Report by Keith Dyer, pic by Craig Masson?
Northumbria took on Glasgow and Fife in two North and Scotland League Division 2 clashes.
First up were Glasgow, who unfortunately raced with just five riders. The result was never in doubt as the home side took a 7-3 lead in heat 1, and increased their lead gradually and ended the meeting leading by 30 points 87-57.
Glasgow had the top man on show in Andy MacDougall with 4 wins, only a fall in heat 12 dented his score, although he remounted for second place.
Northumbria used 10 riders, with all riders contributing. Top man was JP Colback in his first full season scoring 17+2. Also taking the eyr was Paul Thompson with a career best of 14+3.
John Wilson 6 (2), Lee Redshaw 10+1 (3), Keith Oldham 7 (2), Paul Thompson 14+3 (5), Andy Knowles 6+2 (3), JP Colback17+2 (5), Bradley Stansfield 7 (3), Jordan Smith 7 (2), Dean Ilderton 7 (2),Norman Carson 6+2 (2).
Chic Mackie 6, Lachlan McDougall 9, Joe Beukmann 14+1, Colin Gray 9, Andy MacDougall 19
Referee – Terry Kirkup
Next up were Fife Revolutions. In their debut season they have started in magnificent style and the stage was set for a close meeting, with Fife probably starting as favourites. What followed was what was the best meetings seen at Cramlington for a long time.
Wilson and Redshaw took a 7-3 in the first heat, only for Fife to return the complement in heat 2 with Vas Hill and James Keenlyside. Vikings went back in the lead until heat 5 when Hardie and Hill took maximum points.
Harry Langdale then had a tape exclusion and Northumbria took a 7-3 and lead. The score after 8 heats was all square at 39-39. The final seven heats saw five drawn heats and two 6-4s to Northumbria.
There's more praise to heap though, so I'll continue! First with Paul Thompson who, not for the first time since our restart this year overshadowed his son Daniel with a massive 18 point haul and second top scorer spot, really great to see and so well deserved after an almost-retirement following injury last year. Next up comes
John Wilson and Lee Redshaw sensibly sat behind Craig Hardie to see Northumbria home by four points. Unluckiest rider was Fife’s Vas Hill in heat 7 when his chain snapped while in second place to partner Keenlyside.
Top man for Northumbria was John Wilson who has started the year on fire with a paid 19, while For Fife top man was Craig Hardie with 18.
Congratulations to both teams on a fabulous display.
John Wilson 18+1(5), Lee Redshaw 13+1(5), Keith Oldham 9+2(4), Shane Gray 16+1(5), Andy Knowles 8(4),Bradley Stansfield 1(1) Dan Thompson 1(1), Jordan Smith 8+2, Dean Ilberton 2(1), Rich Smith DNR
Craig Hardie 18, Jake Ferguson 8(4), Vas Hill 9+2, James Keenlyside 17+1,John Hutton 11+1, Harry Langdale 8, Brandon Aronu 1(1), Alex McLeod DNR
Wow! While we may have anticipated a close match against a full Glasgow side with many of our old squad looking dead slow just now, it was a weaker one which turned up at the AstroDrome today and their hard-trying quintet suffered the consequences against a better performing decagonal Vikings line-up.
So, a half-expected victory against Glasgow, but it could have been different with a few more riders in their side. However my old Three Rivers teammates tried as hard as they could, the early matches taking a heavy toll on leg power as it is with our own more established Division Two riders. There was, however, plenty of interest and some good exchanges as the match went on. In fact there was plenty of passing with those more successful doing there stuff from behind as well as from the gate. As expected, Andy Macdougall was top performer as ever for the Cyclones with Joe next best, again as expected but once again Colin Gray tried his heart out with Lachlan MacDougall and wise old Chic Mackie hunting for crumbs as ever.
