Arena-Essex have made two more signings and thereby completed their 2002 line-up more than two months ahead of the tapes rising for the new season.

The Kent Sweepers sponsored Hammers have re-signed Kent based Andy Galvin who made a surprise return to the sport last year after a gap of seven years but the former Hackney star again fell victim to injury.

He damaged a shoulder when racing at home against Swindon in May and although he returned a month later, he was forced back onto the sidelines when he injured his arm and hand during a meeting at Sheffield in July which brought a premature end to his season.

However the determined rider is set to resume his comeback trail and supporters will see a slimmed down Galvin who explained: "When I returned last year, the biggest problem that I had to contend with was that of fitness. I never realised until then just how physically demanding this sport is and although I believed I could cope, frankly, it was a surprise just how much fitter I needed to be."

"But I know that I can reach the required standard and I am undergoing an intensive fitness strategy. I'm working hard in the gym, feel in better shape each week and I'm already two stone lighter."

And Galvin's quest to reach peak condition has attracted backing from the club's promoting triumvirate with Colin Brine explaining: "When we were talking to Andy just after Christmas about a contract for next season, it was noticeable how hard he had been working to get fit. I told him I'd been thinking of trying to shed a few pounds and he said I'd never do it. I like a challenge and offered him a significant sum of money if he could lose more percentage weight than either myself or the other two directors, Adrian Kearney and Alan Sargent. I have to say that although Andy might be losing weight, his pockets could be bulging when we have the final weigh-in on the eve of the season."

The three Kent based management team which runs operations at the Purfleet track will now need to start shedding the pounds if they have any chance of competing with the new look Galvin's weight loss.

Galvin meanwhile is rebuffing ideas that he will only be a lower order rider next season stating, "I might start off with an average below our top four but I'm not riding just to make up the numbers. I learned from last season and I'm looking to put pressure on our top four riders and challenge for their position. We have the ingredients to win things with the squad that the promoters have assembled and I want to play my full part in bringing success to the club."

Also putting pen to a Hammers contract for next season was 19 year-old Scott Courtney who has been signed from Glasgow on a full transfer. The youngster was another injury victim last year but has fully recovered and is eagerly looking forward to the move south.

Colin Brine said, "With very little leeway pointswise after recruiting our top four, we have been concentrating on getting riders who we feel can improve on a low average and young Scott fits the bill. He's very determined, has excellent machinery and a good attitude and with the likes of Kelvin Tatum around to guide him, we believe that he is a rider - like Lee Herne who we signed last week - that will do a good job for us. Once he gets accustomed to the Arena track, I think he'll prove an excellent choice."

And Courtney's first appearance in Hammers colours could see him face his father, Mark, who is being linked with a move to Rye House. The clubs are set to face each other in the opening meeting of the season at the Purfleet Raceway on Good Friday.

The Arena-Essex side is now complete with Galvin and Courtney being joined by Kelvin Tatum, Leigh Lanham, Colin White, Shaun Tacey and Lee Herne under the team management of ex Arena star Martin Goodwin who resides in Tonbridge, Kent.

Season Tickets are currently available and applications received before 31st January will be favoured with a discounted price of ?180 for adults, ?90 for senior citizens and ?70 for children up to the age of 14.

Free parking and programme are included within the above prices. Applications received on or after the 1st February will cost an additional ?20 in all categories. Applications should be sent to Arena Essex Speedway Office, Arena Essex Raceway, A 1306 Arterial Road, Thurrock, Essex RM19 1AE and should be accompanied by two passport sized photographs. Applicants will have the choice of receiving their season ticket either directly in the post or at the National Speedway Press Day on 10th March at a venue near Coventry or on a special pre-season Arena Essex Day at the Purfleet Raceway on a day to be confirmed.