Axed Peterborough Panthers skipper breaks his silence on his Showground departure and how he ended up as a Berwick Bandit

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Axed Peterborough Panthers skipper Hans Andersen was getting close to his old self on his debut for Berwick.

The Danish star, who was handed his P45 by the Panthers at the end of last month, had to wait 24 hours for his first appearance for the Championship side.

But he quickly endeared himself to the Bandits fans despite finishing on the losing side as they went down by 10 points at home to defending champions Poole on Saturday night.

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Andersen was third top scorer with eight, paid nine points, including one win and a last race stoppage that denied him an even more impressive first appearance at Shielfield Park this year.

Hans Andersen during his debut for Berwick. Photo: Taz McDougall.Hans Andersen during his debut for Berwick. Photo: Taz McDougall.
Hans Andersen during his debut for Berwick. Photo: Taz McDougall.

He twice finished ahead of his ex-Panthers’ teammate Ben Cook, who doubles up riding for the Pirates, who moved into third place in the table as they chase a third successive league title.

The 42-year-old Peterborough legend should have made his Berwick bow at Scunthorpe on Friday night before the meeting fell victim to the weather but he slotted straight into his new team even though he had not ridden in a competitive meeting since Peterborough’s defeat at Leicester on July 6.

He missed away matches at Wolverhampton and Ipswich with a sprained foot after trapping it under his machine while practising in Denmark and then was absent for the victory at King’s Lynn after being caught up in a major traffic jam on the way to the airport for his flight to the UK on July 27.

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Two days later he had the early morning phone call from Panthers’ team manager Rob Lyon to tell him that he was being released after the signing of Polish racer Patryk Wojdylo who failed to score in the 34-56 defeat at the East of England Arena against Wolverhampton last Monday.

It was Peterborough’s 16th defeat in 18 matches in all competitions this season, a run that has seen them stranded at the foot of the Premiership table for a second season in a row.

Two-time World Cup gold medallist Andersen admits that he wasn’t expecting to be shown the pits exit by the club he helped to a memorable league championship less than two years ago.

Andersen said: “I don’t know if it came as a shock when I was told I was being released. I probably would have understood it if the club had been in a different position, if we had been pushing for the play-offs or in a play-off position.

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“There was nothing we could do that would get us into the play-offs. We can beat King’s Lynn for the wooden spoon place, but that is all.

“Even though I had not been performing to what is expected and hadn’t performed as well as I wanted to, I felt I had a lot of stick for the team losing when there were other members of the team who were not performing as well.

“I didn’t have any massive scores, but I wasn’t signed to have any massive scores as others were.

“I wasn’t enjoying it at all but, again, I would have liked to have seen the season out. I had a very good time with the club and I felt that loyalty had gone out of the window. I am not going to say anything bad about my time with Peterborough because I have had such good times there.

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“There had been rumours for a long time where we were going to make changes, but I never felt they were going to get rid of me. Because we couldn’t reach the play-offs, I was thinking they would ride the season out and if they were running again next year we would all start with a clean slate.”

Andersen was only one of five riders who have seen their average drop this season with winter capture Ben Cook the only regular to have improved. Andersen’s average has gone down by half a point a match, from 4.93 to 4.41, but both number one Niels-Kristian Iversen and Ben Basso have suffered even bigger drops in their performances.

Claimed Andersen: “I felt I was given more stick and people were giving me a harder time than some of the other people in the team who also weren’t doing as well as we should have done.”

Andersen had a glittering career in his three spells with the club. He was the title-winning hero in the dramatic last race Grand Final victory over Reading in 2006 and a vital member of the triumphant 2021 ‘Dad’s Army’ side that both topped the table in the regular season and went on to beat Belle Vue in the Grand Final.

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He made more than 200 appearances in Panthers’ colours and was awarded the captaincy this year after former skipper Scott Nicholls’ decision to quit the top-flight.

Added the Dane: “I wasn’t enjoying having to fly over every meeting because there was so much, surrounding riding the bike, with the atmosphere not being there.

“I was pretty okay with the thought I wasn’t going to ride in England. I had still got the Danish League and I had still got my job with Discovery, I work for Eurosport commentating on the Grands Prix on Danish TV.

“But there were clubs asking for my services. I was okay not riding in England, but when I looked at it the fixtures of the various clubs interested in me, Berwick had a busy month in August with six meetings.

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“I have got my equipment in England and the agreement we came to was pretty good. I needed to just take my bikes up there and they have taken them off me so I can just turn up and ride.”

Andersen has admitted that he believes one of the reasons for his below par form was his lack of a full-time mechanic and having to drive to Spalding to pick up his bikes every meeting.

Berwick have guaranteed to keep his machines in tip-top condition between meetings and he will fly from Denmark to Edinburgh and after meetings he will get a lift with Bandits’ teammate Rory Schlein who will drop him off at Birmingham Airport for an early morning flight back to Denmark.

Andersen added: “It would be different if I lived in England but I was flying in on race days early morning to get transport to where my bikes where based and then driving to the track as well for my meeting mechanic to turn up at the track.

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“I was leaving my house at seven in the morning on a race day and it would be non-stop with everything. It just took quite a deal out of me doing that.

“I was knackered before I even thought about riding in the meeting. There was so much to do around it before I even got to ride my bike.

“It was definitely something I had never been used to and you have got to have a clear mind before you go out on the track for your first race.”

Panthers are in Premiership action at home to Ipswich on Monday night (7.30pm). Another member of the Dad’s Army Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris has returned from Leicester Lions to skipper the club with Richie Worrall moving in the opposite direction.