A Proud Moment
Today was a proud moment for Yours Truly when, after many moons trying, I managed to persuade another of my Mountain Biking colleagues to have a go at CS. Another? Yes, the first was Dan Wharrier and he became a decent rider. I'm hoping my latest "protege" Dean Ilderton will do likewise after a stunning debut the previous Tuesday evening at training and backing it up with a nervous but extremely fruitful start in League racing today. Dean actually rode to the track today the twelve or so miles from his Lynemouth, Northumberland home, so keen was he to give it a shot - quite remarkable for a newbie - but I hope he thinks it was worth it after a super display.
Even with so many riders to choose from (that sounds crazy, we only just scraped a team to go to Sheffield!) I think we were lucky that John Wilson was available for his first run out of 2017. He's looked good ever since returning for the indoor sessions and also won the opening outdoor individual "Cramlington Crown". Let's hope the new atmosphere of calm keeps him interested for the whole season. John's mere presence and availability was enough to cancel out any possibility of Andy MacDougall teamriding his mates home.
While these two were noteworthy, possibly more so were the performances of Lee Redshaw and JP Colback. Lee, youngest rider in the field, dropped just one point against Glasgow's Big Lads while JP got 19 out of 20 with some super passing and decent starts, a really outstanding AND top-scoring effort considering a) his experience and b) his age! JP is still looking for the ideal bike setup after a good old spend on a new Mielec but looked very good on this occasion regardless.
There's more praise to heap though, so I'll continue! First with Paul Thompson who, not for the first time since our restart this year overshadowed his son Daniel with a massive 18 point haul and second top scorer spot, really great to see and so well deserved after almost retiring following injury last year. Next up comes Jordan Smith dropping a single point and looking much sharper than on his Tuesday night sessions, great to see some major improvement here and he didn't let the writing-off of his first bike stall him, jumping straight onto the web with an offer for a second-hand Mielec which should suit him much better. Evergreen Keith Oldham also took two rides for 7 points to firm up the middle order in a good win for the Vikings. But I'm still not finished, as our all-action 1960's skipper Norman Carson barnstormed his way to a 2 ride maximum to maintain his top slot in the Vikings' Division Two averages at 67 years old! A hard day indeed for my Glaswegian buddies but welcome relief for Team Manager Neil Magee after two bouts of "nil points".
Before I run I must say it was great to see our champ Gavin Parr turn up to watch this one, and even better to have him doing the announcing for the Fife encounter and keeping everyone entertained with some lively race commentary.
A somewhat different match awaited as the lads from Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline, aka Fife Revolutions, took to the track for the second half of this double-header in continuing perfect conditions. And what an enthralling battle it turned out to be. Actually I didn't want to use the word "battle" as that would almost imply more of the same old filthy team riding, slowing, fencing, chopping, barging, clattering, pushing and shoving we get in almost every other Northern League match. The truth is far removed from all that garbage with an excellent series of races, plenty of passing, some superb individual performances again and huge entertainment for the few dozen cheering onlookers.
Somewhere along the way I tried to select a Man of the Match but it’s never been harder than it was today. Both sides had their star turns, visiting Elder Craig Hardie in sparkling form for the Revolutions and more than ably backed by his young team mates. To be fair I’d have to say returnee John Wilson for the Vikings played the same role so both get an “MotM” sticker from me today in the, erm, upper age category!
A little further down the age ladder (OK, a LOT) our own little flier Lee Redshaw showed how much he’s improved by matching and in most cases beating older opposition, being so very unlucky to miss out on a higher score (potentially 17) while creating the win for his partner Shane Gray in heat 9 with a fabulous first bend before tangling and slipping a pedal so just has to be on my list, but sharing “MotM” with a flying Jordan Smith whose last three rides were superb in both effort and execution. For Fife James Keenleyside is gathering a well-earned reputation for his speed and agility and gets my nomination for the Revolutions.
I was a spectator for this one and grabbed the chance to shoot a few videos, see them on our Facebook page or maybe on here some time. I must say this match had me on the edge of my seat and the audience participation was tremendous to add to the excitement of the racing. Riders on both sides took their turn to shine in a match to be remembered and cherished for it's pureness. Just superb.