If their first season in charge was something of a dream for Golding and Ford, year two rapidly turned into a nightmare. A winter long dispute over the continued employment of World U21 champion Lee Richardson concluded with the youngster getting his wish to move to Coventry, the Poole promoters then tempted Newport's Craig Watson to Wimborne Road, the Australian targetted by a number of Elite league clubs.
Watson was joined in Dorset by Emil Lindqvist who boldly decided to make the step up in grade after a chequered debut year at Premier. With Loram, Nicholls and Havelock safely back in the fold it was believed by many that the key man to the season's fortunes would be Lars Gunnestad, making comeback after a season's sabbatical.
The investment in Watson soon became an expensive one. Crashing in his fourth ride in his debut meeting seeking his first points of the night, Watson sustained a broken arm and scaphoid and an extensive period out of the saddle - long enough for him to return home to Australia whilst the Pirates sought a replacement. Waiting in the wings was former club captain Alun Rossiter, in favour with the Poole promoters who generously agreed to give up a Wednesday night to allow 'Rosco' to stage his long-awaited (twice postponed) Testimonial.
Whilst team results were not too favourable for the Poole club, Mark Loram was flying the flag high in the Grand Prix. Runner-up in the opening two rounds Loram soon found himself as the series leader and seriously threatening to relieve club captain Gary Havelock of the title he had held for 8 years as the last Englishman to win the World Championship. By the final round Loram needed a top six place to guarantee the title and to the delight of British speedway he duly delivered, although nerves certainly won the better of him on that unforgettable night in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Despite the lack of team success crowd figures stood up, attracted by the blend of good racing and entertainment that was rapidly becoming a Golding and Ford trademark.
But during the winter of 2000/2001 there was near anarchy amongst the Poole faithful when they heard the talk of speedway nomad Mark Loram would be on his travels again. No deal could be organised between the Poole promotion and Loram's management team and those rumours soon became fact. To soften the blow Golding and Ford acted in the best possible way, they agreed terms with a certain three times world champion Tony Rickardsson, reputedly the highest achieved rider still racing competitively. It wasn't long before the Swede was being won over by the passionate Pirate supporters, along too with a couple of relatively unknown foreigners, Dane Hans N Andersen and Pole Krzysztof Cegielski. Towards the last few weeks of the 2000 campaign Golding and Ford had brought across the quietly spoken Grzegorz Walasek, who just missed out on a qualifying spot for the GP series, and he had shown sufficient promise to earn a 2001 team place. Havelock was retained and announcing Lars Gunnestad as another retainee it was confirmed that the Norwegian would receive a Testimonial campaign. So, with Watson recovered the team was complete. Most pundits predicted another lower league echelon finish, in truth the promotion were also cautious, describing the side as 'one with potential'. That potential rapidly shone through. Cegielski was a revelation and was soon making a mockery of his 4.50 assessed average, finishing the year as a heat leader. Andersen too was making excellent progress until his season was heavily interrupted with a broken thigh, the result of a Wimborne Road crash with that 'golden boy' Loram. To cover for the Dane's absence Poole were given permission to recall Zetterstrom. Walasek was given an unexpected chance to show his ability on the world stage, as he deputised for three different riders during the course of the GP. His call-up provided a watershed in an upturn in form and by the end of the season he was the pride and joy of the Poole public, scooping the Away Rider of the Year.
