GLASGOW TIGERS team boss Stewart Dickson is plotting revenge against Edinburgh Monarchs in this weekend’s Premier League Grand Final, admitting he’s “sick of the sight” of their speedway arch-rivals celebrating.
Dickson today revealed last month’s League Cup final defeat left him nursing a deep sense of frustration. Monarchs hammered the Tigers 55-34 at Armadale before drawing the second leg 45-45 at Ashfield to easily retain the silverware they captured last year. Dickson said: “Edinburgh were the better team over the two legs and we were blown away at home. It was disappointing. You don’t want to lose any final. especially one against your neighbours, and I’m sick of the sight of Edinburgh celebrating up at the fourth bend with their fans every time they come to Ashfield.”
Now the Tigers have the opportunity of relieving Monarchs of their league title after they won a dramatic last-heat decider against Somerset Rebels in last Sunday’s play-off semi-final second leg, squeezing through by just two points on aggregate.
And Dickson hopes that nail-biting success will act as a catalyst to prevent Monarchs winning back-to-back championship crowns, a feat, ironically, Glasgow achieved back in the 1990s.
However, Dickson confessed that the Rebels, who were bidding for a fourth-consecutive Grand Final appearance, made Tigers sweat for their victory.
“I knew Somerset wouldn’t just roll over and I knew it was going to be tough, but we got there in the end.”
The Tigers hero was young reserve James Sarjeant, who piled up 16 points from seven outings and Dickson heaped praise on the 21-year-old starlet.
“When you have riders who have an off-day you need a reserve to step up to the plate and James was fantastic on Sunday.
“It was also a great occasion and that’s what speedway is all about. I have been going to Ashfield since it opened in 1999 and I have never heard noise like I heard on Sunday, I have seen big matches on the telly and I was at the play-off final between Edinburgh and Somerset last season. I want those days and nights at Ashfield now, and we are getting them.”
Sarjeant reflected on leading his troops to victory and said: “The track was really good and the support from our fans was terrific and everything went well for us in the end. I enjoyed myself, but facing Edinburgh is going to be something else again. We have won at each other’s track this season, but that will count for nothing. We are starting from scratch. What has happened already needs to be forgotten about.”
Dickson thinks the sport north of the Border will receive a huge boost from an all tartan face-off, saying: “I think we have got the final we all wanted. And Scottish speedway should be very proud of itself, with two teams fighting it out for the league title. It should be a tremendous occasion and it’s great to be part of it. I can’t wait. I just hope the result will go our way this time, and I believe it can, providing everybody rides to their capabilities.”
The only downside from Tigers’ win over Somerset was the loss of Finn Kauko Nieminen, who aggravated a collarbone injury which had sidelined him for six weeks earlier in the season. He was forced to retire from the meeting.
Dickson admitted Nieminen is almost certainly out of the Grand Final. “He is extremely doubtful and that was the only sour note last Sunday. It is such a shame and nothing seems to have happened for Kauko this year. It’s a sorry situation for him and the club.”
Monarchs’ in-form Aussie speedster Justin Sedgmen believes the Capital club need to remain forcused if they are to tame the Tigers and not allow things to slip as they did against Somerset in the KO Cup recently when they went down by four points on aggregate, a loss that stunned most observers.
Said Sedgmen: “The build-up to the League Cup clash against Glasgow was hectic with everyone desperate to get one over on each other. But the build-up to this is going to be really intense, it’s a new level again.”
Sedgmen added: “Glasgow have had a major overhaul on track and off this season with huge investment from their new owners and they have given Edinburgh a run for their money this year. But we need to focus purely on the racing and not concern ourselves with everything that goes on with the build-up. I think we can do it, we all ride Ashfield pretty well, it holds no fears for us. As long as we keep the scores close for our home leg, we should be fine. It feels great to make the Grand Final again.”
Glasgow host the first leg on Friday (7.30pm) with the second leg at Armadale 24 hours later (7.00pm).