Peterborough Panthers owner wants bigger crowds as his team bid for glory on four fronts

Expected Panthers guest Ben Barker is out for the season.
Expected Panthers guest Ben Barker is out for the season.
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Owner Ged Rathbone has issued a plea to fans to back Peterborough Panthers’ glory bid.

The city side are enjoying a terrific season in which they could claim a terrific four trophies at SGB Championship level.

Panthers owner Ged Rathbone.

Panthers owner Ged Rathbone.

Panthers have already retained their Fours crown, reached the play-offs by finishing top of the second-tier standings, progressed to the semi-finals of the Shield and started their defence of the KO Cup at the quarter-final stage pretty well.

They thumped Lakeside 52-38 in the latter competition at the East of England Arena last Sunday night (September 23), but a poor crowd took the shine off another pleasing night on the shale.

That meeting was suppoesed to be the second leg, but the first leg at Lakeside scheduled for earlier the day was washed out. The second leg will now take place tomorrow (September 29), straight after the first leg of the SGB Championship Shield semi-finals. The second leg of the Shield semi-final is at Alwalton on Sunday (September 30, 5pm).

“It was a good win against a tough Lakeside team, but it was a little bit frustrating to see such a poor crowd,” admitted Rathbone.

“Our attendances have been fantastic this season, but this was the worst by far – in fact it was probably one of the lowest I’ve seen during my four years at Peterborough which was really disappointing.

“The riders and management can’t do any more on the track and we really need everyone to get behind us for the final push.

“We’ve overcome a lot of injury problems to finish top of the league and put ourselves in a great position to win trophies.

“I appreciate it was a cold night on Sunday after being wet earlier in the day, but we were adamant that we would get the meeting on.

“Maybe the later start time of 7pm was a factor, but that was enforced as this meeting was initially due to be part of a double-header with us racing against Lakeside at Rye House earlier in the day.

“I also know various other sports are taking place at this time of year, but I really need the supporters to dig deep – just as the riders are doing on track.

“I’ve always said that I’m not a rich man.

“I’m just a normal guy with a normal job and everything we do here has to fit into our budget.

“Big meetings at the end of the season should be a nice bonus to us financially, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday.

“We’re on the verge of being able to make history as this could be the club’s best-ever season.

“We have some huge meetings ahead and we desperately need the public of Peterborough and the surrounding areas to back us.”

Panthers have called in Ben Barker to guest at number one in all three weekend meetings.

James Sarjeant stands in at reserve tomorrow with Newcastle man Carl Wilkinson taking over on Sunday.

They have also shuffled their rider order.

Panthers weekend team: 1 Ben Barker, 2 Rider replacement for Bradley Wilson-Dean, 3 Emil Grondal, 4 Ulrich Ostergaard, 5 Michael Palm Toft, 6 James Sarjeant (away)/Carl Wilkinson (home), 7 Simon Lambert.