If CURRENT form is a barometer for pinpointing the potential winner of tonight’s Matthew Wethers Testimonial meeting at Armadale, which is sponsored by Keyline Broxburn, then look no further than Edinburgh Monarchs No. 1 Craig Cook, a rider who scored three 15-point maximums in a row last week.
And while Wethers, who is celebrating ten years with Monarchs, will probably admit that his own form is not consistent enough to be crowned victor of his own speedway bash, to see one of his own team-mates triumph would be reward enough for the popular Australian.
Cook says: “I think everybody is looking forward to the event. It should be a lot of fun and Matty is a great guy who has given so much to the Monarchs over the years; he fully deserves this tribute.”
“It would be nice to win it and I’ll definitely be trying. My bike seems to be going well at the moment and everything else has fallen into place for me as well.”
The majority of the 16-man line-up are personal “mates” of Wethers’, and while it can be argued the field could have been stronger, on the positive side, it looks a pretty even gathering and this could ensure the battle to make the podium will be pretty exciting.
Many of the stars have queued up to laud Wethers, and Monarchs co-promoter and chairman Alex Harkess said: “Matthew’s ten-year stint happens to be the best in the club’s long history, and his three Premier League-winning medals are the definite highlight because he played a major part in them all.”
Former team-mate Ryan Fisher, who is not competing, commented: “It has been a lot of fun knowing him and riding with him. Matthew seemed to be able to race alongside me, where some other riders can’t.”
And former Glasgow Tigers adversary Shane Parker said: “I think Matthew is a credit to Adelaide and Australia and I hope everything goes well for him tonight. He thoroughly deserves it because he is an outstanding person.”
His Monarchs colleague Andrew Tully added: “I think it would be weird riding in an Edinburgh side without Matthew. You don’t always find that kind of loyalty to a team.”
Wethers has so often pulled something out of the locker when Monarchs have been in a tight corner, and Derek Sneddon, whom Wethers succeeded as skipper in 2009, said: “As a rider Matthew has always been ‘Mr Dependable’ when the pressure races come up. Some riders hide behind a curtain in those situations, but Matthew always wants to ride, though, and nine times out of ten delivers the goods.”
While Wethers is famed for his laid-back demeanour, Glasgow’s James Grieves observed: “On the bike he is tough cookie – a hard but fair rider. But, more importantly, he is also a good all-round bloke.”
The most inexperienced competitor is 16-year-old Aussie Max Fricke who makes his Armadale debut. The teenager has been supported by Wethers’ family in Australia.
The meeting format is an individual contest comprising 20 heats and a final.
Field: Matthew Wethers (Edinburgh), Rory Schlein (Belle Vue), Christian Henry (Newcastle), James Grieves (Glasgow), Ludvig Lindgren (Newcastle), Ty Proctor (Wolverhampton),Theo Pijper (Edinburgh), Magnus Karlsson (Leicester), Max Fricke (Unattached), Craig Cook (Edinburgh), Kevin Doolan (Redcar), Aaron Summers (Redcar),Andrew Tully (Edinburgh), Derek Sneddon (Edinburgh), Josh Gtajczonek (Glasgow), Joe Screen (Glasgow).