With the recent departure of long-time manager to the Newcastle Diamonds George English, new boss, co-promoter Rob Grant has acted swiftly to bring in someone he believes more than capable of filling the very large shoes left vacant, and he is North Eastern-based Jason Pipe, who is relishing getting to grips with the prestigious position after first handing in his resignation as NDL Coordinator in order to take up the new position with the Diamonds.
Pipe started off team managing for the nomadic Middlesbrough Bears in 2003 and then, when Redcar opened in 2006 he spent three seasons there managing the Redcar Cubs in the National League. Jayne Moss of Buxton then took him on to team manage the Hitmen in the National League which he was ultra keen to do and spent three seasons in the Peak District.
In 2018 he went to Peterborough full time to help out Ged Rathbone having managed their MDL team In 2016 through ’17 while still at Buxton, winning the MDL in 2017 & 2018 and winning the NJL Fours in 2018.
During the 2019 season Pipe worked as the NDL Co-ordinator, a job he enjoyed, but the lure of team managing in the Championship was too good to turn down for him as he says: “Especially when I’d always wanted to test myself at Championship level. I spent the 2018 season around the Championship scene at Peterborough and thanks to the then team manager and now co promoter Carl Johnson and ex Promoter Ged Rathbone, I was able to gain some valuable experience of seeing what the Championship was all about, being allowed to work closely and be in the pits with Carl during Panthers Home and away fixtures when I was able to.
“When I heard that Newcastle were, surprisingly, looking for a new team manager for the Championship side, I made an approach to both Rob Grant and Dave Tattum. Both have known me now for a long time and they are both aware of what I can bring to the table in this role and how hard I work on and off track.
“It’s going to be an honour and a pleasure to work for Newcastle Speedway. I can’t wait to get going and be part of the ‘new era’ at the Diamonds. The place has a great buzz around it.
“I’d like to make special mention of George English. He has been the Newcastle Team Manager for over 20 years until now and someone who I’ve always regarded as a friend, and someone who I looked up to within the sport. I’ve got some pretty big boots to fill there, especially when George has already got silverware to his name.
“If I can manage half as well as what George did as team manager for the Diamonds, then I’ll be happy with that. I’d like to wish George and his family all the best for the future and I hope we do see them as regular spectators throughout the season ahead and many more to come.
“I know a lot of people at Newcastle Speedway and I do hope my appointment will go down well with them. I’m a passionate North East boy, with coming from Middlesbrough and I know how passionate the Newcastle fans are towards their Speedway. So I will be trying my very best to try and make the Diamonds in to a side our fans can be proud of and hopefully bring some success along the way.
“I maybe from Middlesbrough, born and bred, but the Geordies can be rest assured, I’ll be doing my very best that I can, to help make Newcastle Speedway the best it can be and I’ll certainly look forward to those meetings against the Bears from down the road!!
“Coming to Newcastle is like a second home to me. I’ve regularly watched Speedway there since 1980 and it was in 2005 that the then Newcastle promotion allowed the nomadic ‘Boro Bears to use Newcastle Stadium as their home, spending most weeks at Newcastle in that season alone. There are some great people at Newcastle Speedway and some I’ve worked with before, which I’m looking forward to working with again and there’s some new people there who have some exciting ideas to take the club forward and I’m so much looking forward to working with them also.
“As for the 2020 Diamonds side, it’s one that I see has potential to do well. We’ll certainly have a good team spirit throughout the team. James Wright is coming back in to the sport after a few seasons out and looks a bargain on the average he comes in on. Knowing what James has achieved in the past and knowing that he will be fully up for this come back, I can’t see, without putting too much pressure on James, why he can’t up that starting average by at least three points.
“I’ve never worked with Matty Wethers before, but he’s full of experience, and on his day can be a very hard rider to beat around our track. It was only a few years ago he scored a paid 21 maximum around there! Matty is the Captain and I’ll look forward to working closely with him over the season.
“Having Newcastle as his home track, I believe that Claus Vissing can become an out and out number one and capable of putting at least a point and half on his average. The Newcastle track usually suits most Danish riders, so I’m looking forward to see how Claus goes.
“I know nothing about the new boys Ondrej Smetana and Nick Skorja, but I’ll certainly be doing my home work over the next few weeks, to learn more about these two, the same as I’ll be doing my homework on all the riders in our team. I know Connor Mountain from my days in the National League and I’ve seen enough to know that he has it in him to progress from reserve in to the top five within the first two months of the season.
“I’m quite excited to see how far Connor can go at this level. Many clubs would of liked Connor in their side in 2020 and I’m glad he’s ended up at Newcastle. Max Clegg is the only rider from this side, who I have team managed before, in our Buxton days and we already have that good understanding and good working relationship. Max is another rider like Connor who could hold his own in the top five of a Championship side now, if he really wants it. He’s got the ability to do that. It’s going to be very interesting to see how these riders gel together, but I’m sure we’ll be just fine and have an enjoyable season ahead.
It’s also good to see Rob and Dave trying to bring in new assets to the club, which will help towards putting Newcastle Speedway on a much better financial footing for years to come. It’s certainly something I’ll be looking at whilst at this club. I’ve already had a couple of Aussies on to me looking for a team spot in the UK and I’ll certainly be in contact with my contacts in OZ.
“I won’t just be turning up on race days to team manage. There’s always things needing to be done and looked at away from the track, as part of your team manager duties. I’ll also be spending time with Steve Pate, who will be team managing the Gems in the National Trophy. I’ll be there as an advisor to Steve and assist him on race days and be there for him at the end of the phone, as I will be with my riders.
“I’d like to thank Rob and Dave for giving me this opportunity to work at this level in Speedway and I’d like to thank my Wife Yvonne and Daughter Lily for being very supportive towards what I do and have done in Speedway. I first started watching Speedway at the old Cleveland Park track in Middlesbrough in 1976 and recently I’ve really enjoyed my last role as National Development League Co-ordinator, but the opportunity to team manage the Diamonds was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“Hopefully this will be the start of a great relationship between myself and the club and it’s great supporters and it was heart-warming to have contact with George English in the last day and he congratulated me on my appointment to the managers’ role and we both wished each other well and all the best for the future.”
Grant is also highly charged with enthusiasm for this “signing” saying: “We’re delighted to have Jason along to manage the Diamonds and work alongside Steve Pate with our junior sides.
“Jason is very much a North East lad and wants to commit to help the Newcastle Diamonds for the foreseeable future. He has a stack of experience in speedway management and has many good contacts within the sport. He is well respected by the riders and that will do Newcastle no harm at all when he takes up the reins at the start of the season in March
“He has massive shoes to fill that George has left open, but I’m confident that Jason will give his all for the club. There has been a lot happening at the club over the winter, but it will be nice to see the team come to he tapes in the Spring as back in November it looked like it wasn’t going to happen at all. We’re all looking forward to it and the riders are extremely keen to get cracking.
“Jason Pipe, welcome on board and lets get cracking with this exciting new era at Newcastle Speedway as it returns from the brink of closure !”