Swindon Robins crowned Elite League champions after beating Poole Pirates
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 24/10/12 12:32pm
Swindon Robins claimed their first top flight title since 1967 as they won the Elite League Grand Final with a second leg victory over Poole Pirates at Wimborne Road.
The Robins took a seven-point advantage from their home leg into the decisive fixture, which had been delayed twice due to the weather but finally got underway despite the misty and drizzly conditions in Poole.
After finishing last in the Elite League table 12 months ago, Swindon completed a remarkable turnaround as they won 95-89 overall despite eventually losing the second leg 45-44, but only after the title had already been decided.
A seven-point lead became nine after the very first heat on the night when Simon Stead led home a Swindon 4-2, and when the Robins won the second in which only two riders finished that lead had increased to ten points and Poole were already up against it.
Guest rider Chris Harris and captain Chris Holder won heats for Poole as they desperately tried to hang on in there, but each time Swindon responded to keep the lead at ten and 12 points with Simon Stead and Hans Andersen winning twice each.
Peter Kildemand was on fire though and he provided the pivotal moment of the night as he led home Nick Morris for a 5-1 Swindon win in heat ten to put them 14 points in front and on the brink of victory.
The confirmation came in heat 12 as a 3-3 meant that Swindon had gone from last to first by ending their 45-year wait for success and were crowned Elite League champions.
Kildemand finished with three wins on the night for Swindon, but Poole did come back in the final heat to take it 5-1 and claim a one-point win on the night to salvage some pride at home.
It was an emotional win for Swindon team manager Alun Rossiter, who had won with Coventry on the same track, but this time had steered his beloved hometown club to victory after such a long wait for a title.
"We've done it, we've buried the ghost, 1967, I was proud of those boys but I'm prouder of these boys now, Swindon we've finally done it!" Rossiter told Sky Sports.
"Coventry was ever so special in the manner we won it, but for my hometown team and my home supporters I'm just overwhelmed at the moment it's fantastic. It's been a great year and I think over the year we've been the best team."
Opposite number Neil Middleditch had seen his Poole team struggle with injuries, including the loss of number one rider Darcy Ward after he was attacked outside a pub over the weekend.
"The best team won, they've been a consistent team all season so congratulations to Swindon, 45 years is a long time since their last title and over the season they were the best team," Middleditch admitted.
"We've had a bit of bad luck, with injuries and with Darcy missing, but that's speedway, it's a dangerous sport and they could have easily had our problems but congratulations to them they deserved it tonight."
Swindon captain Hans Andersen lifted the Elite League trophy and credited the team spirit within the Robins camp for lifting them from zeroes to heroes in just 12 months.
"It's so nice to win this with Swindon who've had their tough patches especially last year," said Andersen.
"As you can see the team spirit is amazing and we may not be the best team on paper but team spirit and togetherness means a lot on the track."