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Poole Pirates boss Neil Middleditch: We never gave up
MATT Ford and I bleed blue and white. We are hugely passionate about the club and that is why we never gave up. Those were the words of team manager Neil Middleditch as he reflected on a magical night for Pirates at Wimborne Road.
Middleditch struggled to contain his delight after watching Poole overturn a 10-point deficit to defeat reigning champions Swindon in the play-off semi-finals last night.
Pirates, who have battled back following a season dogged by poor form and injuries, timed their finest performance to perfection to book their grand final place.
Darcy Ward (13+1), Greg Hancock (13) and Josh Grajczonek (12+1) took centre stage as Pirates beat Swindon 55-38 to claim a 97-90 aggregate triumph.
Discussing Poole’s against-the-odds revival, Middleditch highlighted the determination of promoter Ford after he had dug deep to make expensive team changes, including the signing of speedway legend Hancock to cover for injured captain Chris Holder.
The long-serving Pirates boss said: “All season, we never gave up. When Matt and I were at our lowest ebb, we came in for a meeting and said ‘Whatever happens, we are going to put together a team to entertain the public because they deserve it’.
They have followed us through the years and still stayed faithful to us.
“Signing Greg was a masterstroke because it brought back continuity to the team. I was running up and down the pits with seven riders that I knew and wanted to work with, whereas it had been two or three plus guests and that is not the way to run a team.
“Matt and I bleed blue and white – everybody knows that. He is hugely passionate about the club, as am I, which is why we never gave up.”
Middleditch’s men will now face Birmingham over two legs to decide the destination of the Elite League silverware, with Pirates hosting their rivals on October 7 before the return fixture at Perry Barr the following Monday.
“We have fought hard all season and never given up,” said Middleditch. “We have been rewarded with a place in the final so I am very pleased.
“We never give up – it is a Pirates trait. We are used to success, we like success and we are in the final now.”
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