Edinburgh Monarchs: Globetrotter Josh Pickering raring to go after travelling 40,000 miles in vain
That’s why the 24-year-old is more than desperate to make up for lost time this time around - starting tonight when the Redcar Bears are the visitors to Armadale for the Monarchs’ Championship curtain-raiser.
The New South Wales rider arrived in the UK in March last year only to perform a U-turn and depart for Australia 36 hours later after it became clear the season was unlikely to start with the Coronavirus outbreak taking grip across the world.
However, Pickering made the decision to return to Europe a couple of months later, this time with wife Brooke, having been offered a team place in Poland where speedway was still operating, albeit with reduced capacities in the stands.
But that move didn't prove a favourable one for the Aussie and he was left off the shale. His hopes of returning to Britain to race were then shattered when league officials decided to cancel the 2020 season with the Covid situation worsening.
But Pickering is back in the blue and gold for a fourth year and is now raring to go.
“I was only in the country for about 36 hours but once I arrived it was pretty manic,” Pickering explained to the Evening News. “I could see it wasn’t good with what was happening with Covid so I made the decision there and then to head back home. I did say to John (Campbell) and Alex (Harkess) that I would come back if the season in Britain was to get going, but that never looked likely at all.
“So, the only thing I regret was coming all the way back to Poland to race just a few months later only to not be used and find myself stuck for three and a half months before I could fly back to Australia.
“My only income when I’m over here is racing so I was spending a fortune and earning nothing, plus having come over to Europe twice in a short space of time. I came over myself the first time but then I brought my wife over when I came out to Poland so I’m not going to lie it was a tough time.
“Last year was a massive learning curve but sometimes things go your way and other times they don’t. That’s just life.”
Pickering believes the Monarchs, skippered by No.1 Sam Masters, are one of the more competitive sides in British speedway’s middle tier and says the goal should always be silverware.
“Without being cocky or anything but I think we probably have the strongest three in the league in Sam, Richie (Worrall) and myself,” he said. “Kye (Thomson) is one of my good friends and he’s a very talented motorbike rider. He hasn’t spent a lot of time on a speedway bike as of yet, his background is more motocross and a bit of road racing, but he will pick things up quick. He’s in the right environment being at Edinburgh so we’ll all be there to help.
“Tonight will be a good challenge for us. Redcar have put a decent team together but I just feel if we can get things dialled in quickly then we’ll be fine.”