With the announcing of Arena Essex's first three signings for 2003 last week - heat leaders Kelvin Tatum, Leigh Lanham and Finn Joonas Kylmakorpi - the club's management will be having talks over the next few weeks with various riders who could come into consideration for the remaining four team places.

Rumours are rife at this time of year throughout the speedway world in terms of riders signing for various clubs but Arena Essex co-promoter Colin Brine refuses to get involved.

"We will only announce signings as and when contracts are agreed," he said, "and we have in mind four riders who we would like to complete our 2003 septet.

"We'll be having talks with those riders and, hopefully, our plans will come to fruition."

Meanwhile Arena Essex's annual Dinner & Dance took place at the Thurrock Hotel last Saturday as riders, management and supporters gathered together for the last time in 2002.

Leigh Lanham and Lee Herne were the only riders to miss the event, the former being in Tenerife on a pre-arranged holiday and Hammers "Rider of the Year" Herne back home in his native Australia.

In addition to Herne being unveiled as the man the fans had voted as their Top 2002 rider, various other awards were made with skipper Shaun Tacey picking up the one for scoring the most bonus points over the season and former skipper Colin White receiving "he achievement" award for his brilliant performance in the Premier League Four Team Championship Finals.

At the Arena Essex stadium, Track Curator Gerald Richter is still beavering away as he works on track alterations for 2003. Both bends are being widened considerably and Richter feels that the newly-shaped track in 2003 will provide even better racing than Arena fans have seen before.