Rusty Edinburgh Monarchs seek much-needed derby boost

Mark Riss, right, pictured with brother Erik, centre, and fellow German Kevin Wolbert, makes his derby debut tonight. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Mark Riss, right, pictured with brother Erik, centre, and fellow German Kevin Wolbert, makes his derby debut tonight. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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Edinburgh Monarchs head through to Glasgow Tigers for tonight’s Premier League speedway clash at the Peugeot Ashfield Stadium feeling distinctly weather beaten and somewhat match rusty.

Monarchs’ home fixture against the Tigers was washed out at Armadale last Friday, meaning the Capital outfit have completed just three home league fixtures this season and just one this month alone, a situation team manager Alex Harkess described as “unbelievable”.

And the Monarchs gaffer insisted this period of inactivity is affecting the squad and is also hitting the club hard from a financial perspective.

He revealed: “We can’t keep paying out on away matches without any home income. Every time our home matches are called off, it is costing us. Last Friday for example, because it was our biggest match of the season, hospitality was sold out and there is no guarantee these people will be back or if we will recoup the revenue lost. It’s a major drain.

“The situation is quite serious now because we are losing so many meetings to the weather. It seems to rain every Friday.”

Harkess went on: “The side cannot get into any sort of routine either because our campaign has been so stop-start. Some clubs have had eight or nine home matches under their belt already. The team are feeling it too. There is no continuity nor is there any atmosphere and build-up amongst the riders.

“And that is very important for momentum which we haven’t been able to enjoy because we never meet as a team thanks to the weather.

“On Friday, less than half the team were there with the others having turned back en route. The riders get very frustrated too. They spend a whole day travelling then have to return home and they aren’t earning money either.”

On track, Monarchs are very keen to pick up something against the Tigers to help them climb into a top-six play-off spot. Monarchs were well beaten 56-37 in the League Cup at Ashfield earlier in the season and know it won’t be any easier this time with the Tigers nigh unstoppable around their own circuit.

Said Harkess: “That League Cup fixture came very early for us and I think it was our first meeting of 2016. Glasgow are going well because they are having a good run with fixtures which they are getting on and this helps to a big degree.”

Harkess rejected suggestions that Monarchs could be fall guys in front of the live Sky Sports TV cameras tonight, saying: “Certainly not. We go everywhere hoping to come away with something. We know our top four riders will be at their very best and the rest must try and contribute something. If they can do that we might come away with a point.”

For Monarchs’ recent signing Mark Riss, it will be his first taste of a Scottish derby atmosphere and Harkess conceded the promising German star may well find the pace too hot to handle.

Harkess said: “I’m sure he will struggle but even if he gets two or three points and some third places that’s all we need from him which would be fine.”

Glasgow captain and former Monarch Aaron Summers says tonight is the biggest meeting of the season so far for Tigers.

“Monarchs have been very successful over the last three years and defeated us last season in both the League Cup and Play-off Grand Finals and that was hard for our fans to take.

“But we know we can beat them at Ashfield and our team have been made aware that this is the biggest meeting so far of the season for us.”