Ipswich Witches

The Ipswich Witches are a British speedway club based at Foxhall Stadium near Ipswich, Suffolk. They compete in the British SGB Premiership. Meetings are staged on most Thursdays from March until October, normally commencing at 7.30pm (first race 7.45pm).

Ipswich Witches
Witches Logo.png
Club information
Track addressFoxhall Stadium
Ipswich
CountryEngland
Founded1950
Team managerRitchie Hawkins
Team captainDanny King
LeagueSGB Premiership
Websitewww.ipswichwitches.co
Club facts
ColoursBlue, White and Black
Track size285 metres (312 yd)
Track record time55.4 seconds
Track record date5 September 2019
Track record holderNiels Kristian Iversen
Current team
Rider CMA
Australia Jason Doyle 8.96
Denmark Danny King 7.96
Australia Troy Batchelor 5.67
Germany Erik Riss 5.08
Australia Cameron Heeps 4.96
England Paul Starke 4.58
England Anders Rowe 4.46
Total 41.67
Major team honours
League Champions1975, 1976, 1984, 1998
Knockout Cup winners1976, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1998
British League Pairs Champions1976, 1977
Craven Shield Winners1998
British League Div 2 KO Cup1970, 1971
Spring Gold Cup1976
Inter-League KO Cup1977
Premier League Four-Team Champions2011
Premier League Pairs Champions2015

The Witches are currently promoted by former Ipswich riders Chris Louis and Ritchie Hawkins.

Chris Louis is the son of former rider and promoter John Louis[1]

HistoryEdit

Early historyEdit

Foxhall Stadium was purpose-built for speedway in 1950, and meetings were held there from 1951 to 1965 when the track was resurfaced for stock car racing. Attendances approached 20,000 people and made stars of riders such as Syd Clarke, Junior Bainbridge, Tich Read and Peter Moore. The inaugural league season was the 1952 Speedway Southern League, where the team finished 8th.[2]

After 10 seasons of league speedway the team withdrew from the 1962 Speedway National League mid-season. Their best placing to that date had been a third place finish in 1953.[3] In 1969, John Berry built a new smaller track inside the stock car circuit and re-opened the club with a team which would soon include the promoter John Louis.

1970sEdit

In 1970 and 1971, the Witches won the British League Division Two Knockout Cup, before John Berry applied for membership of the British League in 1972. The Witches went on to become a dominant force in the top flight of British speedway, winning the British League Championship in 1975 and 1976, plus two Knock-Out Cup wins (doing "the double" in 1976).[4][5] The 1975 title saw Ipswich defeat Belle Vue Aces by a solitary point. John Louis and Billy Sanders scored heavily throughout the season for Ipswich. The following year in 1976, Ipswich won their second consecutive title. The Witches team was once again headed by John Louis and Billy Sanders but this time Tony Davey also scored well with an average of 8.37, resulting in a comfortable league title success for the Suffolk team. The team then went on to claim the double on 28 October by winning the Knockout Cup.

1980sEdit

The team won the double again in 1984 in addition to the 1981 Knockout Cup. During the 1984 double the team had a great season despite losing their leading rider Dennis Sigalos. Australian Sanders remained one of the teams main scorers and he was supported by strong season scoring from American showman John Cook, Finn Kai Niemi and the English international pair of Jeremy Doncaster and Richard Knight.[6] Just three matches into the 1985 season Sanders committed suicide on 23 April. The news shocked the club and the wider speedway world at the time.[7]

1990sEdit

Following the death of Ipswich rider Billy Sanders in 1985 and Berry's subsequent decision to quit, the club struggled and almost closed before being saved by a consortium which included former rider John Louis. The new Witches began competing in the National League (second tier) in 1989 and 1990, before joining the amalgamated British League and then, after a further restructuring of speedway in Britain, the Elite League.

In 1998, Ipswich won the Elite League Championship, the Knock-Out Cup and the end of season Craven Shield tournament.[8] In addition, Ipswich riders won the World Championship (Tony Rickardsson), the British Speedway Championship (Chris Louis) and the British Under-21 Championship (Scott Nicholls). The team also included the Polish star Tomasz Gollob, who finished third in the World Championship.[9]

2010sEdit

In November 2010, the Witches moved down to the Premier League (second tier).[10] In 2011, the Witches finished in third place in the final Premier League table and won the Premier League Four-Team Championship staged at Leicester. During the winter of 2011/12, Director of Speedway Chris Louis brought in Australians Rohan Tungate and Cameron Heeps. In the first meeting of the 2012 season—a challenge match with Rye House at Foxhall—both Taylor Poole (broken left arm) and Morten Risager (damaged lower vertebrae) were ruled out, and Ipswich asset Leigh Lanham re-joined the club as a replacement for Risager. Ipswich reached the League Cup and Knockout Cup finals, finishing runner-up in both competitions.

For 2013, a new number one rider, Ben Barker, was signed.[11] An early exit from the Knockout Cup against Workington Comets was tempered by qualification for the League Cup final after an aggregate victory against the Edinburgh Monarchs. However, after defeating Newcastle in the first leg of the League Cup final at Foxhall, the season ended with five consecutive defeats; a 27–65 loss at Newcastle surrendered the League Cup. Ipswich were runners-up to the Somerset Rebels, but they failed to defeat Scunthorpe Scorpions or Edinburgh Monarchs in the play-off mini-group.

