MATCH REPORT: Derek Garnett Memorial event

Report by Alan Taylor

The Euro Vets Derek Garnett Nations Cup and the Derek Garnett Memorial Trophy individual were held at Stockport on Saturday afternoon with both events witnessed by a good sized crowd including many of Derek’s old team mates and rivals alike.
Fortunately the worst of the day’s storms held off until a couple of hours after the racing had finished.
The England Vets v Rest of the World Vets was held first and what an amazing number of titles/honours had been won over the years by the riders of both teams with World, European, British, Outdoor, Indoor, Junior, Senior and Veterans title holders taking to the track.
After two shared heats it was the RoW who struck first with a 6-4 going to Kev Burns and Chris Turner in heat 3.
England Vets hit back immediately with two 7-3s thanks to the Andy Yard/Steve Harris and Jason Keith/Craig Marchant pairings giving England a 7 point lead after five races.
Two further 6-4s to England and two more shared heats followed with wins going to Nicky Whitehead and Terry Norman for England with Kev Burns and Dan Pudney winning for RoW, bringing the interval score to 50-39 in England’s favour.
The second half saw England pull further ahead with wins going to Jason Keith, Craig Marchant and Terry Norman.
Despite their best efforts and with wins for Kev Burns, Mark Winwood, Chris Turner and Dan Pudney, Rest of the World were unable to reduce the deficit and it was England Vets who won the Derek Garnett Euro Vets Nations Cup for the second time with a final score of 98-80.
The match wasn’t about winners and losers though, it was about honouring and remembering one of, if not the, greatest ever cycle speedway riders.

England Vets 98
Craig Marchant 16+2, Terry Norman 14+1, Steve Harris 13+2, Nicky Whitehead 13+1, Jason Keith 13, Norman Venson 10+1, Mark Whitehead 10+1, Andy Yard 9+2

Rest of the World Vets 80
Dan Pudney 18, Kev Burns 17+1, Mark Winwood 15, Chris Turner 9, Lukasz Kaczmarek 8, Dave Frith 5+1, Rob Fleming 4, Pat Beacock 4

Referee – Gary Hollingsworth (Bury)

A few unfortunate, late withdrawals due to sickness and transport problems saw what should have been a 16 rider individual for the Derek Garnett Memorial Trophy reduced to a field of 11 riders. A huge disappointment for Ben Higham, Derek’s grandson, who had spent much time assembling a star studded 16 rider line-up.
The eleven riders who rode didn’t disappoint however, and put on a great show to entertain the spectators with plenty of close, competitive racing and a few spills thrown in for good measure.
Birmingham’s Paul Heard made his intentions clear with three straight wins to lead the field on 12 points after all riders had raced three times.
Ben Clarke, Reece Pollitt and Mike Baldock were snapping at his heels however, with the three of them just one point adrift on 11 points each from three races.
Heard dropped a point in his fourth race in a great battle with Pollitt, Reece riding a tactical race to keep the ever pressing Heard at bay with less than a bike length between them as they crossed the finish line.
After losing to Pollitt in heat 12, Mike Baldock bounced back with a win in heat 15 over Ed Morton and Ben Clarke, Clarke ultimately losing the chance of a podium finish with that third place.
Heard, Pollitt and Baldock were all level on 15 points after four races each.
A great ride from Heard in heat 17 when, from gate four, he rounded Baldock to take the win that secured the title with a 19 points score.
Three points to Baldock in that race meant that he was assured of at least third place overall.
In the next race, heat 18, Pollitt had to settle for second place behind Lewis Foxley, meaning he tied with Baldock on 18 points and a race-off between them would be needed to decide second and third places overall.
In the race-off between the two Bury riders Pollitt drew gate two with Baldock on gate four but any hopes Mike had of finishing runner-up overall were dashed when his bike shed its chain leaving Reece to coast over the line to take the chequered flag.
Ben Clarke finished in fourth place overall on 17 points, ruing the points he dropped in heat 15, whilst Australian rider Dan Pudney, riding in his second event of the afternoon, showed his class to finish in fifth place with a score of 15 points.

Paul Heard (Birmingham) 19, Reece Pollitt (Bury) 18, Mike Baldock (Bury) 18, Ben Clarke (Ipswich) 17, Dan Pudney (Le Fevre, Australia) 15, Lewis Foxley (Hull) 14, Ed Morton (Sheffield) 14, Ash Hill (Ipswich) 14, Pawel Idziorek (Sheffield) 14, James Porter (Ipswich) 12, Rob Fleming (Le Fevre, Australia) 10.

Referee – Mark Winwood (Birmingham)

The awards to the top three were presented by June and Graham Garnett

Many thanks to all of the riders who rode in the two events, to Fred Rothwell and Geoff Gamage who organised the Euro Vets team match, to the two referees, to the helpers on the day and to the many ex riders and spectators who turned up to support the event.