Vikings Secretary and Team Manager, Neil Magee records his thoughts: Photos from Linda Mulvey.
Northern League, Stockport v Northumbria Vikings, Sunday 30th March 2014 @ St Thomas' Park
Northumbria were able to give an excellent account of themselves as they made the tough visit to the home of the league champions, Gavin Parr leading the way with a faultless full maximum which he completed in heat 20, the captain sheparding Mark Mulvey home for a 7-3 for the Vikings. Gavin's work with the younger rides in training is also clearly beginning to pay real dividends, Daniel Wharrier in paticular looking good today as his partnership with Jason Keith begins to bear fruit. Jason himself is also showing he can learn and improve, producing one of his most inteligent rides ever in heat 12 to beat home No.1 Jack Lush, while Michael Parr was both strong and this time steady throughout, racking up a decent score rather than more bruises as a result.
STOCKPORT: Matt Lush 16+3, Jack Lush 15+1, Chris Eaton 15, Terry Norman 12+2, Ben Higham 11+1, Ryan Harrison 11, Joe Pickford 10+1, Connor Simpson 10
NORTHUMBRIA: Gavin Parr 20, Michael Parr 14, Jason Keith 12+1, Mark Mulvey 10+2, Daniel Wharrier 10, Scott Latimer 6+1, Dan Redshaw 6, Terry Kirkup 2
Once again Mark was carrying the aftermath of last week's early injury to his shoulder, restricting his speed from the gate, but he didn't let that interfere with some fantastic effort on his part, culminating in that pulsating finish to the match when he kept the wheels churning out front of rapidly advancing opposition for four hectic laps before Gavin allowed him to take a breather just before the line! Michael had to do a lot of chasing when faced with the fantastic gating prowess of Stockport's young superstars but chase he did, and safely in this one, not a single crash to his name while also being a bit sore from the Sheffield match! And Jason was his usual self, quietly knocking up the points wherever he could while like Mick not gating as rapidly as usual. For once there was no need to deliberate on who most deserved Man of the Match, and Gavin was in no mood to surrender that particular title today. The result was a magnificent 20 pointer which included at least three partner assists along the way which could have seen him in trouble risking his inside gates against such rapid accelerators as Stockport's big guns for the sake of the team. His last heat shepherding of Mark was brilliant. But it was behind our own Big Four that most of the unexpected effort came with Scott and the Dans pulling out all the stops to remain competitive in all positions.
Conclusion - Who can stop these Stockport whizkids from winning the League yet again? I suspect no-one can.
With Stockport tracking three of their first team riders, plus three young juniors, Northumbria knew they had only to start beating the home top trio now and then to claim the win. Leading the way in achieving this was Dan Redshaw who formed a 'dynamic duo' (DD) partnership with Daniel Wharrier, with Terry Kirkup and Jim Graham also going well in a more sedate but skilled partnership of their own. Andy Knowles easily achieved his target of averaging 2nd places, proving once again to be a top team rider including an excellent last ride when he got his partner (Jim) away for a good win, while Scott Latimer was once again in the wars and unsettled at times before eventually calming down to finish with a couple of well ridden second places.
STOCKPORT: Joe Pickford 18, Connor Simpson 17, Ryan Harrison 15, Georgina Healey 7, James Barry 5, Cian Simpson 5
NORTHUMBRIA: Dan Redshaw 19, Jim Graham 13+3, Daniel Wharrier 13+2, Andy Knowles 12+3, Terry Kirkup 12+1, Scott Latimer 12+1, Neil Magee 2+1
Once again I got to relive a dream and bring the past back to life when partnered with my old Newcastle and South Shields teammate Jim Graham. I just hope our ace photographer Linda Mulvey managed to capture us teamriding together, (or trying to!) as that would be something to treasure. And with Jimmy riding on legs he'd borrowed from an overnight dream, he did a brilliant job of maintaining his pace in the final heat for a fantastic win, so well deserved from the man who simply loves his Sport, says nowt, grins and just gets on with it. It's a shame his grandson Dan was there to top score today as I'd have loved to see Jimmy's name appear first on the scoresheet as it did so many times for us in the 1960s, but I'm sure he'll treasure this superb performance at the home of the North's strongest club so many years later.
A pair of Dans strike for the lead
And speaking of young Dan, we thought we'd seen a few glimpses this year of what we hoped he was capable of, and today he confirmed it with some much more spirited and determined riding. And apart from a slight moment of raised adrenalin from our tallest rider, both Scott and Daniel once again showed a tremendous level of improvement which is becoming measurable in every meeting this year, so well done indeed to both of them. If I had to award a Teamplayer accolade I'd have no hesitation on presenting it to our Sheffield-born, Middlesboro-based track craft expert Andy Knowles. Andy once again showed a level of teamwork that was completely unselfish and biassed only towards getting his mate up there with him, whatever the cost to himself. He was s real credit to himself last year and continues to be a valuable asset in 2014. Just a shame he has to spend so much time sitting in a car which isn't the best way to train for Cycle Speedway!