It seemed that Ford and Golding had something of a midas touch as far as world champions were concerned, for having had Richardson win the U21 title in '99 and Loram the senior crown in 2000, the run continued with Rickardsson hugely impressively winning his fourth world title, but team glory looked to be slipping them by.Inspite of the pre-season predictions Poole found themselves well clear of the league basement region, indeed in contrast they were pressing hard for the title! Whilst the history books will show that Oxford were the deserved champions, it could have been a different story had the Ipswich v Oxford fixtures been ridden in strict chronological order instead of being switched for 'the purposes of television"! There was some consolation to follow though, for on the very final day of their third season in control the keys to the trophy cabinet had to be found. In a night of high drama the Pirates overhauled a 10 point deficit at the hands of Peterborough to win the Craven Shield as Neil Middleditch realised a 44 year dream of actually winning something with Poole and gave the Poole fans something to soften the blow with for the winter as they come to terms with the likelihood of having to have a complete rebuild again for 2002 as the form of Walasek and Cegielski didn't go unnoticed by the GP organisers who offered both of them wild card entries to the rapidly expanding series, which could have a major affect on team building rules in Britain.
Indeed, that is precisely what happened as Ford and Golding's original team plans were consigned to the wastepaper bin once it was decreed that there would be a strict limit to the number of GP riders a team could employ. Poole were able to retain two, provided only one had an average in excess of 8 points which meant that either Cegielski or the world champion Rickardsson had to be released. Not surprisingly it was the Pole who was jettisoned and he was all set to join Eastbourne before the Eagles swooped for Mark Loram just days before announcing a change in their promotion set-up with Terry Russell, the BSPA president, buying in to the concern.
The non-GP status of Gary Havelock coupled with his attractive average meant he was a greatly sought-after rider but Poole opted to retain him and the skipper became the only Englishman in the side as Hans N Andersen was to be joined by fellow Dane Bjarne Pedersen who Poole had secured on loan from Premier league side Newcastle. The side was completed with three Polish riders, the unknown Mariusz Staszewski, young Tomasz Chrzanowski who had caught the eye during a late visit to Wimborne Road at the end of 2001 and the recall of GP wild card Grzegorz Walasek, a rider rapidly warming to the hearts of many of the Poole faithful.
Ford and Golding both admitted that the side was 'a developing one' and warned against Poole fans being too optimistic for honours, although with the newly introduced play-off system the hopes of making the top five were not beyond consideration. For much of the campaign the Pirates, heavily reliant on the scoring prowess of Rickardsson were pushing hard for the top three spots, but the season wasn't without it's problems. Andersen and Pedersen missed matches as they invoked a DMU ruling that allowed them to sit out meetings 48 hours prior to world championship qualifying rounds. Both the Danes worked their way into the final qualifier, Pedersen securing one of the six qualifying places, Andersen narrowly missing out.
After Walasek sustained his second injury of the year - both sustained when riding against Wolverhampton - the Poole management opted to make wholesale changes. Out went Chrzanowski who had been struggling mentally as legal problems in his native Poland provided a distraction he could have done without. Staszewski on the other hand was handicapped through lack of top competitive machinery, for the ability was clearly there. Replacing them were Lars Gunnestad, making a surprise return and the very low-averaged Henrik Gustafsson, and the introduction of Andre Compton and Paul Clews as 'doubling-up' Premier league riders. Clews only made one appearance, Compton being favoured and whilst the points didn't flow too heavily, his commitment could never be questioned. Swede Gustaffson was to experience a premature end to his season joining skipper Gary Havelock on the injured list Rickardsson, despite being affected by a debilitating virus throughout the season took just nine of the 10 Grand Prix rounds to claim his fifth world title, equalling the legendary Ove Fundin, and that meant his end of season trip to Australia for the final event could be approached in a more relax manner. By the time he left for Sydney the Pirates dream of winning the league through the play-offs had been shattered. A home defeat in the league proper by Coventry left the Dorset club having to race their play-off round at Coventry. Rickardsson played his part in that play- off being unbeaten in three rides, a remarkable achievement considering he was suffering from that virus throughout the meeting. Forced to withdraw from the match the Pirates literally ran out of scoring prowess and were soundly beaten.
Some consolation was to follow when the Pirates succesfully defended the Craven Shield title at the expense of Coventry and Ipswich which added some symmetry to the season compared with 2001 - the World Champion and Craven Shield being their successes.
