IN the early hours of Tuesday morning in a quiet corner of Australia, legendry Swindon Robins captain Leigh Adams was watching on as his former club made history on the other side of the world.
After leading the Robins to near misses in both 2007 and 2009, the popular Australian was sat at is Mildura home at 7am knowing exactly how much everyone connected with the club wanted league glory after a 45-year wait, and when it was finally sealed at the end of heat 12, he was feeling as jubilant as everyone trackside at Poole.
His pessimistic view of the English weather may have led to him only joining the meeting for the closing stages, but Adams was quick to contact his long-time team manager Alun Rossiter, who in turn publicly acknowledged his former captain’s contribution to the club’s recent history as the celebrations began.
But the 41-year-old himself believes his former boss should be taking the bulk of the credit.
“The meeting had been rained off that much that I didn’t bother getting up for the start of it this time, but when I did wake up it was down to heat 11 which was good because we were getting to the crunch,” he said.
“I watched heats 11 and 12 and then Swindon won, but I recorded it all and watched it back and it was great for Swindon speedway and for the town as well.
“It was a fantastic night for everybody, because it is a great place with great people, and I have a lot of fond memories there.
“There are some great people involved in the club, and it’s great for them to have won it.
“It was nice to give the supporters something to cheer about after so many years, and it is brilliant for Rosco too because he really deserves it.
“He should take the full credit for this one because he put together a brilliant team, and it was a seven rider team who all scored points during the season.
“Rosco is passionate and loves his speedway, and he loves Swindon speedway even more.
“The move away was probably a good thing for him and the club because he was getting a bit bogged down by it all, but he has come back fresh and ready to go and brought a lot of riders in from Coventry last year which was great.”
One of those riders was Dane Peter Kildemand, and Adams believes the youngster, who he had little knowledge of before this season, played a vital role in the Robins’ success.
“Kildemand has probably been the trump card for them all season, but I hadn’t really heard of him because he wasn’t really on the scene when I left Europe,” he said.
“But he has done a great job for Swindon, and helped them a lot.
“He scored points day in day out and entertained too, and that is what you are after really.”
But for twice falling at the final hurdle it could have been Adams’ side which ended the long wait for top-flight glory, and the losses still sit badly with him to this day.
“It was disappointing to get to within a breath of winning it for it only to slip away, and you are all under immense pressure when you get to a final,” he said. “Look at Chris Holder, he has just won the world championship and is then having to come back and perform as well again a little time later, having done 80 or 90 meetings.
“It was gut wrenching for us because nobody likes losing, and we are all in the sport for winning.
“Those defeats were hard to take, but I am just pleased everybody at the club has had some success now.”
LEIGH Adams does his best to keep up with the European speedway scene from his Australian base.
The former Swindon captain still has plenty of friends in the sport despite leaving the scene at the end of 2010.
“We get all the British speedway over here on Sky, and all the Grand Prix meetings as well which is pretty cool,” he said.
“It is all on at an awful time in the morning so most of the time I just record it and then sit back and watch it, and I enjoy keeping up on it all.
“It has been an entertaining season all over.
“I keep in touch with a few of the boys over in Europe like mechanics and things like that, and I speak to Rosco a little bit.
“And I just feel really happy for the town and everyone involved because it has been so long.”
The former world number two is still adjusting to life in a wheelchair after suffering spinal injuries while practicing for the Finkle Desert Race in June last year, and has recently undergone an operation which has sent him back a stage in his rehabilitation.
But Adams is keen to look at the positives and continues to work hard to regain the use of his legs, despite admitting he is unsure if he ever will.
“I had an operation recently, about five weeks ago, to take some metal work out of my back, and to be honest it has taken me backwards a little bit,”
“I always knew it would, but not quite as much as what it has done.
“I was in a fair bit of pain for a little while after it, but we are getting there.
“I think I might need another trip back to America for a rehab session there, but we are getting along okay with the day to day stuff.
“Walking is another ball game though.
“They work on the first two years as being the most important and where you make the most gains, and at this stage I have gained a lot more than you ever think you are going to gain because you are lying in hospital worrying.
“I have got my left leg working okay, but my right one really isn’t which is obviously disappointing.
“It is all pot-luck now and we will have to see, but I am working at it all the time with personal trainers but it really is pot-luck.
“I am still living my life in a wheelchair which is obviously not ideal at all, but you have to look at the positives and be happy with what you have.”