Edinburgh Monarchs on course for the play-offs but will end 2023 season without club legend Craig Cook
It all boils down to 30 heats, the second meeting a potential winner-takes-all clash. Scraping into the play-offs at the final hurdle was not in the script for the Edinburgh Monarchs prior to a wheel being turned. That said, speedway can throw up so many obstacles over the course of a season, the unpredictability of the weather, injuries, racing commitments on the continent, not least the freak incident involving club photographer Peter Hill little more than a month ago. From a Monarchs persuasion, the 2023 Championship season won't go down in the history books as a classic, that's for sure. However, there is still time to change that narrative providing the riders get the job done tonight.
The mission every season is to reach the play-offs, irrespective of how you get there and the adversity endured along the way. Securing that sixth and final spot is firmly in Monarchs' own hands. That is all you can ask for. With Richard Lawson stepping in at No.1, Bastian Borke and guest Luke Killeen down at reserve, coupled with the return of Lasse Fredriksen, Monarchs are arguably putting out their strongest septet of the season. We await tonight with bated breath.
Off the track, I'm sure all speedway fans wish nothing but the best for Monarchs No.1 Craig Cook. This week the Cumbrian received a 30-day suspension of his SCB registration for withholding his services.
It's a move that has drawn criticism on social media with some accusing the Capital club of showing little compassion towards a rider who is dealing with some personal issues. To even entertain the notion that the club do not have the rider's best interests at heart or their full support is, quite frankly, absurd.
Cookie is held in the highest-esteem around the east coast of Scotland, not to mention having a legion of admirers the length and breadth of the UK. He is one of the greatest ever to don the blue and gold and his double championship-winning legacy in 2014 and 2015 will be enshrined in Monarchs' folklore forever.
Whether or not Cook has already graced the shale for one last time remains to be seen. But, for now, speedway must take a backseat for the good of the 36-year-old and his young family's health.