Clegg vows to take it to the Max for Monarchs

Max Clegg, second left, with John Campbell, Alex Harkess, Craig Cook and Brian Gray. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Max Clegg, second left, with John Campbell, Alex Harkess, Craig Cook and Brian Gray. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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MAX CLEGG admits he’s in dreamland after treble winners Edinburgh Monarchs snapped him up for one of their reserve berths for the new speedway season.

Clegg revealed he thought he had blown any chance he harboured of ever riding for Monarchs after three guest appearances for the Capital side in 2014 ended in disaster.

The personable 17-year-old, who spent last season in the colours of Leicester Lions, said: “I didn’t do myself any favours in those matches. I failed to score anything and I was so disappointed at the time.

“All riders have bad meetings. It was basically a confidence issue with me. So when Monarchs asked me to sign for them I was shocked, but also felt over the moon as well. It was an easy decision to take the offer and ride for them.”

Clegg is fully aware that a first full season in the Premier League will be challenging despite spending last season in the Elite League.

He said: “Hopefully, it will be a good experience.

“I had good and bad meetings with Leicester, but I’m going to pull out all the stops for the Monarchs to repay the faith the management there have shown in me.

“I admit I struggled a lot at Leicester, but halfway through the season I bought a new engine and my scores started to get better. The fans were good towards me but the promotion weren’t that good with me.”

While Clegg will probably have to hit the ground running in tandem with his tail-end partner Robert Branford, he says he is not exactly a novice despite just four years in the sport.

Said Clegg: “During my spell with Leicester, I had a lot of top guys around me and they helped me a lot. But I would say the Premier League is the hardest league and the competition is pretty fierce and points, as I found out for myself, are not easy to come by. A lot of 
established riders have dropped down to the Premier League and have found life far more harder than they were led to believe. Being a reserve for Monarchs should make things a little easier for me, but I would like to break into the main body of the side eventually. I’m just looking to have a good first season for Edinburgh.”

If Monarchs are to prosper to the degree they achieved last season, it’s essential that their two reserves offer support to the top five. “I think the heat two reserves races should be good for me and Robert,” said Clegg. “If we can get a 5-1 from these races home and away we’ll be very happy. And I think I can put on a point, or even two, on my average. That may be optimistic and we’ll wait and see how things go.”

Clegg added: “I know Robert quite well and have ridden against him when I was with Cradley and he was with Coventry, he is a good little rider.”

Clegg isn’t hostile towards the Armadale track, which will be his new home, insisting: “I love the circuit, it’s very similar in shape to Wolverhampton. When I did the guest matches the Monarchs supporters were great to me and I loved riding in front of them. It meant the world to me.”

Financial constraints are common among up-and-coming riders and Clegg is no exception.

“I certainly can’t afford any new equipment for next season, although I will be getting some new clutches, but that’s about it.

“I will still be very competitive and I need to be. Monarchs were an amazing team last season and they will want to successfully defend all the trophies they won so everybody has to do their bit.

“I know Monarchs want to win everything again, but I try not to put too much pressure on myself because that can lead to mistakes. I do worry sometimes about how people perceive me, but I just try and forget who I’m riding against and try to ride my own race.”

Clegg is especially pleased that No.1 Craig Cook agreed a new deal last week, revealing: “It was Craig who got me the guest bookings for Monarchs last season and he also spoke to the promotion about me joining them for next season.

“I’ve always got along with Craig and he is a awesome guy, who has been great towards me and my family as well. It’s good that he will be in the pits alongside me.

“I have already started training in preparation and, while I realise 2015 will be a big learning curve for me, the season can’t come quick enough.”