2003 will undoubtedly be remembered as the best ever season for the Pirates. The fifth season of the Ford/Golding partnership and they were rewarded for all their hard efforts since taking control of the club as Poole swept the board of all team honours. They surprised many during the break between the 2002 and 2003 seasons by bringing Leigh Adams back to where it all began for the Australian 14 years earlier. Adams was joined by Lukas Dryml, both of whom had ridden at Oxford the previous year and with Tony Rickardsson retained the Pirates had an envious top three. Add to that Bjarne Pedersen and David Ruud both of whom were expected to improve on their previous performances, togehter with one of those Polish discoveries, in the guise of Krzsystof Kasprzak, the Pirates were strongly fancied by pundits across the country.
It was something of an early wake up call when the TV cameras captured Poole losing at home to Coventry in the early weeks, but revenge, sweet revenge, was to follow at the other end of the season.
Adams, Dryml, Pedersen and defending world champion Tony Rickardsson all featured prominently on the Grand Prix stage although it was during the qualifying rounds that saw Lukas Dryml face an early end to the season. He had only just recovered from a life-threatening horrendous spill during the Slovenian Grand Prix when he was embroiled in a fast and furious first turn in the Grand Prix qualifying final at Wimborne Road, clashing with Peter Karlsson and leaving Poole with a void to fill.
Adams and Rickardsson were in strong contention for the world title and Pedersen ensured his place in the 2004 series by qualifying from that Poole final.
A new competition, the British league cup was introduced and Poole, with a different look team to that contesting the senior title, remained firmly on the glory trail. Ford and Golding had introduced another sensation to their number by offering Antonio Lindback, a Brazilian, a place in the BLC team. He made his club debut with a remarkable paid 21 point maximum and indeed the Pirates were unbeaten in that competition until they put in a lack-lustre performance at Exeter. They still managed to qualify for the final stages thanks in the main to an impressive 19 point haul from Magnus Zetterstrom at Wolverhampton, a performance that the majority of Poole fans missed because unprecedently that fixture was staged on the same night as the Elite league side were performing at home against Oxford, with KO Cup qualification on the agenda. That particular fixture had taken since Good Friday to arrange but it was worth waiting for as the Pirates gave themselves a solid enough first leg lead that was to eventually see them through to the final where they would meet Coventry. A week after that cup semi-final clash with the Silver Machine, the two sides met again in the Play-off tournament and again the Pirates triumphed, dishing up another confrontation with Coventry, for the ultimate pot - the Elite League championship.
Poole brought back a slender one point lead from the first leg of the Elite league play-off and then made easy work of the Bees in the second leg to become league champions for the first time since 1994. Confidence of the double remained high but the Bees were a different proposition when the two sides met on 22nd October in the first leg of the KO Cup final. That advantage was soon wiped out on a wet, dreary night at Coventry on 25th October and the Midland side looked certain to take retaliation on the Pirates as they rapidly rode into a double point aggregate advantage. Then, suddenly, the Pirates began to fight back and produced arguably the greatest ever comeback in a speedway fixture by countering a 14 point deficit to lose by just two points on the night and thus claim the double by a 90-88 final score.
That left just the unique treble to complete and after trailing Eastbourne by 6 points in the first leg of the BLC final, Pedersen and Zetterstrom became true club heroes by double figures scores a-piece (Pedersen unbeaten from 5 and Zetterstrom unbeaten until the final race of the night.
A remarkable season which saw the hinges on the trophy cabinet well oiled, as it was opened so often, but what an act to follow.......
