The Bandits of 2016 Image Credit: Colin Poole

League Cup Points at Stake

NEWS Wednesday 6th April 2016, 6:46pm

by Mike Hunter

The Border Roofing Monarchs try again this week to get their home season started with a visit in the League Cup from Berwick Bandits on Friday.

It is widely expected that Bandits will be much more competitive than in the last few years, with Monarchs fielding two Armadale debutants against a visiting side with vast experience in riding the circuit. Berwick have survived another tricky winter and have a solid side plus a lively new team manager who should not be under-estimated.

BANDITS KNOW THE TRACK!: No-one needs to be told that Berwick will have a lot of Armadale experience to call on this Friday, because in Matthew Wethers (242) and Theo Pijper (185) they have riders who have ridden the track far more than even Ryan Fisher and Kevin Wolbert who have both ridden in 82 meetings at Armadale.

Even Liam Carr at no. 7 has ridden 13 times at Armadale whereas both Jye Etheridge and Dan Bewley will be competing at home in Monarchs’ colours for the first time.

SCOTT RULES: Berwick’s new team boss is Scott Courtney, former rider and son of international rider Mark.

Scott is full of ideas and will certainly be looking forward to a battle of wits on Friday with home team manager Alex Harkess.

Scott has already earned praise for his initiative in organising the covering of the Berwick track last Saturday (with help from team sponsors Olympus Marquees) to ensure their match against Redcar went ahead.

HIGH HOPES FOR ERIK: Monarchs’ team for this season is built to improve as the season progresses and the younger riders gain confidence and experience. This week 20 year old Erik Riss has been talking about his hopes for his second season.

“I felt really good at Ashfield, I was excited for the first meeting because I tried new things out. In the winter you’ve got a lot of time to think about things, and you realise things you should change.

“I changed a lot and now it was the time to see if it worked. I was quite happy but my starts weren’t good. It was only 5+1 but I’m learning every day and every race and I am happy”.

DRAW AGENTS BACK THE MATCH: Friday’s League Cup match will be backed by the Agents of the Monarchs Grand Draw who will be invited to spend time in the Hospitality area.

Teams for the League Cup Match at Armadale on Friday 8th April (start time (7:30pm, gates open 6:30pm), are:

EDINBURGH BORDER ROOFING MONARCHS: Sam Masters (capt.), Jye Etheridge, Kevin Wolbert, Erik Riss, Ryan Fisher, Max Clegg, Dan Bewley.

BERWICK OLYMPUS MARQUEES BANDITS: Thomas Jorgensen, Theo Pijper, Kevin Doolan (capt.), Anders Mellgren, Seb Alden, Matthew Wethers, Liam Carr.

HOPEFUL BANDITS: Over the winter Berwick acquired new backers, a new team manager and set about putting a competitive side on the track after a disappointing tenth place finish in 2015.

From last year’s side, no. 1 Thomas Jorgensen and captain Kevin Doolan return, as does Anders Mellgren who was a late signing last year. He’s a former runner-up in the Premier League Riders’ Championship.

Liam Carr of course has been a Bandits’ asset for a while and under the new rules he is a perfect candidate for their no. 7 position. He teams up with Matthew Wethers who should be a very high scorer this year for at least as long as he stays in a reserve berth.

Matthew is on loan from Monarchs as is Theo Pijper, who had a year with Scunthorpe in 2015 and has scored well in the early matches this year.

The biggest surprise has probably been the return of Seb Alden, top Bandit a few years ago but not expected to return to the sport. If he can regain his old form he should be one of the top men in the Premier League.

Tickets purchased online for last Friday's meeting are valid for this match.

LAST MEETING: The proposed opening fixture against Belle Vue last Friday was postponed during the afternoon with rain falling and more forecast. It is hoped to stage the match later in the season.

NEXT MEETING: On Friday 15th April Glasgow Tigers will be the visitors to Armadale, confident that this year the balance of power in Scotland can swing their way. We shall see.