Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||3||2||1*||2||11||1|
|2. Anders Rowe||2*||0||1*||0||3||2|
|3. Kye Thomson||0||1*||1*||2||4||2|
|4. Josh Pickering||2||2||2||2*||8||1|
|5. Richie Worrall||2||3||2*||2||0||9||1|
|6. Drew Kemp||3||0||3||0||3||9||0|
|7. Jason Edwards||0||1*||2||3||1|
Team Manager: Cameron Brown
|1. Craig Cook||1||3||R||0||4||0|
|2. Sam Jensen||0||0||1||1||0|
|3. Broc Nicol||3||2||1||3||1||10||0|
|4. Tom Brennan||1||1*||3||1||6||1|
|5. Ricky Wells||3||2||3||3||3||14||0|
|6. Cameron Heeps||2||1*||3||0||1||7||1|
|7. Connor Bailey||1*||0||0||R||1||1|
It was not unexpected after a 22-point defeat last night that it would be just too much for the What the Fork Monarchs to reach the Championship Playoff Final, though the heroics of last week in the Knockout Cup tie between the sides left at least a glimmer of hope. It was a different match this time though and a 47-43 Monarchs' win left the aggregate score at 81-99 sending Glasgow forward to meet Poole.
Team manager Alex Harkess said "It was disappointing though all of our boys rode quite well and contributed something. Compared to last week we let Glasgow get too many heat winners."
One of these visiting heat winners was Cameron Heeps, guesting for Marcin Nowak (getting married), and the former Monarch contributed 7 points which is a substantial improvement on the Polish rider's single gift point of last week when he struggled badly. It's a pity that Speedway's lax guest rules allow such a strengthening in an important fixture – but it would be going too far to say that this was the deciding factor.
Credit for Glasgow's win needs to be given primarily to Ricky Wells who scored 14 and Broc Nicol 10, both hugely improved on last week. Wells said afterwards "I haven't ridden like that since 2018!"
Monarchs certainly started with a bang, taking a 5-1 over Craig Cook through Sam Masters and Anders Rowe. Cook also conceded a 5-1 in heat 11 to Kemp and Worrall, but in between he produced probably the ride of the night to pass Josh Pickering with a bold outside overtake.
There were other excellent tussles between Wells and Pickering in heat 9, Masters and Tom Brennan in heat 10, and quite a few hotly contested minor placings.
Monarchs' young recent signings Rowe, Kemp and Edwards totalled 15 points and certainly did their bit as they have in most recent fixtures.
In fact Glasgow recorded 9 race winners and that was what prevented Monarchs cutting far into their advantage. Three of Monarchs six race winners were by Drew Kemp with Masters, Worrall and Pickering for once only taking three chequered flags between them. There were 8 shared races during the match and by heat 10, Glasgow only needed to provide finishers to win the tie.
On a cold night the match was completed in under 90 minutes. Action resumes tomorrow at 2:30pm when Monarchs race Poole in the KO Cup Final first leg, this match being followed by Armadale Devils v Mildenhall in the National League, the Devils last home match of the season.
As with all Armadale matches this season Saturday's matches will be Live Streamed, however the stream will be available only to those outwith a 25 mile radius of the track. Anyone within that limit but unable to attend should email firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 23rd October: What the Fork Monarchs v Poole (Championship KO Cup Final first leg), Armadale, 2:30pm
WHAT THE FORK MONARCHS: Sam Masters (capt.), Anders Rowe, Kye Thomson, Josh Pickering, Richie Worrall, Drew Kemp, Jason Edwards (guest)
POOLE PIRATES: Stevie Worrall, Danyon Hume, Rory Schlein, Ben Cook, Danny King (capt.), Connor Bailey (guest), Benjamin Basso
Saturday 23rd October: Armadale Stellar Devils v Mildenhall Fen Tigers (National Development League), Armadale, following the Monarchs v Poole match
ARMADALE STELLAR DEVILS: William Lawson (guest), Gregor Millar, Tom Woolley (capt.), George Rothery, Danny Phillips, Archie Freeman, Lewis Millar
MANCHETTS FEN TIGERS: Jordan Jenkins, rider replacement for Luke Ruddick, Sam Hagon, Nathan Ablitt, Jason Edwards, Sam Bebee, Elliot Kelly
What a weekend of speedweay we have at Armadale this weekend as 3 matches in under 24 hours lie ahead with the fate of the Championship playoffs, KO Cup and the National Development League all still undecided.
Now you may consider this weird – bonkers even – but when the news filtered through that Saturday night's play-off semi-final 1st leg clash with Glasgow Tigers had fallen victim to the weather, I wasn't quite sure whether to laugh or cry.
Of course, there would have been no shortage of argument for wanting the tie to go ahead, especially in light of what we had witnessed 24 hours earlier. Strike while the iron's hot, etc, etc. Plus, the Tigers would be weakened by the absence of whizz kid Tom Brennan, a decent scorer in both legs of the Knockout Cup semi whose outstanding form of late had been rightly acknowledged with inclusion in the UK Speedway of Nations (triumphant) squad. Now, the Ashfield prodigy will be available and rightly revved up for both legs of the play-off when they're run in the coming week.
