SONY DSCWightlink Islanders riders, management, supporters, and trackstaff soon put last Wednesday’s KO Cup final defeat behind them when they gathered together in the Premier Lounge at the stadium last Friday evening for the Supporters Club Buffet and Disco.

Five riders from their 2013 squad, namely skipper Ben Hopwood, Chris Widman and the injured trio of Darryl Ritchings, Brendan Johnson and Brandon Freemantle were in attendance, whilst although they would have loved to be there too Adam Ellis, Dan Stoneman and Tom Perry sent their apologies.

It was Darryl Ritchings, still on crutches as he recovers from his recent operation to repair the serious ankle damage he sustained in an on-track crash, who emerged was the major award winner.

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Not only did he win the ‘Big One’ that being the Rider of the Year as voted for by the club’s fans but he also won awards for being the ‘Best Team Man’ for being the leading bonus point scorer, the Maud White Memorial Trophy presented by Kay Richardson in memory of her late mother for being the clubs best supporting rider of the season and was joint winner of Best Pairing  award given to the duo of Wightlink Islanders who whilst riding with each other in races secure the most heat advantages for the side over the course of the season.

And that just left Ben Hopwood to receive the ‘Riders rider of the year’ as voted for amongst the riders themselves and all the clubs riders have / will receive medallion mementos in recognition of their efforts throughout 2013.

Darryl said:

“I’m still feeling a bit sore after the operation on my ankle but it went well and hopefully I’ll be fit by Christmas, well that’s the plan and then the hard work begins to get ready for next season.”

Co-manager, Chris Hunt, reflected on the 2013 season:

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“I love this club so much and it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we may not be here next year but that’ll certainly be the case if the money can’t be found to fund the purchase of an airfence and have int installed by the start of next season.

“Anyway despite our seemingly never ending injury problems we managed to win the National Trophy, finish fourth in the league to reach the play offs semi final and defy the odds by reaching the cup final.

“I’ve so many people to thank none more so than my wife Jan who puts in such an unbelievable amount of really hard work behind the scenes here at the club.

“There are also many other unsung heroes here to, far too many to name individually but my thanks go out to them all.

Photo: Ian Groves

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