Edinburgh Monarchs’ captain Matthew Wethers deservedly celebrated ten years at the Capital speedway outfit with a testimonial meeting just over two weeks ago.
However, the celebrations from winning his own event continued with a ‘second’ testimonial meeting at Redbraes Park the following day, home of the Edinburgh Falcons cycle speedway team where Wethers was once again the star on show.
The slightly lesser extreme version of the two sports also wanted to honour the 27-year-old Australian’s tenure as a Monarch, a position he has held since arriving on British shores as an unknown quantity in 2002.
Edinburgh Falcons chairman Tommy Lee was thrilled with the turnout and said: “Matty was up to his usual, really, showing off and doing his wheelies as he’s pretty decent on a bike.” Lee said. “In terms of racing, he’s actually pretty good. He’s got a good turn of speed and he’s obviously got the confidence going into the corners.
“We had a lot of people come along who go to the speedway so I reckon there were maybe about 200 there. It was great as we managed to raise some money for the club and Matty’s testimonial fund as well so I think everyone really enjoyed it. We had a few of the riders from the Monarchs down but it was only Matty who got on a bike and raced this time around.
“Matty and Derek Sneddon, who has also tried it before, are actually really good at it. But I get the impression from these sort of guys that they’ve got over thinking it’s all just a novelty and they now realise it’s a proper sport where people compete and show dedication to it. We’ve even got one guy who is 68 and he’s been involved in cycle speedway since he was ten.”
Lee admits the performances on the track this season from the men donning the Falcons race jacket haven’t gone as planned, citing rider availability as a significant factor behind some disappointing results, particularly on the road. However, on a more positive front, the rise in stature of a number of the club’s younger riders has provided a ray of hope which Lee believes can lead the club into a more challenging position in years to come.
“Unfortunately we have never really had the opportunity to put out our strongest team. From an individual perspective though, the younger guys we have are really making headway and have been scoring a lot of points so their performances have been exceptional.
“I’ve noticed big changes this year – they have come on leaps and bounds so it’s great we have these guys at our disposal which can certainly help us in the future.”
A lottery grant coupled with vast amounts of enthusiasm shown from school children in and around the Edinburgh area has really boosted the spirits of the personnel within the club and Lee is hopeful the initial foundations laid within the community will continue to see more people, young or old, eager to try out the sport.
He said: “We’ve been able to buy quite a few new bikes for people to come and use as well as paying for the costs of hiring out indoor venues so it has really helped us. We have a contact with the Active Schools Network and this has really raised the awareness of the sport. We have quite a few sessions with different schools now and there are still a lot more who have expressed an interest to become involved so we have a quite a few ideas should this continue.”
Edinburgh Falcons face Hull this Sunday with a 2pm start at Redbraes Park, in a Northern League fixture with Andy Angell, newly-crowned British champion, riding for the visitors.