Rathbone wants class of 2016 to create memorable moments

Peterborough Panthers boss Ged Rathbone has high hopes for 2016.
Peterborough Panthers boss Ged Rathbone has high hopes for 2016.
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Panthers supremo Ged Rathbone reckons he has the perfect plan to mark a memorable anniversary – winning more trophies.

It is 10 years since the city club captured the Elite League title in unforgettable fashion, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the Grand Final against Reading Bulldogs.

Now Rathbone wants the class of 2016 to create some magical moments of their own by chasing a catalogue of Premier League honours.

“Obviously I wasn’t around back in 2006,” said Rathbone. “But I am fully aware of the way in which Panthers won the Elite League.

“I don’t think anyone in speedway will ever forget the end of that Grand Final, but it is about time another Peterborough team started to make their own memories. That is exactly what we intend to do this season.

“We want to make our own mark on the sport and the way to do that is by winning silverware.

“We are not just here to make up the numbers - there is far too much hard work and far too many miles involved in that.

“There are three things for us to go at – the league, the League Cup and the KO Cup – and we’d love to win the lot.

“Whether or not that proves to be realistic, only time will tell.”

Panthers certainly look capable of being in the shake-up for glory.

The blend of four returning riders – captain Ulrich Ostergaard (who was also a part of the 2006 team), fellow Danes Michael Palm Toft and Emil Grondal, and Lincolnshire lad Simon Lambert – and three new recruits – rising Danish stars Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen and Nicklas Porsing, and British reserve Tom Perry – is an exciting one.

It might have come in almost two points under the team-building limit, but it is laden with potential and almost limitless improvement.

“There is no doubt in my mind we have a one-to-seven to be up there challenging,” added Rathbone.

“I said during the winter that I would not swap my team for any other in the Premier League – and that is still the case.

“We’ve deliberately built the team with strength in depth in mind. We have three riders in Ulrich, Nikolaj and Nicklas who could all be number ones and we are always going to be guaranteed a strong reserve as well.

“I also think we have arguably the best number seven in the league in Tom. He has a lot of experience compared to many of the riders in that position and he is a real racer.

“We genuinely have seven guys who could all improve their averages. We’ll be in a very good place if that happens.”

One area Panthers will need to improve in is their performances at the East of England Showground.

They slipped up six times on home shale last season – twice in the League Cup and four times in the league itself.

Rathbone put that poor record down to sloppiness off the track as much as problems on it – and he doesn’t expect a repeat in the coming months.

Panthers’ fine away record last season considerably more satisfactory and he again believes they are equipped to shine on the road.

Rathbone continued: “I have recently watched DVDs of all our home meetings last season and the most disappointing thing is we didn’t lose them because we were out-performed by the visiting teams.

“The defeats were pretty much all down to silly mechanical breakdowns and recurrences of problems which could easily have been avoided.

“Speedway is a professional sport and that means riders have to work hard seven days-a-week – not just when they get to the track. Preparation is hugely important.

“It was a shame to slip up so many times at home as we did superbly away, and I think we’re capable of getting plenty of results on the road again this season.”