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 Crump 8.21
Denmark Nicolai Klindt 7.43
England Danny King 6.66
Australia Cameron Heeps 6.30
Australia Jake Allen 5.56
Italy Nico Covatti 5.27
England Drew Kemp 3.00
Total 42.43
Major team honours
British League Champions1975, 1976, 1984
Elite League Champions1998
British League Pairs Champions1976, 1977
Craven Shield Winners1998
British League KO Cup1976, 1978, 1981, 1984
Elite League KO Cup1998
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 rider John Louis, the father of former rider and Sky Sports presenter Chris 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.

1970s-2000sEdit

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. 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, 1976 and 1984, plus four Knock-Out Cup wins (doing "the double" in 1976 and 1984).

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.[2] 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.[3]

2010sEdit

In November 2010, the Witches moved down to the Premier League (second tier).[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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 came seventh in the Premier League in 2015,[7] fifth in 2016,[8] second in 2017,[9] and seventh in 2018.[10] Shortly before 2019, Ipswich decided to move to the first division, the SGB Premiership.[11][12] They remained in the league in preparation for 2020.[13]

Notable ridersEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ John Louis | A Celebration of 43.45 years in Speedway Archived 5 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Honours". Ipswich Witches Speedway. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  3. ^ Ipswich Speedway | About Us[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "British Speedway AGM - Key Points". BSPA. 21 November 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  5. ^ "BARKER JOINS WITCHES - British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  6. ^ "WITCHES GO FOR GINO - British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  7. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  8. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  9. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  10. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". www.britishspeedway.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  11. ^ "British Speedway Official Website". speedwaygb.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  12. ^ "WITCHES MOVING UP - British Speedway Official Website". speedwaygb.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  13. ^ "BRITISH SPEEDWAY AGM STATEMENT - British Speedway Official Website". speedwaygb.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2019.

BibliographyEdit

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

External linksEdit