MILDENHALL Fen Tigers co-promoter Chris Louis would rather they had lost their second leg knockout cup tie at King’s Lynn than face losing Lewis Blackbird for an extended period.
The Tigers’ skipper is believed to have dislocated his shoulder in Wednesday’s quarter-final at the Norfolk Arena where they overcame King’s Lynn Young Stars 51-39 on the night, 106-79 on aggregate.
Blackbird was taken to hospital after a crash in the third heat that also saw Young Stars’ Adam Lowe unable to continue. But the extent of Blackbird’s injury was yet to be determined at the time of going to press yesterday, leaving Fen Tigers’ fans and promoters sweating.
Ahead of the Tigers’ delayed National League season opener at home to Scunthorpe Saints on Sunday (4.45pm), Louis said: “If I’m honest I’d rather have lost the match but won the tie, rather than lose Lewis.
“But the boys underlined the team spirit we have in the camp by covering for their captain and going on to win it in style for him.
“Cameron (Heeps) and Dan (Halsey) led from the front again, but the rest of the boys did their bit as well.
“Our youngsters Nathan Stoneman and Josh Bates were outstanding. Both took tumbles early on, but got up, dusted themselves down and won races, which was superb to see.”
Manager Rob Henry, Louis and fellow co-promoters Kevin Jolly and Michael Lee could bring in either a guest or use rider replacement for Sunday’s showdown with the side who beat them to the National League title by one point last year.
Henry said yesterday: “I spoke to him (Blackbird) a little while ago and we think he has dislocated his shoulder but we really do not know until we get the full story. It could be short-term or it could be long-term.”
And Henry said Blackbird’s team-mates will be going all out to get revenge on Sunday after Scunthorpe Saints beat them by the narrowest of margins in last year’s heartbreaking play-off final at West Row.
“It would be fantastic if he was able to ride but we have home advantage and a score to settle and we want to get revenge,” he said. “The track is still a bit wet but we are doing our best to get it ready for Sunday and we just hope we can get our National League campaign under way and we want to carry on where we left off last night.”
Speaking about winning through to the semi-finals of the Knockout Cup, with their opponents yet to be known, Henry said: “Our boys want to retain the trophy and are really up for it again this year. Now it looks like we’ve lost Lewis the boys want to do it for him.”