Berwick’s New Holland-sponsored speedway Bandits have added Czech Republic international Matej Kus to their 2014 roster, the 24-year-old arriving with a match average of 6.19 points.
Matej is a year-around professional speedway rider, having spent the past three winters overseas, racing in Argentina in 2011 and 2012, and having just returned from a short series in Perth, Australia.
When not turning out for the Bandits, Matej intends to extend his full-time racing by representing a club in the Polish leagues.
Promoter Dennis McCleary confirmed the club are aware his racing (for Redcar) last summer was curtailed by injuries (he suffered leg and rib injuries riding for the Czech national team in a Test match against Poland at Prague's Marketa Stadium on June 13) but McCleary is confident the excellent form in Australia (Matej headed home a stack of international stars during his short season at Pinjar Park, WA) is a clear indication of a return to full fitness and fine form.
“He’s has represented the Czech Republic at Under-21 level and was named as meeting reserve for the 2007 Czech Republic Grand Prix,” said McCleary.
“He became a full Czech international rider when he was selected for the 2008 Speedway World Cup.”
Matej has already forged connections with Bandits’ people. He travelled to Argentina with Dick Barrie (the club’s long-time infield presenter) in 2011 and this summer will base himself at the home of club photographer Colin Poole.
Berwick is a club with a long and happy relationship with riders from the Czech Republic, and actually came close to adding Matej to the list as long ago as 2007 when he came over shortly after turning 18 to ride as a trialist in the club's 40th Anniversary Bonanza event.
Later the same year, he returned to race as a Bandit in just two matches before suffering concussion in a crash at Glasgow -- the accident which put him on the front page of just about every newspaper in Britain!
Dennis McCleary remembers: “A really nasty crash left him unconscious for 45 minutes. When he awoke he was suffering from amnesia and speaking in perfect, non-accented English, which was as sudden as it was unexplained -- a paranormal phenomenon known as xenoglossy.
“As Matej had at the time just begun to study the English language, our promotion and his fellow-Bandits were shocked to hear him speaking it perfectly!
“However the effect did not last long and Matej had no recollection of the incident after two days. His great quote was that although he was hoping to learn to speak English to help him travel around, he would prefer not having to get another bang on his head to become fluent!”
Unfortunately, the Ashfield accident ended Kus’ season as a Bandit before he could achieve the requisite number of matches to become a club asset, with Berwick's loss becoming Redcar's gain when he linked with the Bears in 2011.
The hard-working Bandits Supporters Club are holding their annual Hall of Fame dinner-dance -- a real posh-frock affair, with a three course meal -- on Saturday, January 11th in the Black & Gold, situated in the car-park area behind the main Shielfield stand..
The affair is virtually a sell-out, but if any interested parties want to contact Lisa Youngman on 07773-759854, there might always be an odd seat, or a cancellation or two, available.
This year the Hall of Fame with posthumously honour the late Wayne Brown and Ian Graham, while the other nominees, who are happily alive and kicking, will be Graham Jones, Bruce Cribb and Davie Fairbairn.