The 2010 Elite League season sees the return to the Arena Raceway of one of The Hammers favourite sons, Paul Hurry. The skipper during the first season of Stuart Douglas’ and Jon Cook’s takeover of the Club, Paul then endured a torrid few seasons battling a serious, long term arm injury.
At one stage during the recovery process, the medical professionals had even talked of the possibility of Paul losing his arm, such was the extent of the damage to the bone. Certainly anyone who saw any of the X-rays would find it hard to believe that they would ever witness Paul’s bravery and determination on a Speedway bike again.
The ex England international is made of stern stuff, however, and his determination and sheer force of will has seen his recuperation come a full circle as he rejoins his local Speedway team, looking forward to the season ahead.
We caught up with him during his preparations for the season opener in March.
How does it feel to be coming back full time with The Hammers?
“It feels fantastic! I first rode here as a junior back in 1986, and I’ve grown up with the supporters and the Club through its many incarnations, so it’s always going to be special for me.”
It’s been a long road back. How is the arm now?
“Starting to ride again last season was a big test, but this is the first winter that I’ve had no operations since 2003! Nine ops, three bone grafts, six plates and forty two screws – it has been a long, hard slog. I’m doing hardcore workouts in the gym, the arm is healed and stronger than ever.”
The first winter without an operation means the first time you’ve been able to prepare properly for the season ahead. How are you set for 2010?
“It’s gone really well – I’m probably fitter and stronger now, and better prepared physically, than I’ve ever been before a season starts. On the bike side, I will be concentrating a lot more on Speedway this year, and less on the other competitions, so there’s a lot more time to prepare the bikes well in the workshop and as soon as it warms up a bit I’ll be out testing and practising.”
What are your hopes for this coming campaign?
“Firstly, I want to enjoy my Speedway, stay injury free, and get back to winning races home and away. I’d like to do my bit to ensure that The Hammers hit the all important play offs – that’s a minimum target.”
How do you feel about the make up of the 2010 Hammers team?
“I’m really looking forward to racing with these guys. Obviously, I know most of them really well, and have ridden with them a lot already. I’ve known Robbo for years, and Adam (Shields), KK (Krzysztof Kasprzak) and myself were team mates in 2007. I got to know JD (Jonas Davidsson) pretty well when I was coaching the younger riders at the track in 2008, and of course, I road with his brother Daniel at Poole last year. Kauko (Nieminen) is new to me, but everyone speaks so highly of him, I think we will gel straight away.”
And, of course, you are re-uniting with Jon Cook.
“It will be fantastic to work with Jon again. There are not many people that have his passion and expertise. We have a really good understanding that goes back many years. As a Team Manger he knows the rules inside out and can see moves coming before the opponents Team Manger has even thought about them.”
You are clearly a fans’ favourite at the Arena-Essex Raceway – any messages for them?
“The Hammers fans have always been really good to me – even when I came back as an opposition rider last year. They’ve supported me through some really tough times, and now I have an opportunity to repay some of that support. You won’t see anyone more determined than me out there this year – determined to bring more silverware back to Essex!