SOMERSET Rebels team manager Garry May said he was pleased with their first season in the top flight, as they ended the 2017 campaign with a victory over Wolverhampton Wolves last Friday.

The Rebels’ 53-37 win in the SGB Premiership KO Cup semi-final second leg was not enough to overturn a 28-point first-leg deficit (Wolves winning 96-84 on aggregate), as heats five to 10 were all drawn, scuppering the hosts’ momentum at the Oaktree Arena.

Nonetheless, a flawless six-ride paid maximum from Richard Lawson helped the team end the season on a high.

Having won promotion to the Premiership last season, the Rebels finished sixth in the table – missing out on the playoffs but avoiding the threat of relegation.

As a maiden campaign in the top flight, that counts as a success for team boss May.

He said: “With the riders coming up, it was a big learning curve for us.

“We didn’t have big name riders but built a team within our budget.

“We know we need to move on next season, aim for the playoffs, and keep pushing for our fans.”

He made a big call back in May of this year, deciding to sign Richard Lawson, Lewis Kerr and Cameron Heeps to replace Rohan Tungate, Paul Starke and Jan Graversen, after an indifferent start to the season and three straight home defeats.

“The averages – Rohan Tungate being on nine and Josh Grajczonek eight – did not help us,” May said.

“We went with what we had but we didn’t have the strength in depth.

“The changes paid off, as the riders who came in did well for us.”

There were several memorable moments for Somerset this season, but three matches stand out for the team boss.

“I live in Poole, so to win there [at Poole Pirates, 45-44] was fantastic, and we also beat King’s Lynn in a televised match [47-43].

“And to win at Belle Vue [46-44], when everyone had written us off, was just tremendous.”

As for how being in the top flight had changed the club, May does not see a great deal of difference.

“It’s not really changed,” he said.

“It’s still a close-knit club, with good staff behind the scenes.

“The club are fully behind me, just as they backed my decision to make the changes.

“Debbie [Hancock, club promoter] and I work together like brother and sister, and we aim to win Somerset some silverware.”

Long-term, May is very positive about the Rebels’ chances – not just staying in the Premiership, but pushing on to enter playoff contention and pick up trophies.

In terms of whether Somerset can thrive at the top level of UK speedway, he said: “I really do [believe that].

“We hope for more supporters, and more sponsors, which would help us build a bigger and better team.

“If we can get ourselves sorted out in the next couple of seasons, I think we can stay up for good.”


SOMERSET had been due to hold their end-of-season Dinner and Presentation Night at the Oaktree tonight (Friday), but this has been postponed.

Rider commitments and injuries would have meant a low turnout from them, and so the club decided to postpone the event, with a new date to be announced in due course.