Comets versus Newcastle at Derwent Park, at 7:30pm this Friday!
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Team Talk - Week 3
Photo by Dave Payne
Sat 13 Apr 2013 by Tony Jackson
Saturday 13th April
Once again we have quite a bit to talk about after another typical week in speedway with plenty going on within the sport in general and relating to the Comets in particular. Probably the easiest way to cover everything is, as usual, to go through things in the order that they happened, starting with a look back to last Saturday's home meeting with Redcar.

The visit of Redcar to Derwent Park gave us our first opportunity to get some League Cup points on the board and, in a three-team mini-league, you have to win your home matches at least otherwise, with just be out of the competition as soon as you started!

The day began with an early visit down to the track in order to get everything set out and ready for the nights' racing. Meanwhile the track staff were busy getting the most important part of the night's entertainment sorted – the race track!

By mid-afternoon everything was ready and the plan had been for Chris Mills to get there around 3:00pm to have a few laps of the track ahead of the meeting as he had not been on a bike since last September. However, a phone call from Chris told us he was running late and may not get there in time to get some laps in, which was far from ideal but, we were where we were and we just had to deal with it.

Then, around 3:30pm we got a phone call from Kyle telling us that he was on the M6 south of Preston and that Ashley was in his van in the next lane. A coincidence, but nothing too surprising in that I thought, until he added that they weren't moving and hadn't moved for a while as the M6 was blocked due to an accident. Suggestions of alternative routes were made to him that were options IF only he could get off the M6 and a request made that he kept us informed if things didn't improve.

So, we were still more than three hours from the start of the meeting and already stress levels were rising, but that's speedway!

Thankfully Chris arrived at the track shortly before half past four and we were able to get him out on track for about half a dozen laps, which was good for him and good for us. He looked fine and, more importantly felt fine after over six months away from his bike followed by over six hours in a van!

Kyle and Ashley arrived slightly later than usual but, most importantly, they arrived and we were good to go against the Bears.

The meeting itself had a lot of positives that could be taken from it – notably the form of every single team member, who all got amongst the points. Rene and Rusty were unbeaten until heat 15 when Rene saw his maximum ruined by Micky Dyer in what was one of the best races of the night; along with Rusty's sensational chase and pass of Dyer in heat 12.

Heat 15 proved eventful for Rusty as he slid off on turn three on the third lap when chasing Hugh Skidmore for third place, but in that race Rusty had come out aboard his second machine as his first developed a problem just before he was due to leave the pits; although that wasn't the only mechanical issue suffered by the Comets on the night.

Tero made a solid return from the shoulder injury that he had picked up the week before although a terrible gate in his first ride saw him change the entire clutch basket on his return to the pits as his initial set up just didn't work! But, with a new clutch in his machine he only dropped one point to the opposition in his next three outings, including picking up a race win in his final ride.

Meanwhile for Chris Mills, five points was a very satisfactory debut and it could have been more. After a second place in his first outing he was neatly tucked in behind Rene in his next only to blow his engine on the second lap. He then had to ride his second bike, which was powered by an engine he had borrowed from his mate and former Comet Chris Schramm. That brought him and us another three points to ease the pain of the blown engine.

In fact Chris also had another reason to thank Chris Schramm as he had even lent him his van to get up to Workington that day as the short notice to sign for the Comets had left him with no time to get anything organised, so a big thank-you goes out to Schrammy for helping out in the hour of need!

I was also pleased with the form shown by Ashley, who scored in every race and looked on the pace, while Kyle overcame a few early problems to score solidly in his final two rides and Richard only dropped points to the opposition when forced wide on turns one and two by Aaron Summers in heat 10.

Overall it was a good result and gave the whole team a thorough work out but yet again it was very cold and yet again a big thank-you goes out to the fans for putting up with the ridiculously low temperatures to support the Comets. Hopefully it will warm up soon – ideally this weekend!

Our visit to Redcar on Thursday was very disappointing in the end; in fact ‘very disappointing' doesn't even begin to describe it.

The track was not really ideal for passing and, while it is the same for both teams, it did affect us as so far this season we have not been making the starts – and we all wish we knew why. It is certainly something that we have all discussed many times over the past two weeks. However, despite that we still took control of the meeting in the latter stages and to be leading by seven points with two races to go yet lose the match left everyone connected with the club absolutely gutted.

The 5-1 from Rene and Richard in heat 13 set us up superbly going into heat 14 but with Chris coming out on his second machine after his first, which had just been repaired from Saturday at a cost of just under £500, had blown up in his fourth outing and Kyle missing the gate it just didn't happen. Kyle tried really hard to get into second place and at one point looked as if he had done so, but there was just nothing on the track to allow him to get past Hugh Skidmore. To say Kyle was
angry and disappointed when he returned to the pits was, yet again, an understatement.

