26th Jun, 2022

SAVE OUR BEES: The Brandon Years, a completion of total dominance

THE YEAR 2007 holds many bitter memories for sports fans across the UK.

It marked the completion of a humiliating 5-0 Ashes test series whitewash ‘down under’, England were defeated by South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final and even Grandstand aired its final recording on the BBC.

But for the Coventry Bees it marked one – if not the – most successful season in the club’s history.

Not only did the club scoop the Elite League Playoff Championship, but they also defeated Swindon and Poole in the Craven Shield.

It was the Robins who stood in Bees’ path to earn a remarkable treble – and the decisive meeting took place at Brandon.

Following a 45-45 draw at the Abbey Stadium the night before, Bees entered the second leg of the Knockout Cup final on the back of an extraordinary month of racing.

A win at home would secure the trophy, but it got off to a disastrous start.

Sebastian Ulamek and Leigh Adams got Swindon off to the perfect start with a 5-1 in the opening heat, putting the Bees four points behind on aggregate.

A pair of 4-2s before another Ulamek and Adams 5-1 gave Swindon a huge ten point advantage just five heats into the 15 heat fixture – and celebrations of a season treble seemingly off the cards.

Not a team to give in though, Coventry fought back – and, roared on by a huge Brandon crowd, Scott Nicholls and Steve Johnston brought Bees back into the meeting with a tactical 8-1 in heat six.

Chris Harris and Johnston then teamed up for a 5-1 in heat nine before Billy Janniro and and Rory Schlein put Coventry ahead by two points after heat 11.

A second heat win on the spin for Janniro was followed by the game-changer – a 4-2 in favour of the Bees with Scott Nicholls taking the chequered flag.

That opened the door for Swindon to use star rider Leigh Adams as a tactical rider in the concluding race, with the visiting side requiring a minimum first and third placings to end any chance of lifting the trophy.

Bees riders Janniro and Johnston held off Adams’ charge – sending Brandon into a scene of celebrations never witnessed before.

Even with one ‘pride’ heat remaining, Chris Harris still put his neck on the line to round Adams in sensational style and complete the meeting with Coventry winning 53-40.

A sensational season, ended in heroic style.

Pictures credit: Jeff Davies Photography

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