THE management of the Isle of Wight Wightlink Warriors wasted no time in recruiting an impressive-looking speedway line-up for next season.

The first signing on the Warriors’ Christmas wish-list was Smallbrook crowd favourite Danno Verge, 22 — nicknamed the Pocket Rocket by fans — who was an ever-present in his debut season for the team last term.

Verge, the Warriors’ top bonus point scorer last season, said: “I’m absolutely stoked to have been invited back. I had a good year last year and know I can build on that in 2019.”

Isle of Wight County Press:

Isle of Wight speedway co-promoters Martin Widman, left, and Barry Bishop, went on a Christmas shopping spree to recruit their Warriors team for 2019.

Warriors co-promoters Barry Bishop and Martin Widman then pulled off a coup by re-signing reigning National League riders’ champion Ben Morley.

A new recruit to the Island at the turn of the year, Morley quickly became a terrace idol with a string of high scores and polished performances, home and away, and averaging 9.13 points per meeting.

“I was so pleased to get the call from the club asking me if I was able to come back. I learned a lot riding the big Island track. It helped me have a very positive year, so more of the same in 2019, I hope,” said Morley.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Ben Morley in action for the Isle of Wight Warriors last season.

Also returning to the fold is Loughborough-based butcher Chris Widman, 28, who suffered, by his own admission, a season laced with disappointments, bad luck, injury and enforced time away from the track this year.

“I love racing for the Warriors. They are like no other club I have been at. The support us riders receive is terrific and I need to repay the faith the fans and sponsors have in me,” he said.

There are some new faces added to the Warriors line-up for the coming season, including the surprise swoop for high-scoring Eastbourne Eagle, Georgie Wood, who will ride at number one.

Wood, 21, was given an opportunity to combine his National Championship duties at newly-promoted Eastbourne with a starring role on the Island in the National League, as part of a fearsome spearhead with Morley.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Chris Widman, far right, returns to the Isle of Wight Warriors line-up for another season of top speedway at Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde.

Warriors team manager, Jackie Vatcher, said: “I am absolutely delighted Georgie is coming to the Island. He has always ridden our track well and on many occasions has been a thorn in our side. He is now one of the best riders in this league.

“I can’t wait to get working with him. He will be a real gem.”

The fresh-looking Warriors line-up will also include Ryan Terry-Daley, who will bolster the middle order.

The 24 year old is a familiar face at Smallbrook, appearing in open meetings as well as being a reliable scorer for other league teams.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Danno Verge, in light blue and tan outfit, returns to the Warriors team in 2019.

The Warriors also brought in 15 year old Bradford-based Chad Wirtzfeld, who will become the youngest rider yet to represent the Warriors when racing gets under way in April.

Wirtzfeld has been a near ever-present at the My First Skid training schools at Smallbrook and has now reached a level where Vatcher feels he has earned a step-up to National League action.

The Warriors’ Christmas shopping spree was wrapped up with the signing of Connor King, 21, to complete the jigsaw.

King stepped in to cover rider shortages for the Islanders last season.