2019 was the most successful season since the Warriors first took to the track back in 2016. The team competed in 21 home and 14 away meetings, finished just three points off a playoff position, the highest finish to date and scored more away points and league points than in any previous season.
Major honours were collected on track with victory in the Silver Ski Four Team Tournament along with Second place in the National League Four Team Tournament. The club hosted a first in the UK, the NICE 2v Challenge which was an event where riders used standard engines drawn from a ballot before the meeting. It was an international affair with riders from higher in the UK leagues, from Australia, Denmark and Poland. They also played host to the Oxford Cheetahs, who at the time were seeking to take control back of their stadium in Oxford. Sidecar racing also returned to the Island as the club hosted the 1000cc British Sidecar Speedway Championships round 1 which provided something different for the fans.
The Wightlink Wizards entered the newly formed Midland and Southern Development League, a league designed to teach riders to race and was a perfect steppingstone for riders of the club’s My First Skid school having their first experiences of racing. Continuing to use only riders from the school, the Wightlink Wizards finished on the rostrum in 3rd place, a truly remarkable result for the speedway school students.
My First Skid continued to grow and gain further recognition throughout the sport. The school hosted everyone from those living the dream through to seasoned professionals looking to test something, the age groups ranging from 4 – 78 and was a remarkable success finding more riders for speedway both adult and child. School students took part in every speedway meeting on the Island by taking to the track before meetings to entertain the fans.
The Stadium continued its improvement with the media centre in the pits, TVs in the stand showcasing action replays, live racing footage, sponsors adverts and previous meeting footage. The bowser was fully serviced and refreshed, as well as many other items at the stadium from track to the pits and more.
The clubs profile and standing within speedway continued to grow and gain recognition, with the club being awarded the prestige titles of 'Community Club of the Year' for a second time and the 'Most Improved NDL Team'.
All in all, 2019 was another season the Warrior fans could be proud of.
2019 WARRIORS STARTING LINE-UP
Georgie WOOD : Connor KING : Chris WIDMAN
Ben MORLEY (Captain ON BIKE) : Ryan TERRY-DALEY
Danno VERGE : Chad WIRTZFELD (Kneeling)
Images by Sportography
2019 WARRIORS FINISHING LINE-UP
Georgie WOOD : Jackie VATCHER (Team Manager)
Ben MORLEY (Captain On Bike) : Scott Campos
Chris WIDMAN : Chad Wirtzfeld
Connor KING : Danno VERGE (Kneeling)
Images by Sportography
STARTING AVERAGE - 9.28 : FINISHING AVERAGE - 9.60
DATE OF BIRTH : 8 September 1993 - Maidstone, Kent.
(2015-16) Eastbourne, (2017-18) Sheffield, Eastbourne, (2019) Eastbourne, Isle of Wight
Georgie moved along the South Coast from Eastbourne to join the Warriors in the number 1 position and started his Island journey as the highest averaged rider in the team. The Smallbrook track suited his never say die racing attitude, regularly seeing him utilise the high banking on bends 3 and 4 to gain positions over his rivals. These manoeuvres very quickly endeared him to the Warrior fans, and together with Ben provided the Warriors with a formidable paring in heats 13 & 15 at both home and away matches. Although a great season for Georgie which saw him up his starting average and retain the No.1 position, his Warriors season ended in early August with a racing injury, followed by a suspension from riding which prevented him seeing out the season in the Warriors race jacket.
BEN MORLEY (Captain)
STARTING AVERAGE - 9.13 : FINISHING AVERAGE - 9.25
DATE OF BIRTH : 10 March 1994 - Southend, Essex.
(2009-10) Rye House II, (2011) Rye House, Hackney, (2012) Rye House II, (2013) Kent, (2014) Lakeside, Kent, (2015) Redcar, Kent (Pairs Champion & National League Rider Champion), (2016) Lakeside, Rye House, Rye House II (Four-Team Championship
winner), (2017) Rye House, Lakeside, (2018) Lakeside, Isle of Wight, (2019) Isle of Wight
Ben had a welcome return as captain after a successful 2018 season with the Warriors. A true professional both on and off track, he always made himself available to the fans and the media, had great respect from his fellow riders and maintained his stance as a top performer in the National League. Ben once again provided consistent high scoring power both home and away, and was always there to be counted on to come up with the goods when it mattered. He was the highest points scorer in the team along with being the fastest Warrior around the Smallbrook circuit.
STARTING AVERAGE - 4.83 : FINISHING AVERAGE - 5.95
DATE OF BIRTH : 26 March 1996 - Greenwich, London.
