Q&A: Peterborough Panthers superfan, Sarah Miles…

As some people (mostly fans of the Peterborough Panthers) may know, I contribute a (not quite) weekly column to the club’s official match night programme. I wanted to use this post to feature such a piece. Introducing programme editor and speedway superfan, Sarah Miles…

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Speedway superfan Sarah Miles. She is pictured front left, along with husband Steve (front right) and Peterborough Panthers promoter Ged Rathbone (front middle)

A speedway fan since 1996, Sarah Miles has travelled the length and breadth of the UK (and around the world) just for her shale and methanol fix. She gives us her thoughts on all things speedway and Panthers related…

Q: What first attracted you to speedway?
A: The social interaction.  I have friends both here and away from home.  I love the interaction with the riders – what other sport can you have a hug or a chat with the stars?!

Q: Have you always been a Panthers fan?
A: Yes. Despite growing up 10 minutes away from the Arena Essex raceway (so sorry to see this go), my first meeting was here watching the Panthers against Coventry. I also have a soft spot for the Edinburgh Monarchs, a team I used to like watching when we were in the top league.

Q: Who is your all-time favourite Panthers rider and why?
A: This is a really tough one, but I would have to say Ryan Sullivan. He was the star when I first started watching in 1996 and then I got to know him really well when he asked Steve and I to do his testimonial programme. A real nice bloke on and off the track.

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Ryan Sullivan – Sarah’s all time favourite Panthers rider

Q: Who is your all-time favourite non-Panthers rider and why?
A: Greg Hancock – to be this good for that long and still smiling!

Q: Which riders would make up your all-time Panthers 1-7?
A: Ryan Sullivan, Danny King, Ulrich Ostergaard, Scott Nicholls, Nigel Sadler, Jason Crump, Emil Grondal

Q: Which riders would make up your all-time non-Panthers 1-7?
A: Max Fricke, Chris Holder, Maciej Janowski, Greg Hancock, Dan Bewley, Darcy Ward, Joe Screen

Q: If you could pick three speedway related guests (past or present) to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
A: Danny King, Ritchie Hawkins and Adam Roynon – I wouldn’t stop laughing..

Q: Is there a rider that hasn’t ridden for Panthers that you would have like to have seen in the red and black? Why him?
A: Tomasz Gollob – a brilliant rider and I saw him here in the World Cup and that race with Danny King was absolutely brilliant.

Q: What has been your highlight watching the Panthers?
A: 2006 when we won the Elite League.  It was so unexpected that I will admit I cried when we won.  The party afterwards was amazing and a memory that will live with me forever.

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Peterborough Panthers – 2006 Elite League winners

Q: We’re heading towards the end of the 2018 season. What were your hopes/expectations for Panthers at the start of the season? Have they been met or exceeded?
A: I will be honest, although I wasn’t completely pessimistic when the team was announced, I didn’t believe we were going to be anywhere near where we are now. To already have won the Fours, finish the league season at the top and now look forward to the Play Offs and still in with a chance of winning the KO Cup and/or the Shield – what a season!

Q: Would you like to see one big league made up of Premiership and Championship teams, with only the National League being a separate entity? If so, why? If not, why not?
A: I would like to see one league that is split into a Northern and Southern section.  The Play-Offs would then be a final between the winners of each section. This would reduce travelling for riders and fans and make the season end on one big final. I think the National League would have to remain separate but with a clear link to the main league to keep the consistent development of young British riders in place.

Q: We’re over two thirds of the way through the World Championship. Can Tai Woffinden keep his lead at the top of the standings? Or will the likes of Bartosz Zmarzlik and Maciej Janowski (his nearest challengers) spoil the party?
A: I still think Tai is in the driving seat, but I have had money on Janowski all season (and won a few times).  I would love him to win it, he has a great personality and speedway has been missing riders with a personality to match their riding skills for too long.

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Tai Woffinden (pictured when riding for Polish side Sparta Wrocław). The Brit picked up his third world title on Saturday in Torun

Q: After the recent test match between Great Britain and Team Australia in Glasgow, would you like to see more international matches, if so who would you like to see as opposition and why?
A: I like the idea of test matches as long as the riders are paid well so we always get to see the best.  We have a number of countries represented by riders who ride in our league so I think Test Matches with Denmark, Sweden, Poland etc will all be well received.

When she’s not trackside, Sarah is one of the driving forces behind the official Panthers matchnight programme. She goes on to tell us how she came to be in the role and what’s involved…

Q: Many Panthers fans also know you as one of the guys behind the programme (along with husband Steve), how long have you been doing this? What made you take up the role?
A: Steve always had a dream of producing the Panthers programme but knew if he got the chance it would need both of us to get it done. We got our first chance with the Pumas back in 2000 and then finally got our chance to do the Panthers programme in 2003.  We took a short break in 2010 when I became ill and then took back the reigns in 2014 and have been behind the programme production since then. We love doing this and putting something back into the Panthers.

Q: What’s involved with putting the programme together?
A: It’s not just us, we have a number of contributors, such as the PPSSC and Yvonne Edey who provide us with the supporters’ information and 100 club and the photographers (Steve Hone and Chloe May Coles for Peterborough and then other photographers up and down the country for the away meeting action).  It is essential that the management team and the riders are approachable in any season otherwise we couldn’t do the interviews. We couldn’t do any of this without the help we have!

Q: How long does it take to complete a single issue?
A: The first programme of the season takes the longest, we normally start the design in January for our first meeting in March. Once we get started, the programme all comes together over the weekend before the meeting.  It then gets printed on the Wednesday and delivered to us on the Friday.

Some brilliant and insightful answers there, I think you’ll agree!

*article featured in the late September issues of the official Peterborough Panthers matchnight programme

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