Lack of ambulance cover halts Edinburgh Monarchs clash

Monarchs' Craig Cook leads Ricky Wells and Kyle Howarth. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Monarchs' Craig Cook leads Ricky Wells and Kyle Howarth. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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Edinburgh Monarchs speedway boss John Campbell today said he sympathised with the decision to abandon their Premier League fixture at Workington Comets on Saturday night due to lack of ambulance cover after home rider Kyle Howarth broke his ankle and had to be taken to hospital.

Howarth, a former Edinburgh rider, tumbled off with no one near him in heat nine, which Monarchs won with a 5-1 advantage. That left them trailing the Comets by just two points, 28-26, with six races remaining.

A 20-minute delay had already ensued as Howarth received medical treatment on the centre green before being taken to West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven. Howeverm with the ambulance not envisaged to return to the stadium within an hour, the referee abandoned the match, which will now have to be restaged later in the season.

Asked if the referee was left with no choice but to call a halt to proceedings at the Derwent Park track which has a 10pm curfew, Campbell replied: “I wouldn’t like to say there was no choice, but it was a difficult choice without question.

“The ambulance which was in attendance had to leave the stadium and you never know long it will take to come back. It was understood Kyle was taken to hospital in Whitehaven, which is just 15 minutes away by car and 15 minutes back.

“It was suggested at one point that Kyle would have to go to Carlisle for treatment, which is well in excess of an hour’s trip. It was one of these situations with a potentially open-ended delay and we’d already been waiting 20 minutes before Kyle even left the stadium.”

Campbell continued: “What do you do. Had it happened at Armadale and we did not know with certainity when the ambulance would return, we would probably have abandoned the meeting as well.

“To be fair, if it had been decided to wait and the ambulance rolled back in, with say, 15 minutes to go before the curfew, I don’t think we would have been happy running three races, which was all that probably could have been fitted in, and just two points down.”

Despite a surfeit of last places by some of his squad over the opening eight heats, Campbell insists Monarchs were poised to win the match.

He said: “I believe we were well-placed to come away with a victory. Steve [Worrall] was unbeaten in his first three outings and we could have used him another four times. And we still had another three races to come from Craig [Cook], who was miles ahead of verybody in his first two rides. There was a lot very much in our favour.”

Campbell added: “You often get big boosts, as we did at Newcastle, and when we got that 5-1 in the ninth race, everybody was bubbling again in the pits because it gave us a similar boost.

“And a lot of work went on to cure bike problems that Justin [Sedgmen] and Derek [Sneddon] had.”

Sedgmen, who has been on fire recently, failed to score before the cancellation and Campbell revealed: “Justin tends to let his head go down if he has a bad race and he certainly had a bad race in the opening heat, but at least we have kept our unbeaten run going, albeit under bizarre circumstances.”

Monarchs next task is at Sheffield Tigers on Thursday night, where they are favourites to reach the League Cup Final as they defend a whopping 35-point semi-final first-leg lead they amassed at Armadale two weeks ago.

“The way Sheffield are going and the way we are going, I think we can win the second leg as well,” added Campbell.