Connor King unwittingly put himself in the ‘shop window’ when he undertook a near 500-mile round trip to ride for an Eastbourne Select team at Plymouth last September.
King answered the call to be part of a four-man team, which won a three-team tournament at the Devon track in one of the few Speedway matches to take place in 2020.
King, 22, who lives in Brandon, Suffolk, has now been named as the fifth member of the Eastbourne Seagulls, the club’s National Development League (NDL) team powered by Save Thurrock Hammers.
In September, the idea of Eastbourne launching a NDL side was little more than a twinkle in the eye of club director, Ian Jordan.
King, who has never been to Arlington, is now avidly learning about the track by watching videos of past races and talking to the Seagulls No 1, Jake Knight, who lives not far from him.
King rode for the Isle of Wight in 2019 and was due back there last year but now he is excited to be coming to Sussex.
He believes he made the most of his opportunity at Plymouth.
“I didn’t sit back and just ride. I spoke to them, asked questions and asked for help.
“It showed I was enthusiastic. I know Tom Brennan and Jake, who were both in the team, so I was not a stranger to them and it was quite easy to talk to them, he said.
Connor is rearing to go once sport gets the green light to return.
He commented: “I was all ready for last season, so I’ve been ready for a year.
“Coming to Eastbourne, it is a bit of a different track to that which I have been used to, so it is going to be a bit of a challenge.”
However, Eastbourne have told him that he can expect help from the Championship team’s senior riders such as Edward Kennett and Lewi Kerr.
Club director Ian Jordan said: “Connor was very impressive when he guested for us at Plymouth in the 3TT; both on and off the bike.
“Having seen that level of application and intensity at close quarters, he was a rider we wanted to use, if and when possible, in the future.
“He put himself out for us that night, making a long trip in midweek and that earmarks the type of positive attitude we are looking for.”
Jordan said that as Eastbourne developed the NDL team concept over the winter, he was never far from their thoughts and “we are delighted to have him on board”.
Jordan added: “I have chatted to Connor about our hopes and expectations of him and I think he can develop, improve and fulfil his obvious potential, to the extent that in due course we will make Connor a full asset of the Club to give him security and stability in the future.
“The reduced points limit of 35 points has presented challenges in respect of team building but the increased number of teams in the league as a result has offered opportunity to developing riders like Connor and we can’t wait to work with him.
“He seems very willing to listen and learn from more experienced riders and that is a key part of development as none of us are ever too old to listen and learn.
“We will complete the announcements of our seven-man team over the next week or so, and also announce some other riders who we hope to have on the periphery of our squads and also see in regular second half action at NDL and MSDL level; some hopefully graduating from MSDL in to NDL and then Championship level in the next year or so.”
All matches will be all ticket, booked and paid for in advance online. There will be no cash/card admissions on the day.
This is to ensure Arlington Stadium meets all Covid-19 rules and a full explanation of the processes and procedures can be found on the Club website and on ticket application pages .
Tickets are now on sale for the opening two home matches against Newcastle and then Poole. They are available via clicking on the images below. The Eagles Management have indicated that tickets are selling at a rate that is above expectations, so supporters should book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment as crowd numbers will be restricted for the early months of the season, and the first two matches could sell out quite quickly.
The Club will be putting a further tranche of future match tickets on sale at the end of March, in an attempt to spread the cost of purchasing tickets over as long a period as possible, due to a truncated season.
Please note: existing 2020 Season and 10 Match Ticket Holders do not need to pre-book – please just turn up with your 2020 Season Ticket or 10 Match Pass and go to the dedicated ST/10 Match Turnstile (which will be clearly marked)
Profile image credit: Derek Leader