If the enthusiasm displayed by Kevin Jolly is anything to go by, then 2016 could well prove to be a trophy laden year for the Mildenhall Fen Tigers.
For the first time since helping to put together the club’s all conquering 2012 Grand Slam winning side, club promoter Jolly believes he has assembled a team that is capable of turning into genuine National League title contenders.
With the addition of the experienced Jon Armstrong, and exciting reserves Alfie Bowtell and Rob Parker, to those retained from last year’s team, Jolly is expecting to banish the memories of a disappointing 2015 campaign and bring back the glory days fans of the club are more used to.
“The proof will be in the pudding, but I am happy with the team and I hope the supporters are,” said Jolly.
“They’ve been very happy with bringing Jon Armstrong back, and what an addition. He is one of the most talented riders in the league. The riders are very happy and they’ve pumped themselves up and are looking forward to it. In Rob Henry, Phil Kirk and James Easter, I feel I’ve the right people around to assist me.
“Last year it just didn’t work out right from the word go. That is behind us now and it is forward thinking from now on. I’m going to be more positive in every respect. I know we will have tough time, but we have got the potential to do the business on the track again.
“The team of 2012 was an exceptionally good team and I realise that everyone peaked at the right time. This team reminds me of that as the boys have a lot of optimism. We do have riders that want to be here and they are excited about just what could happen this year.”
While the returning Danny Halsey has been relieved of his duties as captain in a bid to revive his fortunes, with the armband being switched to Connor Coles, it is another of last year’s team that Jolly believes will be the ace in the pack.
“We decided to release Danny as captain and give it to Connor Coles and not Jon as it will help Connor with his education, while hopefully it will ease some pressure off Danny,” said Jolly.
“The club is in an absolutely wonderful position where we have four potential number ones. I have very high hopes for Luke Ruddick this season and I think we will see something different.
“He had equipment problems last year and had no back up and he had a difficult year. He is back as I feel that now he has got his equipment sorted he could be a six point rider.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Alfie Bowtell and from what I saw last year and since he has signed I feel more and more positive about the signing. He could be the one to watch.”
Up first in the league for the Fen Tigers following on from their challenge match with a National League select side on Sunday, is a trip to Hoddesdon to face old rivals Rye House Raiders on Easter Monday.
While the rivalry between the two sides has simmered in recent seasons, Jolly believes it is a meeting that the West Row outfit can take maximum points from given the top heavy look to the Hertfordshire team.
“I honestly believe in my heart of hearts we can win anything anywhere. Last year we struggled to hold our own at home, but this year I feel we can win anywhere,” said Jolly.
“Rob Branford and Ben Morley may clean up but we can nick a point or two from them, and if we can back them up with filling the minor placings, we can bring back the win.
“They may have a power packed top two, but if we work as a team and help each other fill the second and thirds then it can be ours.
“When I saw the draft fixtures I accepted it, as although it is early in the season to ride Rye House I saw as it something we can get maximum points from and start on the right foot.”