||Last Updated: Apr 13th, 2016 - 09:27:48
Edinburgh Monarchs are speedway royalty. Reigning Premier League champions, and currently defending the League Cup, they expect to win all their matches, so a defeat on their own shale last Friday by Berwick’s Olympus Marquees Bandits came as a sudden, sharp shock to the mighty Monarchs!
But revenge might be at hand, as the fixture list now brings the Edinburgh giants down the A1 on Saturday night, very much hell-bent on restoring the status quo by inflicting defeat on these pesky Bandits.
But this year’s Berwick side have a solidarity about them, manifested by Shielfield Park victories over Redcar and then Newcastle already this season, even the champions will find a determined band of Bandits awaiting them on Saturday. Determined, but taking nothing for granted.
Berwick skipper Kevin Doolan is enjoying his best-yet form as leader of the Olympus Marquees Bandits, and after such a famous victory on Friday, is absolutely desperate to lead his troops to a League Cup double over the reigning PL champions.
"It's Edinburgh, after all," he said at the weekend. "We have to take the threat of them coming here to wreak revenge very seriously indeed, but with these fans of ours, waving flags and big foam fingers galore, I'm hoping we can see them off and maintain our very real intention of progressing to the semi-finals.”
One dominant Monarch is certain to be the amazing American "Flyin' Ryan" Fisher, a stand-out as a guest for Newcastle last Saturday, and a self-professed lover of racing around Shielfield Park.
“The Fish will be a tough man to get the better of.” admitted Doolan. “He really loves romping round Shielfield, so we’ll need to be at our best to get the better of him, and their captain Sam Masters, who was in the most-recent Grand Prix, and can handle himself in the very best of racing company, too!"
Both clubs expect to be at full strength for Saturday, the declared line-ups being:
Bandits: 1. Thomas Jorgensen, 2. Theo Pijper, 3. Kevin Doolan (captain), 4. Anders Mellgren, 5. Sebastian Alden, 6. Matthew Wethers, 7. Liam Carr
Monarchs: 1. Sam Masters (captain), 2. Erick Riss, 3. Kevin Wolbert, 4. Jye Etheridge, 5. Ryan Fisher, 6. Max Clegg, 7. Dan Bewley
If ever evidence was needed to prove what was already thought to be happening, club presenter Dick Barrie’s announcement at seven o'clock last Saturday, that the match was to be delayed, allowing people still queuing outside the turnstiles to come in, was that very evidence!
“We would apologise if you were inconvenienced by having to queue a little longer than usual,” said club director George Hepburn, “But be assured, while we will take steps to hopefully prevent similar congestion recurring, if it does happen again, it really does show that we're doing something right!
“The much-talked-about 'Bandit Buzz' around town and country has captured public imagination, with more and more folk talking about, and coming out see for themselves, our efforts to promote our image within the community.”
On Saturday, there could have been very few unhappy customers. The on-track efforts of the Olympus Marquees Bandits were clearly appreciated, with many more spectators than usual staying back to applaud the riders on a victory parade, and to crowd into the centre stand after that parade to meet and greet the boys, snapping selfies and claiming autographs with new-found enthusiasm.
“It is clear our "kids go free" blanket policy is bearing fruit, with the under-sixteens continuing to increase in numbers and noise!” said Hepburn.
“Of course, we can still accommodate many more followers, of all ages, keep the Buzz going, wear the colours and tell all your friends and neighbours, it's summer, and speedway's back in town!”
There are many younger speedway supporters who weren't even born when Berwick’s Bandits last beat Edinburgh Monarchs at Armadale!
The West Lothian arena had become a haunted house, a real bogey track for Berwick, with many border folk despairing of ever seeing another win there after that single triumph away back in 1998. In the last century!
All this changed last Friday however, as the Olympus Marquees Bandits dug deep to defeat the reigning Premier League champions and League Cup-holders 46-44 in a nerve-tingler of a League Cup match.
It was cold and it was damp, but with conditions the same for both teams, the bold Bandits held their nerve in the closing sequences of a contest in which they were never actually trailing their hosts.
A win in Heat 14 for Matty Wethers after he smoothly cut back inside Erick Riss ensured at least a draw, but this was just a scene-setter for the last race, which saw Kevin Doolan splitting Sam Masters and Kevin Wolbert to grab second place and cue frantic celebrations!
