Departing Mildenhall Fen Tigers promoter fears for the National League club's future
The outgoing Mildenhall Fen Tigers promoter Kevin Jolly fears for the immediate future of the club after putting it up for sale, writes Graham Clark.
In a statement released on Friday the former rider announced he has decided to call it day after eight years at the helm of the National League side.
Having resurrected the West Row-based outfit in 2011 alongside Chris Louis and Michael Lee, the 60-year-old has held the promoters’ licence on his own since the 2015 campaign.
“I do fear for the club that’s why I’m prepared to help anybody in any way to see it survive,” said Jolly.
“It wouldn’t be for personal gain but it would be lovely to see the club go on as the foundations now are good.
“There have been a couple of tentative enquiries about keeping it going but that is it, nothing concrete.
Although the decision may have taken a few by surprise, it was something that has been on the mind of Jolly – the club’s second longest-serving promoter behind founding promoter Bernie Klatt – for more than a year with several reasons behind his departure.
“It was a decision that was taken 18 months ago,” said Jolly.
“It is a weight off my shoulders and there will be times I regret it as the good times have outweighed the bad. I will also miss the social side as I’ve made some good friends.
“The rent though was £1,500 and the overheads in total were £2,500 to run a meeting and that is before paying a rider.
“With the rent and fees it is a lot of money to absorb. You are not going to get rich out of running a speedway club but when you start putting your own money in, it is time to step away.”
During his time in charge the Fen Tigers have enjoyed one of the most productive spells in their history, highlighted by claiming the Grand Slam in speedway’s third tier in 2012.
Despite enjoying a further three victories in the National Trophy in 2014, 2017 and in this year’s competition, along with lifting the KO Cup in 2011, winning silverware is not what Jolly has taken the greatest enjoyment from.
“It is nice to win trophies but that is not what I get the pleasure from,” said Jolly.
“The pleasure I’ve got from the last eight years is seeing the likes of Cameron Heeps, Josh Bates and the likes of the team this year coming through.”
Jolly was not quite given the perfect send off after the Fen Tigers failed in their bid to lift the National League Play-Off Final trophy when going down 98-81 on aggregate to the Eastbourne Eagles despite winning the second leg 46-44 at Mildenhall Stadium on Thursday.
“I think the better team won over the two legs because of the circumstances.
“Being without two of our best riders in Jordan (Jenkins) and Danny (Ayres) made life difficult. It knocked the stuffing out of the other boys,” said Jolly.
“We built a team to succeed and we have come up a bit short at the finish. In my view though it has still been a big success. It has been good fun, it is just a shame we didn’t quite do it.”