It had to happen eventually. And it was no seismic surprise that Peterborough Panthers became the first team to lower Edinburgh Monarchs’ speedway colours at the East of England Showground yesterday.
Peterborough’s 50-43 Premier League victory ended Monarchs’ 24-match unbeaten run, which could remain indelibly imprinted in the record books for many years to come.
Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell today confessed he was “dismayed” that his side’s crown had finally slipped, but said: “That’s only because I don’t suffer the pressure of having to race to get wins. There was a feeling among the riders that whilst it would have been nice to have gone on forever, thank god we no longer have that pressure in every match.”
The portents for Peterborough’s success perhaps surfaced at Armadale a few weeks ago when they restricted Monarchs to a narrow 51-42 victory, the closest the home team had been taken all season in front of their own fans.
Yet Campbell admitted: “To be honest I thought we would win at Peterborough quite easily but what I completely misjudged was that three of our riders had not ridden there before and the track at Peterborough is somewhat different to any other circuit in the country.
“And of course Peterborough were very determined, and that is something that has been developing because the opposition want to beat you more than normal, because they want to break a record as well.
“I got the team together at the end of the match and we still know where we are, and that is the best team in the league. And we will carry on as normal, but with perhaps less pressure.”
Monarchs felt a degree of heat that they hadn’t experienced for a while when the Panthers extracted 5-1 advantages in heats eight and nine to go ten points in front, 32-22. This prompted Monarchs to give Max Fricke a tactical outing in the next heat to turn things around. But the young Aussie touched the tapes and had to start from 15 metres back in the rerun and finished last as the Panthers grabbed a 4-2 instead.
But this allowed Monarchs to give Craig Cook his tactical chance in heat 11 and although he won the race, his team-mate Justin Sedgmen could only finish fourth, giving Monarchs a 6-3 instead of the 8-1 which could have made a difference.
Monarchs never gave up, though, and a brace of 4-2s over the last few heats kept their hosts from getting too carried away. Sedgmen, who picked up four points, said: “We lost to a good team, but it doesn’t really matter because we ran them close and we all rode pretty well and if anyone was finally going to beat us it was probably Peterborough.
“The only difference between us was Peterborough’s home track advantage. We are happy and everything is sweet, they just rode better than us. You can’t win them all.”
Monarchs meet Peterborough in the forthcoming League Cup final but Campbell stressed they haven’t been given undue food for thought.
“We have beaten Peterborough on aggregate in the league now,” he said. “I think we will be better for it next time round their track. And I think we will do better against them at Armadale as well.
“Peterborough are the side who have done best against us all season. Perhaps they are the ones you don’t want in a cup final, but we are looking forward to it.”
Cook was Monarchs’ top scorer with 16 points and his best support came from Sam Masters and Steve Worrall who collected seven points apiece.
Monarchs’ KO Cup quarter-final first leg tie at Berwick Bandits was washed out on Saturday and will be re-staged on Wednesday with a 7.30pm start.
Peterborough: Drymel 13, Ostergaard 9, Summers 8, Blackbird 8, Barrett 7, Jacobs 5.
Monarchs: Cook 16, Masters 7, Worrall 7, Fricke 5, Sneddon 4, Sedgemen 4, Fox 0.