Match Report by Neil Magee
Sunday 13th March
EDINBURGH v NORTHUMBRIA (Northern League)
With Northumbria's top man Gavin Parr having rather burned himself doing a massive coast to coast ride for charity the previous day (on a tandem no less) and Dan Wharrier having also joined in the ride, there was little strength left in the legs to compete with home top men. Even with a fully fit squad however, the Vikings might have struggled to have troubled a very strong looking Edinburgh side. Middle order pairing Jason Keith and Terry Kirkup performed well, while Michael Parr also managed a heat win, but otherwise it was very much the Falcons on top. Mikey Hewitson rode to an effortless maximum, Jake Slight also looking back on his top pace, while there was the usual determined effort from Neil Swanson and Marcin Czarkowski in backing up heat leaders Craig Newsome and Neil McPherson. When is it considered that Gavin's tandem ride partner Jason Burke, supervet Lee Lawrence and perhaps Kamil Greszla are to come into this squad, then Edinburgh must considered once again a team that will challenge at the top of the league this season.
EDINBURGH: Mikey Hewitson 20, Jake Slight 17, Craig Newsome 14+3, Marcin Czarkowski 14, Neil Swanson 14, Neil McPherson 13+2, Dougie Morgan 6+1, Dode Mitchell 1
NORTHUMBRIA: Jason Keith 15+1, Michael Parr 13, Terry Kirkup 12+1, Dan Redshaw 12, Gavin Parr 10+3, Daniel Wharrier 7+1, Dan Thompson 5, Andy Knowles 3
Vikings' super-proud Team Manager, Neil Magee poses with his two shining young stars and match winners, Lee Redshaw and Bradley Stansfield
This was brilliant and close match with easily the best racing of the day and several eye catching debuts. For the Falcons Taylor Murray excelled as he blasted away to win heat 1, with fellow youngster Lewis Foxley also looking very rapid and a ride to watch out for in coming years. The Northumbria heat leaders were able to get on top later, with Dan Redshaw unbeaten and veterans Keith Oldham and Andy Knowles dropping only three points between them, but as they later tired it looked like it would be very close until some back up and a little luck arrived to boost the Vikings. Certainly the visitors were lucky to gain an advantage as the engine room of the side Dan Thompson and Paul Thompson pounced when Alisdair Foxley fell heavily in heat 9, but it was the introduction of two youngsters that would turn the meeting in their favour. Lee Redshaw has been improving in practice over the last year, the youngster now showing he has what it takes at a higher level with a win in heat 14 sealing the victory for Northumbria, while fellow reserve Bradley Stansfield was making his debut in Div 2, he having a very exciting meeting with lots of passing, a crash then and some very crucial additional points for his new team.
EDINBURGH: Taylor Murray 16+1, Lewis Foxley 16, Dougie Morgan 14+1, Dode Mitchell 14+1, Skye Mitchell 5, James Foxley 6, Alisdare Foxley 4, Ciaran Leslie dnr
NORTHUMBRIA: Dan Redshaw 15+1, Keith Oldham 14, Dan Thompson 13+2, Andy Knowles 11, Paul Thompson 9+1, Lee Redshaw 9, Bradley Stansfield 6+1, Neil Magee 1
Lee Redshaw and Bradley Stansfield followed on from their Div 2 heroics, by almost snatching the league points, despite Northumbria being outnumbered 5 to 3 by the home side. Sam Stansfield also impressed in support, but a tough schedule of rides all close together got the better of the youngster, he having to miss his last ride after a fall. With Riley Dinnes leading the way, the Falcons strength in numbers paid off, the contributions of all the squad including little Ben Foxley, vital in adding to their teams total as they just got home for a narrow win.
EDINBURGH: Riley Dinnes 14, Ciaran Leslie 9, James Foxley 9, Gemma McPherson 6, Ben Foxley 4
NORTHUMBRIA: Lee Redshaw 16, Bradley Stansfield 13, Sam Stansfield 8
Even having to draft in Division two rider Dode Mitchell and "retired" and untested Dougie Morgan couldn't reduce the power of the Falcons today as they blitzed us out of the gate or from the back when necessary. While the amazingly quick Mikey was fully expected to dominate and did so, Jake and Craig turned in powerhouse performances while Marcin looks like he's upped his game big style from last season. We were indeed fortunate that Craig and Swanny both tipped off early on (I shut my eyes for Neil's - he doesn't deserve any more misfortune) but it didn't do us much good. Poor first bend performance looks like it's going to be our downfall yet again this year and apart from Mick, Jason and Gavin I can't see any better gating prospects.
I have to say that the handful of Falcons (four of them, I believe) who worked tirelessly on the track following their Wednesfield friendly opener, and some really shabby weather since, did a fantastic job in preparing it for today's meeting. At frst sight it looked a trifle rough, very loose, potentially quite heavy and slippery. In reality however, the way it rode was the exact opposite of my expectations and for someone who likes a blast whether inside or out (OK I know I'm several mph down on the youngsters!) it was heavenly, a proper racer's track. We were all agreed on that. Well done indeed boys.
The Division Two match provided much more enjoyment for us (nothing to do with the victory we grasped) as race after race provided great entertainment, regardless of whether it was old warhorses or new debutants on both teams. Much credit must go to defending Division Two Champions Edinburgh who could perhaps have fielded a stronger side but gave their new talent some much needed race experience. New finding Taylor Murray looks exactly the kind of new rider we so are desperate to find. The performances of our three youngest, Daniel, Lee and Bradley were heartening and a good indicator of where our future may lie until we can attract a few more under 16 riders.
Again in Division Three there were outstanding rides from every one of the very young competitors with plenty of vocal support. While Lee could afford to take his foot off the gas and realax after his mammoth Div 2 display he continues to develop as our brightest prospect since we started up at Cramlington. With a bit more fuel in his legs we may be seeing a British Under 13 podium chaser here. In the immediate future we desperately need to find another few Lees and Bradleys.
Finally a few Thank Yous are in order:- Jason for once again resuming the utterly thankless task of chauffering the bulk of the squad in my bus, John and Steve for ferrying their very successful young offspring up north today, Andy for once again showing extraordinary committment to the Vikings, Keith Dyer and Jimmy Smith for their continuing travelling support and the Falcons for their superb warm welcome and hospitality.