Being consistent is the problem for Monarchs star Max Clegg
Speedway riders are often defined by the level of consistency they achieve. It's a trait which is proving frustratingly elusive for Edinburgh Monarchs' likeable reserve Max Clegg.
And this was evident last weekend in what turned out to be a bittersweet one for the 19-year-old Englishman. On Friday at home to Ipswich Witches Clegg picked up six points, both race wins, as Monarchs overcame the stubborn East Suffolk side 52-39 to claim three valuable match points.
Yet 24 hours later Clegg was in the depths of despair after failing to score at Berwick Bandits as Monarchs went down by ten points.
It’s not a performance Clegg is keen to dwell upon preferring to focus on his Ipswich display.
Clegg said: “Ipswich really pushed us all the way and it wasn’t an easy meeting, it was quite close. I was happy with how I rode but I should have had a few more points had I not fallen off in heat seven.
“But that is just a learning curve, it was good to get two wins and if I can keep doing that I’ll be very pleased.”
On his Berwick nightmare Clegg said: “I’ve not got much to say about that meeting. I think it was me. I have never really liked Berwick, I never go well down there.
“I had a new engine and I’m still trying to figure it out and I tried a few things out which did not work. It’s forgotten about now and if I keep talking about what happened it just keeps reminding me of it. But I did myself no favours at Berwick.”
Monarchs entertain Plymouth Devils at Armadale tonight as they continue their quest for a play-off spot.
Having already banished the Devils from the Knockout Cup, Clegg is upbeat that the league points will also come Monarchs’ way.
But Plymouth have boosted their line-up by signing Australian champion Brady Kurtz to replace Charlie Gjedde who quit Britain a few weeks ago leaving Plymouth somewhat in the lurch.
Clegg said: “He certainly makes Plymouth stronger because Brady is a top rider and is a brilliant signing for them. I’m not sure how well he goes around Armadale because he hasn’t been up here since last year and I can’t remember how he did to be honest.
“So it may take him a couple of rides to get going but he will definitely score points for Plymouth. And Brady has also been doing well for Poole Pirates in the Elite League.”
With Monarchs still to stamp their full authority on Armadale in 2016 some teams have surmised that the defending league champions have a soft underbelly and the Lothian Arena is no longer the citadel of invincibility it once was.
Clegg is not totally convinced. “You never know, some sides may have thought that, but we have been winning most of our home matches and I don’t think anyone comes to Armadale thinking it is going to be easy.
“Our track is not easy to ride and it takes time to get used to it and that could be a disadvantage for certain visiting teams.”
Clegg is somebody who cares deeply about the job he does for Monarchs and his confidence has not been helped by criticism on social media.
Asked if he is making the strides he mapped out for himself, Clegg replied: “I have good days and bad days as I proved last week. Speedway is a tough sport and you are always trying to progress. Even the bad matches you try to take positives from.
“But everyone is still learning; whether you compete in the lower leagues or the Grand Prix that is what speedway is all about.”
Clegg boosted his self esteem with a 15 point maximum on Monday which helped send his National League side Cradley Heathens through to the semi-finals of their division’s KO Cup competition.
And he also has high hopes that Monarchs’ new signing Mark Riss, older brother of Erik, can establish a foothold in the squad. He reckons the German is going to prove a useful acquisition over the coming months.
Said Clegg: “I think he will be, he certainly looked fast last Friday and Saturday and once he gets comfortable at Armadale he will bag points for us for sure.
“And I think he will help us reach the play-offs. We just have to keep winning our home matches, that is a key thing for us, and we must try to do as well as we can on the road.
“Some away fixtures will be more difficult than others but we must try and come away with something from them all.”
Monarchs make the long trip to Plymouth tomorrow night for the return fixture.