Dream Team : David Crane
I've been a Fen Tigers supporter since the championship winning season of 1979, and seen some terrific riders at West Row through the National League days: Mel Taylor, Carl Baldwin, Robert Henry, to name but a few. But there's also been some equally great riders to wear the club's racejacket since the re-birth of the club in the Conference League in 1994, and so I pay my personal homage to the best Fen seven since then.
A true professional and role model for the youngsters, Leggy joined in late 1995 after a long career stretching back to 1981 mainly with Glasgow, and was the mainstay of the side until 1999.
He was consistently the Tigers top performer and never lacked enthusiasm despite his trek from Cumbria for every meeting and on more than one occasion was refused his rightful place in the Riders Final because of his 35+ age. It was fitting he got one final season in the Premier with Workington and fully deserves his testimonial later this year.
After a brief spell with Kings Lynn before, Roger made one brief comeback year in 1995, and was the Tigers star man of that season. Roger was a stylish rider in the mould of Mel Taylor, looking untroubled and composed on a bike, and enjoyed a great year. It's just a pity the club's current team manager didn't carry on as he had the undoubted talent.
Ross began as a very raw and erratic rider with Linlithgow, it was only until he joined Peterborough that he learned to compose his skills, and joined the Tigers when Oliver Allen left in July 1998. He was one of the league's best riders that year and one of the country's best prospects. Another stylish star who could beat anyone - he has bags of potential and proved it when he joined Edinburgh.
Still only 17, Barrie has time on his side to prove he can become a success in the PL after making his Tigers and speedway debut in 1999. He has learned to master the West Row circuit over the past 3 years but his confidence has been harmed because of his failure to command a regular Premier team place. He has the equipment and ambition to become a higher league success, but needs to prove it by becoming a force on away tracks in the Conference.
Steve has shown terrific guts, determination and a never-give-up attitude since joining in 1999 after a 4 year break from the sport. Steve strengthened the side's top order in his first year, finishing runners-up in the Riders Final - a joint club record, and went on to be one of the best riders in the league last season with his best year in the sport.
An 8-week broken wrist lay-off cost the club of his invaluable presence at the end of last year and lost the league title because of it. You'd be hard pushed to find a more tougher and committed rider, which has endeared him to the Mildenhall fans and envied by opposing supporters.
Shane joined in late 1999 and enjoyed his best year in the sport the following year with both Mildenhall and PL Reading. He was a vital member of the almost-title-winning side, a superb gater and cool customer when leading, he proved his undoubted talent last year, including a 4th in the Riders Final. Sadly, a seeming lack of commitment to the sport at times has prevented him from succeeding in further success.
Simon led the Tigers in it's first two Conference years with experience behind him with Arena in the late 80's/early 90's. He was the valuable leader with consistency and top scores until his abrupt double "retirement" at the end of the 1995.
Also just a quick note of a few others who narrowly missed out on my seven, Gary Sweet, Dean Garrod and Gavin Hedge: for their dedication to the club over a number of years, Jonathan Swales: for being the exciting wide rider who reminded of Mikael Teurnberg, and Paul Lydes-Uings: for surpassing expectations last year with a brilliant season and an unforgettable record 21-points against Rye House.
This article was first published prior to October 2002
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