Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||2||3||2||3||13||0|
|2. Nathan Greaves||0||1*||1||R||2||1|
|3. Kye Thomson||0||3||0||1||4||0|
|4. Josh Pickering||3||1||3||3||10||0|
|5. Richie Worrall||3||3||3||1*||1||11||1|
|6. Joe Lawlor||0||0||0||0||0|
|7. William Lawson||3||1||0||0||1||5||0|
Team Manager: Jade Mudgway
|1. Charles Wright||1*||2||2||0||5||1|
|2. Anders Rowe||2||0||3||1*||6||1|
|3. Michael Palm Toft||2||2||2||3||2||11||0|
|4. Jordy Stewart||1*||1*||1*||0||3||3|
|5. Jake Allen||2||3||2||3||0||10||0|
|6. James Sarjeant||2||FD||1*||2*||2||7||2|
|7. Jordan Jenkins||1*||0||2*||3||2|
Rain, rain go away, come again another day – just not a Friday…
19 months we waited for the wonderful sight, sound and smell of bikes roaring round Armadale and what happens?
Postponements both here for the Sam v Richie challenge match and, 24 hours later, What The Fork Monarchs' away opener at Leicester. I get it, this is Scotland. But come on, it's supposed to be summer, or just about. So enough of the pessimism.
Friday's visit of the Agilia Redcar Bears presents a challenge as potentially demanding as any we are likely to see all season. 2019's Knockout Cup success together with a 3rd place finish in the Championship attracted widespread praise from the speedway community, and rightly so. However, when the departures of both former Edinburgh captain Eric Riss and Denmark's Kasper Andersen were announced, few expected anything comparable the following season.
Furthermore, the additional loss of celebrated campaigner Ben Barker along with a robust reserve pairing in Nathan Greaves and Tom Wooley (whatever happened to them?) would surely impair the Bears' chances even more.
It was Thomas Edison who first said, "There is no substitute for hard work." And it was in such a spirit that an extensive search for new blood began. Team manager Jitendra Duffill and co-promotors Jade Mudgway and Jamie Swales left no stone unturned as what Duffill would soon call, "The strongest team we have ever had and one I think can go all the way" slowly took shape.
A bold claim from the Bears' boss to say the least, but run an eye over the finished article and you begin to realise just how much water it could prove to hold.
Remaining from 2019 are Australian Jordan Stewart, who starts on an average of 5.74, and one of this country's foremost talents, Charles Wright. As expected, the Redcar skipper and former British champion will start 2021 as No.1, but one man likely to push him all the way for that top spot is Michael Palm Toft who returns to the Bears' fold after suffering a serious spinal injury during that campaign. The Dane's CMA trails Wright's 9.35 by just over a point, so the battle for premier billing as the season unfolds should be intriguing.
Being able to boast two such high ranking heat leaders as Wright and Palm Toft is enviable for sure. Throw in a third in the shape of Jake Allen and you're suddenly talking serious title contenders. The Brisbane-born 25-year-old rides of a healthy average of 7.26 although his previous two visits to West Lothian in 2019, in the Championship and K.O. Cup, yielded just eight points from ten rides. He'll be keen then to improve on that on Friday and the Monarchs should underestimate him at their peril.
Completing the main body of the Redcar team is hugely promising teenager Anders Rowe whose learning curve is bound to have undergone a steep rise with last summer's stint at Polish Division Two outfit, Rawicz. With a third place finish in 2019's British Under-19 final at Redcar, followed by another podium appearance in the Under-21 championship back in November, enhancing that potential even further, his position at No. 2 with a CMA of 4.27 is certainly no accident.
At reserve, fellow 19-year-old Jordan Jenkins takes the (well named in his case) Rising Star slot and is joined by one James Sarjeant whose untimely Monarchs departure earlier in the year placed all concerned in the circumstances behind it in the most awkward of positions. That the story went on to have a thoroughly happy ending will, I'm sure, have delighted the legions of Edinburgh fans who always thrilled at the Yorkshireman's electrifying style in the blue and gold. I'm confident, therefore, his welcome back to Armadale will be a warm one.
No mistake, going wheel to wheel with such highly venerated opponents so early in the season will be tough. Win, lose or draw though, our performance on the night should provide a fair barometer as to how the season on a whole might pan out.
And with both sides at full strength, it looks sure to start with a cracker.
Friday's line-ups read:
Monarchs: 1) Sam Masters (c), 2) Nathan Greaves, 3) Kye Thomson, 4) Josh Pickering, 5)Richie Worrall, 6) Joe Lawlor, 7) William Lawson
Bears: 1) Charles Wright (c), 2) Anders Rowe, 3) Michael Palm Toft, 4) Jordan Stewart, 5) Jake Allen, 6) James Sarjeant, 7) Jordan Jenkins
On Sunday afternoon(the 30th) we do it all again, of course with the return fixture at Redcar's Media Prima Arena. And, with tapes up at 2PM, it promises to be no less enthralling a contest.
Armadale Devils next take to the track a day earlier, on Saturday (29th), when they travel to Leicester's Paul Chapman & Sons Arena and a clash with the 2019 double-winning Lion Cubs in the National Development League. And captaining the Midlands' septet this time round will be none other than our own Joe Lawlor.
Tonight though is all about the What The Fork Monarchs and their return to track, the match is a complete sell out so to all those due in attendance we say welcome back to those off you without tickets then you can still catch all the action on our live stream available from the Monarchs website.
Saturday 29th May 2021, 12:00pm
What The Fork Monarchs promotion wish to thank everybody who attended and watched online as the culmination of months of planning took effect with the return of spectators to Armadale Stadium on Friday evening.
Friday 28th May 2021, 11:25pm
The Championship season got off to a cracking start for the What the Fork Monarchs tonight at Armadale, the lead changing hands before a last heat 4-2 to the home side made the final score a 45-45 draw.
Friday 28th May 2021, 9:30am
If you are attending Armadale Stadium tonight, you will find it slightly different from normal with many measures in place for your safe return to enjoying speedway!
Wednesday 26th May 2021, 12:00pm
At one time Redcar Bears (visitors to Armadale on Friday) were the most successful visiting team, but in recent years that has not been the case. However their boss Jitendra Duffill believes they can change that with this year's team.
Tuesday 25th May 2021, 10:00pm
Order your copy of the What The Fork Monarchs v Redcar Bears matchday magazine now!