Martin Neale – Middlesbrough
RETIRED former Redcar Bears skipper Gary Havelock has been appointed manager of Elite League big guns Coventry Bees.
And the Eaglescliffe-born former world champion hopes to go on and manage the Great Britain international team.
Former Test, World Cup and Grand Prix star Havvy, 44, announced last week the injuries he sustained in a horror crash nearly a year ago would prevent him from riding again.
He still has no use in much of his left arm as he recovers from nerve damage, but he’s wasted no time in starting the next chapter of his speedway career.
Havelock has wealth of experience in the sport to bring to his new job, having ridden professionally since he was 16.
The Bees begin their season with the Brandonapolis individual meeting on Friday, March 15 before visiting Leicester in a challenge the following night.
That puts him up against opposite number Glyn Taylor who famously sacked him while Bears promoter in 2008, though the Redcar skipper remained in the side after taking a pay cut, topped up with donations from fans.
“I was contacted by Mick Horton, the club owner, who was in charge for Peterborough when I rode there so I know him pretty well,” explained Havelock.
“He asked what I was up to now that I wasn’t riding, and did I want to be team manager.
“It wasn’t really something I had thought of, to be perfectly honest.
“But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a good idea.”
Havelock replaces Blayne Scroggins, who will assist him.
And he has the task of reviving the Bees fortunes after they finished a disappointing eighth in the 10-team league last year.
“At the end of the day it’s not my team, it’s the owner’s,” said Havelock, who was a key figure in the South Tees Motorsports Park pits alongside Bears manager Jitendra Duffill last year once he had recovered sufficiently from his injuries.
“But it’s my job to get the best out of them on race day and I believe I can do that.
“It’s a good looking team and obviously I want to win the league.
“I’d like to think I can bring my experience to the team and help them achieve that.
“I’ve never done it before, but I think I can bring my personal style to the job.
“I’ve never been one to scream and shout and I know it’s important to assess each situation before you deal with it won’t be the same as the last one.”
Havvy will find some familiar faces in the Coventry team.
His former Great Britain team-mate Scott Nicholls is the skipper while the doubling up riders are current Bears skipper Aaron Summers and former Redcar favourite Adam Roynon, both of whom he rode with at South Tees Motorsports Park.
There are also four Poles in the septet and he quipped: “My Polish isn’t exactly fluent, so I hope we don’t have any language issues!”
On a personal level, Havelock hopes he can do enough in the Coventry hot seat to put him in the frame to manage the national side.
“I have hopes of being Team Great Britain manager,” he revealed. “That would complete the full set. I’ve ridden Great Britain and captained the team, so I’d love to manage the team as well.
“Hopefully I can make my mark with Coventry and go on to achieve that aim.”
David Roe – Coventry
COVENTRY Speedway are delighted to announce the appointment of 1992 World Champion GARY HAVELOCK as manager of their Elite League team.
Havelock joins the Buildbase Bees having recently announced his retirement from racing due to arm injuries suffered in a crash at Redcar last March.
The 44-year-old enjoyed a hugely successful career in the sport, dating back to his early days at Middlesbrough in 1985, and he captained Bradford to the Elite League title in 1997.
After the closure of the Odsal club, he had spells with Eastbourne, Poole, Peterborough and Arena-Essex (Lakeside) before switching to the Premier League with Redcar in 2006.
Individually, he first served notice of his potential by becoming British Under-21 Champion in 1986, and he then added back-to-back senior British titles at Coventry in 1991 and 1992.
The latter season turned out to be a triumphant one as he secured victory in the Overseas Final, also at Brandon, and then became World Champion on a dramatic night in Wroclaw, Poland.
Havelock went on to compete in seven Grand Prix meetings on the inception of the series in 1995, and rode in eight World Cup events for Great Britain.
Coventry will be his first job in team management but he is already familiar with several of the Bees riders, having raced in the same Redcar team as Aaron Summers and Adam Roynon in 2011, and also having worked with skipper Scott Nicholls in the Grand Prix.
Havelock said: “It all came out of the blue really, Mick (Horton) enquired about how I was and when I told him I wasn’t riding he asked if I fancied being a team manager.
“Obviously I worked with Mick before when I rode for him at Peterborough and he was promoter, and we always got on fine, so after thinking about it for a bit I decided to go for it.
“Mick has picked the riders, and my job is to work with those riders and get the most out of them on race-nights. I’ve got a heads-up on three of them already, and I know Krzysztof Kasprzak as well. I don’t know the other three guys at all, but that shouldn’t be a problem.
“We need to get a good team spirit going, and I think that’s one of the main things. The guys need to be talking to get their set-ups right, and we also need to sit down with the boys and decide how they want the track.
“I’ve always felt that to be successful you’ve got to make your home track a fortress, and try to make it a place that other teams dread coming to.”
Bees owner Horton is delighted to bring Havelock into the club and says he has much to offer in his new position.
He said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits to bring in such a big name in the sport. He’s been there, he’s done it, he’s full of experience and riders and promoters alike have full respect for him.
“Someone with that sort of experience and personality must never be lost to the sport, and it’s brilliant that we’ve agreed a deal to bring him in as our team manager.
“Gary is a bubbly character and he will bring a great team spirit and also a riders’ mentality. We now get the benefit of his experience on a rider-to-rider level and it’s great news for the club.”
Havelock will be assisted by last year’s boss Blayne Scroggins, who will provide administrative support both on race-nights and during the week as well as being in charge of Coventry Storm in the National League, whilst the Buildbase Bees are also pleased to retain the services of mechanical expert Chris Anderson as technical director.