Every time Workington Comets appear on Edinburgh Monarchs’ home fixture list horizon, there is a misplaced assumption that the Capital speedway side have something to fear from their English opponents.
And while it is true that Monarchs have been found wanting on their away visits to Comets’ Derwent Park base in recent times, they remain robust in their exchanges at Armadale, having already seen the Comets off 54-39 in their League Cup exchange earlier in the season.
And Workington’s arrival on Premier League duty tonight will certainly not cause Monarchs any worries, according to co-promoter Alex Harkess, who said: “We will take the match as it comes, our top five are very strong, and we are not jittery about the meeting. Workington are a good side but we have turned them over once already and they were stronger then than they are now.”
Workington still pose a bigger threat than Berwick Bandits did a week ago, but Harkess insisted Monarchs’ 56-36 win over their Border visitors, who led in the first half, went according to plan. “It did, except for heat two when we conceded a 5-1, but that is all Berwick achieved, they didn’t get much more after that.”
Monarchs are hopeful that reserve ace Micky Dyer is fit to ride. The Aussie was a 12-point hero against Berwick but broke two bones in his foot in a heat-14 pile-up. However, he insists: “If I can get my foot into my riding boot I’ll be racing.”
Harkess added: “I’m more positive than negative – I think it’s 60/40 Micky will ride. It would certainly be a big disappointment if he didn’t because it would leave Marcel Helfer pretty exposed, which would hand an advantage to Workington at the tail-end.”
The 21-year-old German hasn’t looked like winning a race yet and Harkess revealed there are communication problems.
“Theo (Pijper) was missing last week and he is the only one who speaks fluent German apart from Marcel,” said Harkess. “Andrew (Tully) could see what Marcel was doing wrong but couldn’t get his point across to him.
“Marcel doesn’t seem frightened and attacks the bends, but his entry into them is all wrong and he ends up out near the fence. I think he is capable of being as fast as anyone once he controls his racing lines.”
Harkess added: “I think that will come, once he rides four comfortable laps, but he is all over the place at the moment. That is not what he showed at our practice day, but the weather back then was perfect, the track recently has been very heavy because of all the rain we have had and this is making it difficult for him.
“Obviously it would be nice if he scored some points this evening but I think we are capable of beating Workington again. We are looking comfortable at home, and more importantly we are winning races and not running many last places.
“Workington only won their last home match by a single point, which was a scary situation for them, I think we’ll do it.”
One young man who is looking to help Comets to victory is former Monarch, Kyle Howarth, who rode with distinction at Armadale in 2011. Howarth, who joined Comets during the winter, conceded that his side did not perform to the best of their capabilities in losing that League Cup fixture by 15 points in April
Howarth said: “We all just had a bad night and it was very tough for us. Edinburgh is not the easiest of tracks to go to and they also have a pretty decent team. None of us rode well and it was a poor result for us, but we have put together a good run since then and everybody is up for it this time.”
Workington are still reeling from the shock decision by experienced Aussie Rusty Harrison to quit the sport, and he has been replaced by Finn Tero Aarnio, who was released by Scunthorpe Scorpions.
“It came as a surprise because Rusty had been having a good season with us,” said Howarth. “But he also had other commitments and speedway was taking too much of his time up. Tero is a good replacement and did a decent job while he was at Scunthorpe. Once he gets a few meetings under his belt he will be all right. We have now got people who want to ride for Workington.”
Howarth has only recently returned to the saddle after a horrifying crash at home to Berwick which left him hospitalised. “I had made a good start to the season before the smash, it was a high speed tumble and I came back two weeks ago, which on reflection, was probably too soon. I’m over it now, but it wasn’t just a case of getting back on my bike, it was everything else. Now I just want to put it behind me and start enjoying racing again.”
Monarchs are also in action at Glasgow Tigers on Sunday and will be hoping to repeat their recent victory in the Knockout Cup quarter-finals. Charles Wright clinched the tie when he combined with skipper Matthew Wethers for a 5-1 in the penultimate race.
Wright is now gone and many feel the Tigers will exact revenge for their Cup elimination.