Edinburgh Monarchs maestro Sam Masters says club will always have a special place in his heart after Scottish Open triumph
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The 31-year-old club skipper lifted the Jack Young Trophy for a second time having won the individual event eight years ago in 2014. He saw off Grand Prix star and ex-Monarch Dan Bewley in a rain-affected heat 22 with Richie Worrall in third and another home favourite Josh Pickering fourth, although the latter was excluded for falling off in the first staging of the final.
A bumper but emotional crowd were treated to a competitive 16 rider line-up and despite two-time Monarchs league winner Craig Cook unable to take his place on track, his presence off it was very well appreciated by supporters. The 35-year-old Cumbrian did enjoy five wonderful seasons with the club and remains the highest-average Armadale Monarch.
With the Monarchs' future up in the air due to the proposed sale of the West Lothian circuit and failure to acquire land for a new stadium in Livingston, Masters admits the club will always hold a special place in the 31-year-old Australian's heart. "I don't think my career would be where it is without the Monarchs so this club has got a huge place in my heart," he said. "I love the track so it would be sad to not race here every week. Even though we didn't make the play-off final as a team, we still put in a massive effort so I've had an awesome year. Thank you to the fans for supporting us through sun, rain, hail or even snow over the years! Hopefully we can still see everyone around, don't be strangers. We love you all."
Compatriot Pickering, a Monarch since 2017, has provided fabulous entertainment around the shale and said: "I'm proud to be a Monarch as much as any other rider who has had the opportunity to put this kit on. It will be a shame if my last race here was going into the mud. I don't know what's involved in us getting this stadium back, but if it is down to one single person, you can see the turnout of the fans and how passionate everyone is."
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess is still confident the club can come to the tapes in 2023 despite the uncertainty. "Speedway needs the fans," he said. "What a super place Armadale has been. It's been home. We've loved it and to be fair the Cochrane family (stadium owners) have made us feel very welcome. The future of Armadale, in the short term, is very uncertain, so I'm never ruling anything out. I am an optimist, I don't believe this is the end of the Edinburgh Monarchs. Hopefully there will be something there for us."
Meanwhile, co-promoter John Campbell added: "The only thing I can say is while it seems to be the end, but this stadium is still standing, and it will for a good time yet, there's a chance for next year. After that, we'll still looking. My son Gordon is looking everywhere to source some land for a new stadium. We're in discussions with an amazing number of people at this moment in time and we will not give up until we find a new home for the Monarchs without question. We're absolutely committed to doing that."