Edinburgh Monarchs today snapped up 21-year-old Robert Branford as their fourth signing for the 2015 speedway season.
Branford is a former British Under-21 champion and son of Darrell Branford, who rode for Monarchs in the 1980s. He has been a guest rider for Monarchs in the past.
Branford will partner Max Clegg at reserve and comes in on a three-point average. He replaces Californian Aaron Fox who declined a new contract, saying: “There is more to life than speedway.”
Branford has ridden for several UK clubs and his form in Australia has been impressive having recently captured the Victorian Under-21 championship in front of Max Fricke.
He missed the 2014 British season but feels he will come back stronger for the rest.
“My last meeting in the UK was actually at Armadale when I had a tangle on the first corner with Claus Vissing and broke my scaphoid (bone in wrist). I also wrote off my bikes in that same match so I decided it was best to stay at home and get a rest. I also wanted to get ahead of things and save some money up for my return to Britain.
“Taking a year off has helped me, I feel a lot hungrier now. I have missed speedway like crazy.”
Branford has a liking for Armadale and his best display at the Lothian arena was a nine-point haul for Leicester Lions in 2013. “I like small technical tracks,” said Branford. “Armadale is a circuit which is prepared consistently every week. I will actually look forward to riding there every Friday.”
In his previous UK seasons, Branford has never really shown the form a lot of people believe he is capable of, but he said: “Since I returned home from England I feel I’m a different rider now. I have done a lot of practising during the last two summers in Australia and feel I’m riding all right now.”
He added: “My aim to is to get a couple of new bikes to bring over. Money is always tight but I’m not going to hold back. I need to have good machinery, I have to get every advantage I can. I’m not going into this half hearted.”
Branford knows his reserve teammate Clegg pretty well, saying: “I think Max will be a good little rider.”