Edinburgh Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell today blasted some of the Capital side’s speedway supporters who suggested the riders did not care about their fans in the wake of their 48-42 derby loss against Glasgow Tigers at Armadale on Friday, which was Monarchs’ first home defeat since 2013.
Campbell revealed that this stinging criticism spurred the Monarchs squad to turn the tables on Glasgow in the return fixture at Ashfield on Sunday.
Campbell told The Evening News: “I saw one or two comments at the weekend claiming the riders did not care about their fans. What a load of rubbish that is. Those who said such things should be hanging their heads in shame and that’s what drove the team to victory at Ashfield.
“The riders want to win for the team and our supporters, and they were just as disappointed as everyone else about failing, and why it was absolutely crucial to beat Glasgow on Sunday.”
Glasgow’s six-point victory, their first triumph at Armadale in four years, created shock waves, but Campbell insists he is satisfied with how the team is performing and Friday’s reverse was just a “minor blip”.
“I still think Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two best teams in the Premier League and despite our home loss, I believe we will still end up in the play-offs. Glasgow were the better team on the night last Friday and while it would be nice for everything to be perfect all the time, this year’s team is not as strong as last season, but we are doing the best we can.”
Claims that Friday’s defeat was a result waiting to happen were also dismissed by Campbell. “ That is harsh, and what will they be saying now after Sunday? I think everybody was disappointed with themselves after the match. We did not see it coming. But I think after what we witnessed from the team at Ashfield, it was a one-off, a minor blip. And we’ll slaughter Redcar on Friday and Plymouth the week after.”
Asked if the home setback highlighted any perceived weaknesses within the team – the reserves for instance are deemed to be weak – Campbell replied: “If we have a situation again like we had on Friday when our top four did not perform of their best, we will still beat everybody else in the league, apart from Glasgow. And Glasgow were in the right place at the right time, as we were at Ashfield.”
Questions have been raised in some quarters over the progress so far of Max Clegg and Rob Branford, who moved into the team proper last month.
“There is no doubt that Rob has struggled since his move to No.2,” said Campbell. “He hurt his shoulder on Friday and it looks as if he won’t be back in action until July and he will be back down to reserve by then which will help him. I don’t think anyone who watched Max at Ashfield will have been disappointed by his display. He scored three vital points and that’s what we need from him in every match. He was very impressive, but Max is a confidence type of rider. It’s all about belief with him.”
The Monarchs gaffer said collectively the team had vowed to put things right at Ashfield. “You always hope that our skipper Craig Cook will return to his best form, and when his Dad told me what they were doing to make that happen I was confident we’d get the best out of Craig. We did, as he scored a 15-point maximum.
“That makes such a difference to the others if they know they have somebody who can go out and win every race.”
Campbell maintains he and his fellow directors have no plans to change the team, insisting: “I think they are all getting back to their best form and improving in what they did before, and we are happy with how things are going.”
However, Monarchs No.1 Sam Masters has lost his winning touch in the opening heat which can be such a psychological advantage and a springboard for the rest of a match
Campbell is aware of the situation and said: “I think Sam has it in his head that heat one is a challenge and not necessarily a win. So he has to get his confidence up again because I think he is going to be at No.1 for a wee while yet.”
Nor is Campbell concerned about the impending visits of Peterborough Panthers and Somerset Rebels, two strong teams who, on paper, could spring a surprise and derail Monarchs’ passage to the play-offs.
Campbell said: “Peterborough will arrive with Oliver Greenwood at reserve and our reserve will beat him. Peterborough are not a challenge to us. Somerset, of course, have a winning mentality and will be a different kettle of fish.
“But we will still have the three highest average riders in the league then, with Justin (Sedgmen) not far behind. I think Edinburgh are going to be fine at Armadale from now on.”