Craig Cook back for the Edinburgh Monarchs and the early signs are good
And last night, in front of a packed-out Armadale Stadium, the 35-year-old Cumbrian made a dream return as he spearheaded the Capital outfit to a 48-42 victory over arch-rivals the Glasgow Tigers, the team he left to rejoin the Monarchs over the winter.
Indeed it was almost the perfect homecoming for the former British champion, top scoring with 14 points from five outings and dropping just a solitary point to impressive Tigers No.1 Chris Harris in heat 11.
Cook has not forgotten his way around the West Lothian shale that's for sure. He is still the track record holder which he set in 2015, his final year with the Monarchs before electing to try his hand at a higher level.
And despite his four-year stint with the other half of Scottish speedway, intially joining midway through the 2018 season, it would be fair to say Monarchs fans have always considered Cook as one of their own. He is a club asset after all and was instrumental in guiding the Monarchs to back-to-back league titles in 2014 and 2015, the last time Edinburgh delivered silverware.
Losing former club captain and No.1 Sam Masters to the Oxford Cheetahs during the off-season was a bitter pill to swallow for everyone connected with the Monarchs. However, acquiring the services of Cook for 2023, which was announced on Christmas Eve, certainly softened the blow. If Cook and Josh Pickering can develop an on-track chemistry akin to Pickering and Masters last season, they're onto a winner.
An in-form Cook is up there with the very best in British speedway. And with the former Grand Prix star, at present, not riding in the Premiership or on the continent, Monarchs will have his undivided attention.
He has admitted his main target this season is to get back enjoying riding his bike again. I'm sure there would have been a big smile etched across his face as he returned to the pits after a hugely productive night's work. Next stop? A trip to Ashfield tomorrow.