IT’s a top-of-the-table clash that will have fans on the edge of their seats as their heroes look to claim an unprecedented record – and we’re not talking about the derby.
While Hearts will look to continue their unbeaten record as they take on Hibs at Easter Road on Sunday, over at the Armadale Stadium the Edinburgh Monarchs speedway team will be going full-throttle for a record of their own.
The team could bag an unprecedented “Treble” if they emerge victorious.
The table leaders have already won the League Cup and Knockout Cup, and are now determined to land their fourth Premier League gong in the play-offs against Somerset Rebels.
If they land the title, it will be the first time a Premier League speedway team has taken home all three crowns in a single season.
Motorcycle speedway racing sees riders battle it out over four 260m laps at speeds of up to 70mph – on bikes with only one gear and no brakes.
And with their motorbikes packing souped-up, 500cc engines powered by methanol and acceleration speeds faster than Formula 1 cars, having no access to brakes isn’t for the faint-hearted.
The adrenaline-fuelled races are conducted on dirt tracks, enabling riders to turn corners by sliding their back wheels out and balancing, with steel shoes protecting their feet. The Monarchs secured the top spot in this season’s Premier League with a series of back-to-back wins, but the Edinburgh side could lose it all in this weekend’s play-offs.
The two-match face-off will see a winner declared on the basis of their performance on the day – a tense dirt track lottery that pays no heed to their league performance so far.
Monarchs’ co-promoter John Campbell, who has been involved in the sport for 30 years, said: “I’ve spent the whole season saying we are going to win every match, and I’ve been mostly correct,” he said. But this is the one that matters. A whole season’s good work could be wrecked in one night.”
But John insists the ramped-up tension will boost spectator numbers.
“It creates tension, it’ll create an atmosphere – and hopefully it will create a celebration at the end of the night.”
“It is dangerous,” he said. “You have to be very skilful to make sure that the race doesn’t end up in a crash.”
But despite its risks, John insists the sport offers spectators of all ages an unprecedented Motorsport experience. He said: “You can see the complete race in front of your eyes. That’s part of the attraction.
“It’s a family sport. We have senior citizens coming along, mums and dads with their kids, and teenagers with their friends.”
Len Jones, chairman of the Monarchs Supporters Club, agrees. “The biggest attraction is that it’s a family sport, and when we travel the country it’s a friendly sport,” he said.