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SAM ERMOLENKO – Pirate of the Past

‘ Sudden’ Sam was brought to the notice of Poole co-promoter Brian Maidment, who saw him racing at Sacramento in the summer of 1982, however, it wasn`t until the end of the following year that he was invited to Dorset for a trial. He arrived on a Tuesday and made his debut for Poole just 24 hours later, on a machine borrowed from Poole number eight Andy Fines. Although jet-lagged, he managed some practice on Wednesday morning, but much to the dismay of the Poole management, didn't look anything special. He scored a single point on his debut, but showed enough promise to be contracted for the rest of the season, riding four matches. This led to him being signed for 1984. Any doubts about his quality were quickly dispelled with a paid maximum in the opening challenge match. His showmanship, passing ability and rapport with the fans quickly made him a favourite at Wimborne Road, Sam`s popularity was to prove crucial to the club after number one Michael Lee was banned from riding in June, with the American becoming a mainstay of the Poole side. Despite the added pressure and seeing many tracks for the first time, Sam eventually topped the league and cup averages with a figure of 6.60. Incredibly, no club stepped in to sign him when Poole went into administration at the end of year, but he proved his quality by earning a run-off for the title and a bronze medal at the 1985 World Final as an unattached rider.