Bridgett defends himself in wake of track criticism

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Edinburgh MONARCHS team manager and award-winning track curator Alan Bridgett has replied to criticism levelled against him over the state of the Armadale track for the visit of Glasgow Tigers last week.

A number of supporters pulled no punches in their criticism after most of the Monarchs team struggled to handle the conditions and, as a consequence, the Tigers, who coped much better, triumphed over their oldest rivals for the second time in three weeks at the Lothian Arena. The defeat left co-promoter John Campbell “shell-shocked”.

Bridgett was still piling shale on to the track as fans entered the stadium, ignoring pleas by the Monarchs riders who felt the surface was already too heavy.

But Bridgett defended his track operation and said: “The biggest problem was that it was cloudy without a breath of wind. The rain came down about 3pm and we had no drying power. Come 5.30pm, if we had got drying power, I could have had the surface in good condition.

“But that never happened and I wasn’t able to finish the job properly. We just had to get it the best we could because people would not appreciate, when it isn’t raining, why we wouldn’t run the match. When the deluge came, our backs were against the wall. The previous week against Redcar my work was already done so, when the rain came after two or three heats, I’d already finished on the track. On Friday I wasn’t finished, the rain came too soon and sometimes you just have to take a chance.”

Bridgett, however, praised the Glasgow side for their efforts. “Glasgow have a very good team this season and deserve to be where they are,” he said. “We’ve had that at Edinburgh over the last few years when we have won the league and know what confidence can do.”

Monarchs captain Matthew Wethers insisted the meeting should not have gone ahead. He said: “In my opinion the meeting should have been called off at 3pm. It’s a difficult situation to prepare a track and obviously they put down all the dry shale to soak up the water.

“But there was just too much water and it made for more wet shale and difficult conditions. You can look back and say they should have done this or that, but it’s gone now and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Wethers added: “One of the Glasgow riders’ said they are used to riding bad tracks, and I would agree that Glasgow’s own track is quite inconsistent. We have the best prepared track at Armadale so it probably helps Glasgow to turn up and see a bad track.”