THE STAGING of the first semi-final of the British Speedway Championship at Armadale on April 19 has already got home supporters revved up, according to Edinburgh Monarchs boss John Campbell.
If successful, it could trigger the allocation of further major events for tracks north of the border after years of monopoly by southern-based clubs.
Campbell said: “We actually tried to get the meeting last year and failed, so we tried again and have been successful. It’s a meeting we especially wanted for Armadale when we have our own rider Craig Cook, who might well win it.
“If the meeting is a success we would want to do it again. I don’t think it will be a flop because it has already caught people’s attention.”
Some of the biggest names in the sport will converge on the Lothian Arena and Campbell said: “We don’t see them often, if at all. Guys like Chris Harris and Scott Nicholls have never been keen to travel north, and I hope at least one of them will be drawn to ride up here.”
It’s a big year for the ambitious Cook, who looks set to move into the Elite League in 2014, and the chance to shine against a host of big guns is sure to create a stampede at the turnstiles. “It gives Craig the opportunity to beat anyone and everyone at Armadale,” said Campbell, “and most Monarchs fans will want to witness that as well. He has a great chance as he will have had more practice round Armadale than anyone else, and no matter what the eventual line-up is, Craig has a real shot at glory.”
Securing the showpiece is a major boost to Monarchs, who were close to folding just a few months ago. Campbell said: “I think we were given the meeting because we have a good reputation on-track and for organising meetings, and this definitely helped.
“Our track is also known to provide some of the best speedway in the country and this is an important element also.”
Although the semi-final has pushed back the prestigious Scottish Open Championship until August, Campbell revealed this is a blessing in disguise. “We open our season on March 29 [Good Friday] and every Elite League track, plus eight Premier League tracks, are running that day. So had we decided to stage the Scottish Open, we would almost certainly have had to assemble the field from outside this country.
“Moving it to August, which was its traditional date until last season, will ensure we can attract a top-quality line-up.”
Neighbours Berwick Bandits, who Monarchs face in an opening night challenge clash, will also host two big meetings of their own this season. The Ben Fund Bonanza (held in aid of the Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Fund) takes place at Shielfield Park on March 9 and round three of the World Under-21 final is scheduled for August.
“This is further good news for supporters in the north,” added Campbell, “and certainly their air fence gives Berwick a big advantage in attracting international fixtures.”