Edinburgh Monarchs fail in Scottish Cup quest

Monarchs' Theo Pijper (front) battles with Glasgow's James Grieves. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Monarchs' Theo Pijper (front) battles with Glasgow's James Grieves. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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GLASGOW TIGERS were the unfortunate victims of an arson attack at their Ashfield base this week, but last night the only thing up in flames was Edinburgh Monarchs’ Scottish Cup hopes as they failed to pull back a hefty 23-point deficit incurred from the first leg.

Monarchs gave it a decent shot and while they won the match 51-42, it wasn’t quite enough to stop their oldest rivals from hanging on to the trophy they won in 2011 after it wasn’t contested last season.

In the absence of No. 1 rider Craig Cook, Monarchs drafted in Ipswich Witches star Morten Risager based on the ten points he scored for his own team last week, but it proved a rash and unwise decision by Monarchs co-boss John Campbell as Risager flopped badly and only scored four points from his four outings.

Monarchs would have done a lot better had they chosen, their former skipper Matthew Wethers to stand in for Cook. The Australian would certainly have doubled Risager’s effort. To overlook him for a guest booking was strange indeed.

It just underlined what a colossus Cook has been for Monarchs this year. Team manager Alex Harkess admitted: “I was a bit disappointed with Risager’s performance, to be honest, and had Craig contested this leg and also the first, which he also missed, we would have pulled back the points and won the cup. That was all that separated the sides at the end of the night.

“But fair play to Glasgow, they’ve had a pretty rotten week and probably deserved to win having built up such a big first leg lead.”

The meeting marked the retirement of Glasgow favourite James Grieves, who was also a former Monarch, and the Paisley rider made his farewell bow in style with an impressive 16-point haul, which included a tactical ride win over Risager and Max Fricke in heat ten. Grieves held aloft the silverware and said: “It’s sad that I’m leaving the sport, but I think it is the right time to go because I’m 39 now and I have two young sons and I want to spend more time with them.

“I will miss it, especially all the banter and adrenaline. It’s been a great life.

“To finish in this way by lifting the Scottish Cup at Armadale was the icing on the cake. It was a very enjoyable meeting and it was the best I’ve ridden in a while.”

Glasgow also coaxed a great display from their American guest Ricky Wells, who bagged a dozen points and looked razor-sharp on occasions until Monarchs Dutch ace Theo Pijper lowered his colours by defeating him in heats 11 and 13.

“I’m glad I helped Glasgow to win the cup,” said Wells. “I made some good starts and was happy to win my first two rides, which settled me down. I 
enjoyed myself.”

When Monarchs led 32-22 after nine races, there was a slight belief they might pull off a shock, but this was quickly dampened down and Glasgow finished the stronger side by taking a 5-1 in the last race, with Grieves and Wells sticking it to Jozsef Tabaka and Pijper in convincing style.

There were times that Monarchs were less than cohesive and they squandered some opportunities to put Glasgow under the cosh. Monarchs captain Derek Sneddon was named Monarch of the Match and he deserved the accolade and champagne after his fantastic duel against Grieves in heat 12. The pair played a cat and mouse game, but Sneddon prevailed to win a corker of a duel that could be a candidate for race of the season.

Pijper and Sneddon were Monarchs joint top scorers with ten points each, the former winning three of his five races.

Monarchs: Sneddon 10, Pijper 10, Fricke 8, Tabaka 8, Vissing 7, Risager 4, Carr 4.

Glasgow: Grieves 16, Wells 12, Jorgensen 6, Jacobs 4, Morris 3, McBain 1, Douglas 0.