Follow it they did though despite the loss of world number four Leigh Adams who was called back by Swindon on their return to top flight speedway. In his place the Pirates called upon another rider Mildura, Jason Lyons, who was sensationally overlooked by his parent club Belle Vue. With Adams it left Poole fans somewhat concerned as to whether they would have that solid top end that he and Rickardsson had provided. Rickardsson began the season in sensational form but then dropped a bombshell from which many clubs would have never recovered. The world's greatest current rider had decided to quit British speedway with the Pirates having ridden 9 Elite league matches, seven of which they had won and Rickardsson had contributed a massive 119 points and apart from one retirement had recorded heat scores of a minimum of a paid second place! So with the world number 2 and world number 4 now no longer part of the Poole set-up, Lyons struggling to find the form that he had consistently produced for the Aces the Pirates' opponents began to believe that the Poole success bubble would rapidly burst.
Ryan Sullivan was given the unenviable task of filling the "Master's" boots making his Poole colours return on May 5th against Oxford that netted more league points for the Pirates. In the period through to mid-June the Pirates gained another seven league wins, drew one and lost four. A record to be proud of but still Lyons was not delivering and he was to ride his last match for the Pirates on 14th June at Wolverhampton - a match that the Pirates sensationally won with the Australian being paid for 6 points in one of his better returns (average wise).
It was too late though for him to avoid the axe, for Ford and Golding had lined up Slovenian Matej Ferjan and Krzysztof Kasprzak as replacements for Lyons and the injured Dave Watt. Ferjan was owned by Belle Vue but like Sullivan was to embark on a second stint as a Pirates and Kasprzak, who had been loaned to Swindon at the start of the season was coming back from an injury that had cost him his place as a Robin.
It was a mid-season gamble that reaped great rewards as the Pirates demonstrated a well-balanced side with solid scores from Bjarne Pedersen (who was to go on to win the Elite League Riders Championship), Antonio Lindback and the three new recruits, with skipper Magnus Zetterstrom having his moments, primarily at Wimborne Road.
The Pirates were assured of a place in the end-of-season play offs midway through the campaign and an early KO Cup elimination of Peterborough still had designs on yet another league and cup double.
The Pirates low spots were two crushing league defeats at Oxford (August 27th) and Belle Vue (15th September) with the Dorset side failing to break the 30 point score on both occasions, as they completed their league campaign. But a most definite high spot was a play-off away win at Wolverhampton that left the Pirates with one hand firmly on the league trophy that was proudly displayed in their trophy cabinet. The failure of Coventry and Belle Vue to complete their outstanding cup tie gave the Pirates a quarter final walk-over and a tough looking semi-final tie against Swindon. But, coming just 48 hours after that first leg play off win against Wolves the Pirates kept the points coming in the first leg to give themselves a massive 31 point lead to protect in the second leg. That was to be the following night and they booked their place in the KO Cup final despite losing by 13 points in Wiltshire.
Wolverhampton failed to lift themselves after that play-off defeat on their home shale and the Pirates completed back-to-back league titles with a crushing 63-30 home win on a night of great celebration, and only Ipswich stood between them and the double. Rain caused the postponement of the home leg on 20th October and 24 hours later the Pirates journeyed to Suffolk to give a great account of themselves, going down by just 6 points. The re-arranged home leg was set for the very last day of the season. The weather stayed fine and the Pirates, inspired by a superb paid maximum performance from Lindback and an 11 point haul from Sullivan proved too much for the Witches who only had former Pirates Hans Andersen and Scott Nicholls in a point scoring mood. The Pirates had done it, the first club for 30 years to successfully defend the league and cup titles. Promoter Mike Golding finishing the season with the words "we are going for the treble double in 2005....."
Through until July it looked as though the Pirates would prove Golding right but the prophecy failed to materialise when a down turn in results from mid-August left the Pirates sitting out the play-offs, two points short of fourth-placed Eastbourne's 49 points. Few would have thought that when Poole lost by six points at Ipswich on August 11th that this was to spell the start of the club equalling their worst ever string of results - a sequence of 8 matches without a win meaning that the Pirates home win on August 10th against Belle Vue (who were to finish the league campaign on top but denied the championship by Coventry in the play-off final) was the last points, excluding aggregate bonus points, that the Pirates were to gain. Ironically, it was against the Witches that the Pirates finally had to resign themselves to an early finish, for the Suffolk side came to Wimborne Road on 7th September and stole the show with a dramatic 44-46 victory, inflicting the third successive home defeat on the Dorset club.
