Title Partner:  What The Fork
Edinburgh Monarchs
Richie Worrall 14 (5)
Birmingham Brummies
Chris Harris 11 (5)
Championship Knock Out Cup
54
36
Friday 10th September 2021
Armadale Stadium
Edinburgh Monarchs
Team Manager: Alex Harkess
54
1. Sam Masters 3 3 3 2* 1* 12 2
2. Anders Rowe 1 1 1 0 3 0
3. Kye Thomson 2* 1* 1 3 7 2
4. Josh Pickering 3 2 3 3 11 0
5. Richie Worrall 3 3 3 3 2 14 0
6. Danny Phillips 0 F R 0 0
7. Kyle Bickley 3 0 3 1 0 7 0
Birmingham Brummies
Team Manager: Laurence Rogers
36
1. Chris Harris 2 3 2 1 3 11 0
2. Valentin Grobauer - Rider Replacement 0 0
3. James Shanes 0 2 1* 2 5 1
4. Ashley Morris 1 1* 2 2 2 0 8 1
5. Erik Riss 2 2 2 0 6 0
6. Luke Crang 0 2 0 0 0 2 0
7. Jason Edwards 1* 1* 0 0 1* 1* 4 4
8. Gregor Millar 0 0
Heat 1
Time: 55.7
1. Sam Masters  
3
2. Anders Rowe  
1
1. Chris Harris  
2
2. Valentin Grobauer  
6. Luke Crang
0
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
4
4
Away
2
2
Heat 2
Time: 58.0
6. Danny Phillips  
0
7. Kyle Bickley  
3
6. Luke Crang  
2
7. Jason Edwards  
1
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
3
7
Away
3
5
Heat 3
Time: 56.1
3. Kye Thomson  
2
4. Josh Pickering  
3
3. James Shanes  
0
4. Ashley Morris  
1
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
5
12
Away
1
6
Heat 4
Time: 56.4
5. Richie Worrall  
3
7. Kyle Bickley  
0
5. Erik Riss  
2
7. Jason Edwards  
1
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
3
15
Away
3
9
Heat 5
Time: 56.0
3. Kye Thomson  
1
4. Josh Pickering  
2
1. Chris Harris  
3
2. Valentin Grobauer  
6. Luke Crang
0
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
3
18
Away
3
12
Heat 6
Time: 56.5
1. Sam Masters  
3
2. Anders Rowe  
1
5. Erik Riss  
2
6. Luke Crang  
7. Jason Edwards
0
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
4
22
Away
2
14
Heat 7
Time: 56.9
5. Richie Worrall  
3
6. Danny Phillips  
F
3. James Shanes  
2
4. Ashley Morris  
1
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
3
25
Away
3
17
Heat 8
Time: 58.3
2. Anders Rowe  
1
7. Kyle Bickley  
3
2. Valentin Grobauer  
4. Ashley Morris
2
7. Jason Edwards  
0
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
4
29
Away
2
19
Heat 9
Time: 56.4
3. Kye Thomson  
1
4. Josh Pickering  
3
5. Erik Riss  
2
6. Luke Crang  
0
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
4
33
Away
2
21
Heat 10
Time: 57.3
1. Sam Masters  
3
2. Anders Rowe  
0
3. James Shanes  
1
4. Ashley Morris  
2
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
3
36
Away
3
24
Heat 11
Time: 56.0
5. Richie Worrall  
3
6. Danny Phillips  
R
1. Chris Harris  
2
2. Valentin Grobauer  
7. Jason Edwards
1
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
3
39
Away
3
27
Heat 12
Time: 58.2
3. Kye Thomson  
3
7. Kyle Bickley  
1
3. James Shanes  
2
6. Luke Crang  
0
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
4
43
Away
2
29
Heat 13
Time: 57.2
1. Sam Masters  
2
5. Richie Worrall  
3
1. Chris Harris  
1
5. Erik Riss  
0
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
5
48
Away
1
30
Heat 14
Time: 57.8
4. Josh Pickering  
3
6. Danny Phillips  
7. Kyle Bickley
0
4. Ashley Morris  
2
7. Jason Edwards  
1
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
3
51
Away
3
33
Heat 15
Time: 57.0
1. Sam Masters  
1
5. Richie Worrall  
2
4. Ashley Morris  
0
1. Chris Harris  
3
 
Heat
Score
Match
Score
Home
3
54
Away
3
36

The What the Fork Monarchs will take an 18 point lead to Birmingham for the second leg of the Knockout Cup quarter final after an enjoyable match at Armadale tonight.

