MATCH REPORT: Hellingly’s season begins with a win

Report by Brian Davidson

With the cycle speedway season over a month since the start and most teams having ridden 2 or more meetings Hellingly finally take to the track for the first time at the Lower Dicker Rec. Our guests were the Panthers from Kesgrave, who like the Lions have elected to race in Division 2 of the East/ South East league only for very much the same reasons. With no less than 5 first team riders deciding to leave and race elsewhere, Life would have been hard going to compete in Division 1.
The weather was overcast, but no threat of rain as the Kesgrave riders arrived around midday for an arranged start of 1 pm. It was a very strange looking Panthers team with only 2 experienced members from last season with 4 very young juniors and one other who had never ridden the circuit before. The Lions recognised the fact, and in an attempt to keep the match entertaining decided not to use Neil Hollebon in the team. Kesgrave captain Ray Pike won the coin toss and chose to go off the inside grids in the first race.
Steven Archer went from gate 2 racing tapes to the flag for the win for the Lions being chased all the way by Ray Pike in heat 1. George Morley was third easily taking care of Phoebe Hammond, who to be fair struggled somewhat with the tight bends of Hellingly to open the score chart 6 – 4 to the Lions. Heat 2 was won by Jim Cox of Hellingly from gate 1 after an aggressive first bend to be chased home for the full 4 laps by the evergreen Gary Brown. With Jamie Morley lacking in pace and tailing off at the back, the race was drawn 5pts each. The next 3 heats were also shared scores of 5pts each bringing the match score to 26 – 24 in favour of Hellingly. Heat 6 and Martyn Hollebon rode a masterly first bend drifting the opponents off the line to allow his partner Harry Sexton to go on and win the race. Martyn duly showed his vast experience of the circuit as he had to endure constant pressure from Ray Pike for all the four laps to shepherd home young Harry who was showing a lack of fitness. The race result was a very hard earned 7 -3 maximum for Hellingly, and also meant that Kesgrave was still yet to provide a race winner. On to heat 7 with the Lion’s strongest pairing of Steven Archer ( g4 ) and George Morley ( g2 ) against arguably Kesgrave’s weakest of Noah Woodhouse ( g1 ) and Steve Hammond ( g3 ). Tapes up and the very young Noah was out of the trap like a greyhound to not only take the first race win for Kesgrave but to also inflict the only defeat for Hellingly’s Steven Archer to the applause from everyone. Two more drawn heats were to follow to bring the score chart to Hellingly 48 Kesgrave 42 at the interval heat 9.
Back to business and for the second time, Martyn Hollebon showed everyone how to team ride fairly by shepherding home George Morley to what was to be the second maximum 7-3 in the match. Not to be upstaged, Noah Woodhouse did his bit for Kesgrave. He popped out of gate 1 again to win heat 11 and earn the accolade of being the only Panther to win a race. The next 5 heats resulted in two 6-4 ht wins for the Lions with three 5 – 5’s bringing the match to a close with the final score being Hellingly 86 Kesgrave 74.
Credit must go to the Kesgrave club for honouring the fixture with a team of limited experience even though Hellingly’s strength showed through with Martyn Hollebon going unbeaten by an opponent and Steven Archer dropping a single point.Eddie Ridley chipped in with two races wins at crucial times, but if there was to be a man of the match award, without doubt, it would go to Noah Woodhouse of Kesgrave. Six races of which two were the only winners the Panthers could muster and amass a points tally of 20. Very well done Noah, be proud of yourself.

Eddie Ridley coming from gate 4, working hard to get across Noah woodhouse in the nominated heat 16.

Hellingly 86

Martyn Hollebon 19+1(5), Steven Archer 18+1(5), Jim Cox 16(5), George Morley 11+1(5), Ed Ridley 10(3), Harry Sexton 8(5),Jamie Morley 3(3), Harry Ridley 1(1)

Kesgrave 74

Noah Woodhouse 20(6), Torsten Jolly 14+1(5), Gary Brown 11+3(5), Ray Pike 11+2(5), Stean Jolly 7+2(3), Phoebe Hammond 6(4),
Steve Hammond 5+1(4)