Sheffield Tigers speedway: Simon Stead explains attraction of speedway and why Tigers will be champions
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With Tigers set to race as a team at Owlerton for the first time on April 7, having two away meetings first, Simon believes Sheffield have the best side.
He said: “Looking at how the team building has gone for everybody else, and how our own went through the winter, we got everyone we wanted and I believe we will be up there challenging. I think we have every right to be favourites.”
‘Kings Lynn will be runners up’
He feels Tigers have the edge in every department, and great balance. When pushed, he sees King’s Lynn as best of the rest.
With Tigers fielding their first Grand Prix rider since Sam Ermolenko in the 1990s, he sees the inclusion of Sheffield’s current number one, Jack Holder, in the competition for the sport’s world individual champion, as a boost for the club.
He said: “His place is more than justified – I think he’ll take the opportunity with both hands. He deserves to be in there and I expect him to be right in the mix.
"I think it will affect it (his riding for Sheffield) in a positive way. I think it will bring him on. He’s in very good company, week in week out, and I think it will help him get to the next level. He's ready for it in terms of how he conducts himself, his equipment, his ability on track.
‘Grand prix will only help Jack Holder’
"It will only help him.”
He said success can bring bigger crowds.
"I know there’s a great buzz about the city with the side we’ve assembled and rightfully so. As long as we can produce on track, we’ll have good crowds."
Simon, born and bred in Sheffield, feels the attraction of the sport is great.
He said: “I think there are so many elements to it. It’s such a family friendly sport. Kids can pick a favourite rider, they can meet them, have a photograph with them. It’s nice to be able to do that in a world where often footballers are locked away and the only glimpse is on social media. It’s a little bit different – it’s a great team sport. It really grasps people.
"You have a minute’s entertainment (in each heat), fast and furious.
"Tigers have been part of this city for a long time. They have fabulous heritage and one of the oldest tracks in the country. I think the success and heritage of the club stems back a very long way and hope we do it proud and can add to that success.
Simon started following speedway when grandfather, Eric, who ran a Sheffield garage, was a speedway promoter, at Stoke.
Childhood Saturday nights were spent in the pits, and enjoying the racing.
He said: “I’d had bikes from being very young.
“It stemmed from there.
"Then I got the chance of second half opportunities at Sheffield whilst Neil Machin owned the place. I loved it.
"I’d never seen myself being a speedway rider, but it happened – I had 20 fantastic years doing the sport I loved. Now I’m fortunate enough to be manager.”