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SWINDON ROBINS: GRAND FINAL PREVIEW: Ashby hopes long wait is over
SWINDON legend Martin Ashby would love nothing more than to see the club’s current crop of riders match his side’s achievement and end the Robins’ long wait for a national title.
Ashby lined up alongside the likes of Mike Broadbank, Barry Briggs and Bob Kilby to form the famous 1967 Swindon team which swept all before them to win the British League title, but the 45 years which have followed the Blunsdon club have been starved of success.
That could all change this week as the Robins take on Poole over two-legs for the Elite League title, and although Ashby would be sad to see his proud record disappear, he will be cheering on the modern side to success.
“There would be some disappointment because it has been a proud record we have held as the last league winners for Swindon, and on the one hand if they go and win it this year it will take something away from what we did,” he said.
“But then again when I think about it a bit more I don’t think it will all that much, and I would love to see Swindon win it because the supporters would love it.
“They are the people that pay and go to watch, and they are the people that enjoy the racing so it would be great for them after waiting for so long.
“When Leigh Adams was there a few years ago they looked like they could win it then they just fell apart when it came to the play-offs, and I am a bit surprised they haven’t won it since we did it.”
The Marlborough resident’s memories of the night his side won the league at King’s Lynn in October 1967 are slowly fading, but what Ashby does remember was his disappointment at not being able to celebrate the success with the Robins fans.
“We had a great team and we won all of our home matches that year, and we always reckoned that if you wanted to win the league you could never lose at home and you had to win as many away as you can,” he said.
“We went to King’s Lynn earlier in the season and lost, but the Speedway Control Board ordered the meeting to be re-run because they had used a rider they shouldn’t have.
“That gave us another chance and we took it on a cold and wet night at King’s Lynn.
“I don’t remember much about the meeting, but unfortunately we didn’t have a home meeting after that so we couldn’t go back to Swindon and parade in front of everybody.
“We had the dinner and dance and we had a civic reception, but it was a shame not to have been able celebrate with the fans.”
Fast-forward to the present day, and Ashby is still a regular on the Blunsdon terraces, and believes the current crop of Robins have what it takes to bring the title to the Abbey Stadium.
“People have off nights but they have Holder, Ward and the Pole Kasprzak, and they are all good riders but they can all have off nights.
“It is not going to be easy because Poole are a very strong side, and it all depends on the night, the weather and the track.
“It would be very nice if they could win it, but I wouldn’t want to be either way. Poole seem very conscious of how good Swindon are by the way they talk, which means they are worried which is good thing for Swindon.”