NEIL Middleditch insisted he was still as hungry as ever to capture more silverware with Pirates – despite a change of role and division this campaign.

The legendary team boss, who has guided Poole to eight top-flight league titles, is now just set to take charge of home and southern fixtures in 2020, due to business and family commitments.

He will also be managing in a new division, after Pirates made the call to drop into the SGB Championship for the first time since 1990.

Asked for his thoughts on bringing second-tier speedway back to Wimborne Road, Middleditch told the Daily Echo: “It was a decision which wasn’t made lightly.

“I probably didn’t want to drop down a division but it’s (owner) Matt’s (Ford’s) decision, it’s his business and I always stick by whatever Matt says. I am good with everything he’s done.

“It’s another challenge and, don’t get me wrong, I want to win this league as much as I do any league.

“That hunger for success will be there.”

He added: “People say it’s a lower division and it is.

“But the racing is just as keen, just as cut-throat. The fact there are so many clubs, the fans won’t be looking at the same teams three times a year.

“That was always the magic of years gone by when I was riding – there were 19 or 20 teams in the league.

“When, for example, Ivan Mauger came to Poole, it would put 500 bums on seats because you only saw him once a year.

“The team we’ve got looks a great team. We have a couple of unknowns with Ben Cook and Zane Keleher.

“I know Ben and, if I know the Aussies, we have a great tradition at Poole with them. You look at the riders we have nurtured here – they could provide a real sting in the tail and be a trump card.”

Middleditch, who is set to be given a testimonial meeting at Poole next month, will share management duties with former Poole captain Gary Havelock.

The 1992 world champion will take the reins for away and northern meetings this campaign.

Explaining the situation further, Middleditch added: “I am 100 per cent behind the Pirates but I just can’t commit with business and family commitments with my dad at the moment.

“I did not want to say to Matt ‘yes I’ll do it’ and then come the Friday before Edinburgh or something my dad is taken ill and something has happened with the business and I couldn’t go.

“We had a long chat about it and it’s been the right decision.

“Havvy is so excited to work alongside me and me alongside him. I am sure we will be at meetings together – that will be great.

“Havvy has had a really rough time since his accident. He is paralysed in one arm and has not had a good time lately.

“This was a real pick me up for him. He messaged me and said he was really pumped to be working alongside me.

“I was his manager when he was at Poole, I was his manager when I was Team GB manager.

“We have a long history, we really get along great and although he had ridden for a lot of clubs, he has a huge affinity with Poole and the way he was treated by the management, riders and fans.

“He really loved his time down here and I am sure there will be meetings when he will come down and join me – and I hope he will.

“I am sure Havvy can do the job and the boys will be able to do the job for us.”