DANNY Ford says Poole Pirates have been left “hurt” by the disappointing conclusion to the 2023 season, admitting: “We just imploded.”

Things had been going well for much of the season for Pirates.

With the BSN Series title already in the bag and having finished top of the SGB Championship table, many expected Poole to complete another clean sweep of trophies.

But they came away empty-handed in October, losing both the Knockout Cup and league play-off finals, in the space of 10 days.

They were hampered by the absence of Anders Rowe, who missed both legs of the Championship final against Glasgow Tigers and also the first leg of the cup showdown with Scunthorpe Scorpions, due to injury.

He returned for the second leg against Scunthorpe, but withdrew during the meeting.

“I think we just imploded a little bit at the end of the season, to be honest,” promoter Ford told the Daily Echo.

“I think the loss of Anders really did hurt us. We simply couldn’t cover for that.

“I honestly do believe that if we were at full strength, one-to-seven, I think we’d have been difficult to beat in both finals.

“He did his first couple of heats (against Scunthorpe), but had to withdraw after taking another tumble in the first couple of stagings of heat one.

“Being honest with himself, I don’t think he was fully fit, which wasn’t an ideal situation. We really did need him and if not, running the rider replacement would’ve helped us more than him doing a couple of rides.

“But he gave it his all and it was a shame. It’s such a shame for the season to end the way it did.”

Bournemouth Echo: Poole Pirates were beaten in two finals last monthPoole Pirates were beaten in two finals last month (Image: Richard Crease)

After taking over day-to-day running of Pirates in 2020, Ford had overseen success in every competition Pirates entered, until last month.

“Since my tenure coming into the club, I haven’t really tasted much defeat,” he said.

“Having it twice within a month, it is certainly not a taste I want to get too familiar with.

“It does hurt. We’re a club used to success. Our supporters are used to success and when we don’t reach the height of our expectations, it does hurt, maybe more so than it would for other clubs.

“It has hurt us, definitely.

“We were going along incredibly smoothly, until October.

“We qualified for every final, we won the BSN Series final, we finished top of the league.

“It just would’ve been nice had the season finished at the end of September, to be honest!”

He added: “I don’t think there was any decisions we could’ve made that would’ve changed things, which comforts me slightly.

“We had the best team up until the end of September. We finished top of the league, we were probably everyone’s favourites, on paper, to do the clean sweep.

“But genuinely, the loss of Anders, we just simply could not cover for it.

“Losing him in the position he was riding meant we could only run rider replacement, we couldn’t even get in a guest. It’s just one of those things.

“It’s the way it is in speedway, unfortunately. Injuries have kind of killed our season a little bit.

“But we’ve been so fortunate in the past couple of years with injuries not hurting us too badly and other clubs have suffered.

“It was our turn to suffer and have a little bit of luck go against us, but hopefully next year we can bounce back.”

Promoters are set to meet later this week for the AGM to finalise plans for the 2024 season, with Pirates again set to compete in the Championship.