Pan­thers lose one Aussie leg­end but gain an­other star from Down Un­der

WHAT THE BUT­LER SAW . . .

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Classifieds -

DICK But­ler has ar­rived at 1996 in his jour­ney back in time. It was the sec­ond - and last - sea­son in which all teams com­peted in one big Premier League, but it was an­other de­cent cam­paign for Pan­thers who had to get used to be­ing the brides­maids. AUSSIE IN, AUSSIE OUT Pan­thers lost club leg­end Mick Poole to re­tire­ment, but an­other ma­jor star from Down Un­der was drafted in as his re­place­ment.

Ja­son Crump, who took his first steps in the sport with the city club, re­turned from Poole and formed a po­tent spear­head with fel­low Aussie Ryan Sul­li­van and the pop­u­lar Sam Te­sar.

An­other Czech, the fire­brand Mario Jirout, and Alun Ros­siter held down the sec­ond string roles while Bri­tish tal­ents Scott Swain and Tommy Palmer got the nod at re­serve. SNOW JOKE Pan­thers’ highly-rated team quickly is­sued a state­ment of in­tent with a 50-46 vic­tory at Read­ing.

They would have been hot favourites to com­plete the dou­ble, but the Al­wal­ton re­turn was aban­doned af­ter only one race due to heavy snow­fall. It is the only known ex­am­ple of the white stuff stop­ping play at the Show­ground. ALUN AXED A diet of con­vinc­ing home wins and nar­row away de­feats kept Pan­thers in the thick of things at the top of the ta­ble, but the form of Ros­siter nose­dived so badly that he was axed. Dan­ish rider An­ders Nielsen was his re­place­ment. POOLE POPS IN Pan­thers re­ceived some re­lief from the rigours of a de­mand­ing sea­son when Mick Poole staged his Farewell at the Show­ground in early June.

He showed he had lost none of his old magic de­spite hang­ing up his leathers with two vic­to­ries and nine points while rid­ing for the vic­to­ri­ous Peter­bor­ough Past & Present side that de­feated an In­ter­na­tional Se­lect 51-45. FOURS FI­NAL Pan­thers were un­able to de­liver a home suc­cess in the Premier League Fours at Al­wal­ton.

The ab­sence of Sul­li­van due to a World Un­der 21 qual­i­fier hardly helped but the city lads still pow­ered into the fi­nal.

But the exit of Te­sar with an in­jury af­ter just two rides in the show­piece took the sting out of their chal­lenge and they had to set­tle for sec­ond be­hind Ox­ford. Score: Ox­ford 23, Pan­thers 17, Hull 16, Ip­swich 16. IT’S A KNOCK­OUT! Pan­thers also made progress in the KO Cup, reach­ing the semi-fi­nals with a two-point ag­gre­gate vic­tory over the London Lions.

Once there they de­mol­ished Ex­eter 61-35 in the first leg be­fore a draw in the re­turn sealed a smooth pas­sage into the fi­nal against Wolver­hamp­ton.

Both of those re­sults were quickly fol­lowed by im­pres­sive league re­sults in the shape of wins at Brad­ford and Poole - the for­mer achieved de­spite be­ing with­out Nielsen and Jirout due to in­jury. NO FI­NAL FLOUR­ISH Pan­thers’ prospects of lift­ing the KO Cup ap­peared to im­prove when Wolves an­nounced they would have to stage their home leg at Long Ea­ton due to rede­vel­op­ment work at Mon­more Green.

But things didn’t go to plan for Pan­thers as they slumped to a 5838 loss leav­ing them with a moun­tain to climb back at Al­wal­ton.

They made a good fist of claw­ing their way back into con­tention but a Wolves 4-2 in heat 14 sealed their over­all win. It ended 100-92 on ag­gre­gate. SO CLOSE FROM CRUMP The Aussie star won all four of his qual­i­fy­ing heats and also took the flag in the semi-fi­nal, but he was de­nied Premier League Rid­ers’ Cham­pi­onship glory by Sam Er­molenko. AW­FUL END A ter­rific sea­son ended on a low note when An­ders Nielsen suf­fered a bro­ken leg in a heat eight crash dur­ing the fi­nal league clash of the sea­son. The fix­ture against Coven­try was aban­doned af­ter the ac­ci­dent.

It didn’t af­fect Pan­thers’ sec­ond­place fin­ish in the fi­nal stand­ings. ANY­THING BUT AV­ER­AGE Crump was the undis­puted star turn and ended the cam­paign with a su­per 10.20 av­er­age. He slammed in an in­cred­i­ble 10 full or paid max­i­mums. Sul­li­van (9.01) and Te­sar (8.94) were oth­ers to im­press.

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