Earlier in the campaign they had been eliminated from the KO Cup by rivals Swindon and it therefore seemed a very empty season for the Pirates. On reflection it was the lack of consistent scoring ability from the reserve berth that became the Pirates downfall and whilst Ford and Golding attempted to make changes their options were largely limited. They began the season with Ray Morton returning to top flight speedway but the Ripper had to admit that it was a step to far and he stood down towards the end of April after just 11 league appearances. Tobias Johansson was given a chance, lasted two more league matches than Morton but achieved much less than his predecessor. Tomas Suchanek was called into the breach but really needed more experience behind him. Both Edward Kennett and Ricky Ashworth shared the doubling up role, whilst late in the season they brought Robert Kosciecha over from Poland and he became a big hit with the Poole fans, not least because he scored paid 15 from 7 at Swindon. But it was just not the reserves that struggled, Matej Ferjan was inconsistent away from Wimborne Road, whilst Ryan Sullivan was struck by a blood disorder. On the plus side, Bjarne Pedersen had another totally reliable season, Krzysztof Kasprzak was crowned World U21 Champion in the most atrocious of Austrian conditions and Antonio Lindback once again produced some exhilirating speedway. But by October the Poole promotion's stock-take of the trophy room resulted in just the one piece of silverware still left there, the non-contested British League Cup, for the Craven Shield slipped them by as they struggled to put out a side of their own in the final at Oxford.
Matters improved little for the Pirates in 2006, in fact, as league positions were concerned they suffered their lowest finish under the control of the Ford/Golding era. But, although the record books will show the Pirates in 7th place and the reserve problem still persisted the Pirates can reflect on a 'what might have been' campaign. They reached the semi-finals of the Knockout Cup, only for their place in the final to be thwarted by the weather home and abroad. The two sides raced the first leg at Belle Vue on September 11th with the Aces claiming a 12 point advantage but significantly it was that meeting which saw Antonio Lindback crash out with a knee injury and that was to have major implications for the Pirates. For whilst Lindback attempted to ride on the Thursday of the same week (against Reading in a league match), on a change of night for the RIAS Pirates he was forced to withdraw after just three rides and wasn't to be seen in a Pirate race bib again that season. He had already missed a vital 7 match sequence in August due to serious sinus problems and that he meant he had ridden less than three quarters of all matches.
When Ford brought world champion back to Poole on a full transfer for the Australian's third spell with the club the talk amongst the terraces was that the Pirates would struggle as with Crump and Pedersen spear-heading the side a big chunk of points had been instantly consumed. What many had factored in, but Ford certainly had, was the inspiration that Crump would bring to the likes of the youngsters of Troy Batchelor, signed on-loan from King's Lynn, Jason Doyle and Edward Kennett, all of whom seemed proud to be on the same side of the pits as the world's best rider. With Boyce having earned his rightful place, Poole explored Russia to complete their side and gave Sergei Darkin a chance to make a serious assault in British speedway. The rider had suffered life-threatening injuries in a crash two years previous and didn't settle quickly enough. In fact he was released after just 10 'point-less' rides, Poole turning to another Australian in the guise of Craig Watson to fill the vacancy. Three matches later they lost the services of Jason Doyle who broke an ankle on Good Friday.but less than a fortnight later the Pirates were to enjoy an unbeaten sequence of 14 successive league matches,(the record books show a sequence of 15 but the victory at Oxford on April 20th was eventually to be expunged when Oxford rocked British Speedway by closing up shop mid-season) which began just one meeting after Polish veteran Piotr Swist had been drafted in as a direct cover for the unlucky Doyle. The end came though painfully for the Poole fans as not only was it at the hands of near neighbours Swindon, but it was by a solitary point. Although some comfort was taken by the fact that the Robins were enjoying their best season for years and would eventually finish runners-up in the championship and in the cup. During that run "Twisty" excited at times, whilst Watson failed to realise his potential and when Doyle was ready for an end of May track return it was his fellow Australian who had to make way with Swist