Flyin’ Ryan Fisher was box office blue and gold when he wore the colours of Edinburgh Monarchs, so Armadale should be set for a bumper crowd when the Californian returns for the first time since 2010 with new club Plymouth Devils in tonight’s Premier League speedway clash.
Fisher’s cavalier style and no-nonsense way of riding won him a legion of admirers and he is relishing crossing swords with Monarchs’ top stars, especially No. 1 Craig Cook, who is one of the most talked-about riders in the sport at the moment. Fisher said: “I’m really looking forward to coming back to Armadale, I enjoyed some good times with Edinburgh and the fans were so great towards me, it should be a lot of fun.
“I’m obviously out to do my job, which is to try and help Plymouth win the meeting, but I hope the Monarchs fans will give me a good welcome and we get to see some fantastic racing.”
Plymouth’s other major performer is Ben Barker, currently top of the Premier League green sheet averages, and a man who will also test the Monarchs heat leaders who have been in indomitable mood at home recently.
Barker is also enjoying success with Birmingham Brummies in the Elite League, which makes him a big threat.
Monarchs’ biggest concern will be holding their own at reserve following Micky Dyer’s decision to take a break from racing to give his broken foot time to heal.
The Australian could be out of action for a while and Monarchs are seeking a short-term replacement for him. In the meantime Rye House Raiders youngster James Sarjeant will deputise this evening and also for the return clash at Plymouth tomorrow night.
Dyer’s absence certainly piles on the pressure for German star Marcel Helfer, who has yet to get to grips with Armadale. Yet Helfer probably surprised many by picking up five points at Ashfield on Sunday as Monarchs went down 52-40 against their oldest rivals.
Helfer certainly looked a lot more assured and confessed afterwards: “I liked the Ashfield track, it had bigger bends which made it easier to ride for me. But I know I need to score points at home and I’m trying my best to make this happen for me.”
Team-mate Theo Pijper suffered a scare at Glasgow when he fell off his bike after the completion of heat 15 and it was feared he had broken his wrist, but he said today: “It just popped out of the joint and we popped it back in again, and so far so good.
“I have been cutting the grass and trimming hedges without any problems, but how the wrist will hold up riding my bike, we will just have to wait and see. I’m definitely riding, though, of course I am.”
Plymouth are just two points above Monarchs at the foot of the table and boss Mike Bowden said: “We are really looking forward to our matches against Monarchs this weekend, we have meetings in hand to make up on most of our rivals and our aim is to keep winning at home and try to get something from our away fixtures, so we will be putting in a big effort up at Edinburgh tonight.”
Monarchs are the only side to boast an unbeaten home league record but, like Plymouth, they are desperate to taste success on the road which remains the key to them reaching the end of season league play-offs. But Plymouth could prove stubborn opponents at their St Boniface Arena base after they beat Rye House Rockets 52-41 a week ago. Bowden added: “It was an excellent all-round team performance, we had double-figure scores from both Ben and Ryan and they were well supported by the rest of the team.”
Barker has recently stepped down as skipper of the Devils to concentrate on his own racing, with Corey Gathercole taking over.
Meanwhile Charles Wright, who was axed by Monarchs a fortnight ago, has signed for Glasgow Tigers to replace struggling reserve Jayden O’Malley.