It's the big one - Scottish Derby weekend is here! | News Centre | Edinburgh Monarchs Speedway | Official Club Website
Action from one of last year's derbies Image Credit: Peter Hill

It's the big one - Scottish Derby weekend is here!

PREVIEW Friday 29th April 2022, 12:00pm

by Graham Muncie

It's that weekend of the year, the one the majority of Scottish speedway fans look to circle in their calendars the minute the fixtures are released, it's derby weekend and it all starts at Armadale on Friday night as the Glasgow Tiger come to town.

In many a year gone past a curtain raising challenge encounter (normally the spring trophy) would have allowed both teams to feel each other out before the serious business but that is no longer the case and it is straight into Championship action.

Whether that is a boost or a hindrance for either team is yet to be decided but what is for certain is a tough encounter awaits for the What the Fork Monarchs on Friday evening as the Tigers head East full of Armadale pedigree.

The man at the top of the lineup certainly needs no introduction as a multi league winning Monarch it's Craig Cook. 'Cookie' had by his own admission a year not up to his usual impeccable standards in 2021, that being said a down year for Cook is still a year most others would dream off with a near 9 point average, the outcome and early signs that dropping the Tigers captaincy to refocus on getting back to basics will pay dividends this year.

Team line-up wise Ulrich Ostergaard is the man to provide the main backup to Cook, of course this will be the veteran Dane's 1st visit to Armadale since a season ending injury in the corresponding fixture last year but he appears to have bounced back well and will be a danger.

The experience at the top end of the Tigers line-up is followed by a bunch of youthful exuberance and an upwardly mobile bunch that are looking to make their mark.

Tom Brennan and Benjamin Basso were 2 of the most talked about prospects in the British leagues last year and with Basso recording a paid 16 score on his last visit and Brennan a 9 point haul in his first both will look to impress.

Broc Nicol completes the 1-5 and the young American will be looking to kick on this year after a consolidation year in 2021, only his 3rd on these shores. Just turned 24 time is on his side and he is another who has put in big Armadale performances in the past not least a 10 point haul in the playoff semi final last season.

At reserve are Danyon Hume and Connor Bailey, another pair of young chargers looking to kick on and both will be looking to get themselves into the 1-5 and move on from there and in fact Hume will make that move come 1st May with the new averages.

A tough looking challenge then for the home men but one they are sure to be up for.

Last week against Newcastle wasn't perhaps the challenge needed to fully gauge how the Monarchs are settling into the season but the signs so far are promising.

At the top end Sam Masters and Josh Pickering have been in imperious form with only 1 point dropped between them at the Dale so far.

Kye Thomson (a 1st bend 360 spin aside) will have been a lot happier after last Friday with sharper gates making for an easier night than the previous weekend, more of the same needed on Friday.

A slow start was matched by a strong ending for Paco Castagna as he finished his night with 2 heat wins. That means at least 1 heat win in all 4 Monarchs matches so far this year for our exuberant Italian, making it 5 out of 5 will be key to Monarchs chances in this one.

Lasse Fredriksen had the toughest match of his UK career so far last week with an inability to get out the start hindering his scoring ability. A practice session after the meeting showed his ability to work on this and with lessons learned a return to the points is what our Norwegian is looking for.

At the bottom end key in this one may just turn out to be maximum man from last week James Sarjeant. 'Sarj' knows exactly what this fixture entails with previous spells on both sides of the M8 divide and another double digit return like that could go a long way to deciding the outcome.

Reserve partner Jacob Hook looks to be getting into the swing of things and with captain Sam Masters pointing the way last week a maiden paid heat win in heat 14 will send our Aussie newcomer into battle on Friday in good spirits.

So, a strong looking Tigers 1-7 no doubt buoyed by a large away contingent on the 3rd bend head to the Dale to be met by a confident home septet, I'm not sure it could quite be billed as the irresistible force meets the immovable object quite yet but a titanic tussle is guaranteed.

Tapes fly at 19.30 with tickets still available alongside the ability to pay at the gate.

For those unable to attend then EMTV and the live stream is your answer to catch the action.

It's one not to be missed as the first encounter of the year in the biggest rivalry in British speedway kickstarts a big weekend for both outfits.