Liam Rudden: On a mini-tour following the Staggs Bar Monarchs
THREE meetings in three nights. It's not very often I get to do a mini-tour with the Staggs Bar Monarchs.
Speedway matches tend not to fall consecutively these days. Well, not very often anyway.
Last weekend, that rare opportunity arose - a home match at Armadale on the Friday, a quick zip down to Berwick on the Saturday and a slightly longer trip to Newcastle on the Sunday.
A win and two losses resulted, and while the away scores may have had many fans pulling their hair out, there was still some fantastic racing from the young team... as well as the odd abysmal turn.
As I’ve said previously, this year’s squad is a work in progress, with the exception of our two heat-leaders (No 1 Ricky Wells and Captain Erik Riss) they are a mixture of second strings and reserves, all near the start of their racing careers.
The result is a lack of experience and consistency as they learn their trade - brilliant flashes of derring-do contrast with occasional bursts of almost out-of-control manoeuvres that have riders and spectators alike holding their breath, alongside times when their inexperience leaves them trailing in last place or worse still, making friends with the air-fence that rings the track.
Last Friday’s win might have been a close call, 46-44, however, it’s worth noting all but two of the team actually out-scored or matched their match average, with Joel Andersson, riding his first season of British speedway, managing a brace of wins over riders far more long in the tooth.
If Berwick on the Saturday was a bit of a disappointment, we lost 53-37, it has to be said the track there is very different due to the camber on the bends.
There was little to get from the meeting other than track time for the newbies ahead of our forthcoming league match there. Needless to say, Ricky and Erik were both as determined as ever, but they have a hard job in a team lacking an all important third heat leader.
Then came Newcastle on Sunday, another 53-57 defeat, but this time there were more encouraging signs despite losing Erik after a nasty Heat 4 spill.
It was good to see Max Ruml back mixing it with a win his first race and out-scoring his average by the end of the meeting.
Josh Pickering too over-performed scoring more or less double of what is expected of him.
But then this is a Monarchs team that needs nurtured, and given time. Not something that with which every fan is happy.
I understand their frustration, but it’s not the riders’ fault, they’re performing to and beyond their current capabilities in team places they’re not quite ready for... yet. Time to get that third heat leader in place.
Tonight, however, the pressure is off as Monarchs celebrate their 70th Anniversary with a special Platinum Jubilee Fours.
With no league points at stake it’s an opportunity to have a bit of fun, not that they’ll be resting on their laurels. I reckon every one of them has a point to prove.