Mildenhall Fen Tigers' new joint manager Jason Gardner is living the dream
Few speedway fans ever receive the chance to trade standing on the terraces for being in the pits, but Jason Gardner hopes he can make the most of that very opportunity following his appointment as Mildenhall Fen Tigers joint manager.
Having supported the club since making his first trip to Mildenhall Stadium in 1986, the 46-year-old now finds himself working alongside Malcolm Vasey at the helm of last year’s National Development League (NDL) champions.
Although new to his current role Gardner, who is also manager of the Bury St Edmunds branch of Mr Shoes, is no stranger to working behind the scenes at the club having helped run the second halves at meetings along with being the club’s statistician.
“This is a dream come true to me as I’ve been a supporter of the club since my dad brought me along when we raced against Middlesbrough in August 1986,” said Gardner.
“I’ve helped run the second halves at meetings so I’ve got to know the riders and things have just gone from there really.
“Speedway is so fast paced that having another pair of the eyes will hopefully help Malcolm out.
“When I was asked to become joint team manager I jumped at the chance and I’m very proud the promotion has asked me to take on the role.
“There are a certain amount of nerves as I’ve got an important role to play but I can’t wait to get the season properly started.”
With Gardner used to managing staff and dealing with customers on a daily basis in his day job, he hopes he can transfer those skills into helping make a success of his new role.
He added: “I’d like to think I can bring some of my skills from the day job into this position as every customer I deal with is different so you have to treat their individual needs and that is the same here as every rider is slightly different from each other.
“I’ve a more laid back mentality of trying to get the riders going as opposed to one of those people who shout and ball at people as I don’t think that is the way to get the best out of the riders and helping them improve.”
Looking at this year’s NDL Gardner believes there are several teams that could prove difficult to beat, but he feels the Fen Tigers have every chance of defending their third tier title.
“I think Belle Vue will be up there with their strength in depth while Oxford could also challenge us but I’m happy with the team we have put together,” said Gardner.
“I’m more than hopeful we can win all our home meetings, especially with our top two of Jason Edwards and Ryan Kinsley.
“If we can pick up some points away from home I see no reason why we can’t make the play-offs and that will be the main aim.”
“I remember the club winning back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004 and it would be great if we could do that again.”