Lakeside to carry on at Rye?
LAKESIDE promoter Jon Cook wants the club to stay at Rye House — and remain in the Championship.
He said an agreement is in place with BMR for the Hammers to continue.
And Cook, after his first year promoting in the second tier, said he wished he’d been running at that level for the last decade.
The Hammers’ lateseason switch from Arena has been beset by problems, yet Lakeside reached the play-off and Shield finals.
“The season itself is proving the most challenging any club could face, bar none,” said the experienced promoter.
“We’ve been dogged by a succession of bad luck from having to run two double-headers, Peterborough’s decision to choose us (in the play-offs) which meant we’ve raced four or five times against them, two rain-offs and a meeting with electrical light failure.
“We’ve had to run on a Wednesday, on a Friday. So the jury’s out on what the move to Rye means in terms of crowd support.
“But it’s a superbly-appointed facility and it needs a speedway team in it. Obviously that option is us, thanks to the relationship we’ve got with Warren (Scott) and Steve (Jenson).
“Undoubtedly. This is a great tier,” he said. “This is my first year’s experience in the tier and I wish I’d been in this tier for the last 10 years.
“The quality of racing, the camaraderie, it’s like the top league was 25 years ago. I think this is the league that can point the direction for speedway’s salvation. I genuinely believe that.
“Probably bar one track, you can probably fall out with everyone one day and be friends the next!
“Rob Godfrey (BSPA vicechairman) is a person in point; the amount of fall-outs and make-ups we’ve had all season! There’s been times when he actually, quite quietly, has come to our rescue in different ways.
WORKINGTON could take on any Premiership team at Derwent Park, reckons co-promoter Steve Whitehead.
Hurdling the 60-point barrier for the fifth time this season gave them Grand Final victory over Lakeside despite a 10point loss in the first leg at Rye House.
And Whitehead, brother to club owner Laura Morgan, reckons the Comets are now nigh-on untouchable on their own shale.
“I knew we could do it, but there was always that little bit of doubt,” he said. “Ten points and you’ve got riders like Rich Lawson and Nick Morris, and you just think, ‘can we do it?’ But the guys at home have been so awesome; we never should have doubted them really.
“Steve (Lawson) has done a fantastic job getting the track the way they like it.
“I’d actually challenge any team from our league – and the league above us – to come and try to beat us down here. I just think we are getting to the point where we are untouchable – I know it’s a bit bigheaded, but I think we’ve got the balance of them being able to ride this so superbly. And we’ve proved it.
Comets riders Nicolai Klindt, Rene Bach and Rasmus Jensen celebrate the title. Picture: DAVE PAYNE
“I went down to Rye House and that was tough. You travel all the way back up and we probably spent two hours of it going through all the different permutations – if their top three score decent points, they only need...
“I know he’s painted as a pantomime villain by some of our fans but he, in truth, has probably been the most helpful person in facilitating our move.
“It’s certainly our intention to make sure speedway is here — and here for next season and beyond. To that end, we’ve obviously got an agreement in place with them.
“But then you come here and we just hit them hard again. That’s all the boys did and that’s all they’ve done all season – when we needed it, they stepped up.”
“It’s just that we’ve got to gauge what size of club we can build.”
“The only area in which we have been lucky is that at least, generally, the riders have been fit.
Title glory has offset a season of off-track struggle which Whitehead said pushed Morgan close to quitting.
Cook said work continues on trying to take speedway back to Essex, but added: “That’s going to be years, not a year.
“And we’ve had the absolute joy of dealing with the seven riders who, to a man, have been absolutely fantastic.
“Against all the odds, against everything that has gone on this year,” added Whitehead. “Halfway through the year, when they withdrew all our Friday night fixtures, we had a strong conversation where Laura said to me, ‘how much will it cost me if I just jack it now?’
“So we have got to have a good think about the longer-term way forward.”
“So obviously we would like to go again. And we would like to have the majority of those guys back — and I know, to a man, they would like to be back as well.”
“I said, ‘sleep on it’ and we spoke the following day. She said, ‘no, I’m not letting them get me down, we’ll see if we can win’. A fantastic feeling. I’m so pleased for Laura.”
Without second-guessing the sport’s forthcoming AGM, does Cook see that future in the Championship?
Yet within minutes of clinching the title, Whitehead targeted the
Report: TIM HAMBLIN
NL CROWN FOR EAGLES... turn to pages 38-39
next achievement – a Shield success, and with it the treble.
“Tomorrow we go again. We’re going for the treble now,” he said. “We’re here to prove a point and we’re going to turn to everybody and say, ‘you can’t keep us down’.
“These fans have been with us for the last six years; they were with Keith Denham previously. They are die-hard fans.
“I just want to compliment Lakeside – so sporting and gracious in defeat. The fact that it was Lakeside or Peterborough in the final with us put a little bit of a wry smile on people’s faces after what went on during the season. We just felt it was all against us.
“And Lakeside have been gracious – I spoke to Jon Cook last night and he basically said he was so pleased it was us.”
Report: TIM HAMBLIN
November 3, 2018 speedway star 3