avoid last places as much as possible. That's the important thing."
Hollingsworth will interrupt a family holiday to be part of what he hopes will be a wonderful weekend – even though it involves a six-hour trip from Northumberland to the Oak Tree Arena ahead of Friday's first leg.
"I wouldn't miss it for the world," he laughed.
He hopes former Somerset rider Sam Masters will be able to say the same and guest for the injured Thomas Jorgensen at his former home track.
Masters is a confirmed replacement for Jorgensen for the second leg, but the Scorpions must wait to discover whether he can feature on Friday as he will be part of the Poole Pirates line-up for their Knockout Cup final meeting with Coventry, if the south coast team get past Peterborough in the semi-finals.
If the 21-year-old Aussie is unavailable, Rye House Rockets' Anders Mellgren will deputise.
Whichever of the two features, Hollingsworth hopes Scunthorpe can keep things tight in Friday's first leg, just like they did in their Premier League trip to Somerset in June, when they were beaten by only six points.
"I suppose there's a slight psychological advantage (of having a higher aggregate score against the Rebels during league meetings this year)," he added.
"On current form, we've rode especially well in recent weeks at home, but that doesn't really count for anything going into the weekend.
"We've got 30 races and we'll just go out and race them and get as many points as we can."