Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||3||3||2*||2*||13||2|
|2. Nathan Greaves||1||0||2||1||4||0|
|3. Kye Thomson||F||1*||1*||3||5||2|
|4. Josh Pickering||3||2||2||3||10||0|
|5. Richie Worrall||3||2||3||3||3||14||0|
|6. Joe Lawlor||0||0||0||1||1||0|
|7. William Lawson||2||2*||1*||0||5||2|
Team Manager: Dave Peet
|1. Adam Ellis||2||3||1*||1||FD||7||1|
|2. Simon Lambert||0||0||3||2||0||5||0|
|3. Tero Aarnio||2||1||0||1*||1||5||1|
|4. Theo Pijper||1*||3||3||2||2||E||11||1|
|5. Thomas Jorgensen||FD||2||2||0|
|6. Josh MacDonald||3||1*||FD||0||2||6||1|
|7. Connor Coles||1||1||0||2||0|
It was cold and damp at Armadale as the What the Fork Monarchs found Scunthorpe as expected to be sticky opposition – only in the final three heats did the home side pull clear for a 52-38 victory.
It didn't feel anything like a June evening should feel, but there were plenty of good things for fans of both teams to relish – none more than the thrilling battles between Josh Pickering and Theo Pijper which sent the fans home with a warm glow. All night the Dutchman made brilliant use of a cunning inside line on the pits corner, a move he used to beat Worrall in heat 7 and Pickering two heats later.
Heat 14 was the culmination of these Pickering v Pijper battles. They had previously won one each against the other when Josh gated in this penultimate race. He was just in front when remarkably Joe Lawlor passed Adam Ellis, and Ellis then came down trying to re-pass.
So we had a rerun between the two entertainers to enjoy and this was the best of the lot, Josh eventually bursting through on lap three to win.
He said "I had good battles with Theo throughout the night, he got me in heat 9. I made a couple of little mistakes, I felt I could have had him but he's done a lot of laps around that track and he can ride a perfect race. I felt I could have got past him but Theo was just on the perfect line every time.
"For heat 14 obviously I made a perfect start in the first run, that was from the only good spot on my grid. For the rerun I didn't have any other spot to go off – I knew it was going to be hard! I was trying to build up speed and I planned to wait to trick him, but there was no tricking him! He was riding another perfect race, going up to the dirt. He knew where I would be. I had to back myself but I also had to have faith in him to not stuff me up in the middle of the corner. But I had every intention to win it and I'm so glad I did it."
Monarchs were also grateful to captain Sam Masters with a paid maximum, and Richie Worrall who dropped just one point to the remarkable Pijper. They really needed their big guns firing because a lot of the minor placings were going to the visitors. Monarchs were never behind but their lead was limited to the range 0 to 4 points between the opening heat and heat 12.
Once again Kye Thomson showed that he can't be discounted and he took a crucial heat 12 win which maintained the Monarchs' 4-point lead at that stage.
Masters and Worrall then doubled the advantage with a powerful ride against Adam Ellis who looked as though he hadn't quite settled in to Championship racing yet on his debut. Then followed that match-clinching and thrilling heat 14.
Scorpions unfortunately lost Thomas Jorgensen during the night. He fell in heat 4 chasing Richie Worrall, and although he managed a good second place in his next ride, it was then announced that he was withdrawing from the meeting, which meant that injury rider replacement applied. Given that they were also missing their young reserve Jordan Palin Scunthorpe can justifiably claim that things might have been different. They were well served by Lambert, Aarnio and MacDonald as well as top man Pijper.
Two victories within the space of 24 hours maintained the Monarchs' unbeaten record in the Championship as well as hoisting them up to third in the table, level on points with Redcar and with less fixtures fulfilled than top two Glasgow and Scunthorpe.
Both wins were close-run affairs settled late in the day in Edinburgh's favour. Right from the start against Leicester at home, the gap between the teams stayed within five points throughout and, with two heats to go, the Monarch's lead had shrunk to a single point A couple of 5-1s forced the issue though with Joshie Pickering taking both chequered flags to round off a superb top-scoring performance. Captain Sam Masters joined his countryman on double-figures as did reserve William Lawson whose 10+1 haul from five rides again underlines his importance to the team.
