New team photo
photograph by Geoff Ridsdale
Todd Kurtz, Rob Branford, Kyle Howarth, Josh Bates, Josh Grajczonek
Lasse Bjerre (kneeling) Jack Parkinson-Blackburn

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Josh Bates
Josh Bates Born: Barnsley South Yorkshire 1st February 1996
Init CMA May CMA June CMA July CMA Aug CMA Sep CMA Oct CMA
5.89 5.89 5.88 6.49

Josh joined us from Swindon in 2014 when his uncle became co-promoter at Sheffield and the highlight of his season was winning the British U21 title at Wolverhampton. A winter in Australia set him up well for 2015 riding in all three Leagues for Wolverhampton, Sheffield and Birmingham, although he surrendered his U21 British crown, pipped at the post by Kyle Howarth who ironically became his new Tigers team mate in 2016.

Josh joined another of his Tigers team mates, Jason Garrity doubling up with Elite League Coventry in 2016 and he started for the Tigers in the no.4 race jacket with a personal target of adding another 2 points to his average. He failed, but even maintaining your average when stepping up to into the team should be considered progress and went he on to regain his U21 British title (albeit on his home track). A 12 point return at Pocking (Germany) put him into the World U21 final, but a dislocated collarbone hampered his preparations. After a 6th place in the World U21 final first leg at King's Lynn he was then sidetracked with concussion after a fall in the Redcar match.

Josh was contemplating a change of track for 2017 until his uncle persuaded him that he was needed by the Tigers and just couldn't be replaced by a better prospect on his average...

Following news that he'd been seleceted as reserve for the Grand Prix in Cardiff he then missed the away match at Glasgow due to illness.

Official meetings average in 2017 = 6.27

Maximums: Paid = 1 (Away)

photograph by: Geoff Ridsdale Fastest times at Owlerton in 2017: 61.0   20 April & 15 June
in 2016: 60.4  14 July
Highest scores: Home 10+2 v Peterborough (SGBC-B) Away 10+2 v Scunthorpe (SGBC-A)
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Lasse Bjerre Jensen
Lasse Bjerre Born: Esbjerg Denmark 31 October 1993
Init CMA May CMA June CMA July CMA Aug CMA Sep CMA Oct CMA
6.64 6.64 7.30 7.68

Younger brother of Grand Prix rider Kenneth, Lasse has seven years experience of British speedway having first joined King's Lynn in August 2010 to replace the injured Joe Haines. His Owlerton debut came in 2011 for Ipswich when heat beat Shane Parker on his way to 7+1 and he doubled up with Elite league King's Lynn that year. He top scored when the Witches returned in September beating Ricky, but his highlight of the year would be lifting the Danish U21 crown at the ripe old age of 17.

When Leicester visited in 2012 Lasse scored a five ride 18 point maximum out of the Lions 37 point total and broke the minute barrier winning heat 3 in 59.9. He guested for Berwick at the end of August and his paid 13 return helped them to an away win at Owlerton.

Lasse top scored home and away for the Leicester Lions at the start of 2013, and again when they returned to Owlerton for the league match in September. He was Peterborough's top-scorer at Owlerton in 2014 and also had outings with both Leicester and Wolverhampton. He only scored 7 in the PLRC but beat both Craig Cook and eventual winner Simon Stead in the heats.

Riding for Redcar in 2015 Lasse top scored with 14+1 in the League Cup but missed the League match, ending the season with an average of 8.30. His form took a dip in 2016 and following incidents at the Fours final when he was repeatedly cut up by a team mate he found himself relieved of the captaincy. Although he spent the remainder of the year building his average back up he resolved to find himself a new club for 2017...

Current average from official fixtures in 2017 = 7.70

photograph by: Geoff Ridsdale Fastest times at Owlerton in 2017: 61.1  13 July
in 2016: 61.4  23 June
Highest scores: Home 13 v Berwick (SGBC-B) Away 13 v Glasgow (SGBC-A)
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Robert Peter Branford
Robert Branford Born: Adelaide South Australia 23rd November 1993
Init CMA May CMA June CMA July CMA Aug CMA Sep CMA Oct CMA
4.60 4.60 4.51 4.13

Rob's first British club was Buxton with whom he won the National Trophy, Knockout Cup and League championship triple in 2010. He also rode in the Owlerton Top Gun event scoring 9 points (same as Kyle Howarth, more than Richie Worrall, Paul Starke and Jason Garrity). He doubled with Redcar and Buxton in 2011 and added Berwick to his list of clubs in 2012. It was all change in 2013 as he switched to Leicester and the Coventry National league team, and he lifted the British U21 championship with 12 points ahead of Howarth(14) and Garrity(15) at Dudley (Monmore Green).