Commercial booking agent Vicky Yeomans highlights that several meeting dates are now fully booked up, and urges potential match sponsors to stake their claim to a preferred date as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. To discuss further contact Vicky on her new Hospitality Line (07793-004552) or e-mail bbschospitality2016 [at] icloud.com.
BORDER RAIDERS IN FORM:
It was announced last Saturday that two members of the Border Raiders, Berwick’s junior squad, Ryan Morris and tiny Luke Harrison, had become British 125cc Pairs Champions that afternoon at Northside in Cumbria, while on Sunday in Glasgow there was further success at the first round of the British Youth Championships, with Leon Flint winning the round at 250cc level, Ryan coming second in the 150cc class and wee Luke scoring eight points in the 125cc section.
This was one in a series of rounds to decide the British titles, the next meetings being due at Scunthorpe next month.
British Youth manager Neil Vatcher has highlighted that no less than 13 of the 16 finalists in this season's British U-21 Final (at Sheffield on Thursday 14th) will have previously been involved at Youth Championship level, proving the value of the season-long competition.
To have members of their Border Raiders doing so well testifies to the good work put in by Berwick’s training officers Colin Easton and Gary Flint. The Raiders will again be contesting the 2016 Northern Junior League of course, their first NJL mini-match being on April 30th against Halifax, forming the second half of the opening meeting of Bandits' PL campaign, after the senior side take on Scunthorpe Scorpions.
After every speedway meeting, the match referee is required to submit an official Meeting Report to the Speedway Control Bureau, detailing every aspect of the event, any injuries, protests and the like.
Part of this reportage to the SCB concerns track grooming, with marks (ranging from 0 for poor, through acceptable (1), good (2) up to 3 points for excellent) given to six different aspects of track curation including track surface, preparation, fences, equipment and other areas of obvious importance to riders' safety and spectators’ enjoyment of the night's racing.
We mention this because in the two meetings staged at Shielfield Park so far this year, two of speedway's most-experienced officials (Graham Reeve and Stuart Wilson) have each awarded 3 points to all six aspects of our track preparation, a very rare 18 points out of 18, both weeks!
Step forward track curator Ian Rae, the man responsible (along with his small band of dedicated helpers) for making this happen.
We don't just have a good team of riders, you know, our backstage boys are right up there among the best in the business, too!
LADIES NIGHT IN HOSPITALITY!
May 7th is going to be a very special night at speedway!
Everyone seems to be talking about the concept of a ladies-only evening in hospitality, and a few groups and pairs of girls are already laying plans and discussing their wardrobes. It also hasn't taken long for the bookings to start coming in!
Which brings us to the point that, although our Hospitality Suite is large and roomy, numbers will be limited, so make your enquiriers, and your reservations, earlier rather than later. After all, by this Saturday the big night will only be three weeks away......
It's all just another first for Berwick, we think! On Saturday night, May 7th (when Newcastle are back in town) we have a very special evening planned for the Hospitality Suite, and gentlemen need not apply!
We will be having a full-blown Ladies Night -- with bubbly on arrival, the famous Bandits Buffet, a fully-stocked bar and, after racing is over, a Ladies Night Disco in the Suite until 11pm!
Girls, this is your big night! Dump the guys for this one, leave them out in the stand or on the terraces and book in your girlie-group for the real deal.
Ladies will pay just £35, receiving in return -- in addition to the welcoming bubbly and later disco -- entry to the meeting, souvenir programme, pre-match photo with one of the Olympus Marquees Bandits, exclusive use of the suite, the magnificent hot and cold buffet and drinks vouchers, which are redeemable at the exclusive private bar area within our Suite.. Ladies will also be acknowledged in our match programme and by centre-green 'plugs' from the announcer's box and centre-green on the night.
Any lady, or group of girls wishing to book themselves in for this exclusive and entertaining evening on May 7th, should phone or text Vicky -- sooner rather than later, we warn you -- on her Hospitality Line (07793-004552) or e-mail bbschospitality2016 [at] icloud.com.
MIGHTY MASCOTS: It is great to have the kids back on parade this season, with Malcolm Leighton doing great work signing 'em up for each week's march-out. All kids between 5 and 15 are welcome, and as well as being on parade with the Olympus Marquees Bandits each gets a gift, and a commemorative photo of the occasion. The cost is only £25, for which the family get an adult and child's stadium admission, plus all these extras. Call Malcolm now (07899-724686) to book a mascot
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