Cory Gathercole believes Plymouth Devils can push for honours in 2013
PLYMOUTH Devils' skipper Cory Gathercole reckons the new-look city speedway team can push for honours this season.
Gathercole was handed the captain's job midway through a disastrous season for Devils last year, when the city side finished dead last in the Premier League.
The likeable Australian, promoted from the ranks of a dispirited team, upped his game to the extent he was a shoo-in to lead the Devils this season.
Gathercole has no word of blame for last year's team, who were woefully under-equipped to deal with the rigours of riding in the country's second tier of speedway.
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But it is clear he wants to put last season's turmoil – at one meeting the riders threatened to strike unless their wages were paid – well behind him and the club.
Gathercole is surrounded this year with a team brimming with talent. Last season, the Devils relied on the side's stars, such as Great Britain international Ben Barker – now departed for Ipswich – to score their points.
This year, Devils have been reinforced to the extent that the entire team down to their reserves – Todd Kurtz and Ben Reade – are more than capable of scoring the points which will help to win matches.
They are also under new management – a consortium of backers, including former Devils captain Seemond Stephens – took over the club in the off season and effectively prevented it from folding.
The club unveiled its revamped circuit, St Boniface Arena, plus a new team at Devils' press and practice day on Saturday.
Team boss Lee Trigger has put together a strong line-up, which includes Australian team manager Mark Lemon, number one Ty Proctor, Chris Schramm and Ricky Kling, tipped to be a success at Plymouth this season.
The three returning from last season's line-up are Gathercole himself, Kurtz and Reade.
Gathercole said: "It's a new year and a new team and I'm looking forward to it.
"The guys here have done a massive job – there's been so many changes. It feels like a completely new place and it's exciting. Last year was a big disappointment and I'm looking forward to putting that behind me. I've been seven seasons in England and this is the first time I've been the captain of a team. I've always wanted to do it. I'm pretty honoured to get the job."
He added: "I can't fault the guys from last year, but if it wasn't for Lee (Trigger), and maybe myself, then speedway wouldn't be around this year. We stuck it out and I'm glad I did that."
Trigger has predicted Devils will finish second in the Premier this season, but Gathercole said firmly: "I believe we can take it all the way and I believe we can win everything this season.
"We've got a very balanced team and we don't have a heavy top end (too many talented riders at the top end of the team).
"I don't believe in going for anything other than first."
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