Berwick Bandits rider suffers serious injuries in match against Glasgow Tigers
Little went to plan for the Bandits on Friday.
Architect of their downfall once again was the man who sported the Bandits’ number one last season, Chris Harris completing what, even by his standards, was a remarkable maximum, he could even afford to give the visitors a 15-metre start in one race and was so far ahead in another that he was able to freewheel over the line.
Berwick’s shell-shocked fans had to wait until heat 11 to see one of their men take the chequered flag, at the third time of asking Rory Schlein’s machinery went the distance, the Australian leading Tom Brennan all the way home.
Benjamin Basso was also paid for a maximum, overcoming a clash with Jye Etheridge which relegated him, briefly, to the rear of heat three before recovering to follow Claus Vissing home.
Hans Andersen at least halted the run of home 5-1s in heat four, but it was brief respite as Schlein’s second engine failure meant another Vissing/Basso maximum.
Harris added another layer to his folklore status when his bike packed up at the tapes in heat 10 and he was excluded for exceeding the two-minute allowance. Aboard a machine loaned from skipper Brennan he then started 15-metres back, passed Etheridge and team-mate Lee Complin on the second lap and caught leader Leon Flint on the first bend of the fourth lap for a quite astonishing win which had both sets of fans in rapture.
After the abject surrender at Ashfield the previous night the Bandits at least went down fighting on Saturday.
Home skipper Leon Flint countered the threat of Basso, Brennan and Marcin Nowak – all with double figure returns – with a series of fence-scraping second bend swoops. His determination and bravery rewarded by four race wins and a 13-point haul.
Before his accident, Coles was one of a trio of home riders – along with Schlein and Etheridge – whose efforts on the night were not rewarded in the points-scored columns.
The popular rider was the innocent victim of a tough first bend involving Etheridge and Ace Pijper in heat 12, launched into the fence in a domino effect.
After a long delay while he was treated by track paramedics Coles, one of the brightest spots in a dismal season for the Bandits, was taken to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital with a double break of his collarbone and a broken humerus. He was released from hospital on Sunday.
Team manager Kevin Little said: “Obviously our thoughts are with Connor who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“He really was worth much more than his final points’ tally and I would say that there were two or three other Bandits in the same category.
“Glasgow are an excellent side and one where virtually every rider enjoys racing at Shielfield. After the disaster of Ashfield it was a much more committed performance from the Bandits and one where the final points tally doesn’t really tell the true story.”