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After the hiatus of 2020 caused by the pandemic and a curtailed programme of meetings in 2021, the 74-year-old club, that first rode at Old Meadowbank and then Powderhall stadiums before decamping to the West Lothian arena in 1997, are back and raring to go with an exciting line-up that finds the club tracking three of last year’s team, a returning rider and three new names for their Good Friday season opener.
Monarchs' Director and PR spokesperson Mike Hunter says, “It’s remarkable that our venue at Armadale is now the longest continuously running speedway track in the history of the sport in Scotland, with Monarchs’ 26th successive season at the track about to start”.
Speedway, which involves two teams of seven riders competing over 15 heats has been described as one of the most exciting sports in the world – two riders from each side come to the tapes in a race, riding 500cc bikes with no brakes that reach speeds of up to 70mph during a four lap race.
This year's Monarchs’ team again has an international feel with long-term Captain and No 1, Sam Masters, back alongside fellow Aussies Josh Pickering and Kye Thomson.
Englishman James Sargeant also returns for a second spell in club colours and three new riders make their debuts in the blue and gold, Italian Paco Castagna, Norwegian Lasse Fredriksen and Australian Jacob Hook.
All seven line-up on Friday, April 15, when they face Berwick Bandits in a Championship clash with free Easter eggs for kids on arrival while stocks last.
Mr Hunter continues, “It’s an exciting team we go into the new season with and you can’t get any better than Sam Masters and Josh Pickering leading the way but amongst the newcomers we have current Norwegian Champion Lasse Fredriksen and double Italian Champ Paco Castagna, and a young teenage Aussie prospect in Jacob Hook”.
The Berwick meeting is the first of three in a row for the Edinburgh Monarchs, again sponsored this year by family-owned food delivery business What The Fork, as they cross the border for the return meeting on Saturday before travelling on to Newcastle on Sunday.
Mr Hunter adds, “It always adds an edge to have new guys in the team because it is unpredictable. I’ll probably be more nervous than them as they come to the tapes for the first time. We’ve also got four Aussies in the side, we’ve never had more than that, even though we have used 67 Australians since we were formed in 1948”.
For the first time in the club's history, youngsters from the Monarchs Academy, which is dedicated to nurturing Scotland's speedway star of the future, will race in special heats after the main match.
Mr Hunters says, “We hope that from their ranks will come fully fledged Monarchs of the future.”
Tapes goes up on the racing at 7.30pm with tickets available here.