match report by Neil Magee:
Sunday 7th June
NORTHUMBRIA VIKINGS v ASTLEY & TYLDESLEY
Northern League Division 1
ASTLEY & TYLDESLEY 94
What a meeting full of incident this was, Astley pulling ahead early on and battling hard throughout the contest which was fought in a no holds barred but utterly sporting manner throughout.
Where do we begin with this report ? Perhaps rather than the usual concise flavour of the days racing, we'll this time just re-cap and list the myriad events of this epic meeting. Michael Parr almost predictably lost his no crash record for the season after clashing with Mark Mulvey in heat 1, but little did we know then that would be the least of the days pile ups.
After a stong start for the visitors to lead 18-12, crash 2 saw Lee Phillips lose it when front in heat 4, Keith Oldham's front wheel right up his jacksy the reward! This heat followed a superb one lap dash from third to first by Gavin Parr in heat 3. Paul Graham was excluded for moving at the start of heat 5, but the returning former Viking Mark Mulvey won to maintain his new side's advantage. Gavin Parr then just made it through inside Radek Handke in heat 6, Handke having forced the home skipper over the kerb and both riders doing a remarkable job to stay on board in a typically forceful corner by Parr. A win for the very quick looking Reece Pollitt was then followed by a 7-3 for Paul Graham and Damien Zareba as Astley looked to take control of the meeting, a 43-35 lead being racked up by this point.
Gavin Parr then repeated his inside move on Handke in heat 9, with more grass (or astro turf at this venue) tracking needed to make it through however, both riders giving there all, but in a totally fair manner it must be said. Paul Graham won the first race after the interval to keep his team's 9 point lead, Pollitt winning the next as the Vikings other than their skipper struggled for heat wins.
Heat 12 saw another big clash as Michael Parr raced around the outside of Handke, both riders crashing big time in a very spectacular pile up, all four the eventual decision, but Parr forced out of the meeting after being shaken by his latest heavy fall. Next up was the big showdown between Gavin Parr and Damien Zareba, the Pole eventually finding the extra speed to manoeuvre inside of Parr, but then slipping off bringing both down before he could complete the turn, the Astley man excluded being the final outcome.
Heat 14 saw another massive get off, Astley team manager Paul Graham this time on the receiving end as Keith Oldham's bike locked up with his, throwing him face first at considerable force into the hard packed shale down the back straight. We were all pleased to see him get up from that one after some delay, Lee Phillips having to replace him in a re-run which was won by Jason Keith. Gavin Parr completed his maximum in heat 16, this time with slightly less drama to see off Zareba, but with a 9 point gap and 2 heats remaining Astley could now relax in terms of the league points. Jason Keith produced an excellent pass in heat 17 on Pollitt as the afternoon's entertainment continued, Dan Redshaw then gaining some consolation also for the home side with a heat 18 win.
It really must be said on this occasion, well done to all involved for producing such a competitive meeting, with absolutely no problems at all ever between the two teams riders, everything the sport should be about.
NORTHUMBRIA: Gavin Parr 20, Jason Keith 14+1, Daniel Wharrier 12+1, Dan Redshaw 10, Terry Kirkup 9, Andy Knowles 7+1, Michael Parr 7, Keith Oldham 4+1
ASTLEY & TYLDESLEY: Radek Handke 17+1, Reece Pollitt 16+1, Damien Zareba 14+1, Mark Mulvey 13+1, Luke Jamson 11+1, Ciaran Collins 9+1, Paul Graham 8, Lee Phillps 6+1
Northern League Division 2
ASTLEY & TYLDESLEY 90
Astley were again the stronger side in the Div 2 encounter, but sadly again the Northumbria treasurer will have to dig deep into the clubs funds, to replace a now sadly depleted first aid kit after yet more big crashes! Heat 5 saw the worst of the falls, Paul Thompson having only to cruise round for the points after Ciaran Collins returned to pits having moved at the start, but Thompson instead sliding off in front of team mate Liam Robinson who injured his arm in the latest bash up, having ridden over his stricken team mate. Archie Freeman then joined in the days crash-a-rama, being excluded following a painful looking fall in heat 6.
The visitors had two riders on maximums by the end, Gareth Paine riding to a full 20 points and a very impressive and again sporting Max Evans also unbeaten. In support Jon Quarmby was only headed once, while Collins other than his heat 5 miss out was also never headed and young John White was also very impressive. For Northumbria, Shane Gray enjoyed a return to competitive team action in the sport after a gap of over 30 years, while motor speedway rider for Newcastle's junior team Dean Douglas top scored beginning with a very fast ride for a win and then chasing hard on the top visitors thereafter.
NORTHUMBRIA: Dean Douglas 13+1, Shane Gray 12+1, Keith Oldham 10, Dan Thompson 7+1, Paul Thompson 7, Lee Redshaw 3, Archie Freeman 3, Liam Robinson 1
ASTLEY & TYLDESLEY: Gareth Paine 20, Jon Quarmby 18+1, Max Evans 17+3, Ciaran Collins 14+2, John White 14+1, Joe Quarmby 7
Northern League Division 3
ASTLEY & TYLDESLEY 47
An enjoyable end to the day saw the two club's youngest serve up another treat of excellent racing, the four lads of Astley getting the win against the Vikings junior trio. Joe Quarmby and John White lead the scoring for the visitors, with Max Evans just losing out after being pipped on the line by Archie Freeman in his final ride. Lee Redshaw was his usual consistent self at this level for Northumbria, while Lewis Petre took three third places including a great effort to stay ahead of Max Quarmby in his final ride.
NORTHUMBRIA: Lee Redshaw 11, Archie Freeman 11, Lewis Petre 7
ASTLEY & TYLDESLEY: Joe Quarmby 15, John White 14, Max Evans 10, Max Quamrby 8
I know I'm like a stuck record (if anyone still knows what one of those is?) but I say again, a team whose average age is over twice that of the opposition shouldn't be as competitive as this! And that remaining competitiveness can of course bring about the odd problem as it did today. I'd probably disagree, but only slightly with Neil about the sporting nature of the Division One encounter with at least one episode worthy of a GBH charge for a virtual attack on a veteran rider who just races for the fun of it and never looks for trouble. I never like to see anyone hurt but I think Justice was done on this occasion with the perpetrator coming off the worst.
It's also a very old cliché but the Referee can never be right, at least not to everyones' liking and so it proved once again. The Elite League standard was on display here for all to see and it is hard - very hard - but it was good to see the eventual acceptance of most of the tricky judging decisions and handshakes afterwards but very sad to see the opposite. While the Polish response to wrong-doing was to retire quietly to a corner of the pits and remove a racing shirt, the English one was to explode violently and very publicly. I'd hope for an apology some time. We'll never attract new riders with this kind of display and I know it put at least one new lad off. There are even signs of unsporting filth creeping into Divison Three for Goodness' sake.
Another thing we'll never attract is a Referee, and the omens are bad for me as I would prefer to continue racing for the Vikings team as long as I can rather than being virtually blackmailed into having to pack it in to referee instead, but as the oldest rider/ref and hence the oddball I'd be favourite for the vacant post.
Only a couple of highlights today for me: getting in Reece's way for a few laps, the craic with Lee Phillips, and seeing Mark and Linda again and feeling happy that Cechu seems a bit fitter and healthier now.
Long Live the Euro-Vets.