retained for half a dozen more matches. A home draw in the play-offs were never far from Poole's dreams but Swindon and Coventry both kept a distance ahead and the Pirates, who because of a two away postponements in space of 2 days at Eastbourne and Ipswich, were unable to complete their full quota of league fixtures prior to the play-off deadline. So, as 4th place finishers they faced in Coventry in the semi-finals where they succumbed to a rampant Bees side on 17th September. Two days later the Pirates suffered further humiliation when they lost the re-arranged home second leg of the KO Cup semi-final, again to Coventry. The Bees were to claim a 'hat-trick' when they won the first leg of the Craven Shield at Wimborne Road, a result that they were able to carry forward over the final two legs despite Swindon's final leg win at Brandon. So 2007 will go down as a year that promised a lot and many expectations were exceeded but the bare facts amount to the Pirates finishing pot-less, Crump losing his world title ending the GP series with a bronze medal (his first world title medal of that colour), and Pedersen who had struggled in the GP series successfully exploiting the qualifying route for a place in the 2008 championship and many fans wondering who would be retained for 2008 amidst talks of a much reduced points limit.
The verdict went in favour of long-serving Dane, Bjarne Pedersen. With a lower average than Crump it gave the Pirates the benefit of more points to play with to restructure. But Crump was soon back at Wimborne Road as the club launched their Diamond Jubilee season with a the 60 Year, 60 Seconds, 60 Grand spectacular meeting, won impressively by Nicki Pedersen making what was to be a rare racing appearance in England in 2008. It wasn't just on track though that a new team was being developed, as the Ford/Golding partnership amicably came to an end with Golding wanting to invest more of his time with his Premier league track Somerset. Ford took on sole ownership of the club but appointed Giles Hartwell as a co-promoter. For much of the campaign this 'back-room' reorganisation was kept under wraps, the team itself providing much to focus on, in the main the rapid development of young Australian Chris Holder, the unbelievable early form of Freddie Eriksson and the sheer showmanship and dedication of Adam Skornicki. The latter became the first major casualty of the Pirates season, breaking his wrist at Swindon which sidelined him until April. When he did return, with the wrist still heavily strapped, he soon found himself making up for all those missing rides as fellow reserve Zibigniew Suchecki sustained a badly broken thigh on St George's Day. Would the crisis ever end? For Karol Zabik, with the credentials of, alongside Holder, as being one of the most exciting young speedway riders in the world, was struggling both physically, and significantly, mentally and the Pirates were finding the going tough Even more so when skipper Bjarne Pedersen damaged his wrist in a Craven Shield visit to Coventry, that saw the Pirates allow a 24 point advantage slip away, denying the Pirates a place in the final. Ready to step into the breach was Krzysztof Kasprzak on a 28-day arrangement but the Poole management also decided to make a further, permanent double switch in early May and dispense with rider replacement option for Zabik.
An inspirational move by Ford saw two former Pirates return - Magnus 'Zorro' Zetterstrom and Daniel Davidsson and unquestionably from this point on the Pirates looked far more like Championship material then they had done up until now.. Ironically, the Pirates had claimed an away win at Peterborough, their first of the season, just a few days before the two Swedes made the 2008 debuts at Eastbourne, a date that clashed with a Dave Watt world championship qualifier. But, without Watt and Pedersen the Pirates made it back to back victories, thanks in the main to a brilliant Skornicki performance. Towards the end of May the Pirates slipped up at home twice and the question marks were returning. A defeat by Ipswich was followed 7 days later with a loss to Peterborough and the doom merchants were suddenly well in abundance. Until, 5 days on when the Pirates travelled to Ipswich and revenged with a 51-41 victory, and a swift double over Wolverhampton to back it up with and suddenly the future looked brighter. An aggregate cup success over Swindon put Poole into the semi-finals which was to prove an epic adventure against Coventry, drawing both at Coventry and back at Wimborne Road to take the tie to a home and away replay. In the meantime the Pirates were heading for a club record run of successive league victories, ended at 14 straight league wins when Peterborough followed up their Wimborne Road success with a "B" fixture win at the Showground.