Told you it was bonkers! But what if Saturday's fixture had been a meeting too far in the Monarchs' manic schedule. At least the rain-off offered an extra few days to wallow in the glory of a sensational victory over our fiercest rivals that will be talked about for years to come.
With the mountain of a 16-point deficit to climb from the away first leg, even to most optimistic of Edinburgh supporters must have harboured doubts that such a chasm could be spanned – particularly against a team in such devastating form at present.
Yet, there was just something about the way the Monarchs approached that second leg that had you wondering if it was indeed possible. And sure enough, it was. Glasgow's massive cushion began to erode as early as the first heat setting the scene for the mother of all comeback's. A Masters/Kemp (in for the stuck-in-traffic Anders Rowe) 4-2 was just the start the home fans craved and the fact that we didn't surrender that slightest of early boosts immediately in the reserves' race, Drew taking the chequered flag ahead of Bailey and Nowak, bolstered those hopes even further.
But it was Joshie and Kye's magnificent 1-2 in Heat 3 that really put the cat amongst Glasgow's pigeons. Now, I'm no expert in psychology as applied to watching a mega lead dwindling to just 10 with twelve heats still to run, but I'm willing to bet it was far from the comfortable spectacle the large Tigers' support had perhaps expected to see. And it would only get worse as heat advantage followed honours even with joyous monotony.
The men from Ashfield just couldn't gain a foothold on the meeting and when the newly-arrived Anders led his captain to a 5-1 in Heat 6, detention for showing up late was promptly forgotten as the Tiger's aggregate advantage dwindled to just six points. And three races later, as Pickering and Thomson repeated their third heat heroics to reduce that shortfall even further to two points, it felt like we could only throw it away.
Then, in the fourth last heat of the night, fine team riding from race winner Jason Edwards and Kye Thomson kept Nicol, who had started off 15 metres, and Bailey at bay to put the Monarchs in front for the first time in the tie. And now we were moving towards familiarly strong territory – the big boys' heats. Like the mums and dads' races at school sports day, there existed an air of combativity not always apparent with the smaller guys, although there was one bigger guy in particular who had other ideas.
Craig Cook hadn't been outside the top two in any of his three previous outings and I'm sure that under the helmet and behind the goggles there was a glint in the former Edinburgh skipper's eye as he lined up for Heat 13 alongside Masters, Worrall and fellow ex-Monarch Ricky Wells.
Unfortunately for him though, even taking the chequered flag failed to see the Tigers gain any ground with Wells finishing at the back.
It was a different story in the penultimate heat, however, when at last the visiting hordes from the west were at last able to breathe an albeit temporary sigh of relief. It was Glasgow's first heat advantage of the evening, Tom Brennan forcing Josh into second to level the cumulative score, and suddenly it all hinged on the final heat.
And, just to prolong the agony for both sets of supporters, Brennan's fall and disqualification with Sam and Richie both well positioned forced a three man race-off between the Monarchs pair and sole Tiger Cookie. Only a Cook win would take the tie into Golden Heats but textbook team riding from our top two kept the Cumbrian hemmed in providing a last gasp 5-1 and one of the most dramatic finales to any match ever staged in West Lothian.
This most astonishing recovery from seemingly certain defeat presents a final encounter with Championship table-toppers Poole Pirates - I think. All kidding aside, the unrelenting pace with which our fixtures (and their reruns) keep popping up makes it virtually impossible to keep a handle on who we're playing, where and in what competition, and whether it's a second leg that used to be a first leg or a first leg that used to be a second leg. Thank goodness there's no such thing as a third leg! Of course, the fact that there's only three teams involved in the complex chase for the two trophies only makes it even more head-scratching.
Onto this weekend though and a plethora of speedway to come at Armadale with 3 matches between Friday and Saturday. Thursday saw another trip to Ashfield in the play-off semi-final first leg, and this time the mountain to climb is even higher after a 22 point defeat. Last week saw a 20 pint home victory so the Monarchs will have to be even better against a strenghtened Tigers line-up if they are to pull off the unlikely.
The action continues unabated on Saturday with an Armadale afternoon double-header (not ideal if you're a football fan - not to worry, I'm sure I'll choose wisely). First up is the Knockout Cup final first leg tie with Poole (at 2.30 pm) were teh Monarchs will look to build as big a league as possible to defend on Wednesday night down in Dorset, with Armadale Devils final home National League fixture against Champions Mildenhall Fen Tigers following at 4, the visitors just needing to avoid a massive defeat to take the League title.
WOW! A double-chasing festival of speedway like we've never seen before. So, let's get strapped in and enjoy the rollercoaster ride of our lives.
Details of team- lines have been posted elsewhere on the site and, should the need arise, will be updated as we head ever closer to tapes up. Have great weekend!
Wednesday 20th October 2021, 8:36pm
The What the Fork Monarchs are heading in to a three day period which includes two home and one away matches, all of huge significance, with an Armadale Devils match tagged on at the end on Saturday to complete the feast of Speedway.
Wednesday 20th October 2021, 7:30pm
A blockbuster weekend of speedway is in store at Armadale Stadium and you can be the first to snap up your tickets to this Saturday's Knock Out Cup Final!