Another of these winners photos Image Credit: Ron MacNeill


NEWS Sunday 27th September 2015, 5:24pm

by Mike Hunter

  Edinburgh Monarchs

The Border Roofing Monarchs duly retained the League Cup this afternoon with far greater ease than anyone had a right to expect in the circumstances, and also with far greater ease than this afternoon’s final score of 45-45 (aggregate 100-79) suggests.

Going into the match without both Kevin Wolbert and Max Clegg, it looked like a tough task to win on aggregate. In fact we didn’t cover at all well for either of them (4+1 from Kevin’s rides and no points this time for Garcia, in for Branford again), but it simply didn’t matter because there was only one team in it. What might we have won by with a full team?

The only remaining mystery of the day was how on earth we didn’t win the match having led by 12 points at heat 8, but it seemed that after a devastating burst in the early stages we just decided to lay off and not be too cruel to the Tigers.

On another day that might have mattered, and we did have to put up with a dodgy decision in the final race (with our pair in front), but our aim was to retain the trophy and we did it with ease.

Alex Harkess said “The important thing was our start to the match, we simply buried them at that stage. The biggest cheer of the day from the Tigers’ fans was when they finally won a race.

“I was particularly pleased when Erik Riss won his first race because I knew we needed something from him. He won it well.

“The second half of the match was just a formality really, though I thought the decision to exclude Craig Cook in the final heat was totally wrong. He was in front and Morris had lifted, nothing to do with Cook. I could understand why he was annoyed.

“But we’ll not dwell on that because overall it was great and we have big matches coming up.”

It was a sunny day and a big crowd at Ashfield, and over the two legs the Final has been a great showcase for Scottish Speedway, as well as maintaining the pecking order very much in our favour.

We were so determined over the early heats and that was what brought the trophy back. Cook and Sedgmen started with a 5-1 as they have so often, and that was just what the doctor ordered.

We needed something from Rob Branford and he delivered in heat 2, racing past Palovaara. Likewise Erik Riss’s role was going to be important, and he did really well in heat 3 to win with Sam Masters, our strongest rider replacement played right away, coming third.

Masters made it four race winners out of four and with Branford getting the point we were 8 ahead! As on Friday, how could it be going so well?

Heat 5 was a scintillating ride from Cook, driving past everyone down the back straight and holding it in spite of entering the third bend so very quickly and bouncing off the fence.

Sam won again in heat 6 with Garcia showing briefly as well, though he finished at the back.

Glasgow at last had a race winner in heat 7, a heat Kevin should have been in of course, but we shared it and took another 4-2 in heat 8 through Sedgmen and Branford.

The score was now 18-30 and we were 33 ahead on aggregate, therefore only needing three third place finishers for the League Cup. Even extreme pessimists could relax.

From that point on we did ease off. Tigers took three successive 4-2s before we managed to share heat 12, and also share heat 13. Six up with two races left.

Heat 14 looked favourable for us, but a feeble effort there was our most disappointing of the day as we lost a 5-1 to two otherwise non-achieving Tigers.

That meant we were two up going in to the final race, and with Sam gating and Cook passing Morris off the fourth bend it looked good. Morris came off, and the unsatisfactory decision was to exclude Cook. So it wasn’t only the Monarchs who were feeling sorry for the Tigers.

Aaron Summers completed an excellent personal day by winning the rerun with Sam second, so a draw was certainly still a magnificent result for the weakened Monarchs.

It was a great performance by all over the two legs, and evidence of what true team spirit can do even when riders are missing. But we’ve seen that many times before.