Worth the wait as Robins end 45-year Elite League title drought
THE ghost of 1967 has finally been put to bed, and the class of 2012 have firmly written their names into the Swindon Robins’ history books.
The Robins capped a remarkable season by securing the Elite League title with a 95-89 victory at the home of rivals Poole last night, ending a two-way battle which has raged all season long.
Defending a seven point lead, the visitors only allowed their hosts two heat advantages before wrapping up the title in heat 12 on a night where wet conditions didn’t make for great racing, not that the Robins were one-bit bothered.
Peter Kildemand was the star of the show as he carved his way inside the Poole riders on a number of occasions to score 11 points, but as has been the case all season long, every rider stepped up when they were needed.
The top heavy Pirates were without star man Darcy Ward, and although they had an able deputy in Chris Harris, Bomber was only able to score eight points on an evening where the Poole top three needed to fire more than usual.
Captain Hans Andersen proudly lofted the trophy high above his head as the fireworks went off and the champagne corks flew, and the Dane was a proud man after earning his second Elite League gold medal having tasted success with Peterborough in 2006.
“We won the league, and it is an amazing feeling,” he said.
“I won it in 2006, but this is even better, it is awesome. The whole team has been amazing and we deserve this.”
Kildemand has continually stolen the show this season, and was proud to do so again on a glorious evening.
“To win this title in my first year with Swindon is awesome, it is amazing,” he said.
“There are no words for it, we deserved, and we did it.”
Troy Batchelor dragged himself off his sick bed having struggled with bronchitis to weigh-in with eight points, and was proud of everything his side achieved.
“We have all been awesome, and we all deserve this,” he said.
“There were some good times and some hard times, but now we are having amazing times.
“I am really not feeling well at all, but I wouldn’t have missed this for the world and now we are celebrating.”
Simon Stead has waited a long time to add the Elite League to his bulging medal collection, and was proud to end a tough season on a high.
“This has been a tough year, everybody knows that, but it has ended in the best possible way,” he said.
“I have been chasing this title for a long time, and it is amazing to have won it with Swindon.”
Nick Morris has had to cope with seeing his good friend Ward hospitalised in the last few days, but can now also boast an Elite League title next time they see each other. “It is awesome, we didn’t know what was going to happen until tonight, but all the boys dug deep.
“I hope Darcy was watching, because I know how it feels to win the Elite League just like him."
Seb Alden may only have stepped in and ridden five times for the Robins this season, but it didn’t make success taste any less sweet.
“Five meetings isn’t very many, but we have won every meeting I have raced in and that is great.
“We deserve this and the boys all deserve it, they have been amazing all year.”
Stead gave the Robins the perfect start as he charged out of gate one to outmuscle Harris for the win, and after Dawid Lampart and Ludvig Lindgren both took tumbles in the second, Alden stormed away to take the victory as the Robins picked up a 3-2.
With the Robins’ aggregate lead now 10 points, Kildemand superbly stormed up the inside of world champion Chris Holder coming out of turn two and went on to collect the win and preserve their cushion.
Batchelor and Alden did everything they needed to do as they settled for a 3-3 behind Krzyzstof Kasprzak in heat four, before Andersen leapt out the start to beat Holder with Stead tucked in third in the next race.
Lampart took another fall as he tried to ride the non-existent outside line in heat six, and after leading the initial staging of the race Batchelor was beaten in the re-run.
Kildemand once again produced another piece of magic to this time carve up the inside of Kasprzak to win heat seven, and after a slow start Stead stormed past Linus Eklof to win heat eight and increase the Robins lead to 12 points.
Holder won with ease in heat nine as the Pirates picked up a much-needed heat advantage, but Kildemand highlighted his immense talent once again in the very next race, as he and Morris leapt out the gate to beat Harris and stretch the lead to 14 points.
Two good starts from Andersen and Stead lead to a 4-2 in heat 11 as the contest looked all-but over, and Kildemand and Alden finished the job off as they settled in behind Holder to earn a 3-3 from heat 12.
Riders and pit crew stormed onto the track to celebrate the success, and although Poole stormed back to win all three remaining heats, and with it the meeting, the night belonged to the Robins.