HEADING FOR A HAT-TRICK

23/05/20

Having secured two successive league titles, Poole went into the 2015 hoping to emulate Belle Vue's achievements of a hat-trick of crowns that dated back to the season after Poole sensationally won their first top league championship, with the Aces being the all-conquering side of 1970 to 1972 inclusive. 
 

But late August they were given an even greater motivation  following an incident, which despite being far from the epicentre of, rocked the Poole club so massively that promoter Matt Ford considered ending the season there and then.

It was early evening on Sunday 23rd August and Poole were proudly sitting top of the Elite league, five points clear of Coventry when reports started to filter through from Poland that club asset Darcy Ward had been involved in a serious crash in the final heat of the Zielona Gora versus Grudziadz Ekstraliga figure. The then 23 year old had only a month earlier returned to racing following a 10-month FIM ban imposed for failing an alcohol test at the 2014 Latvian GP and the Pirates were unable to accommodate him in the team, as they didn't feel that they could break up the side that was made up of Chris Holder, Maciej Janowski, Dave Watt, Dakota North, Kacper Gomolski, Kyle Newman, Paul Starke. 

Ward had though  been snapped up by Swindon and in only his second meeting back found himself racing against the Pirates. 
As more information became apparent on his career-ending crash Ford had to be talked round by Ward's UK landlord and Poole team manager Neil Middleditch, but even today Ford reflects on that dark day as the point when he lost some of his appetite for speedway. "When I took the phone call on that dark night in August 2015 I instantly felt that I was done with speedway. When you see someone you are so close to have their dreams and ambitions shattered at such a young age it provokes all sorts of questions and I can honestly say that speedway is not the same without Darcy. The guy just oozed talent and if there was any justice in this world would be out there now winning world titles. I was prepared to end the season immediately, the chance of a hat-trick of titles meant nothing to me at that moment."

The Pirates season did continue under the mantra "Do It For Darcy" and they went on to finish four points clear of Coventry with Swindon and Belle Vue filling the third and fourth places respectively. With choice of opponents Poole opted for Coventry and after a draw in a rescheduled first leg went about securing their place in the Grand Final whilst Belle Vue completed a semi-final double over Swindon so, as coincidence would have it, became the only side standing in the Pirates way of a first three-in-row league title sequence for 43 (Ward's GP racing number) years. A draw at Belle Vue on 28th September lined things up perfectly for a Wimborne Road showdown twenty four hours later. Could the Pirates 'Do It For Darcy' and earn Maciej Janowski three league champions medals in his time as a Pirate?

Coverage of that second leg will be on Wednesday May 27th courtesy of Re-Run Productions and Speedway Portal with the premiere streaming  beginning at 7.30pm through the Facebook page, YouTube account or the link on the website.

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