The Monarchs acquitted themselves well before a late collapse led to a 10 point defeat going down 50-40 at Ashfield tonight in the first leg of the Scottish Cup.
There were flashes from most of the Monarchs with new boy Max Ruml acquitting himself well although fellow newcomer Joel Andersson struggled and also became the first (and hopefully last) Monarch to fall foul of the new starting rules as he was excluded in heat 7 for getting off his bike at the starting gate.
The Monarchs were led scoring wise by Ricky Wells and Eric Riss who both recorded paid 11 scores while Matt Williamson weighed in with paid 10 at the bottom end.
Williamson was happy with his own performance and still believes the cup is there to be won saying “I’m over the moon with my personal performance tonight and this tie is far from over. If they can beat us by ten points then we can beat them by 10 points at Armadale. Nothing is done till it’s done and it’s all to race for next Friday and I expect us to bounce back.”
The Tigers had been dealt a blow pre-match with the news Chris Harris would miss out after his partner went into labour however it must be said that rider replacement didn’t weaken the home men by much.
The match was a nip and tuck affair with neither team able to assert any dominance early with the Tigers biggest lead being 6 points after heat 10 and the Monarchs only lead being a 2 point advantage after a fantastic heat 6 5-1 by Erik Riss and Williamson.
A second Monarch’s 5-1 in heat 13 reduced the deficit to 2 and had many in the Monarchs camp believing something could be gained from the night.
This was to be short lived though as Tiger of the match Jack Thomas and Claus Vissing jetted from the tapes and with the experienced Dane shepherding the impressive youngster home the match was gone.
That just left the margin of deficit to be decided and once again it was the hosts who were fastest from the start in heat 15 on what was by now a super slick surface and 10 points is the deficit.
All in all it was an enjoyable evening and the changes to the Ashfield circuit look like they will pay off with the tie set up nicely for a barnstorming second leg at Armadale next Friday.
After what has seemed like the longest winter in recent memory we are ready to hear the bikes roar again as we head into the first match of our 2018 season away to the Glasgow Tigers in the first leg of the Scottish Cup.
We will all be interested to see what the changes to the Ashfield track has made in regards the racing and fingers crossed for some belting racing on the Greg Hancock designed race track.
Of course it will also be the first chance the visiting fans get to see our new boys Max and Joel and with all of this in mind an intriguing night is in prospect.
As has been the way in recent years the Tigers have built a powerful looking line-up with a strong top 5 backed up by plenty of punch at reserve and many are tipping this will be the year the investment and effort of recent years is paid off with a title come late September.
The Tigers are never afraid to wield the axe and this year sees no less than 6 changes from what even the most ardent supporter will admit was a disappointing year last year as injuries and poor morale led to disintegration towards the end of the year.
The one returning rider is number 1 Richie Worrall. Worrall started last season like a train and looked ready to take the step into the top tier of British racers. This consistency could not be matched all year but Richie will still look at 2017 as a building year and he will be looking to take this on to the next step in 2018 starting by maintaining his number 1 position throughout.
Joining Richie in a potent opening pair is former Scunthorpe man Lewi Kerr. 2018 has the makings of a big year for Lewi as he now seems fully recovered from his horror smash at Peterborough a few years ago. Kerr was perhaps a little unfortunate to be in a weaker Scunthorpe line-up last year meaning he was forced into a number 1 role at times. This year back in a second string role to start the season Kerr is one to watch in my opinion and I would not be surprised to see him push his starting average up to around 8 points come seasons end.
The middle order of the Tigers team is rock solid and number 3 to start the season is former Somerset man Paul Starke. If there is one thing Starke brings to any team it is a winning mentality and his list of trophies won makes for impressive reading. The Tigers will be hoping that this rubs off on some of his teammates this year as Starke looks to kick on a little from a career that seems to have stagnated at around the 6.5-7 point mark the last few seasons.
Joining Starke in the engine room is Claus Vissing. Vissing is of course a former Monarch and is one who has made his name on the bigger tracks at the likes of Workington in the past though. One who will be hoping the new parameters at Ashfield suits his fast riding outside blasts this could be the season that Vissing improves on his sub 7 average. Another who will not have the pressure in the big heats that has maybe suppressed his scoring in the past a fully fit and flying Vissing would leave the Tigers with the undoubted strongest top 5 in the division.
The marquee signing of the winter for Glasgow comes in at number 5 in former British GP winner Chris Harris. Ever popular Harris is another who will be looking to kick on after a half season in the Championship last year which gave him a taste of what to expect in the division. Named as Captain Harris will be looking to put the pressure on Richie Worrall straight from the start of the season for the number 1 slot and with those two in the line-up some exciting heat 13 and 15’s are sure to come.
