Belle Vue’s Steve Worrall says he’s “honoured and proud” after being handed the Aces’ captaincy for the 2018 season, taking over from Craig Cook in his first such appointment in the Premiership.
And Jack Smith will take over as skipper of the reigning National League Champions in 2018, and he’s determined to prove he’s capable of handling the pressures of his new responsibilities.
Worrall raced one of the best campaigns of his career to date last year, earning the rank of British No.2 at the National Speedway Stadium before starring for Team GB in the Speedway World Cup.
The 26-year old thrives on the challenges the skipper’s responsibility presents, and will also lead Championship side Scunthorpe in the same capacity for their upcoming seasonal endeavours.
He recently described how riding for Belle Vue had “put the key in the door” of international opportunities, and he’s delighted at the prospect of repaying his parent club in such a fashion.
Speaking at the club’s annual Fans’ Forum on Wednesday night, he said: “I’m really excited about being the team captain this year and I’m grateful to Mark Lemon for giving me the opportunity.
“I dipped my toe in a couple of times last year when Craig [Cook] wasn’t with us and I really enjoyed it. I take pride in helping the lads and I feel I can set a good example for the team.
“Some might argue the responsibility puts more work on you as a rider but I’m someone who likes to be proactive and keep busy, and I wouldn’t have agreed to do it if I didn’t think I was capable.
“It’s a huge step up for me to take on this role with Belle Vue and I’m proud to have done so. Speedway is a team sport and I’m a team player, and I can’t wait to get started in March.”
After a baptism of fire in the Premiership last year 19-year old Smith goes into the new season without a top flight berth, but this has only served to motivate him to step up his game.
Since making his British Speedway debut in 2016, he has been a consistently strong performer who has been instrumental in the league triumphs of both Birmingham and Belle Vue.
And while he expects the Colts’ task of defending their crown to be a challenging one, he is thrilled to take the skipper’s mantle for what he describes as an “exciting season ahead”.
He continued: “Being captain of the Colts is a huge milestone for me and something that I believe is a measure of how far I’ve come since I first started racing with Birmingham two years ago.
“Mark [Lemon], Steve [Williams] and Graham [Goodwin] have placed a tremendous amount of faith in me to fulfil this role and I will do everything I can to prove that faith is well placed.
“Having that responsibility of being the go-to guy for your team mates will be a new challenge but having said that, this is a team where all the riders help each other when anyone is struggling.
“But I’m still more than prepared to step up my game and be that first port of call for the lads if they need me, and I hope that in doing so it helps me to develop and better myself as a rider.”
Planning is well underway for the club’s 90th Anniversary celebration on March 24, with the first confirmed names in a star-studded field to be announced very soon.
Words: Hayley Bromley
Images: Ian Charles