Wishing to avoid a cup clash with the Swedish League play-offs both sides agreed to hold the second leg of the cup-tie on another 'off-night', and for the second time in a month the RIAS Pirates were to stage a Thursday home fixture. However, the second leg of the Swedish play-off had fallen foul to the weather and the reserved date clashed with the cup tie. Both sides were without their respective number one's and captains, Bjarne Pedersen absent for the home side and newly crowned World Champion Jason Crump for the Aces, but the meeting went ahead. The Pirates rapidly began to claw back those 12 points and were just three points short of their target by heat 12. But the track conditions were worsening and the result declared at that stage, with the Aces progressing to the final. It was the second time of the season that the Aces had gained a debatable advantage over the Poole club - in the Best Pairs at Swindon Bjarne Pedersen and Antonio Lindback were unbeaten in their group but level on points with Belle Vue, but it was the Aces duo who were awarded the right in the final under the bizarre ruling that Jason Crump had individually won more races even though the points system rewarded team riding.
For several weeks of the season the RIAS Pirates had to cover for the absence of Krzysztof Kasprzak who broke his collar-bone three times in separate incidents and missed a lengthy period between mid-May and July. During Kasprzak's absence the management also gave Daniel Davidsson his marching orders replacing him at reserve with Shaun Tacey, a gamble that failed to pay off. The decision however did seem to spur Daniel's brother Jonas into a rich vein of form as he became the mainstay of the Pirates reserve berth. Tacey's spell was limited and the Poole management wanted to bring in Australian Robert Ksiesak but although he rode one meeting for the RIAS Pirates it was adjudged that he was not eligible under the doubling-up rule, providing an opportunity for Matthew Wethers and Tommy Allen to prove themselves, the former putting in some highly committed performances and not always rewarded fully for his effort.
Kasprzak's return to the saddle was welcome but no sooner was he back than Lindback suffered his sinus problems. Crucially that happened at the busiest time of the season for the RIAS Pirates and their problems were heightened when Walasek had a ban imposed on him for having missed a meeting due to a non-speedway illness. It was a frustrating period and one that saw both Pedersen and 'veteran' Craig Boyce carry the burden impeccably. A win against Ipswich on the final day of August ensured that the RIAS Pirates wouldn't replicate their record-equalling run without a win of 2005, but the damage had been done to the Pirates title hopes although they made no similar mistakes in the Craven Shield, calling on Wolverhampton's Fredrik Lindgren as a three-match guest to cover the Final that saw the Pirates win at Coventry, and finish second at both Eastbourne and Poole, as each club won a round on an away track. But Eastbourne's win at Wimborne Road ensured the Pirates claimed the highest aggregate score and the RIAS Pirates were able to proudly parade the Craven Shield around Wimborne Road, although many of them were aware that their team places for 2007 was very much under threat as the Poole management made early reference to sweeping changes for the forthcoming season.
The run had moved the Pirates into a commanding position in the league table and by the time the play-offs fixtures were being decided they were assured of a home tie. Whether their opponents would be Swindon or Ipswich was in doubt right to the wire but in the end it was the Witches that had to make the trip to Dorset and Poole comfortably despatched of them, setting up a championship deciding final against Lakeside, to make it two finals to race as they easily overcame Coventry in the cup replay, winning both legs.
