Eastbourne Eagles all set for National League test

Eastbourne Eagles
Eastbourne Eagles

Eastbourne Speedway was officially welcomed to the National League this week.

The club were present at the league AGM and were represented by Martin Dugard, who takes the role of club chairman.

He said as “new boys” Eastbourne had very much a watching brief at the meeting.

Dugard welcomed decisions made at the meeting and expressed pleasure at the 36-point team building limit.

He said the reason the club had dropped to National League speedway was because of the cost of running Elite League speedway. “It was case of dropping down or losing our licence,” he said.

“The club decided it was going to run National League and I have been appointed to run it.”

Dugard was under no illusions about the amount of work needed to bring the club back to what it was; hopefully to Elite League level.

He accepted it was a challenge for the club to build a team from scratch at this level.

“It is a bit difficult not physically knowing the riders. We all grow old pretty quickly and new riders come along.

“I have followed the Elite League for the last 14 years since I stopped riding, so all these new faces have come along since I finished riding when they were about three or four years old.

“Now they are trying to make their way into speedway. It is very hard to pick them out and find out who’s who.

“I have been doing some research with my son, Connor, and we are trying to pick out the best team we can,” he said.

Dugard said the club’s intention was to be in the league and be fighting for success.

He said: “We went through a very dry spell when we were in the Elite League. The team we are going to base ourselves on is a team that can go and win.

“We are allowing some of the youngsters to be dragged along for the first couple of months but hopefully once they find their feet, they can start taking it away and become heat leaders.”

Dugard reiterated that once again the club would be aiming to “make stars”. “That’s how I started. We are looking to do that again. We are looking to bring riders up.

“In a few years’ time, hopefully, we will have some new names that are local to us.”

Dugard said he hoped the supporters would be “open minded” about National League speedway. “I think it will be a lot more exciting speedway than we have had in the past.

“The professionalism of the Elite League has shown that those who get out in front from the start can possibly win. The guys we will have; yes there a few ‘starters’ amongst them but they are all racers and want to win all the way from No 1 to No 7,” he said.

He admitted the drop to the National League might be a culture shock for some but predicted supporters will be “happy with the team we are putting together”.

The club has already announced Danny Warwick and more names are likely to become known over the next week or so.