The Monarchs took to the track in a season opening challenge fixture against the long distance travelling Edinburgh Falcons.
The 2nd team took to track first. We needed to use Falcons rider Mark Lee to make up the numbers. The more experienced senior riders proved too strong for a line up of Under 16 year old Monarch riders. Ewan Hancox top scored for the Monarchs with some determined battling for points, whilst Mark Phipps earned a cheer for a battling 2nd in heat 8 over the experienced Paul Kelly – who too be fair allowed Mark to challenge him, only for Mark to take away his racing on the home straight!
Our guest for the day Mark Lee took 2 races before having to pull out through injury.
The rain fell steadily through the match so congratulations to all the riders for battling on through the conditions.
2nd Team meeting
BIRMINGHAM MONARCHS 47 – Hancox 16(5), Reece Winwood 11(5), Mark Phipps 6(4), Ryan Winwood 5(4), Mark Lee 5(2), Connor Steele 4(4)
EDINBURGH FALCONS 81 – Neil Swanson 16(4), Douglas Morgan 16(4), Marcin Czarkowski 14+2(4), Callum Cairney 13+1(5), Paul Kelly 10+2(4), Shaun Hewitson 9(5).
The Senior team meeting proved to be a closer one till the latter stages. Guest riders for Birmingham Dave Ball and Lee Kemp opened with a hard fought 7-3 in heat 1.
Six drawn heats followed with Monarchs top riders winning the races. A tough heat 8 saw Monarchs Nathan Groves taking a wide gap left by both Falcon riders which resulted in Falcons Jake Slight taking a heavy tumble. As the race had entered its last lap the race was awarded which meant the Monarchs had extended the lead to 42-37.
The reply from the Falcons was swift as they took maximum points next time out in the 9th, taking advantage of a 2nd bend tumble for Mark Winwood and just after the break they took another maximum after comeback rider Andy James slipped off when in the lead under pressure. The Falcons had now taken the lead for the first time in the match at 48-51.
A run of 3 drawn heats followed before the visitors took another maximum over a weaker Monarch pairing of Widdas & Reece Winwood. 66-73 with four heats remaining.
Groves was a comfortable winner of Heat 15 in a drawn heat before a possible last charge from the home side that saw the 16th secure a 7-3 with Winwood and Kemp racing to victory.
However it was game over in the 17th for the home side. Dave Ball had done a brilliant job to keep McPherson at bay for just over three laps, however Widdas, tiring with every lap, was passed by both on the 1st bend on the last lap with Ball deliberately giving his rival no room to race down the back straight – the ref had no other option than to exclude Ball.
With the match all sown up Groves won the final heat but victory went to the solid Scots. Newsome and Hewitson as expected were a handful as they raced to paid 18 apiece but had solid back throughout. Their reserves Swanson and Morgan raced to paid 21 between then whilst in contrast Monarchs junior rider Reece Winwood and Hancox scored half that with 10 in total.
Winwood as expected was impressive – his only blot on the day was a fall but was otherwise untouched whilst Groves impressed with 17.
Ball as always gives 100% whilst Lee Kemp has shown that the hard work of training in the winter has paid off as he raced to an impressive paid 18 score. An out of retirement Andy James showed he had lost none of his skill but lack of fitness and some bad luck on the day meant he finished with 5 duck eggs. However it was not a true reflection of his efforts on the day.
The weather and rain held out for the 2nd match, the track tho heavy, held up pretty well considering the weather we have had in the Midlands in recent weeks.
1st team meeting
BIRMINGHAM MONARCHS 85 – Nathan Groves 17+1(5), Mark Winwood 17(5), Lee Kemp 16+2(5), Dave Ball 12+2(5), Phil Widdas 9+1(5), Andy James 5(5), Reece Winwood 5(3), Ewan Hancox 5(3)
EDINBURGH FALCONS 93 – Craig Newsome 17+1(5), Mikey Hewitson 17+1(5), Marcin Czarkowski 12+2(5), Kamil Greszla 11+2(5), Neil McPherson 10+2(5), Douglas Morgan 10+1(3), Neil Swanson 9+1(3).