In 2014 he won the Victoria U21 final and he returned to Britain in 2015 riding in all three leagues for Swindon, Edinburgh and Rye House II, only scoring 2 points on each of his visits to Owlerton but winning the League, League Cup and Fours with the Monarchs.

Riding for both Rye House teams in 2016 he scored a creditable 8 on his last Owlerton visit heading both Nathan and Josh on the night.

Rob has been riding through the pain barrier with a shoulder injury sustained riding for Rye House and eventually threw in the towel in July.

Current average from official fixtures in 2017 = 4.00

photograph by: Geoff Ridsdale Fastest times at Owlerton in 2017: 62.6  22 June
in 2016: 61.8  1 September
Highest scores: Home 11 v Edinburgh (KOC) Away 8+2 v Ipswich (SGBC-A)
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Joshua Lee Grajczonek
Josh Grajczonek Born: Kirwan, Townsville Queensland, Australia 5th February 1990
Init CMA May CMA June CMA July CMA Aug CMA Sep CMA Oct CMA
8.90 8.90 9.19 9.31

At 27 years old Josh is the elder statesman of the 2017 Tigers squad. Queensland U16 champion in 2004, U21 champion in 2007 & 2008, and State champion in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. He began his British career with Glasgow in 2008. Back with the Scottish Tigers in 2009 he also had outings for Elite League Belle Vue and again in 2010 when scoring 10+1 when Glasgow visited Owlerton.

He joined Elite league Swindon in 2011 but also helped make the Scottish Tigers Premier League Champions. Back to Belle Vue in 2012 but it was all change with Premier League Somerset and King's Lynn in the Elite. In a very successful 2013 he took Championship medals in both divisions with Poole and Somerset, along with the KO Cup and Pairs medals with the Rebels. He scored three paid maximums on his way to a 9.04 average with Workington in 2014 and another championship medal with the Pirates. He joined the Aces in 2015 and picked up KO Cup and Pairs medals with the Rebels. In 2016 he picked up a paid maximum with Elite Swindon, and League, League Cup and Pairs medals with the Rebels.

Recent Owlerton visits have included; 14 for Glasgow in 2012, 12 for Workington and 5 in the P.L.R.C in 2014, 10 (4th) in the P.L.R.C in 2015, 13+1 for Somerset, 8 P.L.R.C and 12 in the Play Off final last year.

Average from official fixtures in 2017 = 9.28

Maximums: Full = 2 (Home), Paid = 1 (Home)

photograph by: Geoff Ridsdale Fastest times at Owlerton in 2017: 61.2  15 June
in 2016: 60.2  26 October
Highest scores: Home 15 v Scunthorpe (SGBC-A) Away 14 v Peterborough (SGBC-B)
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Kyle Howarth
Kyle Howarth Born: Ashton-under-Lyne Greater Manchester 11th February 1994
Init CMA May CMA June CMA July CMA Aug CMA Sep CMA Oct CMA
7.18 7.18 8.71 7.94

Kyle was an accomplished grasstrack and motocross competitor before turning his attention to amateur speedway in 2008. On his debut for the Scunthorpe Saints in 2009 he scored 13+2 and he finished runner up in the British Under-15 championship. Signing for Poole Pirates in 2010 he rode for Bournemouth Buccaneers in the National League, guested for the Somerset Rebels in the Premier and took third place in the British Under-18 Championship.

All change in 2011 as he joined Belle Vue in the National League, and Edinburgh Monarchs in the Premier. After a winter riding in Australia when he won the Queensland Under-21 Championship he joined Poole Pirates in the Elite League and Workington Comets in the Premier League in 2012.

Swindon and Workington have been his clubs for the last couple of seasons but it is all change for 2016 as he has joined the Elite League Wolverhampton Wolves and the Tigers in the Premier.

Kyle's 2015 visit to Owlerton was with the Comets in August when, riding as No.1 he only managed four third places, but surely the reason for his selection was for his previous experience on circuits where the Tigers have a very poor record.

