Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||3||6||0|
|2. Nathan Greaves||0||1||1||0|
|3. Kye Thomson||1||3||4||0|
|4. Josh Pickering||3||2*||5||1|
|5. Richie Worrall||3||3||6||0|
|6. Joe Lawlor||0||1||1||0|
|7. William Lawson||2||1||3||0|
Team Manager: Laurence Rogers
|1. Chris Harris||2||1||3||0|
|2. Valentin Grobauer - Rider Replacement||0||0|
|3. James Shanes||0||0||2||2||0|
|4. Ashley Morris||2||R||2||0|
|5. Erik Riss||2||2||4||0|
|6. Paco Castagna||1*||3||0||4||1|
|7. Jason Edwards||1||0||1||0|
Wow! What an absolutely fabulous weekend of speedway – Scottish style! We knew it would be close against the Tigers, but, come on...
Only once over 29 completed heats did the gap between the teams exceed two points. That's when Glasgow swept to a four-point advantage after Heat 6 in the baking Sunday sun at Ashfield, and even then natural order was promptly restored in the very next race with the weekend's sole 5-1, courtesy of Joshie and Kye.
Let's start with Friday though. It had been nip and tuck all evening with neither team able to build a lead of any significance. Of the two, Glasgow had looked the more likely to creep further ahead, but with just the nomination heat to go, their lead remained a most slender two points.
Heat 15 had all the makings of a classic then. And things certainly looked promising for the Monarchs as all four riders threw themselves into the first bend. Disastrously though, as the other three coaxed their bikes into the corner, Ulrich Ostergaard, gating from the outside, lost control and ended up along with his machine wedged under the air fence.
It didn't look good for the Dane as fellow riders, pit crew and medical personnel rushed to his aid. Eventually the on-site ambulance entered the arena to ferry the stricken Tiger to hospital. With no medical cover left at the track and the time fast approaching ten o'clock, there was no other option but to abandon the meeting and let the result stand.
Circumstances may have favoured Glasgow with three league points, but I'm sure losing a top rider to injury will make it feel more like a defeat. Of course, none of that matters when someone's well-being at stake. We now know that Ulrich suffered a broken wrist and injuries to his back and I'm sure everyone of an Edinburgh persuasion will join me in wishing him a full recovery and speedy return to action.
With very little time to digest the events of Friday, the Monarchs arrived at a roasting hot Ashfield on Sunday afternoon with renewed intent. Nathan Greaves was our only absentee with rider replacement employed to cover his scheduled races. For the Tigers, Berwick's Jye Etheridge was the guest replacement for Ostergaard, giving the Tigers a line-up boasting four former Monarchs.
Despite losing Ulrich, I wondered if the narrow win they picked up at Armadale might provide the Tigers with enough of a boost to sweep a deflated Edinburgh aside with something to spare. Oh me of little faith. Again, Sam and the boys simply refused to let their bitter rivals gain the type of cushion they so desperately thrived. With eight heats still to run and the scores back level, an incredible seven 3-3s in a row took us to the final heat and a sudden death decider.
So, it was Sam and Josh against Cook and Jensen to take the spoils. Not for the first time Masters gated perfectly leaving the Tigers' skipper helpless in his wake. And as we thought he might, Joshie did the rest and the home three points conceded on Friday were dramatically cancelled out.
While it's true a fit Ostergaard would have made a difference – guest Etheridge had a disastrous afternoon contributing just three points – the Monarchs' reserve pairing shared a hefty nine last places between them, with a good few of those featuring final straight passes by one pouncing Tigers or another.
That's speedway though, and that's why it's so vital to have such top end quality. An amazing 10 of Sunday's 15 heats (even in defeat it was 8 out of 14 at Armadale) were won by a rider in blue and gold, and if that's not play-off form then what is?
