Speedway: Stead happy to be back on world stage

World Cup selection was a fairytale return to the top for Simon Stead after his horrific injury last year
World Cup selection was a fairytale return to the top for Simon Stead after his horrific injury last year

Simon Stead insists his appearance in Saturday’s World Cup Final was a bonus – after considering quitting the sport last year.

Sheffielder Stead, who first appeared for his home town club in their 1999 title winning season, failed to score in Poland on a dramatic night which saw Denmark take the title in the last race from the host nation.

And Stead admits it was one meeting too far for the GB side after their moment of glory a week earlier when they won the qualifier at King’s Lynn in front of a capacity crowd.

He said: “It was a test too far for us but we have all enjoyed the experience.

“Of course you don’t enjoy finishing last, but just to be a part of it was a massive bonus for me after what I went through last year.

“I’m so proud to have represented Great Britain in a World Cup campaign and to play my part in reaching the final. I made great starts at King’s Lynn and beat two of the top three riders in the world in Greg Hancock and Darcy Ward.

“I’m going to take the positives away from this experience and I want to thank all the British fans for their support, both at King’s Lynn and in Bydgoszgz and my social media account has gone crazy, I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Stead completed a fairytale return by riding for GB after missing half of last season with a badly broken leg.

“This time last year I didn’t even know whether I would get back on a bike or not,” admitted Stead.

“After a long talk with my family, I decided I didn’t want to finish my career on the back of a bad accident.

“But if I was going to give it another shot, I wanted to ensure I went about it the right way to give myself the best possible chance of being successful.

“I knew it was an achievable goal and that was a massive carrot dangling in front of me, but I also knew I had to clean my lifestyle up a bit to give speedway one last go.

“It was a case of cutting out drinking and thinks like that, and hitting the gym. I trained harder than I’ve ever trained during the winter and the season started well on the track.

“Making the provisional Great Britain squad gave me the extra incentive to push on even harder to try to nail down a place in the team, and I was delighted to get the nod.”

Stead will be back in Tigers colours for Thursday’s home clash with Workington.

And Andre Compton has vowed to return to the side after his horrifying crash last week. Ashley Birks will deputise for Ty Proctor who is having treatment on a thigh injury.

The rider replacement facility will be in operation for Leigh Lanham who still has a back problem.