Poole Pirates: Darcy Ward 'privileged' to win Elite League
Poole Pirates skipper Darcy Ward said it was a "privilege" to lead the Dorset speedway side to their fifth Elite League title in 10 years.
The Pirates sealed a 47-43 second-leg win at Perry Barr to record an aggregate 104-79 Grand Final victory over table-topping Birmingham.
- M. Smolinski R,1,1,0,,,=2
- J. Doyle 3,3,1,3,2,,=12
- D. King Fx,,,,,,=0
- B. Barker 1,2,1,3,,,=7
- C. Harris 3,3,2,1,1',,=10+1
- N. Covatti 1,1',0,1',2',,=5+3
- J. Auty 0,1,3,0,3,Fx,=7
- D. Ward 2,3,3,3,3,,=14
- T. H Jonasson 1',Fx,2,Fx,,,=3+1
- G. Hancock 2',1',2,0,0,,=5+2
- M. Janowski 0,2,2',2',,,=6+2
- J. Grajczonek 2',3,0,2,3,1,2=13+1
- K. Newman 3,2,0,0,1',,=6+1
It was Australian Ward who effectively sealed it with a win in heat 11.
"It's really good to have lifted the trophy and I feel privileged," Ward told BBC Radio Solent.
"It's a good feeling for the fans and the club - we have the best fan base in the country and we wouldn't be here without them."
The Pirates, who will parade the silverware at the Blue Riband Individual event at Wimborne Road on Wednesday, secured two early 5-1s to ease any nerves and went on to win on the night with Ward scoring 14 whilst in-form reserve Josh Grajczonek added 13+1.
And after an injury-disrupted season team manager Neil Middleditch paid tribute to his side.
"I'm over the moon after the season we have had," Middleditch told BBC Radio Solent. "The boys dug so, so deep to get here.
"It's unbelievable, Birmingham are a good side, but we all fought together."
Promoter Matt Ford added: "It's been a stunning effort from everyone at the club. We were written off five months ago, but no-one at Wimborne Road dropped their heads.
"The team have been awesome in the play-offs and shown just how much character and commitment exists at Poole Speedway.
"Birmingham are a good side but we gained home and away wins over them when it mattered, in the Grand Final.
"It is such a wonderful feeling to be champions once again."
The Pirates had to do without former world champions Chris Holder for most of the season after he suffered a fractured left hip, fractured left shoulder and fractured right heel in July,
And Holder, who says he is making good progress in his return from injury, hopes to be at Poole next season.
He said: "It feels awesome. This season was tough we had a lot of injuries and I wish I could have been racing, but the guys did an awesome job.
"The recovery is going good, I'm still a long way off and I'm putting on some weight. I'm super stoked with that so it's good.
"It would be great (to stay at Poole), we just need to make sure they work the rules out (team averages)."