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Diary of a Wolves Fan

Monday 15 March: Press and Practice day at Monmore Green, and Wolves’ sponsors Hi-Q Tyreservices director John Westwood has an announcement to make, “I have faith in the team… I’m issuing a challenge to each and every rider… If – no when – you win the league, Hi-Q will give a five figure sum to be split between the riders.”
“We would be delighted to take Hi-Q’s money.” says new Wolves captain Peter Karlsson, eagerly flicking through the new IKEA catalogue.
Out on the track, a crowd of over a thousand turns up, and most interest centres on new signing Nicki Pedersen, who doesn’t disappoint his new fans with some determined riding and impressive wheelies.

Saturday 20 March: First leg of the Sponsors Challenge at Brandon, and the Hi-Q Wolves force a 45-45 draw against the Exide Bees. It’s an impressive performance from one to seven, as new boy Nicki Pedersen wins his first race for the Wolves on his way to an impressive 10-point debut. Skipper Peter Karlsson plays the role of “returning hero” to perfection with a last heat victory over Greg Hancock.

Monday 22 March: The home campaign gets off to a fine start, as the Bees are stung 54-38 by another solid Wolves display. Jesper gets an outing in the top scorers race after some determined riding, but all seven riders look impressive. Peter beats Monmore specialist Greg Hancock three times – twice from the back. If the Bees are Exide powered, then Pete does a fair impression of the Duracell bunny in the final six lap race, going on, and on, before snatching second place from Hancock on the line…

Monday 29 March: Reigning champions Ipswich Witches are left spellbound by the Wolves (That’s quite enough nickname puns: Ed.), who open the match with an amazing eight successive 4-2’s on the way to a 57-33 win. Mikael hits top form with a faultless maximum, and Nicki drops just one point in his four rides (he should be OK when he settles in!) Craig delights the crowd with his first race win of the season in Heat 2. Chris Louis upsets Jesper in Heat 8, appearing cause him to fall first time out. Jesper comes out fired up for the rerun, and produces probably his best ride for the Wolves, storming round Louis for the race win. Maybe Peter Adams should whisper the words “Chris Louis” in Jesper’s ear every Monday night?

Wednesday 31 March: In a tense match at Hull, Wolves lose out in the final heat 46-44, thanks mainly to two dubious decisions from referee David Peet. In Heat 12, the impressive Richard Juul is left with nowhere to go on the narrow first bend, and is forced to bale out. As everyone in the stadium looks for the red lights, and a rerun, Mr Peet sees nothing wrong, and lets the race continue – the resulting 5-1 puts the Vikings ahead. Worse follows in the last heat decider, as Shane Parker clearly appears to force Nicki Pedersen off on the first bend. This time the referee consults his labrador, who accidentally knocks the white exclusion light on. (I’m telling you, I was there, that’s what happened!)
“We disapprove of your unfair tactics Mr Parker” shout the Wolves fans during the victory parade, as Parker clearly indicates the two point margin of victory.

Friday 2 April: It’s back up that damn M6, and the well trodden path to Manchester for a Good Friday match at Belle Vue. John Perrin has a little dig at Wolves’ sponsors motivation package, “The riders we’ve got here are riding for the best club in the world and to do well for Belle Vue is all the motivation they need” he says. Suitably inspired, three of his new signings respond with a fabulous combined 3 points from 10 rides! It’s another tense finish, and Captain Karlsson trumps the Aces (You’ve been warned: Ed.) by winning the vital heats 13 and 15 to lead Wolves to a 46-45 win. George returns to form with a vital paid 8, but Nicki has that “déjà vu” feeling all over again, being sent sprawling after a clash with ex-Wolf Ronnie Correy.

Monday 5 April: Meanwhile, back at Monmore Green… Hull Vikings push the Hi-Q Wolves all the way, as Wolves win 47-43. George Stancl is the match winner this time, with three vital heat wins. Somewhat inevitably, Sudden Sam is in superb form on his return to the Green grabbing 17 points, and only Peter gets the better of him. Maybe we should call him “Hollywood” Sam after this match, as he quickly transformed from hero to villain in Heat 15. After receiving a good reception from an appreciative Wolves crowd all evening, Sam appeared to cause a frightening crash in the final race, resulting in Nicki and Peter joining the dog track via the painful route. (i.e. straight through the fence). Lets just say that crowd reaction after this incident was somewhat “mixed.”

Wednesday 7 April: It’s another “sneak out of work early” day and a swift dash to East Anglia for the match at Kings Lynn. “At least we don’t have any worries about the weather” I said, as we approached the stadium in fine sunshine. Then we saw the rainbow. Then we got the rain. The pot of gold (and black) for us was another excellent team performance, and a 47-43 win. Probably our best performance yet for me, and once again every rider made a telling contribution. Craig and Dickie set the ball rolling with a great maximum in the reserves race. PK again led the way, beating the world champion three times on his own track, including another win in a vital last heat decider. You could say he’s having a good start! The much talked about meeting presentation turned out to be some guy who’d obviously failed the audition to become a redcoat at Skegness singing “New York, New York” on the centre green! Whatever next?

Friday 9 April: Now I’d seen us ride at Peterborough before, so I quite expected us to come back down to earth with a bump. I did, however, expect that we would at least get to use a parachute! To be fair, our riders adapted to the track, and Mikael, Peter and George recorded impressive victories in the final five races. The only problem being, we were losing 43-17 at that point! 58-32 is quite a hammering by any standards, and the Panthers looked ominously good. Funniest moment of the night was Jan Andersen’s tantrum after Nicki beat him in Heat 14. Our Nicki obviously catches on quickly, and he soon worked out the “Peterborough” line on turn two. (You know the one – if things get close on the track, just take to the grass). A couple of “imaginative” lines saw the track staff running for cover, and Mr Andersen’s toys came flying out of the pram!

Monday 12 April: Another close call at Monmore Green, as the Kings Lynn Stars, sorry Knights push us all the way. Tony Rickardsson is as good as ever (is there a more popular visitor to Monmore Green?) and Stefan Andersson produces his best ever performance at the Green. But it’s another solid team show from the Hi-Q Wolves that sees them through. Another last heat decider, and that man Peter Karlsson again produces the goods, with a superb win over the Knights duo to clinch our 48-42 victory. That’s FIVE last heat deciders so far this season, and PK has won all FIVE… he’s obviously feeling the pressure!
By the way, is Kings Lynn promoter Buster Chapman a Don McLean fan? No, not the guy from Crackerjack, the singer. I’m sure his choice of team nicknames was inspired by Don’s song “Vincent” - you know, the one that starts “Starry Starry Knights…”

Monday 19 April: Much more comfortable this week, with a 57-35 win over a somewhat subdued Eastbourne side, who seem to be hampered by machine problems. There’s a lot of it about. Another good payday from all of the Wolves riders (isn’t it great to have a “team” again?) Mikael looks much happier with his equipment (ooo er missus!) and finally gets another outing in the top scorer’s race. He’s only robbed of a maximum by another bizarre refereeing decision, after Buzz Burrows ploughed into him in Heat 6. For the Eagles, Martin Dugard is as lively as ever, while Roman Povazhny and guest Buzz Burrows appear to be having an “I’m madder than you” competition, mostly by showing Jesper how they don’t bother turning at the end of the straights!

Wednesday 21 April: Poole (Away) – Pitter patter, pitter patter, splish, splash, splosh!

To be continued…

Mark Rowe.

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