PIRATES boss Matt Ford said Josh Grajczonek would be “one of the first people on my team sheet” – should he end up picking the 2019 septet.

Ford stuck by the Queenslander after he endured a disappointing run of form in the season’s early months.

He also remained loyal to number one Brady Kurtz, who came under fire from some quarters during 2018.

Both decisions paid rich dividends with Pirates securing the SGB Premiership title last week – their eighth league crown in 16 seasons.

And Ford, who is seeking to sell the club after two decades at the helm, responded to armchair critics in the wake of the memorable triumph.

He told the Daily Echo: “I must ask the experts who should be in the team because they all told me to drop Josh and Brady and both of them have been great.

“It’s no good asking Brady to step into Darcy Ward’s shoes – that’s not going to happen.

“There are only one or two riders who are capable of doing that in UK speedway at the moment, Robert Lambert being one and Jason Doyle the other.

“They have done their job. Josh has been outstanding and I’m incredibly proud of him as a captain.

“I have to say that, should I be picking the team, he would be one of the first people on my team sheet.”

Ford has already pledged to represent Poole at the British Speedway Promoters' Association's AGM, which is due to take place from November 12-14.