In 2014, Richie Worrall joined as the new number one, and American Gino Manzares was signed as the other new rider.[12] The Witches finished third in the Premier League and reached the Knockout Cup final. The play-off mini group with Scunthorpe and Somerset ended with two home wins, but no points from away fixtures and the Knockout Cup final was another runners-up medal, as the Witches were dominated both home and away by the Edinburgh Monarchs.

The Witches finished seventh in the Premier League in 2015,[13] fifth in 2016,[14] second in 2017,[15] and seventh in 2018.[16] Shortly before 2019, Ipswich decided to move to the first division, the SGB Premiership.[17][18]

2020sEdit

Unfortunately, the 2020 season was cancelled in July 2020 as a result of the restrictions placed on sporting events by COVID-19 rules set by the UK Government.[19] In 2021, the Witches finished 5th in the SGB Premiership.[20]

Current SquadsEdit

Ipswich Witches[21]Edit

Ipswich PJLEdit

TBA

Season summaryEdit

Extended content
Year and league Position Notes
1952 Speedway Southern League 8th
1953 Speedway Southern League 3rd
1954 Speedway National League Division Two 5th
1955 Speedway National League Division Two 6th
1956 Speedway National League Division Two 4th
1957 Speedway National League 10th
1958 Speedway National League 10th
1959 Southern Area League 5th
1960 Speedway National League 4th
1961 Speedway National League 6th
1962 Speedway National League N/A resigned, results expunged
1969 British League Division Two season 11th
1970 British League Division Two season 6th Knockout Cup div 2 winners
1971 British League Division Two season 3rd Knockout Cup div 2 winners
1972 British League season 6th
1973 British League season 5th
1974 British League season 3rd
1975 British League season 1st Champions
1976 British League season 1st Champions & Knockout Cup winners
1977 British League season 4th
1978 British League season 6th Knockout Cup winners
1979 British League season 15th
1980 British League season 6th
1981 British League season 2nd Knockout Cup winners
1982 British League season 3rd
1983 British League season 2nd
1984 British League season 1st Champions & Knockout Cup winners
1985 British League season 5th
1986 British League season 9th
1987 British League season 6th
1988 British League season 10th
1989 National League season 4th
1990 National League season 3rd
1991 British League season 6th
1992 British League season 7th
1993 British League season 8th
1994 British League season 6th
1995 Premier League speedway season 6th
1996 Premier League speedway season 8th
1997 Elite League speedway season 4th
1998 Elite League speedway season 1st Champions & Knockout Cup winners
1999 Elite League speedway season 5th
2000 Elite League speedway season 3rd
2001 Elite League speedway season 4th
2002 Elite League speedway season 7th
2003 Elite League speedway season 8th
2004 Elite League speedway season 3rd PO semi final
2005 Elite League speedway season 6th
2006 Elite League speedway season 8th
2007 Elite League speedway season 9th
2008 Elite League speedway season 4th PO semi final
2009 Elite League speedway season 6th
2010 Elite League speedway season 9th
2011 Premier League speedway season 3rd
2012 Premier League speedway season 7th
2013 Premier League speedway season 11th
2014 Premier League speedway season 3rd
2015 Premier League speedway season 7th
2016 Premier League speedway season 5th PO semi finals
SGB Championship 2017 2nd PO final
SGB Championship 2018 7th
SGB Premiership 2019 4th PO final
SGB Premiership 2021 5th

Notable ridersEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ John Louis | A Celebration of 43.45 years in Speedway Archived 5 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Rogers, Martin (1978). The Illustrated History of Speedway. Studio Publications (Ipswich) Ltd. p. 129. ISBN 0-904584-45-3.
  3. ^ "BRITISH LEAGUE TABLES - POST-WAR ERA (1946-1964)". Official British Speedway website. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Year by Year". Speedway Researcher. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  5. ^ "British League Tables - British League Era (1965-1990)". Official British Speedway website. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  6. ^ "1984 league tables". Speedway GB.
  7. ^ "NOT FORGOTTEN – BILLY SANDERS". AMCN. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  8. ^ "Honours". Ipswich Witches Speedway. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  9. ^ Ipswich Speedway | About Us[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "British Speedway AGM - Key Points". BSPA. 21 November 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  11. ^ "BARKER JOINS WITCHES - British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  12. ^ "WITCHES GO FOR GINO - British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  13. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  14. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  15. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  16. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  17. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". speedwaygb.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  18. ^ "WITCHES MOVING UP - British Speedway Official Website". speedwaygb.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  19. ^ "BRITISH SPEEDWAY AGM STATEMENT". Official British Speedway website. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  20. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  21. ^ https://ipswichwitches.co/team/
  22. ^ "Rex Garrod: Funeral held for Brum and Robot Wars star". BBC News. 8 May 2019. Retrieved 8 October 2020.

BibliographyEdit

  • Dave Feakes & Colin Barber (2002). Ipswich Speedway the first 50 years.

External linksEdit