DANNY Ford stressed the need to make Wimborne Road a “fortress” for Pirates this season, as Poole prepare for an emotional return to home shale.

More than 600 days have passed since the home side donned the skull and crossbones and came to the tapes at their historic headquarters.

But the wait for Poole to return to their home track ends tomorrow, when they host SGB Championship rivals Berwick (7.30pm).

Pirates have suffered two defeats since dropping down to the second tier for the first time since 1990.

They were beaten 45-44 in a last-heat decider at Eastbourne, before Rory Schlein’s injury proved a big blow in a 52-38 loss at Glasgow.

But promoter Ford is hopeful the tide will turn when Poole are roared on by their home fans.

He told the Daily Echo: “We need to make this an absolute fortress down here at Wimborne Road.

“The boys know and I think they’re all prepared and they’re all ready to give Berwick a hell of a battle.

“It’s going to be a good one. Hopefully it puts out a statement of intent that we are ready and we want to be firing for that title, but we can’t have too much more bad luck to be honest!

“It doesn’t sound great when you say two defeats to start off the season, but to be fair we’ve gone to probably two of the title favourites away at their home tracks, one we lost by one point in the final heat and the other one we lost our number one in heat one.

“So it really was all stacked against us and we’ve had some horrible luck. But we need to make a statement on Wednesday.”

The occasion marks the first home meeting since Ford took over the day-to-day running of Pirates from father, club owner Matt.

Since taking a more hands-on role in operations, Danny has had to help the club work through the coronavirus pandemic, which saw all British league speedway wiped out in 2020.

Asked what his emotions would be like when the tapes finally fly up at Poole once again, Danny Ford replied: “I won’t fully appreciate it until those tapes do fly up.

“Even on the day, I am just going to be trying to make sure things are sorted and everything is running smoothly.

“It’s going to be a pretty hands-on day for me and the anxiety and stress levels are probably going to be slightly through the roof.

“But when those tapes do fly up, hopefully I am just imagining all the weight being lifted off me and I can kind of put a little bit of pressure on the lads then. It’s their turn to step up!

“I have done my job in getting the Pirates to the tapes this year, effectively, which has been the biggest challenge this club has faced in decades, if not ever.

“I think I’ll have a drink that night.”

Poole have confirmed Hans Andersen will make a star guest appearance to take on Berwick, in place of the injured Schlein.