Edinburgh Monarchs ready to roar into action for 2024 speedway season

It feels an absolute eternity since we last heard the bikes roar around the boards at Armadale.
Edinburgh Monarchs 2024. Picture: Jack Cupido.Edinburgh Monarchs 2024. Picture: Jack Cupido.
Edinburgh Monarchs 2024. Picture: Jack Cupido.

Monarchs' early play-off exit last season has perhaps made this winter feel rather drawn out for those desperate for their speedway fix.

Nevertheless, that long slog has now been ousted by a large dose of anticipation as the class of 2024 embark on another Championship campaign that gets underway tomorrow night when arch-rivals the Glasgow Tigers are the visitors to West Lothian on BSN Series duty.

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Will Mother Nature please do us a turn and take the night off? It's not like you haven't produced more than a month's worth of rain since Easter Monday now is it?

Ultimately, the BSN Series provides riders the opportunity to blow away the cobwebs, try out a few different setups and complete some much-needed laps while retaining that ruthless competitiveness on the shale.

The league doesn't kick off until next month when Plymouth Gladiators make the long journey north, so one would hope there is a bit of momentum about the side come May 17.

So how does this year's septet stack up? The makeup of the team has a familiarity about it with the most notable changes down at reserve where Connor Coles and Max James will hope to provide the ammunition from a position that, by in large, has failed to amass the points required recently.

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Coles was proving a useful acquisition for Berwick in 2023 before a bad arm break curtailed his season. And at just 16, James is still very much learning his trade but has already shown he's more than capable of chipping in with some big scores - he recorded 15+1 on his last visit to Armadale in June when on National Development League duty with the Leicester Lion Cubs.

And then there's - what we so desperately hope - will be our fab five. Josh Pickering, Lasse Fredriksen, Kye Thomson and Paco Castagna have signed up for another crack while 2014 and 2015 league-winning Monarch Justin Sedgmen will don the blue and gold once more. I think it would be fair to say we're not being tipped to set the heather on fire in some quarters but that seems to be the norm these days. I was quietly confident with the team we assembled last year that we would be there or thereabouts. However, it quickly became clear a title challenge was never in the script despite scraping into the play-offs.

This year I believe we fall into the 'if everyone is on their game' category, which would put us right in the mix. Our home form simply has to improve, however. Just four victories in all competitions in 2023 simply won't cut it. Surely lightning can't strike twice in terms of injury woes can it? If the two heat leaders in Josh and Sedgy, plus the backbone of the team stay fit, I'm sure we'll be a lot more competitive in most meetings both at Armadale and on the road. A derby win over the Tigers would certainly provide a platform to build on.

The guys certainly looked the part as they modelled this year's racesuits at a very wet press and practice. The new club crest looks fantastic. I've always been an advocate for incorporating 'Edinburgh' wherever possible so I'm thrilled with its modern, yet rustic look.

If last Friday's sold-out launch show is anything to go by then the enthusiasm - both from riders and supporters - could be a recipe for success.

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