NEWS Sunday 29th March 2015, 7:35pm
The Border Roofing Monarchs got their team season under way with a visit to the super new Ashfield Stadium today, though the weather played rather a large part in the proceedings as we trailed 36-30 when the match was abandoned after 11 heats.
The main event of the day was really the unveiling of the stadium as most Monarchs and Tigers fans will not have seen it. It has been transformed in a way which could be mistaken for a new purpose-built venue, a triumph of conception and achievement for which the owners should be congratulated. There are some finishing touches to be applied but it is a great job done.
Capacity has probably been reduced in order to make everything neater and tidier but there were certainly spectators there for the first time. As long as they made allowances for the weather they would have to have been impressed.
The match, unfortunately, was largely spoilt by the amount of rain there had been and the wetness of the track. The meeting could feasibly have been called off, but we played ball as we invariably do and ensured that the event went ahead.
When both our riders pulled out of heat 1 it looked as though conditions were going to be impossible. Both Sedgmen (2nd) and Cook (3rd after passing Berge) became filled in and only by pulling off his face mask did Justin dribble round for the point.
Heat 2 might have been another 1-5 had Sarjeant not stopped, but after that the teams were evenly matched.
Craig pulled off a great first bend to go between the opposition and win his second heat, then had a second behind Morris in heat 11.
Justin seemed more unsettled than anyone by the conditions though he did win heat 8. In heats 5 and 11 he simply spectated from the rear.
Kevin made a decent return to Monarchs’ colours with three second places, and would probably have won heat 3 after making the gate but for Erik’s first tumble.
Erik had a day to remember for the wrong reasons. In heat 3 he clipped Smith’s back wheel coming out of the second bend, probably taken by surprise that the riders ahead of him were going so slow. In heat 7 he was holding a comfortable second place shepherded by Wolbert, but not surprisingly the idea of riding steadily to ensure the points hasn’t occurred to our young German yet. He got into a wobble on the second lap and punctured an air bag.
It will come right for him with experience. He suffered only bruising and his withdrawal from the meeting was precautionary.
Sam was the star of the show, unflappable as ever, passing Morris in heat 4 when the Tiger rode a couple of wild bends. He won his other heats easily.
Our two reserves performed very encouragingly picking up 6+2 between them. Both were willing to ride high up the bends and both pulled off overtakes.
It was a day for very speedy presentation as it got colder and wetter, but for some reason after the understandable delay for the air fence repairs, things seemed to slow down. No-one was disappointed when the final freezing shower brought proceedings to a close.
So it’s well set up for Friday’s second leg to see who can win the trophy that some belittle but both sides want to win!