Speedway roars into life in Kent once more this weekend as Sittingbourne open their extended 2005 season against a touring American under-21 side on Easter Saturday at 1 pm.

Leading the A.C.Associates Crusaders line-up for the day will be top international grasstrack racer and former speedway star Trevor Banks who at the age of 48 is determined to show he still knows the fastest way round a
shale circuit too.

Banks, a former star with Hackney and Milton Keynes has only had occasional speedway outings in recent years but is sure to be a major attraction in this special appearance to help celebrate the new season at Sittingbourne.

Ironically new A.C.Associates Crusaders' number one David McAllan had stood aside for this match to 'give a youngster a chance' but the veteran Banks has instead snatched the opportunity to have an outing.

Despite his absence this weekend McAllan's commitment to the club was underlined by him travelling down from Edinburgh for last week's practice sessions. His astonishing offer to also pay for the practice was
unsurprisingly politely declined by an impressed Sittingbourne management.

While this Saturday's intriguing match against the American "Dream Team" kicks off the racing activity the league campaign proper does not start until the end of April with home and away matches with Oxford at The Old Gun Site on Sunday 24th and away at Cowley on Thursday April 28th.

Before then the side will have tasted their first away fixture having accepted a challenge match booking at Weymouth on April 14th.

This Saturday's Sittingbourne line-up is far from the final product though with Carl Downs ruled-out through work commitments and heat leaders James Cockle and Tony Dart also both unavailable. Cockle was expected to have
completed a four match suspension prior to the Crusaders' opening but senior club Glasgow's postponed match in Edinburgh recently means that the ban rules him out over Easter.

Dart will be racing for senior club Workington at Berwick on Saturday and will be hoping to build on an impressive outing in Comets' colours at home to Edinburgh last week in which he recorded his first paid win at the higher
Premier League level, much to the delight of the Cumbrian public.

"With both James and Tony doubling-up by racing in the Premier League the plan is to slot either in as their commitments allow," explained club spokesman Steve Ribbons, "this should have been James' turn but his short
suspension blocks the way". 18 year old Cockle was involved in a heated incident in a Boston versus Wimbledon match last year and following the Lincolnshire side's walk-out in the cup final at Mildenhall his suspension
came into play for the first four meetings this year.

"With Glasgow scheduled to race four times prior to us we hoped not to be affected", commented Ribbons.

Stepping into the line-up will be former Wimbledon rider Andre Cross, a vocal critic of this year's age-biased rider grading system. Despite having only two half-seasons' experience the late-starting 38 year-old was handed a high grade of eight thus realistically ruling him out of racing. He gets his chance on Saturday with the Crusaders and is also expected to to make the trip to Weymouth.

Another signing who will come into play during the main league season is 20 year-old Jordan Frampton. The Poole-born rider is in his third season of racing, having appeared thirteen times for the now-defunct Swindon Sprockets Conference League side.

"Jordan is exactly what this league is all about" was Ribbons' view on the capture, "And with Swindon pulling-out of the league we're delighted to give him a chance here in Kent."

The racing begins at Sittingbourne at 1 pm on Easter Saturday with the match against the touring american youngsters who were due to have raced at Stoke and Weymouth in full matches before their arrival in Kent. "It's a very ambitious project to bring over such a young team of American prospects" commented Ribbons. "They are a totally unknown quantity but what a glamorous
start to our new season."

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