Eastbourne Speedway has been rocked by the news that young charger Henry Atkins may be out for the rest of the season.
He suddenly pulled up while riding for the club’s Seagulls in a National Development League match at Leicester last week after again dislocating his shoulder.
Team manager Will Pottinger believed Henry was in for a great season and more than once said his average was far below what it should be for a rider of his calibre.
And, at Leicester, Henry looked to be living up to that assessment as he stormed to two straight wins before pulling up in his third outing.
The Seagulls, sponsored by Save Thurrock Hammers Speedway, have now made a move to replace the stricken rider.
Club co-promoter Lee Kilby said: “We are all absolutely gutted for Henry. We know injuries are part of the sport, but the incident was so innocuous and for it to lead to what looks like a season ending injury is just awful for him.
We’ve exchanged messages and he’s keeping positive and has every intention of coming back stronger in 2022. Everyone at Eastbourne Speedway wish him all the best in his operation and recuperation and recovery.
“We hope to see Henry at Arlington in 2021 as he wishes to come and meet the fans.
“We are delighted to announce that Henry and his father Michael have already indicated their desire to ride for Eastbourne again at some point in the future, when circumstances permit; and we look forward to that opportunity with open arms.”
News that Devon-based Henry is to have an operation and may be out for the rest of the season came from his senior club, Plymouth, where he was part of their Championship team.
Henry and his father Mike made the trip to a private sports shoulder clinic to see a consultant in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on Monday (May 24). The verdict was that Henry’s shoulder was in a bad way but can be put right with the correct surgery.
He first sustained a dislocated shoulder while racing for Somerset at a home meeting on May 22, 2019. He came back from that and rode through the pain barrier for the remainder of the season. He went on to retain his 250cc British Grasstrack Championship for the third year in a row.
But as one door closes, another one opens, or in this case reopens as Kilby explained.
“Losing Henry is disappointing, no question about that, but we are delighted to be reintroducing Danno Verge back into the fold.
He is a rider we know can do a terrific job for us. As documented recently, Danno was the unfortunate casualty of the NDL squad system not being implemented for 2021, and lost the opportunity to represent the Seagulls from the start of the season.
I spoke with Danno on Wednesday and offered him the team spot which he accepted pretty quickly.
“I explained he was always going to be our first call if injuries or rider absence affected the team as was our intention at the start of the year when he was brought into the Seagulls set-up. We had a good chat and I’m so pleased Danno has taken this chance to get back into the NDL.”
The Seagulls next take to the track on Bank Holiday Monday, when they take on rivals The Kent Royals at Central Park. The meeting starts at 4pm with gates open at 2.30pm.
Tickets are available from Central Park Stadium between 10am & 4pm – phone 01795 475547
NB. The stadium box office will be open for ticket sales on Saturday 29th. (10am – 3pm) and on Sunday 30th (12 noon-3pm). Personal callers are welcome or by phone to 01795 475547. Full info here.
Main image credit: Steve Dixon