Last weekend a Falkirk-born sportsman achieved his dream, and announced his decision to bow out of his sport at the top.
Derek Sneddon is captain of the Edinburgh Scotwaste Monarchs speedway team who have just made history by winning all three of the team competitions available to them – the League Cup, the Knockout Cup and the big one Premier League.
Derek, now 39, first rode for Monarchs way back in 2001, has also been with Newcastle and Glasgow, and has captained the Monarchs at Armadale in three separate seasons.
They won the title under his leadership in 2008, came second last season and hit the top spot again this season.
The other riders rate Sneddon’s captaincy a key factor, even though his own racing is not quite as effective as in his heyday.
This year’s league was especially tough because Monarchs topped the table after all the teams had raced their fixtures, seven points clear of Somerset. But the job still wasn’t done because speedway now sends the top six clubs into a further play-off before the champion team is declared.
Monarchs sent Berwick and Workington packing and lined up in the final against last year’s Champions, the formidable Somerset Rebels. They were beaten 54-42 down south on Friday night, leaving things very much in the balance, then on Saturday Monarchs overturned that with a thrilling 54-41 triumph, clinching the title at the last gasp in a finale no-one will ever forget.
Derek is the only Scot in the team, indeed Scotland is at an all-time low in the sport .
Monarchs have three Aussies, the talented 18 year old Max Fricke who has already won the Australian Under-21 title twice, plus Sam Masters and Justin Sedgmen.
Masters was right in at the finale alongside the team’s star man Craig Cook.
There’s another Englishman Stevie Worrall who has improved dramatically this year, and a first year American Aaron Fox who has been learning fast and picked up a very important point on Saturday in the closing stages.
But they all recognise Derek as the leader. He in turn is grateful to them for two things – they rallied round him during the season when he was struggling for form (something he regularly does for others), and they won the treble of titles, which allows him to bow out on the highest possible high.