So, it's with a sense of elation that we head towards the weekend's Knock Out Cup quarter-final tie with Birmingham Brummies. Last Wednesday's return from injury of German pair Valentin Grobauer and Monarchs former captain Erik Riss saw the Brummies at full strength for the first time since June 2nd (bizarrely enough Grobauer's return to action came against Redcar in the rerun of the meeting abandoned due to the injury that side-lined him in the first place.)
Born 21st December 1994 in Rotthalmunster, Valentin was a surprise signing for the 2020 season given he had quit Somerset a year earlier due to a lack of confidence. Nevertheless, Laurence Rogers had enough faith to offer him a ride at Perry Barr and, with countryman Riss on hand to help settle him in, the Brummies boss sees his future as a possible heat-leader with the club.
Unfortunately we won't be seeing him tonight, though. Due to Polish league commitments, Birmingham will use rider replacement to cover his absence.
As role models go, Grobauer will struggle to find one with better credentials than Erik. The Memmingen-born rider was already a World Long Track champion when he first arrived on these shores in 2015 to ride for Edinburgh (he would repeat the Long Track feat in 2016). Part of the Monarchs side who swept up a League Cup, League and Four-Team championship treble in his debut season, he soon graduated to club captain while also making a name for himself in Premiership circles.
By 2019, Erik's time in Scotland had come to an end. His next port of call was Redcar where he went on to win the K.O. Cup before arriving at Perry Barr. In the Premiership, his long association with King's Lynn continues for another year at least.
Spearheading the Brummies along with Riss is seasoned campaigner Chris Harris whose pedigree in the sport in this country is among the best. One of very few riders whose UK career stretches back to the last century, Harris has starred for numerous clubs since signing for home county side St. Austell in 1998. A three-time British champion, he has won six league titles with four different teams as well as being crowned British GP champion in 2007. The current Brummies skipper remains one of British speedway's true heroes.
Possibly better known for his longtrack and grasstrack activities, James Shanes has gone from early-season reserve to the team's third heat leader while the experienced and extremely capable Ashley Morris was a league champion with Edinburgh back in 2010.
Completing the Brummies' septet are 2018 Italian champion Paco Castagna although reserve partner Jack Thomas misses out after hurting himself at work, Jason Edwards steps in.
Birmingham sit near the foot of the Championship table although, with Friday's visit to West Lothian being only their sixth league fixture so far, little significance can be taken from statistics on this occasion.
Edinburgh, who invite injury-free Nathan Greaves back to the fold, remain second in the Championship table, still five points behind leaders Glasgow but with two meetings in hand.
Wednesday 4th August 2021, 9:00am
Last Friday's abandonment of the Knock Out Cup Quarter Final against Birmingham has triggered British Speedway's readmission policy. Find out how to rebook your tickets here!
Sunday 1st August 2021, 10:00am
Whether you're a Gold Member, ticket holder or EMTV:Live viewer, find out here what Friday's abandonment means for you.
Friday 30th July 2021, 10:21pm
Frustration was the main feeling at Armadale when the Cup tie with Birmingham was eventually called off after seven completed heats with the score 26-16. Rain was the winner even though initially the riders and track staff thought racing could resume. Heavy returning showers put paid to that.
Friday 30th July 2021, 10:00am
With restrictions easing, the operating procedure has changed slightly at Armadale Stadium. Find out what measures are in place to ensure your safety this evening.
Wednesday 28th July 2021, 1:30pm
Still getting our breath back from last weekend, we now look forward to a visit from a very attractive Birmingham team in our Knockout Cup quarter final tie this Friday.
Wednesday 28th July 2021, 1:00pm
Order your copy of the What The Fork Monarchs v Birmingham Brummies Knock Out Cup Quarter Final Matchday Magazine now - a perfect accompaniment to your EMTV:Live experience!
Tuesday 27th July 2021, 4:30pm
Tickets are now available for Friday's Knock Out Cup Quarter Final match against Birmingham and for the remaining confirmed fixtures scheduled for 2021.