Ryan Fisher’s surprise return to Edinburgh Monarchs next season has already rekindled fond memories among club supporters of a rider who was something of a maverick but also box-office gold during the three seasons he previously spent at Armadale.
During that period Fisher picked up two championship winners’ medals in 2008 and 2010 and also topped the Monarchs averages on both occasions. But fans may be wondering if Fisher, now 32, still has the hunger and desire to help the club claim a sixth crown following their Grand Final triumph against Glasgow Tigers in October.
Fisher believes he has, and, providing he can put a troubled 2015 campaign with Plymouth Devils behind him, he should dovetail nicely with Kevin Wolbert and skipper Sam Masters in forging a revamped Monarchs heat-leader trio.
Fisher knows he may have to win over a new wave of fans who are unaware of his past exploits in the blue and gold, but those with longer recall may have to temper their expectations of the Californian this time around.
More importantly, can Fisher deliver the scoring goods he has been signed for to vindicate the belief he is a performer worth investing in again?
Speaking from the United States Fisher said: “I don’t think I have been so excited about a season since I first left Edinburgh. I definitely had ups and downs with my equipment last season but I’m hoping to start next year with the best machinery I can possibly have.
“I learned a lot about my engines this year and at the end of the Premier League campaign I finally had a motor which worked really good for me.”
Monarchs have stated that Fisher will be an asset for 2016 only but the rider himself revealed: “I see myself being back at Edinburgh for a few years providing I can turn things around from what they have been over the past few seasons.
“Of all the clubs I have been at, Edinburgh was the most enjoyable. I’m hoping I can add a couple of points to my average and also wouldn’t mind racing in the Elite League. But I’m 100 per cent focused on getting things going for Edinburgh. I’m not going to worry about anything else right now until that is right.”
Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell says Fisher is the right man for the job, explaining: “We always look at riders who we think can increase their average and Ryan falls into that category.
“You always have a perception of what a rider is capable of and your hear things as well suggesting that a move to our club might be beneficial to both parties, and that fell into line with Ryan’s situation.”
And Campbell has no concerns regarding Fisher’s vow of being aboard tip-top machinery, saying: “After we made the announcement at our video show last Friday I messaged Ryan telling him there had been a huge cheer in the hall.
“He replied if they had ever stopped liking him they’d soon love him again, and promised he would be the best prepared rider for next season.”
Campbell, however, says it would be wrong to assume that Fisher will return to the pomp of his first spell with Monarchs.
“I don’t think any of us knows how well he will do, he is older now but he is not a rider who is going downhill.
“What Ryan did for us before is not necessarily what we are looking for now. We are not expecting him to put two and a half points on his average. If he can achieve an average of eight and a half points that will do very nicely.”
It’s no secret that Fisher approached both Berwick Bandits and Glasgow Tigers about a team berth for next season, but Campbell dismisses the notion that he was signed on the rebound.
Said Campbell: ”Ryan appeared to have a chance of joining Berwick and appeared to have a chance of joining Glasgow, for whatever reason that did not happen. So he jumped at the chance of joining us. I don’t think it was a desperation situation for him. He is still a guy who wants to race but he also has a business head on him in the United States and speedway isn’t everything to him any more.
“But I’m satisfied with our heat-leader trio. I think they are all capable of improving their averages. Sam is capable of scoring over nine when he is fully fit and Kevin certainly has the capability of doing better if he could only believe every race is winnable. So we will probably work a bit harder on him next season and push him on a bit more.”
Monarchs still have two places to fill to complete their squad and Campbell revealed they are speaking to a couple of candidates for the three-point reserve role and looking at riders in Europe and Australia to fill the final position in the main body of the team.