Best ever season for Scunthorpe speedway in 41 years - official
Scunthorpe speedway will enjoy the most successful season in its 41-year-old history in 2012.
Edinburgh’s defeat at Newcastle on Sunday assures the Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions of at least fourth place in the final 2012 Premier League table.
It therefore surpasses the fifth place finish in the National League (the name of the second-tier league at that point) in 1983.
Scunthorpe have won three league championships (2006, 2007 and 2011), but these have all been at third-tier level.
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Scunthorpe ran under an open licence in 1971 at Quibell Park, before successfully applying to become members of the British League Division Two in 1972.
In seven league seasons at Quibell Park, the Scunthorpe Saints’ highest league position was 13th out of 20 teams in 1975.
The league changed its name to the New National League in 1975 and the National League in 1976.
The club moved to Ashby Ville in 1979, and were renamed the Stags. In six completed seasons, the Stags managed to finish in the top half of the table once – the aforementioned 5th place out of 18 teams in 1983.
The club withdrew from the National League in May 1985 due to financial problems.
After a gap of 20 years, current promoter Rob Godfrey brought speedway back to Scunthorpe at Normanby Road (later renamed the Eddie Wright Raceway) in 2005.
He initially entered the club into the Conference League (the sport’s new third tier), and the Scorpions won back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007.
The Scorpions were elevated to the Premier League (second tier) in 2008, while they also retained a Conference League side, with the Saints name being resurrected for the latter. The Saints won the National League (the new name for the Conference League) in 2011.
Meanwhile, the Scorpions became a solid mid-table Premier League team with finishes of 10th (2008), 10th (2009), 9th (2010) and 7th (2011).
Rob Godfrey was keen to assemble a side capable of challenging for honours in 2012.
A run of injuries, most notably to No 1 David Howe threatened to ruin Scorpions’ season. But the addition of Nick Morris and Gary Irving to the side has turned the Scorpions into an excellent all-around team where all the riders are capable of scoring solidly.
Team manager Richard Hollingsworth said: “It’s fantastic that 2012 is now confirmed as the club’s most successful season since we started up in 1971. We’ve never had such a good year in speedway’s second tier as this one.
“But, quite frankly, we don’t want to stop there – there’s still a lot of the season to go. We are aiming to gain three points from Glasgow at the Eddie Wright Raceway on Friday (7.30pm) in our last regular league match.
"If Newcastle slip up at Plymouth (also on Friday), and Leicester don’t go on a winning spree in their away meetings this week, we can still finish top of the Premier League table. The league is decided via play-offs this year, but finishing top of the table would still mean a lot to this club.
“At the very least, we want to finish second in the table, to have some say in our play-off opponents at the group stage (the play-offs are split into two mini-groups of 3 teams).
“And then we will also be aiming to win the play-offs and the Premier League championship.”
SAINTS BOW OUT
The Jotun Paints Scunthorpe Saints will not contest the National League play-offs, after Rye House took a 48-41 win at Stoke on Sunday.
Rye House have now moved to fourth place in the table, relegating Saints to fifth on race points difference. The Isle Of Wight can leapfrog both teams if they secure a league point at King’s Lynn on Wednesday – the cut-off date for the play-offs.
Saints boss Stuart Parnaby: “I’m still proud of what the boys have achieved this year. We had a tremendous away win at Buxton, while only Mildenhall and Dudley have defeated us at home.
“It looks like we will finish fifth or sixth in the table. Given that we have been tracking three complete rookies in 2012 (Max Clegg, Tommy Fenwick and Danny Phillips), plus a fourth rider with very limited previous National League experience (Oliver Greenwood), I think that is excellent."