Flyin’ Ryan was rider of the year
What the Butler saw ...
PANTHERS historian DICK BUTLER has reached 1995 in his look back through the club’s history. It was the first year of the British Premier League but the last year of the career of a popular Aussie ace.
There were massive changes to the leagues with a complete amalgamation of the old first and second divisions into one new British Premier League.
Panthers, having come from the Second Division, attempted to sign an outand-out number one to lead them into the new season. David Norris was the target but all attempts to sign him or another noted number one failed and they were forced to run with a side made up entirely of Division Two riders.
Having said that it wasn’t too bad as the main backbone from 1994 remained. Ryan Sullivan, Sam Tesar, Ronni Pedersen and Hans Clausen were joined by young Czech rider Mario Jirout, and ‘Mr Peterborough’ Mick Poole, who returned for what would be his final year.
Jirout’s attempts to ride hit a snag from the off when he injured himself falling off a pushbike! Panthers used rider replacement in the first match against Long Eaton and racked up an impressive 62-34 win.
The first away match at King’s Lynn on April 1 saw Panthers make fools out of the hosts as they become the first ‘Division Two’ team to beat a ‘Division One’ team away in the new league. Panthers won 51-45 with Poole, Sullivan and Tesar all recording double-figure returns.
FOUR OUT OF FOUR
Panthers won away again at Long Eaton (52-44) and then beat Reading at home to make it four wins out of four.
The first loss came at Cradley where the Panthers went down by 56-40 but two more comfortable home wins over Eastbourne and Hull put them into the first round of the cup against Ipswich.
Panthers beat Ipswich by one point on aggregate in the first round of the cup but were forced to re-run the match after the Witches appealed about being refused a reserve replacement in one of the later heats.
Panthers won at home (59-45) but it wasn’t enough to go through as the Witches took full advantage of the second chance to win on aggregate 110-103.
SULLIVAN WINS TITLE
Sullivan caused a surprise in June by winning the Overseas Final, beating fellow Australian Leigh Adams in a run-off for the title after both finished on 14 points.
PANTHERS GO CLOSE
Panthers went so close to winning the Four Team Tournament. In the final they supplied the winner in three of the first five heats but problems for Pedersen in mid-meeting meant they went into the final heat level on 18 points with Cradley. And Poole was unfortunately headed home by Cradley’s Billy Hamill and Panthers finished second on the day.
Panthers finished a credible fourth in the final league table.
The biggest win of the season was the 63-33 home victory over Exeter. Away it was Exeter again (55-40) although the win at King’s Lynn in April remained the highlight of the year for Panthers followers.
Panthers were unbeaten at the Showground.
The Rider of the Year was undoubtedly Sullivan, who finished with an average just under nine points (8.86). Tesar (8.38) and Poole (8.15) both gave valuable support.