Fen Tigers legend steps aside
It is often said that all good things must come to an end and one of the greatest chapters in the history of the Mildenhall Fen Tigers was closed on Sunday after Rob Henry announced that he is to step down as team manager.
In a sport in which loyalty is in scarce supply the 63-year-old has, both as a rider and in his most recent role, offered a service to the West Row-based outfit that few will ever match.
Although enjoying plenty of success since taking up the position in 2011 Henry, who made a record number of 434 appearances for the club between 1976 and 1986, feels that the time is right to call it a day and pass the baton on.
“That’s me done,” said Henry. “My decision was made in the winter last year and I told Kevin Jolly before the start of the season that’s what I was going to do.
“I had an operation coming up this year and with it a recovery period.
“I still enjoy speedway and I will still pop up to cheer them on but I want to spend a bit more time with the family.
“It’s a sad time but also a bit of a relief. It really is mixed emotions.
“I would like to thank Kevin Jolly and the guys (Chris Louis and Michael Lee) who brought me in back in 2011, and to Phil Kirk and James Easter for their help, along with my wife Maxine who has been with me throughout.
“I am proud and happy to have been part of the club.”
While enjoying plenty of success during his spell as a rider with the club, which included lifting the 1979 National League title, Henry feels there is one memory that stands out above and beyond the rest achieved in his most recent role.
“The obvious one is when we did the big one (Grand Slam) in 2012,” said Henry.
“With the team we had that was a bit special. Every year has been a good challenge and we have suffered highs and lows. I must have tasted everything with this club.
“I guess the best thing is winning a meeting and making sure all the boys go home safe and sound with a few points under their belts.”
Nurturing young talent has always been in the spirit of the club and while Henry is proud to have worked with a number of riders that have established themselves at a higher level he has singled two from this year’s crop he expects to head in the same direction.
“Cameron Heeps, Josh Bates are two that spring to mind, while Stefan Nielsen was also great to work with and it was sad to see him not ride this year,” said Henry.
“I think we have two more in the making that will be a success, in Jordan Jenkins and Drew Kemp.
“If both keep level heads and keep the right people around them they will go on to bigger and better things. I can then look back and think I was there at the beginning.”
As far as send-offs go, the Fen Tigers ensured Henry was given the perfect one after recording a 47-43 win over the Eastbourne Eagles in the second leg of the Knock Out Cup, and a 53-37 victory against the Isle Of Wight Warriors in the National League.
“Going to Eastbourne and getting that sort of defeat (59-31) was always going to be a struggle to turn around in the second leg,” said Henry.
“It was our intent to win both meetings today and even without a full squad the two guests and the boys didn’t let me down.”