Kent SLYDE Kings supporters receive the perfect New Year Message from the club today (1/1/2018) with the four-some news that the core of last year’s successful side which qualified in equal first place for the National League [NL] play offs are confirmed as being back in the side’s septet for 2018. There was never any question that skipper Luke Bowen wouldn’t be back for a third campaign, bringing his inspirational leadership to the Central Park Stadium-based Speedway club and the club announced at the end of last term that 15 year old Anders Rowe was pencilled in to continue his dramatic progress as one of the country’s top young racers. The plan was always to keep as many as possible of last term’s side together and although the 39 points limit did cause many a headache across the NL clubs (which many having assumed there might be an increase in this arbitrary points maximum imposed on team building plans), the Kings’ management have been able also to retain Jack Thomas (who like his skipper is back for a third term in the Invicta race jacket) and also the Welsh Wizard, Nathan Stoneman.
The former GB Youth Champion Stoneman made a big impression with his exciting racing style in Kent colours last term before a serious crash suffered while racing for Premiership club Sheffield (having forced his way into the sport’s second tier for the first time on the back of scintillating form with the Kings) at Ipswich ended his season prematurely in late July. Now based in Oxford, the 21 year old Stoneman is currently undergoing intensive training and dietary regime to get back to full fitness after suffering a spiral fracture of his tibia, ligament damage in the ankle and a badly twisted knee. Such as been Stoneman’s dedication over the autumn and winter in his rehabilitation that he is virtually there and his various injuries now presents no problems and does not interfere with his general work-outs in the gym or on road. Team boss Chris Hunt is delighted to have all four back in 2018, “We had tremendous team spirit last year even though we suffered some serious blows like losing Nathan relatively soon after the injury lay off suffered by Luke Bowen too. That team spirit saw us to some brilliant performances including a club record run of home wins ending undefeated in the NL at Central Park all campaign and some notable wins on the road too. You can’t buy that togetherness and experience, so to have Luke, Jack, Nathan & Anders all staying in the team is great news.” There’s a very youthful look to the side too with Thomas and Rowe both still in their teens being joined by the two new signings announced before Christmas, the teenaged pairing of Taylor Hampshire and newcomer to the sport, Jacob Clouting. Hunt is optimistic for his youthful charges prospects,
“There won’t be many, if any other clubs in British Speedway with four teenagers and it’s really promising for our future that we’re giving youth a real chance. Under the on track and in the pits leadership of Luke Bowen these lads couldn’t have a better role model to follow. Looking at our side and comparing with the others being announced across the NL, I have to say I feel very positive about our chances. Having got to the Play Offs in 2016 & 2017 but then coming up just a bit short, I believe that experience will hold us in good stead as we aim to go that stage further and aim for the silverware our efforts and our brilliant supporters deserve.” The seventh slot will be the next thing to occupy Hunt’s attention and he will be scouting around the various training tracks over the next two months looking out for the final piece in the 2018 Kings’ jigsaw.