match Report by Neil Magee
Sunday 18th October
NORTHUMBRIA VIKINGS v SHEFFIELD ROCKETS
Northumbria must surely feel somewhat disappointed to have lost their final league meeting of 2015, an exclusion at the tapes for Jason Keith and a later fall for Daniel Wharrier costing them dearly. With Michael Parr missing from the line up due to injury, the Vikings needed everyone to be on their game and putting in maximum effort to compensate, Wharrier at least certainly stepping it up as he finished the season strongly. Gavin Parr rode to yet another untroubled and unbeaten score to overhaul Pawel Idziorek as the top averaging rider in the northern league, having done the same against the same opposition a mere quarter of a century ago. For Sheffield meanwhile, Joe Twigg confirmed just why he must surely take the best newcomer of the season's plaudits, solid back up from Jason Burke and the Mortons enough to take the Rockets on to the win, while Matt Parrot would have scored more but for his own fall late on.
NORTHUMBRIA: Gavin Parr 19+1, Jason Keith 16, Dan Wharrier 14, Shane Gray 9, Terry Kirkup 8, Andy Knowles 7, Dan Redshaw 7, Dan Thompson 4+1
SHEFFIELD: Joe Twigg 16+1, Ed Morton 15, Matt Parrott 15, Jason Burke 14+3, Niall Morton 14+3, Simon Gamble 12+3, Luke Morton 7+1, Daniel Rushton 2
Sheffield hung to an early lead to win narrowly, the Vikings unable to pull back after going behind to a 7-3 in heat 1 as Dean Douglas fell and was excluded when trying to chase down top Rocket Joe Twigg. Matthew Newman made a steady debut, but as one rider begins we may have seen the last of Liam Robinson as after struggling to master the sport so far, the local lad ended up being involved in a three man crash that did little to improve his looks, a nasty facial injury the result. The Rockets probably won due to some solid work in the engine room of the team being provided by Niamh Morton and Sophie Middleton, they involved in several of the best races of the meeting as they battled the home top men.
NORTHUMBRIA: Dean Douglas 14+2, Shane Gray 13, Dan Thompson 12+2, Dan Redshaw 11, Matthew Newman 8+1, Paul Thompson 7+1, Liam Robinson 6+1, Lee Redshaw 2
SHEFFIELD: Sophie Middleton 15, Niamh Morton 14+3, Joe Twigg 13, Ed Morton 11, Jack Brownell 7+1, Daniel Rushton 6+1, Kielan Burton 5, Niall Morton 4
The biggest turn out of Div 3 riders yet seen at the Cramlington track, helped Northumbria to a win over the Rockets, they tracking nine riders to Sheffield's eight. Lee Redshaw was superb in riding to an unbeaten 20 points, he the only man to beat Jack Brownell. There was some great racing from the youngsters throughout, they providing a fitting end to the day and indeed the season.
NORTHUMBRIA: Lee Redshaw 20, Connor Heaton 16, Travis Falcon 15, Josh Davies 14, Lewis Petre 13, Sam Stansfield 12, Bradley Bowman 7, Bradley Falcon 10, Declan Falcon 10
SHEFFIELD: Jack Brownell 19, Kielan Burton 18, Joe Brownell 16, KD Gittins 12
All I can say is thank goodness Jason Keith rode through the pain barrier otherwise it would have been just the immaculate Gavin Parr and Dan Wharrier v Sheffield. While Jason got yet another gate exclusion, a trait he's suffered from over the latter half of this season, there was some justification for this one. He'd tried practice starts before the match and found it very uncomfortable after that horrific spill last Tuesday night. Perhaps I shouldn't have put extra pressure on him by taking grid one in our first race together but I was confident we could both get away, and I was also confident I might not join him if I'd taken grid three! Once that little slip was over he was his usual super self.
Dan Wharrier was on fire, again, and he's upped his game recently. Lady Luck wasn't completely on his side today though and he lost a certain second place when spilling coming out of turn two but other than that, and a bit of the usual frustration showing at Sheffield's wide-riding and slow motion tactics he performed superbly. Only Shane Gray offered any stout resistance in support being a bit unlucky not to score a few more in a very creditable display, maybe his first in Division One? To think we only needed a six point swing to take the match points, and myself and Dan Redshaw should have scored those but were both pathetic, and not for the first time. Why can't we find a Morton, Parrot or Twigg up here?
Well, maybe we can. Division Two resulted in another defeat to a great young Sheffield side but this time we had a few more triers on track with Dean Douglas outstanding, Dan Thompson looking quick again and new boy Matthew Newman performing superbly in his baptism of fire so well done to all three of them. And well done to Team Manager Neil Magee and to Dan Wharrier for having the latter stand down from this one, now at last surely too good for second division racing if we have enough other riders.
The Divison Three racing was enthralling, the youngsters from both clubs doing an outstanding job and also creating some excitement for the fairly decent number of supporters spread out around the track perimeter. My old mate Colin Grant's bunch of grandsons made the difference to the team win although this is really about individual racing. Well done to all and especially newcomers Connor and Josh, recent school and Rock Up & Ride recruits.