No one would blame Edinburgh Monarchs returning reserve star Max Clegg for wanting to consign the 2018 speedway season to history, despite the fact it still has three months to run.
The 21-year-old from Brighouse has had a year to forget through no fault of his own. Firstly he lost his place with Championship League newcomers Lakeside Hammers after a mix-up over averages during the winter. Then he found himself with no job again when Premiership side Rye House Rockets folded recently due to financial troubles.
But now, having answered a Monarchs SOS to rejoin the Capital side, Clegg is hoping for a change of luck over the second half of the campaign, beginning with tonight’s fixture against bottom-of-the-table outfit Redcar Bears at Armadale.
Clegg, along with new signing Richie Worrall, is aiming to spearhead Monarchs drive to the end of season play-offs, the club having jettisoned struggling duo Max Ruml and Mark Riss for a revamped look they hope gives them a fighting chance of late-season silverware.
It is only the third time a Monarchs team has been changed mid-season in six years.
This is certainly going to be a challenging period for Monarchs but Clegg, who thinks they have the impetus now, wants to kick start his own personal campaign after those two early Lakeside and Rye House setbacks.
He said: “It’s another chance for me now that I’m back with Monarchs. I know what I need to do, and hopefully I will succeed. I have raced in all three leagues and have proved myself and certainly have no fears about rejoining Monarchs.
“It’s been an awful year for me so far, really awful. In this sport track time is key and you have to be riding as often as you can.”
Clegg returns to Edinburgh with a three-point average, a point less than when he left last year, and said: “I’m really grateful to Edinburgh for giving me this second chance and hopefully I can finish off in some style to set me up for 2019.”
The capture of Worrall gives Monarchs the third-heat leader they craved and Clegg is in no doubt that Monarchs are now a force to be reckoned with.
Clegg said: “We have an awesome team, and we have now got three No 1s. Not many teams have that and we are pretty lucky to be blessed with such a strong top three.
“We look to have great scoring capability now and I would not be surprised if we don’t go all the way to the play-offs, exciting times to come for the whole side I think.”
Monarchs snapped up Worrall after he was displaced by rivals Glasgow Tigers in favour of Monarchs legend Craig Cook. It was a move which rocked Scottish speedway last week, but Clegg insists Glasgow’s loss is definitely Monarchs gain.
He said: “Richie is a class rider who loves Armadale and that’s always a good starting point. I think he will make a massive difference to the team and will take some of the scoring pressure off Ricky (Wells) and captain Erik (Riss).
“I’m excited to be riding alongside him, I think he will help to get everybody going.”
Monarchs will look to Clegg to bring some much-needed stability to the faltering reserve role and he insisted: “I’m sure we will have a good second half of the season. We have a run of home fixtures now, so we must ensure we collect full points from every match without dropping any.
“It’s been a while since I last rode for Monarchs but I feel sure I can play my part in helping them reach their play-off goal and I would like to increase my average again if that is possible.”
Monarchs defeated Redcar 57-33 for their first away league win of the season two weeks ago and Clegg said: “I seem to go well against Redcar and have had some good meetings against them.
“I would like that to continue tonight, the team could do with a positive performance and a good result to help get us up the table.”
Meanwhile, Worrall is philosophical about being ditched by Glasgow and said: “This is a fresh start for me and it should do me good. I should have joined Monarchs a couple of years ago. I had talks with the them, but they never came to anything.
“It’s good that I’m a Monarchs rider now and hope I can help steer them to the play-offs. We also have a KO Cup semi-final to look forward to as well so there is plenty to still race for.”