Kyle soon settled in at Owlerton and after mid-season machine issues he stepped up to assume the captaincy and inspire the Tigers into the play offs, and right through to the final despite his team mates dropping like flies around him. Kyle was voted 'Rider of the Year' by both the fans and track staff and was rightly the first name on the team sheet for 2017.

Official meetings average from 2017 = 8.09

Maximums: Full = 1 (Home) & 1 (Away)

photograph by: Geoff Ridsdale Fastest times at Owlerton in 2017: 61.8  15 June
in 2016: 60.3  14 September
Highest scores: Home 12+1 v Peterborough (SGBC-A) Away 15 v Scunthorpe (SGBC-A)
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Todd William Kurtz
Todd Kurtz Born: Cowra, New South Wales Australia 4th November 1992
Init CMA May CMA June CMA July CMA Aug CMA Sept CMA Oct CMA
5.76 5.76 5.54 5.00

Todd's kid brother Brady is well known to Tigers fans as he has guested for us on many occasions in the last few years. Todd's Owlerton appearances have not been as spectacular and his highest score was 4+2 with Plymouth last year.

Todd was U16 New South Wales, and U16 Australian champion in 2008 before joining National league Newport in 2009. He rode both Premier and National league for the Wasps in 2010 and after becoming Australian Long Track chanpion he returned to Newport and Coventry in 2011. He defended his Aussie Long Track title in 2012 before joining Plymouth, whom he stayed with in 2013. He helped Somerset to a Fours win in 2014 before returning to Plymouth, going on to claim another Fours win with the Devils in 2016.

Todd has been a 'Driller man' ever since his Newport days and is sure to be looking forward to working closely with Sheffield co-promoter Peter Mole.

Official meetings average from 2017 = 5.23

Maximums: Paid = 1 (Home)

photograph by: Geoff Ridsdale Fastest times at Owlerton in 2017: 61.5  2232 June
in 2016: n/a
Highest scores: Home 14+1 v Berwick (SGBC-A) Away 9 v Workington (SGBC-A)
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Jack Daniel Parkinson-Blackburn
Jack Parkinson-Blackburn Born: Dewsbury West Yorkshire 2nd September 2000
Init CMA May CMA June CMA July CMA Aug CMA Sep CMA Oct CMA
2.00 2.00 2.00

Jack was an early starter in motorsport, taking his first competitive ride on a grass track bike at the age of just 6 years old and winning his first major title just one year later. He went on to win club championships at various levels before taking up the shale sport in 2011.

His natural talent instantly shone through, finishing runner up in British Final in his first year. In 2014 Jack moved up to 250cc and once again finished runner up in the British Championship. 2015 saw him make the move up to 500cc machinery and his progress has caught the eye of some of the top names in speedway. As well as winning the British Championship he was also crowned Midland Development League Champion, Northside Youth Championship winner and stunned everyone to pull off a remarkable fifth place finish in the British Under-19 Final.

Jack helped Birmingham to the Travel Plus National League title, and National Trophy in 2016 with some sparkling performances and finished fourth in the British U21 final at Owlerton in April. Jack could have signed for any team in the country but Sheffield were always his first choice.

After finding the pace of the Championship league being a different quantum Jack struggled by comparison with his National league exploits for Birmingham. Despite his team mates giving their advice on track after the Edinburgh match Jack subsequently asked Damien for a break from Championship racing in an attempt to regain his confidence. He naively thought he would be able to continue appearing for Birmingham but was actually given a 14 day ban.

Official meetings average in 2017 = 2.09

photograph by: Geoff Ridsdale Fastest times at Owlerton in 2017: 63.1  11 May
in 2016: 64.1  14 April
Highest scores: Home 4+2 v Berwick (SGBC-A) Away 2 v Edinburgh (KO)
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Nathan Stoneman
Nathan Stoneman Born: Cardiff Wales 27th September 1996
Init CMA May CMA June CMA July CMA Aug CMA Sep CMA Oct CMA
n/a n/a n/a 2.00

Nathan was 500cc Youth Champion in 2011 and is currently holding down a 7.38 (official) average with the Kent 'Kings' in the National League. His first meeting for the Tigers was away at Glasgow where he only scored the one point but it will be good to see how he progresses in the coming weeks...

Nathan sufered leg and ankle injuries in a crash at Foxall Heath in July before he had even been able to make his home debut.

Official meetings average in 2017 = 0.50

photograph by:   Fastest times at Owlerton in 2017: dnr  
in 2016: n/a  
Highest scores: Home dnr Away 1 v Glasgow (SGBC-A)
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