The team dubbed ’Dad’s Army’ by pundits on account of their great experience defied all expectations by finishing top of the Premiership table and then by confirming their status as top dogs - or should that be top cats - by claiming a stunning play-off success.
Panthers won 18, drew 1 and lost just 5 of their 24 meetings this season.
It’s a first top-flight title for 15 years for the city side who finished bottom of the pile in 2019 - the last time the Premiership was staged.
A huge Showground crowd watched Panthers beat the Belle Vue Aces 51-39 in the second leg to win 95-85 on aggregate. Panthers had to overcome a two-point deficit from the first leg against a team who had already won twice at the Showground this season, but they stormed clear in the middle of the meeting before clinching the title with a race to spare.
Fittingly it was skipper Scott Nicholls who delivered he title-winning heat win. He was jumped on by delirious teammates before speaking to the Eurosport cameras.
“It’s an honour to captain this team,” Nicholls said. “But we really have seven captains including young Jordan Palin who has listened and learned all season.
“Things have gone against us at times, but we have always found a way. Dad’s Army are the champions - how good does that sound!”
Panthers had plenty of heroes all season with Michael Palm Toft racing in the final weeks of the season with two broken fingers and a Grand Final win was a fitting finale for great Dane Bjarne Pedersen who now steps into retirement on the back of a major success.
Team manager Rob Lyon deserves enormous credit as well for plotting a magnificent success despite injuries to key riders Ulrish Ostergaard and Hans Andersen, neither of whom rode this evening.
Victory would have been sealed earlier, but for the brilliance of Belle Vue’s young Brit Dan Bewley who was unbeatable after a pointless first outing.
More reports, pictures and reaction to follow.