Buxton brought the curtain down on a difficult National League season by securing their fourth victory of the campaign against the Rye House Raiders.
The fans joy at seeing their team victorious was tempered somewhat by the news of their skipper Ryan Blacklock announcing he was quitting the sport.
It was just the latest in a line of retirements that have hit the Derbyshire club in a season that they would rather forget. The meeting was a close affair for the first half. The Hitmen took the lead for the first after Heat 9. However, the home side began to dominate with no less than three maximum 5-1 heat victories in the last six races.
Skipper Blacklock won two of those last races as his Hitmen swansong. Guests Tom Woolley and Tony Atkin topped the score charts but Blacklock’s double figure return ranked amongst his best of the year.
An emotional Blacklock said: “I’ve fully enjoyed being the captain for 2016 and hope I’ve done a decent job. But sadly, I’m gutted to say this but [that] was my final meeting as a Speedway rider. Finished on a high with a win for the team and won my last race which means a lot to me. Just like to thank all at Buxton Speedway for sticking by me in the last five years and to all the fans and everyone who has helped me and believed in me over this time. Thanks to you all – it’s been a blast.”
Manager Jason Pipe said: “I knew Raj (Ryan Blacklock) was going to take time out but I wasn’t expecting him to announce it now. He’s been a great skipper, a great team man and he will be missed here at Buxton.”
And on the victory added: “It’s been great to finish on a win and to give our fans something to shout about. It was a solid team performance and it’s brilliant when all the hard work pays off.
“If a fan was to shadow me for just a week they wouldn’t believe the work that goes into team building particularly when we have had the absences that we have had this term.”
Whilst the Hitmen finished bottom of the Travel Plus National League the latter months have been kinder to them and it could well have been a different story had they found form earlier in the season. Whatever the future holds it seems they face it without Ryan Blacklock for the first time in half a decade.
BUXTON 52: Tom Woolley 14+1, Tony Atkin 10, Ryan Blacklock 10, Joe Lawlor 8+1, Lee Geary 7+3, Ryan Burton 3+1, Shelby Rutherford r/r.
RYE HOUSE 38: Robert Branford 12, Luke Priest 9+1, George Hunter 7+1, Sam Woods 4+1, Macaulay Leek 4, Connor Locke 2+1, Matt Saul r/r.