Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||3||3||2*||2*||13||2|
|2. Nathan Greaves||2*||0||2||0||4||1|
|3. Kye Thomson||3||F||2||0||5||0|
|4. Josh Pickering||1||2||FD||1||4||0|
|5. Richie Worrall||3||3||3||3||3||15||0|
|6. Tom Woolley||0||0||0||0||0|
|7. William Lawson||3||1||1*||1||0||6||1|
Team Manager: Steve Pate
|1. Kyle Howarth||0||3||E||1||4||0|
|2. Adam Roynon||1||1||3||1*||6||1|
|3. Connor Mountain||0||1*||2||3||6||1|
|4. Max Clegg||2||2||1*||2*||1||8||2|
|5. Matthew Wethers||2||1*||3||0||6||1|
|6. James Wright||2||2||1||2||2*||3||0||12||1|
|7. Joe Alcock||1*||R||R||1||1|
It didn't exactly take the genius of Mystic Meg to predict how closely contested last weekend's double-header with Redcar would be, but, come on…..even she would have struggled to come up with back-to-back draws, the first at Armadale and then, two days later, at the Bears' own Media Prima Arena lair.
I freely admit to feeling somewhat disappointed after the home fixture, especially having come so close to the final heat 5-1 that would have kicked off our season with such a statement-issuing win. That said, the fact we matched a quality outfit like Redcar with almost 50% of our side making their Edinburgh bows, must auger well for the campaign ahead.
Sunday's trip to Northumberland would surely present a much more daunting task, however. But no, once again the Monarchs pulled a great result out of the bag with their second 45-45 in less than 48 hours. This time they had to claw their way back from a ten-point deficit after Heat 8 to all-but win it at the death. Sam Masters' Heat 9 tactical substitute 5-1 with Richie Worrall set the scene for a storming comeback, and it took Charles Wright's final heat victory to save the Bears from defeat.
What a way to start the season. And this weekend sees another intriguing two-legger, this time in the first round of the Knockout Cup. Contrasting markedly with Redcar, expectations placed on the shoulders of our upcoming opponents, the Diamonds of Newcastle, for a prosperous season are thought, by many, to be sparse.
For most clubs, Covid restrictions have played havoc with team construction to some degree, and new Brough Park owner, Rob Grant hasn't had his own sorrows to seek in that respect. Plans to offer a first taste of UK speedway to Czech Ondrej Smetana and Slovenian Nick Skorja, both former Grand Prix riders, were promptly scuppered as was that to secure the signature of former Glasgow Tiger, Claus Vissing.
Failure to utilise their maximum points limit (their final total of 32.51 is almost six below that of the Monarchs) places them at an obvious disadvantage, especially at the top end where only two of their septet, Ben Barker and Matthew Wethers, run with CMAs greater than 4.92, that average held by old friend of the Monarchs, Max Clegg, who will join the aforementioned pair as the team's third heat leader.
Of course, in spite of such less-than-startling figures, all three have vast experience to hand and no one of a blue and gold persuasion will be under any illusion as to their capabilities or, indeed, just how misleading these averages can often prove in general.
One upside to going with more modest top end numbers is the added scope freed up a sturdier middle order and, in Connor Mountain and Adam Roynon, newly-appointed team boss Nigel Hinchcliffe has a couple of seasoned campaigners perfectly adept at rising to the occasion when required. Part of the proposed 2020 Diamonds line-up, Connor's returns to Brough Park stems from a management change of heart, the King's Lynn rider having previously been released during the winter. Adam, on the other hand, restarts his career following a six-year break from the sport. Taking on such a gamble carries obvious risks but the Diamonds' hierarchy would appear to have every faith that the Cumbrian will once again come good.
At reserve, former Premier League Riders' champion James Wright will partner 22-year-old Rising Star Joe Alcock. Like Roynon, you have to go back to the mid-2010s to find the last time James rode a speedway bike in earnest, so again it's a chance, but one Rob Grant evidently considers well worth taking. Also, the rider's continued involvement (at a high level) in grasstracking during that interim period should make the return to the oval track that bit easier to negotiate for the Stockport lad.
Joe Alcock is another whose appearance on the Championship scene carries no guarantees but National League experience with Stoke should help him acclimatise to life with the big boys.
So there we have Newcastle Diamonds all-British line-up for 2021. It won't be easy, but Edinburgh's primary aim on Friday must be to build the best possible lead to take south for what is likely to prove a much tougher return leg. For that first leg, Newcastle will have to go into battle without Ben Barker whose spill at the Diamonds' press and practice event resulted in suffering broken fingers. Guesting in his place will be Leicester's Kyle Howarth.
For the Monarchs, Joe Lawlor again misses out. His replacement will be Armadale Devil Tom Woolley for whom the experience should tick a few boxes towards his development.
A big lead is the name of the game for the What the Fork Monarchs, the weather is playing ball and another great night is in prospect. Remaining tickets can be booked on the Official Website and as with all matches at Armadale this year those unable to attend can buy the live stream online.
Friday 4th June 2021, 11:55pm
A strong start to the match, and dominant performances by Sam Masters and Richie Worrall, were the plus points for the What the Fork Monarchs – but the happier camp at the end of the night would surely be the Newcastle one as they went down in the first leg of the KO Cup first round by a mere four points.
Friday 4th June 2021, 10:30am
If you are attending Armadale Stadium tonight for the first time this season, you will find it slightly different from normal with many measures in place for your safe return to enjoying speedway!
Wednesday 2nd June 2021, 12:00pm
This weekend the What the Fork Monarchs attempt to overcome Newcastle Diamonds in their home and away tie in the Championship Knockout Cup. It's a tie which has traditionally produced drama and excitement over the years.
Wednesday 2nd June 2021, 7:00am
Order your copy of the What The Fork Monarchs v Newcastle Diamonds matchday magazine now - a perfect accompaniment to your EMTV:Live experience!