Speedway World by Richard Hudson – star packs up sport for good as Shields returns home to Down Under

Adam Shields action
Adam Shields action

Adam Shields is packing up speedway for good and will be returning to Australia.

His departure, widely expected, leaves a hole in the Eastbourne Lifestyle Eagles team that has yet to be filled.

Shields made an unexpected return to the Eastbourne team for 2013 having seemingly retired last year when riding for Belle Vue.

His first matches against Lakeside at Easter looked promising but sadly had not worked out. “He has withdrawn because he felt he was letting the team down and he did not want to do that, said co-promoter and team manager Trevor Geer. “Adam and the club had high hopes but it was not to be. He has been a fine servant of Eastbourne and I know our fans will still hold him in high regard. In his first spell at Arlington he provided some of the most exciting racing you could wish to see and that is the memory I hope everyone will retain.

“He has had a fantastic career; one that many riders would give their right arm for. We knew that signing Adam was something of a risk. It has not worked out and that is a disappointment all round. On behalf of everyone associated with Eastbourne Speedway, I wish Adam all the best in the future and thank him for his service to the Eagles.”

As Geer said, in his first stint at Arlington, Shields pulled off some of the most remarkable overtaking moves seen at the track during that period.

He came to Sussex from the Isle of Wight team in 2004 and had fans cheering with his outside line overtaking moves until he departed to Lakeside at the end of the 2006 season.

His departure has left a gap in the team which Eastbourne have, at the time of writing, been unable to fill.

Senior promoter Bob Dugard has been leading the search with efforts concentrated in Poland and Scandinavia. However, it is not an easy task.

Riders, not already committed to racing in the UK, will not change their planned programmes. Often they have flights arranged and do not wish to alter arrangements, especially for a club which races its home meetings on a Saturday night.

Tomorrow night, when the Eagles face Swindon at Arlington (7.30pm), they will use the rider replacement rule to cover the gap. They have been given a ‘facility’ by the speedway authorities for 28 days to enable them to complete the signing of a replacement.

Other Elite League teams are in the process of making changes and it may be that the Eagles can pick someone up who is already committed to riding in the UK this year.

Eastbourne are hoping to make an announcement during the match with Swindon on Saturday but the operative word is “hoping”. There is no certainty that they will be in a position to do that.

Swindon are the defending league champions and track “son of Sussex” Edward Kennett and the man the home fans love to hate – Troy Batchelor. He’s blamed for a crash some years ago involving David Norris. Watch out also for Peter Kildeman and Hans Andersen.

The Eagles are in for a real struggle but will know they took an unexpected league point away from Swindon a few weeks ago and that should give them confidence.

See page 72 for Elite League result, fixtures and standings.

Picture by www.speedwayprint.co.uk