To say it has been a tough season for the Pirates would be an understatement, captain Chris Holder injured earlier in the year, replacements hurried in to cover the injured riders, and a season peppered by bad defeats.
It was a fine summer evening on August 29th, Red Line Oil rider Greg Hancock was replacing the injured captain to take on the Robins in their backyard. The excitement filled the arena as 7:30pm approached, the scene was set for the Pirates to overcome the reigning champions and secure their place in the playoffs. But the spirits of the Pirates fans changed with the weather as the night sky drew in, the wind picked up and the crowd settled in for a night of intense speedway racing.
It was all square into the mid-rounds until Peter Kildemeand struck first blood for the Swindon Robins, from there on it was a disappointing performance from the pirates against a side who only built momentum thought out the night.
It seemed the playoffs were out of reach, the Lakeside Hammers who held the 4th spot only had to hold on to get through. It would be Robins that would again seal the fate of the; a crushing victory over the Hammers meant that the Robins had in fact boosted the pirates into the playoffs.
The Robins were still yet to play a crucial role in the Pirates campaign as the two teams were drawn up against each other in the playoff semi’s with only one side able to advance to the final. With the Robins confidence high after their previous two wins over the Pirates and a 10 point surplus after the first leg, the outlook was not good.
However they may have underestimated the Pirate never say die attitude, with the 2nd leg in Poole and the Pirates not about to disappoint their home crowd it was set for some spectacular racing. The Pirates took an early lead; Greg Hancock took four wins in the evening and smashed the 10 point deficit. It was all to play for, and in heat 13 the Pirates took the aggregate lead, the final two heats were all about the Pirates which at this point could do no wrong, a top score and a 4-2 sealed their entry to the Final.
The Pirates now face the Birmingham Brummies in the final two races, the winner of which collecting championship spoils. The Pirates will look to take a point surplus into the second leg at Birmingham and give them the advantage over the hometown favourites.
We proudly sponsor Greg Hancock with Red Line Oil
Photo credit: David Fairbrother