Memorable season helped persuade Lee to carry on

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MICHAEL Lee admitted only the memories of an unbelievable debut season persuaded him to carry on as a co-promoter at the Mildenhall Fen Tigers.

The West Row-based outfit endured a frustrating winter with a well-documented financial dispute with the British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) threatening their participation in this year’s National League.

It was finally settled just a few days before Christmas, allowing Lee and fellow co-promoters Chris Louis and Kevin Jolly to focus on the season ahead.

At Saturday’s Meet the Riders night at the Fenman Bar, Lee said: “With a lot of what had gone on this winter, it would have been easy to walk away.

“You have to think sometimes, ‘do you need the hassle?’ But then you remember how enjoyable it was last year.”

An additional entry fee was levied upon the Tigers to join the 2012 National League, which could have left Mildenhall with cash flow problems that would have seen the Knockout Cup holders forced to pull out of competing.

However, with promotional rights bought and a payment plan in place for the National League entry fee, Tigers’ fans can look forward to a settled period in the club’s history without fears of a repeat of the 2010 season when Mildenhall failed to complete their campaign.

Co-promoter Louis added: “I felt we have lost out a little bit, but we have to carry on.”

And the Tigers are now targeting more glory after a first season that surpassed everybody’s expectations.

“It’s been a tough time, but we have got things together and we feel the team we have got at the moment is very competitive,” said Lee. “There are a lot of youngsters who are only going to improve throughout the season with our help.”

Mildenhall have so far unveiled six of the seven riders who will make up the Tigers’ class of 2012, with the final reserve now not expected to be announced until press and practice day on March 18.

Lewis Blackbird, Daniel Halsey, Cameron Heeps and Joe Jacobs will return, while Brandon-based National League winner Stefan Nielsen and 16-year-old Josh Bates have been added to the squad.

Co-promoter Jolly said: “We’ve made it hard for ourselves by having such a good first year.

“All we can hope for is turning up, putting on a good show and making sure people have a good time because if the fans are happy then we are all doing a good job.”

Despite Jolly’s words, team manager Rob Henry revealed a deep desire to better the achievements of 2011.

He said: “With the experience the boys gained last year and the support we have got, I just hope we can go and get that double — I really want it.”