However, with Rene and Richard coming out in heat 15 we were all confident that we could get the two points required to win the meeting and of course a repeat of heat 13 would give us all four points. They were both keen to use the same gates (1 and 3) that served us so well in heat 13, especially after the gating problems in heat 14 from gates 2 and 4 but, as we know, on this occasion it simply didn't work and again, if you missed the gate that was it – no matter how hard you tried.

A quick glance down the score-chart shows clearly that we had the better, more solid team, with the majority of race wins and more team members scoring points but it was the Redcar fans that went hope happy after getting out of jail in the last two heats.

We all had a good chat about it afterwards and to a man the entire team was devastated by the defeat – which I am pleased about, as it shows they care, but we need to get our gating sorted out and quickly, as that is all that is letting us down. Hopefully this evening's match against Newcastle will see an improvement in our gating.

Richard and Rusty were due to go head to head last night at Lakeside, with Richard in his ‘doubling-up' role for the Hammers and Rusty riding as a guest for his parent club Birmingham, but a lunchtime call-off on Friday saved them going all the way to Lakeside, and of course saved them having to clean their bikes ahead of today's visit from Newcastle.

Chris is currently sorting out his engine problems, which have obviously left him out of pocket, since last week and Rusty has offered him the loan of an engine for this evening against the Diamonds. Meanwhile Richard is going to have a session with Ashley in the next few days to give him some help with his starts as he showed yet again at Redcar that he has the speed but he is struggling with his gating. Both these two examples demonstrate the team spirit that exists within the camp and the desire amongst everybody to help one another, which is great to see.

Obviously this evening's visit from Newcastle will be tougher than last week but it is a match that we need to take all three points from otherwise only a big win at Brough Park in the return leg will get us through to the semi-final stage of the League Cup. A full ‘Meeting Preview' of this evening's match against the Diamonds can be found elsewhere within the Comets News section of this website.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, work is still going on with regard to the Mason Campton issue. He currently has a top immigration lawyer working on his case, who believes there are very good grounds for the decision to be reversed. Additionally several other avenues are being pursued in relation to the matter and we all remain confident that he will be with us as soon as everything is clarified. But, unfortunately like all these sort of things they take time and there is no indication of when everything will be sorted out.

On track it promises to be a very busy spell for the Comets next week, when our first Premier League match of the season sees us in action at Sheffield next Thursday (18th April) with a 7:45pm start. Then the return clash sees the Tigers visit us here next Saturday at 7:00pm – also in the league before heading over to Newcastle a week tomorrow for our final League Cup group match (6:30pm start), which is a match we need to take something from.

Sandwiched in between those is the British Championship semi-final at Edinburgh, which sees Richard, Kyle and Chris in action at Armadale – giving the three of them four matches in four days. In fact Kyle is in action for his parent club Poole, at home to Wolverhampton on Wednesday night, so he actually has five matches on successive days, which would be a punishing schedule if you were just going to watch the matches with all the travelling involved, but throw in the riding and the bike maintenance into the schedule and you soon see that being a speedway rider is not as glamorous as it would first appear!

The visit of Sheffield next week sees the return of ex-Comets rider Simon Stead – a rider who always rates Derwent Park as his favourite track in the world and a rider who always has time for a chat with the people of Workington.

There is no finer sight than seeing Simon going flat out around Derwent Park and I know many fans will be coming to see him in action next Saturday night. I hope he has a good night, but obviously nowhere near as good a night as we do!

With ex-Comet Joe Haines in the Tigers line-up along with our often-used guest from last season – Ricky Wells, plus the spectacular Richard Hall – who also guested for us last season, we will need to be on top of our game next Saturday against a side that have already booked their place in the League Cup semi-finals.

In addition to Simon Stead there are a few other ex-Comets that have been in the news recently.

Firstly it is good to see that one of last year's Comets, Adam Roynon, continues to make a good recovery following his recent crash at Coventry where he received a nasty head injury. If ever a rider deserved an injury-free run it is Adam, who is simply fantastic to watch and remains a firm fans favourite not just here but all over the country. Let's hope he is fully fit and back on a bike soon; and that from then on he has an injury-free run right through to the end of the season.

Talking of riders that are fantastic to watch, it is great to see another ex-Comet doing well – Peter Kildemand is having a fantastic start to the season with Elite League champions Swindon. He had a great start to his Elite League career with the Robins last season, culminating in that title victory in the Elite League play-off Grand Final, but he seems to have stepped it up another level this year. It will be interesting to follow Peter's progress as I believe he can go right to the top and, as we know, he never knows when to give up.

Finally, it was sad to see that former Comet Tony Childs has passed away in the past week at the age of 71. Tony was one of the old second division's truly colourful characters, and was often never far away from controversy. He spent the majority of his career with Hull, but joined the Comets at the start of 1978 when signed by former Comets rider and then team manager Geoff Penniket. However, after just seven matches for the club, a combination of poor form and a management
fall-out saw Childs leave the Comets, followed very shortly by Penniket.

Until next time,

Tony J
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Last Updated :  Sat 13 Apr 2013, 14:45 UK
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Photography
Dave Payne, Adrian Randall