Carry on cup-winning . . . that'sthe aim for Panthers team boss
Proud team boss Carl Johnson hopes Panthers' double-winning success of 2017 can mark the start of a golden era for the club.
Johnson oversaw the city side’s triumphs in the SGB Championship Fours and KO Cup during this year.
And while the long-term future of Panthers appears to remain uncertain, Johnson is confident they will be back on track next summer to chase even more honours.
“It was more than a decade since the club’s previous trophy success as a team,” said Johnson. “That was far too long to go without silverware and it was great to finally be able to put it right this year.
“I’m proud to have been involved in that and I’m thankful to everyone – from riders to mechanics to management and supporters – who made it possible.
“People seem to take great delight in writing us off. It happened during the semi-final against Glasgow and again after the first leg of the final, but we did what we needed to do to lift the trophy.
“There is no way we want to be waiting another 10 years for more silverware. Winning is a great habit and we’re all hungry to keep picking up the honours.
“My focus is only ever on the team. I leave the politics and finances to other people.
“But I will say it would be a huge shame if we aren’t back on track next season. Not only because of the terrific track and facilities we have at the East of England Arena, but also due to the success we’ve enjoyed this season.”
And while Johnson is rightly delighted with the club’s double, he feels they could also have challenged for SGB Championship title glory as well if making the play-offs.
Panthers eventually finished two places and eight points short of the top four, but reckons their end-of-season form would have made them serious contenders if they had made the cut.
“We only lost one of our final 12 meetings in all competitions and that was one where we knew we had a huge aggregate advantage up our sleeve in the quarter-final of the KO Cup at Scunthorpe,” said Johnson.
“Our form towards the end of the year showed that we would also have taken some stopping in the play-offs if only we had made them.
“Falling short of the top four was obviously a disappointment and that will be the first thing we look to put right as long as we are back on track in 2018.”
Owner Ged Rathbone has publicly stated he will take ‘two or three weeks’ to consider the club’s future now their campaign has ended.