MAHATMA Gandhi once said: “To lose patience is to lose the battle.”

It is fair to say Poole Pirates’ patience has very much been tested over the past 18 months.

The Wimborne Road outfit had been left to watch on as the coronavirus pandemic wiped out their 2020 league campaign and left almost the entire sport in Britain playing a waiting game.

Poole’s last meeting came in September 2019, when they were beaten by Ipswich Witches in the second leg of the SGB Premiership semi-final.

The club had been set to embark on a new era under promoter Danny Ford last season, plying their trade back in the Championship.

That adventure is now, at present, set to begin on May 25 with an away cup meeting at Plymouth Gladiators – 606 days after Pirates last turned a wheel competitively.

So, if all goes to plan, what will it be like for Oakdale resident Ford, son of Pirates owner Matt, to finally see the tapes go up again?

“A little bit of disbelief I imagine, that it’s finally happening,” he exclusively told the Daily Echo.

“I can’t remember the last time I actually saw a speedway bike live.

“It’s going to be disbelief but, ultimately, I am sure that will soon be overcome by the attitude that we want to win.

“It will be all sunshine and rainbows at first but then I’m sure we will swiftly get back into the routine and the attitude of wanting to win.

“I am looking forward to it and I know all the riders, fans and sponsors are. It’s going to be a really, really great thing.

“It’s going to be emotional for many people but also fantastic. We cannot wait.”

The latest Government roadmap back to normality states fans would be allowed back into sporting stadiums at limited capacity from May 17, with the speedway season now set to begin shortly after.

Pirates’ first meeting at Wimborne Road is set to be the reverse cup fixture against the Gladiators on Wednesday, May 26.

Ford is hopeful there will be no further adjustments to that time frame and wanted to reassure fans that, despite tickets not yet going on sale, hard work is going on behind the scenes.

“At the minute, everything is going ahead as planned. Our first meeting is set to be away at Plymouth on May 25, then back at home on May 26 against Plymouth,” he confirmed.

“We are kind of in a little bit of a rock and a hard place at the minute, in terms of putting admission tickets on sale.

“We are just waiting on reassurances that the guidance we have been sent already is going to be in place then.

“It’s very frustrating for us. I am sure it is for our supporters that they haven’t been able to purchase their tickets for those initial events.

“But as soon as we have had reassurances from our local council and the Government, we will do so. We are hopefully looking forward to welcoming people back to Wimborne Road then.”

He added: “It’s been an incredibly tough year and a bit. It’s not been easy for anyone.

“I’d say anxiety levels for myself and our riders are at an all-time high. We are so close.

“We are just in that final stage now and hoping nothing derails the plans that are put in place. We have seen how easy it can happen, we are just praying it doesn’t.

“It will be a huge relief and quite an emotional thing I think, when we do finally get to get back on track – especially at home.

“It’s going to be a be a great scene and a real celebration.

“We are just counting down the days, hoping the roadmap does go as planned, the data points us in the right direction and it does happen as we are hoping for.”

On track, Pirates are still set to be led by skipper Danny King this campaign, in a power-packed trio along with Steve Worrall and Rory Schlein.

Stefan Nielsen, Ben Cook, Zane Keleher and Danyon Hume make up an exciting septet.

Ford added: “I’m glad to say all seven boys are still ready to represent the Pirates, put on those kevlars and when the time comes, I am sure they will get back to winning ways.”