(2014) Scunthorpe II, (2015-16) Kent, (2017) Mildenhall (National Trophy winner), (2018-19) Isle of Wight
Danno returned to the Island off the back of a solid 2018 season for the Warriors, and it turned out to be his best season to date. A big fan favourite, Danno made friends with the Smallbrook circuit and often used the high banking on bends 3 and 4 to make vital passes on his way to consistent powerful scoring in the engine room of the team both home and away. Injury not only halted his progression in early August, it hampered him upon his return to the side and along with taking a few knocks, he struggled to regain the form he showed earlier on in the season.
STARTING AVERAGE - 6.28 : FINISHING AVERAGE - 4.86
DATE OF BIRTH : 1 May 1989 - Ipswich, Suffolk.
(2004) Mildenhall, Rye House II, (2005) Mildenhall, Boston, (2006) Boston, (2007) Oxford II, (2009-16) King’s Lynn II, (2017) Isle of Wight, King’s Lynn II, (2018) Isle of Wight, (2019) Plymouth, Isle of Wight
Scott started the season with Plymouth, but struggled to find his previous form on the tight circuit which saw him released by the Gladiators mid season. This was perfect timing for the Warriors who were looking to make a change to the team, so Scott returned to the Island on a bargain low average and settled back into his No.3 position from the off. Scott's experience both on and off track was freely shared amongst his fellow team mates and along with scoring power his calmness, professionalism, approachable demeanour and wealth of knowledge for the sport saw him as the 'go to' guy in the pits amongst his team mates.
STARTING AVERAGE - 3.32 : FINISHING AVERAGE - 3.52
DATE OF BIRTH : 25 March 1990 - Leicester, Leicestershire.
(2005) Scunthorpe, (2008) Boston, (2009-10) King’s Lynn II, (2011) Belle Vue II, (2012) Buxton, (2013) King’s Lynn II, Isle Of Wight (National Trophy winner), (2014-15) Stoke, (2016) Isle of Wight, Mildenhall, Stoke, (2017-18-19) Isle of Wight
The Warrior fans were jubilant with the news of Chris Widman re-signing to be a Warrior for a forth season. An ever present during the season, Chris started in the difficult No.2 team position which saw him battle against engine power issues making him work overtime to battle hard for every point. Dropping down to reserve midway through the season didn't bring the upturn in fortune for Chris as he struggled to regain the form he was known for around the Island. Despite this, he remained a firm fans favourite and his commitment to the side was always applauded and appreciated, and his passion for team success was always evident in victory parades.
STARTING AVERAGE - 2.00 : FINISHING AVERAGE : 3.67
DATE OF BIRTH : 21 August 2003 - Poole, Dorset.
(2019) Isle of Wight
Chad began his British League speedway career in the reserve birth for the Warriors in 2019. A familiar face on the Island as he had been the clubs mascot since the birth of the Warriors
and an almost ever present at the My First Skid training school previously. Chad was one of the youngest riders in the league, but took to it instantly providing excellent returns both home and away, which rewarded him his promotion into the main body of the team midway through the season. The No.2 position is always a tricky one in any team, but Chad made it his own and his progression throughout the season was a joy to watch. When he was out front he was fast and smooth, and when he missed the gate he never gave up and provided many of the seasons memorable passes on the Smallbrook track. Chad was awarded the 'Most Improved Warrior of the Year' along with accumulating the most bonus points.
STARTING AVERAGE - 2.00 : FINISHING AVERAGE : 3.74
DATE OF BIRTH : 29 August 1998 - Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk.
(2019) Isle of Wight
Connor joined the Warriors as a relatively unknown quantity despite good showings guesting for the Warriors in 2018. He brought a youthful, jokey yet calm demeanour to the pits which very quickly took the hearts of those on the terraces. He made good, steady progression throughout the season both home and away despite a few knocks and bangs along the way earning him the title of 'Upside Down Warrior of the Year'. It's fair to say his improvement was seen in all areas of his racing, and saw him a popular member of the team so much so that he walked away with both the riders and fans 'Rider of the Year' awards.
STARTING AVERAGE - 5.22 : FINISHING WARRIORS AVERAGE - 4.75
DATE OF BIRTH : 5 April 1994 - Hammersmith, London.
(2012) Mildenhall, (2013-14) Coventry 2, (2015) Stoke, (2016) Coventry 2, (2017) Stoke, (2018) Plymouth, (2019) Isle of Wight, Leicester
Ryan moved along the South Coast to join the Warriors from Plymouth and came into the team with plenty of experience riding on the Smallbrook circuit. A long riding supporter of
speedway on the Island, having taken many guest bookings to ride in our various open meetings held throughout the last few years. Despite his consistency, hard work and determination, Ryan struggled to hit the form expected by the management as third heat leader, and was released midway through the season.