Paul to officiate at British GP

Paul Freeston.
Paul Freeston.

Paul Freeston believes that dreams really do come true after learning that he will be a start marshall at this year’s British Speedway GP.

On July 4, the Sibsey resident will have the task of keeping many of the world’s top riders in line - quite literally - in front of a capicity crowd of more than 50,000 at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

And for Paul, a regular spectator at one of the sport’s biggest events, he is finally getting the chance to fulfil his ambition of swapping the seats for the shale.

“We always sit on the third bend. I was sat there last year watching the two start marshalls and I thought to myself ‘I want to be part of this’,” the 50-year-old told The Standard.

“And dreams come true - it’ll be something I always remember.”

Paul will have the job of ensuring the riders are all properly lined up ahead of each heat, often a thankless task as the competitors jostle to find any advantage they can in a sport where the smallest of margins can make the greatest of differences.

Paul admits that news of his upcoming role ‘hasn’t really sunk in’, something his supportive speedway-loving wife Glenis discovered when they received confirmation that he would be invoved.

“The card came the Tuesday before Christmas and I was making mince pies,” Paul explained.

“The wife opened the card and gave an almighty cheer and a few tears - she said ‘you’re going to Cardiff’ .

“I was quiet. She said ‘aren’t you happy?’, I said ‘I’m trying to get my pastry right’.”

But now those mince pies have been eaten, Paul is determined to get into the right mindset ahead of his Cardiff debut.

And he is promising to bring that same single mindedness he gave to his baking to the track.

“I’ll just have to be focused and switched on, forget about what’s out there,” added Paul, who dreamt of being a speedway rider but saw officiating as the next best thing.

“In front of 52,00 people it’s going to be a different ball game, I’m sure.

“That’s how I get my kick.

“I’d have loved to have been a speedway rider but it’s a dangerous sport and its so expensive.

“To be among the world’s greatest, the adrenaline kicks in. Thats how I get my buzz.”

Paul was first introduced to speedway when his brother took him to watch the Boston Barracudas in 1979.

The club folded in 1987 but Paul was among those volunteers who helped the club during its reformation in the late 1990s, beginning as a flag marshall.

He progressed through the ranks to become a start marshall while the exiled club competed at Skegness and then King’s Lynn.

But when the Cudas folded a second time, Paul took on the role for King’s Lynn and has officiated in the National League, Premier League and Elite League.

“I was a fan of the Barracudas back in the 70s and 80s,” Paul continued.

“My brother took me for the first time and I got hooked.”

Although the club is no-longer in existence Paul says he will always be a Cudas fan, adding: “They’ll always be my team.

“They’ll always have a place in my heart.”

The British GP rotates its start marshalls from clubs across the country each year, and this July it’s Paul’s turn.

He admits it will be his proudest moment in the sport and he has already decided his official’s cap and lanyard will take pride of place in his collection, alongside the mementos acquired from World Championship matches he has been involved in at King’s Lynn.