NEWS Tuesday 22nd July 2008, 5:40pm

by Mike Hunter

  Edinburgh Monarchs

The Scotwaste Monarchs are right at the top of the Premier League, but everyone is well aware that it is even harder to stay there than to get there in the first place.

That could be especially true this week with the arrival of the Redcar Bears, Armadale specialists who recorded two victories in West Lothian in 2007. Monarchs beat them home and away in the Knockout Cup this season, but since then the Bears have been boosted by the return of American Chris Kerr.

TEAMS FOR THE PREMIER LEAGUE MATCH AT ARMADALE ON FRIDAY 25th JULY (start time 7.30, doors open 6.30) are:

SCOTWASTE MONARCHS: Carl Stonehewer, Thomas H Jonasson, Andrew Tully, Ryan Fisher, Matthew Wethers, Derek Sneddon (capt.), Aaron Summers.

REDCAR BEARS: Gary Havelock (capt.), Josh Auty, James Grieves, Chris Kerr, Ty Proctor, A N Other, Arlo Bugeja.

LEAGUE PROGRESS: The Scotwaste Monarchs did hit the top of the league last Friday after beating Birmingham, because King's Lynn lost at Scunthorpe the same night.

Even a draw at Stoke for the Stars didn't change the position, though by the time Friday comes Monarchs will probably be off the top.

Of course it is the team at the top at the end of the fixtures which matters, but as at Tuesday 22nd July Monarchs have 29 points (16 matches), and lead Workington (28 from 20), Somerset (27 from 14) and King's Lynn (27 from 18).

Even that needs further analysis because of the different number of home/away matches raced, and the tracks each side has still to visit.

Important fixtures coming up in the near future include our match with Redcar on Friday, Redcar v Workington (Thursday), Somerset v King's Lynn (Friday), Stoke v Somerset (Sunday).

PREMIER FOURS: On Saturday (26th) at Workington Monarchs race in the first semi-final of the Premier Fours against Workington, Somerset and Sheffield. It is a tough draw.

Top average man William Lawson will not be ready to return so Monarchs will field Ryan Fisher, Thomas H Jonasson, Matthew Wethers and Andrew Tully.

SCOTTISH OPEN: The field for the Keyline Scottish Open on Friday 1st August has been finalised and is listed below. It includes three former winners ? Daniel Nermark, Rory Schlein and David Howe.

MEETING SPONSOR: Meeting sponsors on Friday will be Headlam Floorcoverings, in association with ARDEX (High performance flooring and tiling products).

BEARS KNOW THE TRACK: Few teams can boast of the Armadale expertise that Redcar have in their ranks, primarily due to 1999 Monarch James Grieves who has maintained a very high standard of performance at the track over the 12 years speedway has operated there.

Gary Havelock too was almost unbeatable at Armadale until he had a below-par meeting in the Cup tie, though that is unlikely to happen again.

Chris Kerr has also made numerous Armadale appearances in past seasons, having ridden as a guest for both Monarchs and Wolverhampton, and also in the Scottish Open.

Josh Auty and the very impressive newcomer Ty Proctor complete a very effective top five for the Bears, one which the Monarchs will be very respectful of.

Since Chris Kerr has returned, Redcar took a remarkable draw at Sheffield but also took a pasting at Rye House.

Bears have not named their no. 6 stand-in for injured Dan Giffard, but club official Gareth Rogers has said that it will be either James Cockle or Benji Compton, both fairly frequent Armadale visitors in the past.

LAST MEETING: Monarchs beat Birmingham 52-29 in a match which was abandoned after 13 completed heats due to incessant drizzle. All of the home riders scored well with Thomas Jonasson, Aaron Summers and Derek Sneddon all on 8.

NEXT MEETING: The annual Keyline Scottish Open is on Friday 1st August. The field for the event will be:

William Lawson, Ryan Fisher, Andrew Tully, Matthew Wethers, Derek Sneddon, Thomas H Jonasson, Aaron Summers (all Edinburgh), Daniel Nermark (defending champion ? Workington), Michal Makovsky (Berwick), David Howe (Wolverhampton), Carl Stonehewer (Workington), George Stancl (Newcastle), Rory Schlein (Coventry), James Grieves (Redcar), Jason Lyons (Birmingham), plus (to be confirmed) Billy Janniro (Coventry).