Number 6 in the line-up is youngster Jack Thomas. Thomas had expected to start the season just riding National League for Kent but after Jack Parkinson-Blackburn decided to take a step back due to personal reasons he was drafted in. Thomas is a hot prospect having improved in leaps year on year in his 3 seasons with Kent with many saying he is a stronger prospect then JPB. With the makeup of the rest of the team Thomas will no doubt be given the time required to adjust to this level and the Tigers management will be looking for improvement as the season progresses allowing him to contribute come the business end of the season.
Completing the septet is a man seen by many as the coup signing of the winter in James Sarjeant who slots in as senior reserve for the Tigers. Sarjeant had as bad a year as he would have imagined last year with a mixture of injuries, loss of form and loss of team spaces leading to almost 2 points coming off his starting average. Sarjeant’s pain may well be Glasgow’s gain though as he starts the season on a very low looking average and if he can get back to the rider he was in his previous spell in the stripes then the Tigers are definitely onto a winner.
So that’s our opponents what about our Blue and Gold heroes. Well it seems like a long time ago since we were last on track with our early season ending last year. There is a real sense of confidence in the camp that this is a team that can compete and if they ride as well as they all spoke at the season launch show or looked at the practice session then we could be on to a winner.
The Monarchs have went for a little more continuity then our westerly neighbours with 4 of last year’s septet coming back in the form of Ricky Wells, Josh Pickering and the Riss brothers all of whom are looking to build on their performances last year.
Joining the returnees are 2 complete newcomers to the UK alongside a more familiar face. The first of the newcomers is Swede Joel Andersson who joins on a 5.20 average. Andersson has an excellent pedigree haven ridden in the Swedish Elite League for the past 4 years and is also Swedish under 21 champion and world under 21 finalist and with that experience under his belt it may be that the wide open spaces of Ashfield are to his liking.
Joel’s fellow newcomer will most definitely not be used to the size of tracks he can expect at the likes of Berwick and Workington this year as a Californian Kid Max Ruml’s speedway education was on the famous Costa Mesa circuit. That being said having been a member or the Team USA World Cup squad in the past Ruml is not completely oblivious to what lies ahead. Another with an impressive CV with multiple 2nd place finishes in the US National Championships and as a former US under 21 Champ Ruml now feels the time is right to take the next step in his racing career.
The ‘more familiar face’ as I put it belongs to Matt Williamson who has been in and around our division for 4 years now first with Scunthorpe and then most recently with Workington. Williamson is a former Motocross whizz and we all remember what happened the last time we signed a former motocross racer from Workington. Of course we will not be putting any pressure on Matt to impersonate Craig Cook but with a season mostly spent in the main body of the team at Workington we would hope that he will be at it from the off and make a mockery of his starting average and reserve position.
So a tie that looks tightly set with Glasgow appearing to have the upper hand in the main body of the team and the Monarchs hoping to pack a powerful punch at the bottom end all under the lights at a newly shaped Ashfield circuit. I know some may say this is only a pre season friendly tie set up to blow off the cobwebs but we all know when it’s a derby that is never the case and I for one can’t wait to see how it pans out.
For those who will be in attendance..... See you there!
Thursday 22nd March 2018, 9:36am
Although we gave the least notice ever of our press day we attracted one of our biggest ever attendances from the media, including BBC TV cameras, as our 2018 season was successfully launched at Armadale on Wednesday afternoon.
Sunday 18th March 2018, 8:49pm
Josh Pickering called into the stadium on Sunday afternoon with his girlfriend Brooke and confirmed how much he is enjoying our winter weather.
Friday 16th March 2018, 6:30pm
We've just a week to go now until the new season opens with a visit to Ashfield Stadium, Glasgow for the first leg of the Scottish Cup.
Thursday 15th March 2018, 10:40pm
Our new American signing Max Ruml flew into Edinburgh on Thursday just in time to quietly celebrate his 21st birthday.
Wednesday 14th March 2018, 9:14pm
Work continued at Armadale on Wednesday with Ronnie Anderson and his team working hard to get everything ready for the start of the season.
Tuesday 13th March 2018, 4:04pm
It's just a week to go until the Season Launch Show at the Cairn Hotel Bathgate and we now have just twenty tickets available for the event. (Update 11.00pm Tuesday evening - Now only ten tickets remaining)
Sunday 11th March 2018, 12:00pm
The management of both Glasgow Tigers and Edinburgh Monarchs, have come to the agreement that their fans can buy Scottish Cup tickets for both home and away legs from their own club, meaning all proceeds for home and away ticket sales purchased by their own fans, will be kept by both clubs.
Wednesday 7th March 2018, 9:31pm
Although our Blue Reward Card was launched last Friday, our Gold Membership Card is still available offering discounts in a variety of areas over the season but particularly on admission to Armadale in 2018.