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THE GS!

Kennett’s arm isn’t the only thing undergoing a little reconstruction in the coming months. Former Eastbourne promoter Trevor Geer is working hard with Arlington club and rider sponsors Steve Chantler, Michael Gray and Mark Horsman to build the financial package necessary to ensure Eagles can return to the tapes in 2023.

Kennett was one of those left out of pocket when the Ian Jordan-led promotion collapsed over the summer.

Despite Jordan’s insistence that he would honour the team’s outstanding wages, Lewis Kerr has made no secret of the fact he remains unpaid and Kennett confirmed he is in the same position.

“I am still owed my money for my meetings,” he said. “I am gutted with the way it ended. I feel for all the loyal sponsors who put money into the club and all the fans. They still haven’t received refunds. I think there is a lot of lying going on – compulsive lying.”

Kennett insists he would have rather discussed the financial crisis with Jordan and worked with the team to find a solution rather than hear false claims that he would receive the cash he is still owed.

He said: “He should have just been an honest man, admitted he was struggling and taken it on the chin. I think a lot more people would have respected that, especially the riders. I am sure that as a team, the riders could have looked to maybe try and do something to help him get back on track.

“I know Covid killed ticket sales, but there were sponsors who were still willing to put money into the club.

“Personally, I would have respected him more if he had held his hands up and been honest about it, rather than feeding us false information all the time. That’s all we seemed to be getting.

“He would say ‘your money is on its way into your account’, and we just never received it.”

Fortunately Kennett has been keeping busy during his time out of the saddle. He said: “I drive a lorry for my sponsor – Robins of Herstmonceux. I have been with them for many, many years now. I carried on doing that through the season anyway.”

Kennett is crossing his fingers that he can swap Sussex’s roads for the county’s finest shale track if the Eagles soar back into action in 2023. Arlington holds decades of fond clans.

memories for one of the area’s most famous speedway

“My whole family has been part of it,” he said. “It’s local to me. It’s ideal. I get good sponsors around here. It’s just a shame what has happened. I am hoping they will be able to sort something out and resume in 2023.

“Fingers crossed they can sort out the financial state it is in at the minute and get that all cleared up.

“There’s no reason why I can’t come back in 2023. It’s obviously nice and local for me. It’s a track I enjoy riding. Perhaps having a year off of it and a year away might help me to become better again.”

With Kent and Swindon’s future also in grave doubt and Somerset closing earlier this year, speedway in the south is currently in the eye of a brutal storm.

“Thank God that Oxford has come in,” he said. “That will be my closest track now. With all these clubs local to me closing, I will have to travel. I’ll have to take that on the chin and do it. Plymouth is my new club and that’s probably five hours from me.

“I know that being situated down here in Eastbourne, I will have to travel two hours plus to get anywhere now. Oxford is probably the closest track to me and then Poole. After that we’re up to Ipswich.”

Plymouth wasted no time in tempting Kennett along the South Coast, unveiling him as part of a handy top trio, also featuring Richard Lawson and Michael Palm Toft. They are joined by Alfie Bowtell and Henry Atkins so far.

It’s fair to say Kennett’s lengthy journey to the Coliseum every Tuesday will be a little more arduous than his short ride to Arlington. But that didn’t stop him sounding out Plymouth to see if they could squeeze him in.

“I did hint to Mark Phillips that I would be available for next year when I get my helicopter delivered in March!” he joked. “No, I told him I’d be quite keen to come down if he needed me.

“I haven’t ridden there for a good few years now. But I have had some really good meetings there. Apart from the drive, it is a club I have always enjoyed riding at. The supporters have always been great there and I have always found that I enjoyed riding the track. It’s a very good set-up down there. I am looking forward to it.”

The former British SGP wild card feared his chances of finding another club could be scuppered by his 8.40 starting average.

His dip in form with the Eagles saw his greensheet figure drop to 7.37, which would have made him an even more attractive heat leader option.

But Kennett didn’t just suffer a financial blow when Eastbourne folded. All his results for the club in 2021 were expunged from the records, which saw his starting figure for this season rise by over a point.

“That’s a little bit unfair I think,” he said. “Unfortunately that’s the way it is and I will just have to deal with it.

“Luckily enough, Plymouth have been able to fit me in and with the top three they have and the rest of the riders they have signed or are going to sign, it will be a very good team.”

Kennett’s years of turning a bike inside out at Arlington will serve him well on British speedway’s smallest circuit. Eastbourne’s loss for 2022 should be the Gladiators’ gain.

Interview: PAUL BURBIDGE •Pictures: DAVE FAIRBROTHER

November 20, 2021 speedway star 5

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