The first leg of the league play-off was at Lakeside and the Pirates clearly showed their true colours, winning impressively by six points which really set them up for their first league title since 2004. Simply they were too overpowering for the Hammers at Wimborne Road and the class of 2008 had proved themselves to be one of the best all-round sides that had graced the Poole club. They threw everything into the winning the league and that proved a little too costly as they appeared to have little left for their cup final encounter against Eastbourne. A heavy 22 point defeat in Sussex meant the Pirates had a mountain to climb a task that became far too great as the Eagles were inspired enough to steal a draw in the second leg and so dreams of Poole have a DOUBLE DIAMOND 60th season were dashed.
Experience has shown that defending titles is far from an easier task but the Pirates chances were delivered a massive blow when they lost the services of two of their selected 8 riders even before having the opportunity to be introduced to the press and media. Jason Doyle - on who Matt Ford was faithfully pinning hopes of being the 'special ingredient' - and number 8 Craig Watson both suffered injuries at Newport in an early season challenge meetings. Trying to replace Doyle was to prove a massively difficult task but an avenuue that Ford was forced down when Canadian Kyle Legault was forced to sit out much of the season as his pinned broken leg needed further medical attention after just one competitive meeting for the Pirates.
That appearance was in the Elite Shield, silverware that the Pirates were beaten to by Eastbourne following home and away defeats and a pre-cursor to what was to be a season of struggle and gloom. A televised win over Swindon did get the Pirates off to a winning league start but it was to be whole month and more before a second victory was celebrated. A draw on Good Friday against Eastbourne preceeded 8 successive defeats - a club record losing sequence - and Poole fans were probably wishing that they could ride regular Mondays as that second win came against Belle Vue at Wimborne Road on May 4th.
By this time Lukasz Jankowski had come and gone and Paul Hurry tempted out of retirement as the Pirates found their options of replacements for Doyle and Legault firmly limited. A defeat at Swindon on May 7th sparked controversy amidst allegations, later proved unfounded by an in-depth SCB enquiry, of Pirates feigning engine failures to try and give themselves more points to play with for possible replacements. The 'affair' was fuelled by the bizarre mid-season decision by the BSPA to change the play-off rules to just four teams and not the original, strongly criticised, 6 sides, a ruling that left Ford seriouly considering whether he would run Elite league speedway again. Eyebrows twitched when the Pirates introduced Hans Andersen as a replacement, Ford explaining that his services became available after parent club Peterborough took a change of tack. Veteran Carl Stonehewer along with Ales Dryml and Paul Hurry had all ridden their last Poole meetings of the season but not before featuring in a third league win of the season with victory over Lakeside on May 13th. Stonehewer had been sharing a reserve berth with Tomasz Piszcz and the change in make- up of the Pirates meant that doubling up was dispensed with. Two narrow defeats - at home to Eastbourne by one point on June 3rd and away at Lakeside by a similar margin 48 hours later meant it wasn't to be a fairy tale return to Poole for Hans Andersen. Another league draw (against Lakeside) and defeat at Wolverhampton left the Pirates languishing in the danger zone and hopes of some reprieve via a cup run were dashed when Belle Vue gained a 5 point first leg lead after their visit to Dorset.
Three home wins and an away draw gave the Pirates a flurry of league points but Belle Vue finished that cup job off with a massive 13 point win. Poole were to pick up just three more league wins and looked destined for the unwanted play-off against the Premier league play-off side to guarantee Elite league safety but a shock win by Ipswich at Belle Vue became a bright spot for the Pirates in what else was a difficult season for the Dorset side. It wasn't entire gloom though at Wimborne Road for at the start of the season Ford and new co-promoter Giles Hartwell gambled by introducing Bournemouth Buccaneers, the country's newest speedway team, into the new-born National Development League. Under the management eye of former rider Garry May and Craig Boyce's ex-mechanic Neil Vatcher, the Buccaneers swept all aside to lift the league and cup double, although the effect of the recession and two meetings a week at time meant that often they were entertaining lower than hoped for crowd levels.