All a bit harsh on the Lions who certainly didn't deserve to leave Armadale without any reward at all, but you have to hand it to Sam and the boys for their resilience and stubborn refusal to accept defeat.
Success against Eastbourne the next day marked a Monarchs' first – a first ever victory at Arlington Stadium. It must also rate as one of their most impressive displays of the season so far, although it's true the Eagles were missing both Drew Kemp and skipper Lewis Kerr.
Save for an Eagles 5-1 in Heat 9 that levelled the score at 27-27, the visitors led throughout although the final outcome remained in doubt up until the very last heat.
All of which sets us up nicely for this weekend's hotly anticipated visit of the Scunthorpe Attis Scorpions. Sitting second in the Championship table with 12 points from five meetings, just three points ahead of ourselves on an outing less, Scunny have certainly made a mockery of early forecasts predicting mid-table mediocrity.
And, reading through their line-up, it's perhaps not too difficult to see why. Danny Ayers' tragic death together with the departures of Stefan Nielsen, Ben Barker, Jake Allen, and Ryan Kinsley meant that, from 2019's septet of riders, only Simon Lambert and the evergreen Josh Auty remained in the Lincolnshire club's thinking for 2021.
It's sad to report, however, that the much-loved Auty will sit the rest of the season out with Adam Ellis putting pen to paper as an eleventh-hour replacement. With a 9.74 CMA, Ellis will start at No.1.
The remaining Scunthorpe heat-leaders have something of a Scandinavian flavour to them. Dane Thomas Jorgensen rode most recently for Newcastle but can also claim plenty of previous experience round the Eddie Wright Raceway as a fully paid-up Scorpion from 2011 to 2014. The 28-year-old will double up this term with King's Lynn in the Premiership.
Hailing from Kuusankoski in Finland, Tero Aarnio is another with a historical association with the club, having ridden for them from 2010 to 2013 and again in 2017. Now, Tero's latest move from the Birmingham Brummies sets the scene for a third Scorpions spell in which consistency will be crucial to both his own and the team's success. Like fellow heat-leader, Jorgensen, the 37-year-old is a veteran of Scunthorpe's 2012 Premier League title-winning team.
Middle order responsibility will fall to Simon Lambert and Monarchs' asset Theo Pijper, riders embarrassingly rich in both experience and ability. Lambert is yet another with Scunthorpe on his C.V. more than once and the 32-year-old Lincolnshire lad will be one to watch on Friday.
41-year-old Theo Pijper is the Scorpions senior statesman having competed in British speedway since 2002. Following five years with Edinburgh, the Dutch national went on to serve a number of teams, among them Wolverhampton, Berwick, Swindon, Mildenhall, Glasgow, Redcar and, of course, Scunthorpe. A league winner with both Scottish clubs (Edinburgh 2003 and Glasgow 2011), Theo has clocked up more than 200 meetings at our own Lothian arena.
Under-19 commitments prohibit the appearance of Rising Star Jordan Palin, and his reserve slot will be taken by guest and one-time Monarch, Connor Coles, who impressed with nine points for the Belle Vue Colts in their NDL visit to Armadale last Saturday.
Partnering Coles will be Aussie Josh MacDonald whose UK career began with Sheffield in 2019. A mixture of Covid and the Rising Star initiative put paid to a move to Poole last term so the 24-year-old will be keen to repay the faith and loyalty afforded him by Scorpions owner Rob Godfrey and team boss Dave Peet.
So, a tough fixture looks instore, want to see if the What the Fork Monarchs can carry on their winning ways then tickets are still available from the Monarchs homepage, for those unable to attend as all matches at Armadale are the match will be livestreamed and passes can be purchased from the EMTV link on the main page also.
Friday 25th June 2021, 10:00am
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!
Thursday 24th June 2021, 9:00am
Order your copy of the What The Fork Monarchs v Scorpions matchday magazine now - a perfect accompaniment to your EMTV:Live experience!
Wednesday 23rd June 2021, 5:00pm
Scunthorpe Scorpions sprung a surprise at the weekend by announcing the signing of high-quality British rider Adam Ellis as their new number one, and Adam will make his debut for the Lincolnshire side at Armadale on Friday.