As his Edinburgh Monarchs team-mates prepare for Friday’s Premier League Grand Final first leg against Somerset Rebels at Armadale, Mitchell Davey will gaze out enviously from the pits ruing the fact that injury will prevent him from trying to help the Capital outfit secure a fourth championship crown in 11 years.
The 23-year-old Australian, who hails from Queensland, broke his right leg in a horror crash at Sheffield Tigers in August and the road to recovery is proving a slow and painful one for the likeable reserve star.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening News, Davey spoke emotionally about the pile-up which has wrecked his season and, if he could, would pull out the steel pin which was drilled into his leg to get back on his bike to help bring about the defeat of Somerset.
He said: “I still remember the crash three months down the line. I clipped Oliver Greenwood’s back wheel and the next thing I knew I was in the fence and, round a high speed circuit like Sheffield, I sensed it was a serious injury straight away.
“I have still got quite a few problems. Because it was such a severe break and a compound fracture as well, the bone itself hasn’t actually started healing yet. The tissue that surrounds and protects the bone was completely shredded and that needs to grow back first.
“But the doctors are hoping to see an improvement within the next six weeks. I was so happy when Edinburgh gave me my chance to ride for them this year, then I broke my wrist and struggled for confidence when I came back, then I broke my leg. It has not been a good year and I certainly would not like it to happen to me again. I’ve also had trouble with my knee trying get some movement back. It has been very depressing at times, but as a rider it’s a risk you take. To get two bad injuries in the space of a matter of months takes some doing.”
Davey is already planning for 2014 and said: “I want to ride and I want to race – it’s what I do. With the winter coming up it means a four-month break in the speedway calendar, so I know I have the time to get back to full fitness. I don’t have to rush things. My leg should heal naturally. I’m going home in February for a couple of weeks and hope to get some practice in just to see where I’m at in terms of recovery.”
Davey admits he feels more than a tinge of sadness at being unable to play his part in Monarchs’ biggest match of the season and admitted: “If I was able to rip out the pin which is holding my leg together and take a load of painkillers I would be more than tempted to clamber back on my bike to help the guys out – but I don’t think the doctors would approve somehow.”
While some people dismissed Monarchs’ chances of reaching the Grand Final, Davey said their qualification came as no surprise to him.
“Even though I’m not racing I’m still part of the team and I could see everyone had their own individual rough patch lately, which normally happens at this late stage of the season because fatigue sets in. I think that led to the team being written off in some quarters.
“I’ve been in the pits most Fridays and try to get to the away meetings too, and I walk around and speak to the boys and try to give them a fresh approach. If I pick up on things looking at the track I try to pass that on to them to help in some way and keep their confidence up.”
Monarchs emerged as play-off Group B winners after a stunning 49-41 win at Ipswich negated the threat that front-runners Workington Comets had posed, and Davey added: “I would have loved to have been in the camp that night, the spirit would have been phenomenal.
“Workington had also won at Ipswich and looked to be favourites to go through, but we matched their triumph and silenced those who had begun to doubt our ability.”
And Davey warned that it would be foolish to discount Monarchs in the final, while conceding: “Somerset are a strongly-built team throughout, but the easiest way to combat that is for each of our guys to beat their own individual opposite rivals and not to worry about trying to beat two riders.
“Monarchs must focus on their opposite match-up riders in each heat they are in. I think Monarchs’ strength is just as good as Somerset’s, however Somerset’s three heat leaders ride in the Elite League, and this gives them an advantage as they are racing all the time.”
Monarchs have beaten Somerset home and away in the league this year and while the Rebels thumped Monarchs in the first leg of the KO Cup semi-final replay at the Oak Tree Arena, Davey thinks that drubbing has been put to bed now.
“After that beating some of the heads went down in the Monarchs camp and they couldn’t retrieve the situation when they got them back to Armadale. But we are starting from a clean slate now and Monarchs are dominant at home.”
Davey continued: “Monarchs are definitely the underdogs though, because of the hype that surrounds the Somerset team and the big names that ride for them. We have got to go out and enjoy the moment – anything can happen.
“I’ll be there in the pits as usual, I wouldn’t miss it for the world, and I’ll be down at Somerset for the second leg next Monday.”