There were several changes from the teams which fought out a Championship draw last Friday, and these were obviously going to have a bearing on things. Monarchs welcomed back Richie Worrall who was as good as ever, while remarkably all four reserves were different from the previous week. This probably affected Birmingham more, especially as they had to cover with reserves for 3 of the 4 rider replacement rides for Valentin Grobauer.

Team manager Alex Harkess was much happier than last week but had been looking for even more! "I felt we could have done better, we made some mistakes and let a few points go. I was pleased for Richie Worrall on his return though, I know he was a bit nervous but it felt so good to have him back."

There was some excellent racing, some of it for race wins (eg Masters v Harris in heat 1, Worrall v Riss in heat 4) but a lot of the most entertaining moments coming lower down the order with clashes between the likes of Anders Rowe and guest Kyle Bickley for Monarchs, and James Shanes, Ashley Morris and guest Jason Edwards for the Brummies.

Masters had to work very hard to subdue Harris in heat 1 after Chris had cut under him down the back straight. With Rowe third Monarchs started with an advantage, adding to that when Kye Thomson and Josh Pickering pulled away from Morris and Shanes in heat 3.

Richie Worrall didn't make the start in his comeback ride in heat 4, but caught Erik Riss on lap two with a well-executed inside pass.

Harris took his team's first race win in heat 6 but Masters and Rowe added another two points to Monarchs' lead in the next one.

Heat 8 was a highlight as Bickley led the way from the Brummies' Morris and Edwards, only for Rowe to power round the outside, almost taking the lead. Rowe and Bickley rode together for a lap or so without quite sorting themselves out, and eventually Morris pegged back Rowe and very nearly caught Bickley.

There were further home 4-2s in heats 9 and 12, plus a highly entertaining shared race in heat 10, won by Masters by a mile but with Rowe, Shanes and Morris enjoying a great scrap for the other points.

So Monarchs were 14 ahead going in to heat 13, in which a power ride by Worrall and Masters against Harris extended the margin with a 5-1.

Pickering won the penultimate heat but again all eyes for on the battle for the point, a great scrap between Bickley and Edwards which the visitor won. However Bickley's 7 points were a very useful contribution over the piece for Monarchs.

Chris Harris had finished strongly last week with an important second place and he went one better to gate off the outside and storm away for what was his and Birmingham's second race winner.

We had top crime writer Ian Rankin in the crowd tonight as guest of match sponsor Dine Restaurant and he had a great time, tweeting "Cracking Night Out" amongst a few other supportive posts. Glad he enjoyed it!

Edinburgh's mid-season slump continues to cause concern with Birmingham becoming the latest team to avoid departing Armadale empty-handed. You have to go back to August 13th for the last time the Monarchs recorded a home win although of the three fixtures raced since then, only Poole emerged victorious.

Bookending that Pirates win were the draws against Kent and, of course, the Brummies, where, on both occasions, a point was only rescued in the final heat after a strong fightback. The climax to Friday's salvage job against Birmingham was particularly thrilling for the Armadale crowd as, with six heats left, the visitors saw a ten-point lead assiduously whittled down until Sam and Joshie's sparkling finale 4-2 nicked a point most in attendance thought out of reach.

Given the line-up changes that have affected Edinburgh in such a short space of time, perhaps this downturn in fortunes isn't that surprising. The departure of almost half a team inside a week, despite its prime objective of improving performance, is bound to have been unsettling, although one rider stepping in against Birmingham, Drew Kemp, would certainly dispute that assertion.

