Edinburgh Monarchs take opening Jubilee League victory over the Berwick Bandits despite poor calls from referee Willie Dishington

Football referees are regularly castigated for their failure to get the big calls right. Speedway isn't immune from that bugbear either.

By Neil McGlade
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 9:30 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd July 2022, 9:30 pm

Thankfully for the Edinburgh Monarchs, referee Willie Dishington's ineptitude against the Berwick Bandits, proved inconsequential.

The Scottish referee made three blunders - two in the first four races - and then again in heat 13 of Monarchs' 51-39 victory over the Borders outfit in their opening Championship Jubilee League fixture.

Firstly, he wrongly excluded 19-year-old Jacob Hook from heat two after adjudging the Australian to have clipped opposing rider Nathan Stoneman going into the first bend of the second lap. Replays showed on the giant LED screen at Armadale there had been no contact.

Italian Paco Castagna scored 10 points against the Berwick Bandits and was in fine form. Picture: Jack Cupido.

Dishington then failed to pull back heat four for an unsatisfactory start and Monarchs were left with the tails between their legs as the visitors registered a 5-1 despite the best efforts of Josh Pickering, the Australian gesticulating towards the referee on the start gate after as the hosts lead was reduced to 13-11.

But Monarchs were menacing from the gate and even when Pickering got caught up in traffic on the first bend, he still managed to manoeuvre between Bandits duo Ricky Wells and Jye Etheridge to take the chequered flag in a thrilling heat seven victory. Monarchs now led 24-16 at the midway point. However, the home side gradually increased their lead over the next couple of races and victory seemed inevitable.

And then what should have been a blockbusting heat 13 win for Monarchs skipper Sam Masters, who is riding with a broken right foot, was somehow awarded to visiting No.1 and former Grand Prix star Chris Harris much to the dismay of those in attendance.

Italian Paco Castagna was magnificent over the course of the evening, reeling off three wins from his four outings. He said: afterwards: "It's one of my best performances and I felt really quick all night."

Attentions now turn towards the return fixture at Shielfield Park tomorrow night. Another victory for the Capital side will put them top of the Scottish section ahead of next weekend's double header against the Glasgow Tigers.

Monarchs will hope Dishington isn't in the referee's box, that's for sure.

Monarchs: Masters 13, Castagna 10, Thomson 9, Pickering 8, Fredriksen 4, Sarjeant 4, Hook 3.