MATCH REPORT: Hellingly get back to winning ways

It was a return to winning ways for the Lions of Hellingly with a convincing 26pt victory over Great Blakenham, As with most teams in this division, the ‘Blakers’ are very short of riders to compete at this level. As proof of this, Great Blakenham arrived at the Lower Dicker track with just six riders including a Jay Meekings. He was introduced as a raw recruit, which is the mother of all understatements as he admitted to everyone that he had never ever ridden a cycle speedway bike before! Now it is common knowledge that Hellingly is not the easiest of tracks to ride, even more so for a first timer with the notorious first bend exit claiming many a victim in the past.
The Lion’s team strength was suitably adjusted with the recall of Jamie Morley at No: 2 and the young Harry Ridley named as reserve at the expense of Martyn and Neil Hollebon.

The match began with Great Blakenham winning the coin toss and surprisingly elected to go off gates 2 & 4.
Heat 1. Tapes up and Steven Archer from gate 1 won the race after a hard fought first bend from Keanu Bowers (Steven later went on to record a creditable paid max score being unbeaten by an opponent in all 5 rides) and the revitalized Jaime Morley settled in third spot to open the scores 6-4 to Hellingly.
Heat 2. Went as expected with Adam Cooper winning for Great Blakenham and the Lion’s pairing of captain George Morley and Jim Cox settling for a 5-5 shared score.
Heat 3. The pace took a dramatic change in this one with Harry Sexton, now astride a borrowed ‘state of the art’ Polish derived machine, leapt out of gate 1 to establish his authority at the first bend and going on to win the race to the rapturous applause of the team and all spectators. Harry’s teammate Eddy Ridley had to work a bit harder, but in under a lap passed Bill Rhodes (GB) to join Harry for a maximum7-3 heat win.
Heat 4. The momentum seemed to increasing somewhat in this one as George Morley and Jim Cox took the easy route by out-gating Terry Ashford and Keanu Bowers from 2 and 4 to take a majestic 7-3 to bring the match score to 25 – 15 in favour of Hellingly.
Heats 5 to 8 had the Lion’s now firmly in control with the whole team contributing to the score. But sparing a thought for the Blakers new (New?) boy, Jay Meekers, who twice in separate heats suffered the wrath of the safety fence at bend 1 and on the second occasion managed to bend the frame of the bike that was borrowed (Borrowed? You mean he wants it back?) from Gavin Whitehouse.

Heat 9. Lion’s George Morley was on gate 1 and Harry Ridley replacing Jim Cox on gate 3. Great Blakenhams Jay Meekings (now taking the long suffering and financially impaired Gavin’s polish bike!) on gate 2, and Bill Rhodes on gate 4. Tapes up and George looked to be the winner from the off. Now with young Harry not quite so swift out of the starting gate, he attempted a cut-back on the inside at the first bend but took a heavy fall. The race was stopped and to give Harry time to recover the interval was taken one race early.
With the midway break over George duly went on to win the re-run with a still very sore Harry tailing off at the rear for a shared 5-5 to bring the score to Hellingly 53 – Great Blakenham 37.
At this point, it has to be said that young Jay for the Blakers, now astride a better class of machine looked a completely different rider and now in complete control. Hellingly stamped their authority in the remainder of the meeting with the exception of Adam Cooper who achieved two tapes to flag race wins.
In the final race of the day (the nominated Heat 16) it was the two Harry’s (Sexton and Ridley) for the Lions and Terry Ashford and ‘never-say-die’ Jay Meekings for GB.
From the off, even with the result never in danger, no-one was prepared to give an inch. After 2 laps, with several changes to the lead, Harry Sexton eased passed both Blakers with the crowd erupting in response and went on to win the race. Unfortunately, his partner Harry Ridley suffered another fall but managed to finish the race for the 5pts each. It was pleasing to see the generous applause to all four riders in appreciation of their efforts.

Summing up, the meeting was both entertaining and raced in a sporting manner. Steven Archer’s paid max almost went by unnoticed, and Jamie Morley’s paid 15 was his best score for a while. As for the rest of the Lions, they all played their part and by comparison to the previous week really looked to be an entirely different team. The final score-line of Hellingly 93 Great Blakenham 67 certainly didn’t reflect the competitive racing.

Hellingly 93.
Steven Archer 19+1 (5r) – Harry Sexton 17+3 (6r) – George Morley 17+1 (5r) – Jamie Morley13+2 (5r) – Jim Cox 12+1 (4r) – Ed Ridley 10+1 (4r) – Harry Ridley 3 (3r)

Great Blakenham 67.

Adam Cooper 17+1 (5r) – Keanu Bowers 13 (5r) – Jay Meekings 10 (6r) – Bill Rhodes 10+1 (5r) – Gavin Whitehouse 9+1 (5r) – Terry Ashford 8+1 (6r)

What was very apparent in this meeting was that while the sport of cycle speedway is currently undergoing a severe shortage of new riders, Jay Meekings made it very apparent that a newcomer can contribute and enjoy this sport very rapidly from day one, heat one (or three). Perhaps this may encourage the sports potential newcomer riders.