While fellow debutant Anders Rowe along with guest reserve Archie Freeman struggled to hit the shale running, the former Eastbourne Eagle got his Monarchs career of to a fine start with two race wins amongst his impressive double-figures score. Unfortunately, with Drew competing in the Under-21 Team Final in Poland and Nathan now consigned to history, Edinburgh will look to guests Kyle Bickley from the Berwick Bandits and Armadale Devils heat-leader Danny Phillips to carry the reserves torch. I particularly look forward to seeing Danny, a rider who has always looked the part in the National League, perform on the bigger stage.

Sam and Josh were the Monarchs' other standouts against Birmingham – no surprise there – with 15 points apiece, but there's no denying, the recent absence of Richie Worrall has had a huge effect on results. So, it is with great pleasure, not to say relief, that we welcome him back this weekend.

One shock I doubt many saw coming was Nathan Greaves' decision to announce his retirement from the sport with immediate effect. It's certainly a turn of events that will strongly impact the Armadale Devils as well as their Championship big brothers. Whilst the reasons behind what must have been an agonising step for him to take must be respected, moves to make provisions for his loss will already be in motion and we await any news with bated breath. It is always sad to lose such a capable and popular rider as Nathan and we wish him every success and happiness for the future.

There seems to be no letting up in the tough late summer programme of fixtures facing the team. As if we haven't already had our fill of the Brummies, this weekend sees them make a lightning quick return to Armadale, this time on Knockout Cup duty. And indications suggest it will be no less demanding a challenge. We are also due to travel to Perry Barr twice before the end of the month so don't be surprised if Edinburgh's Aussie contingent start asking their Alexa devices to shuffle songs by The Move or spend their downtime binge watching Peaky Blinders (if they don't already).

With five of their line-up scoring solidly, if not spectacularly, last Friday, it's hard to pinpoint where the Brummies' main source of danger might come from seven days on. The temptation to concentrate on foremost pair, Chris Harris or Erik Riss, is obvious but who's to say their lesser riders won't be the ones to step up once again.

Even at reserve the Brummies are blessed with riders skilled in the art of point scoring, as Friday's combined tally of 18 amassed by Paco Castagna and Jack Thomas bears out. It must therefore be seen as a boost to our chances the news that neither is available for Friday's tie. Guesting will be Mildenhall's Jason Edwards and a man who certainly has a point to prove – old, new friend to the Monarchs, Luke Crang. This, of course, completes a 'guest reserve' full house which, in itself, is something of a rarity. Elsewhere, the Birmingham will again use rider replacement for Valentin Grobauer who remains on the treatment table.

Of course, being the first half of a two-legged affair, the importance of building a healthy cushion to take back to Perry Barr for the return leg cannot be stressed highly enough. Our pet reliance in finishing strongly to force a narrow win might not be good enough on this occasion.

Saturday and Sunday see a return to Championship business with testing trips to Leicester and Newcastle lined up. While I hesitate to label either meeting a "must win", latest league placings reflect a worrying trend in which we continue to slip into the play-off danger zone. The view southwards from sixth spot is quite concerning with Kent creeping up to within three points of ourselves. At least we do have a meeting in hand over the Kings. Scunthorpe too have improved their own position in relative terms although the one-point advantage they hold over us is slightly less dispiriting when you consider they have completed two meetings more. The conclusion to this year's Championship is shaping up to be an absolute classic where, quite literally, anything could happen. So, the sooner the Monarchs get their season back on track the better for, by the start of next week, a clearer understanding of our chances will be there for all to behold.

Finally, in a more solemn note, it was with sadness that Edinburgh Monarchs supporters learned this week of the death in New Zealand of Mr. Scottish Speedway, Ian Hoskins, aged 97. As a late sixties teenager, cutting my oval track teeth watching the Coatbridge Monarchs, the role of a speedway promoter was something of a mystery to me and my like-minded friends. Yet Ian Hoskins was every bit the household name around Cliftonhill Stadium as racing heroes of the day like Bert Harkins, George Hunter or Reidar Eide. His influence over the growth of this club as well as that of our neighbours, the Glasgow Tigers, was colossal. Our deepest sympathies go to Ian's family and friends.