Gladiators back on track

Quite what magical forces met at The Coliseum, the Home of the Plymouth Westcolour Gladiators, we may never know, but for some outstanding entertainment, excellent speedway racing and unrivalled mystery at every turn (literally!) it’s certainly the place to be on a Tuesday night, and we are highly confident that everyone who witnessed last night’s latest edition, will be desperate to come back for more.

The stage could not have really been more precariously set for some speedway purists, who were all too quick to write off the fixture due to the significant number of guests required,  with both teams shorn of the majority of their usual starting lineups through injury.

The fans of Devon, Cornwall and the wider South West know very differently however, that the tougher the challenge, the harder their Westcolour Gladiators ride, and irrespective of who pulls on the Gladiators  race jackets, they are equally capable of creating something outstanding.

As the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and the Birmingham Brummies Team and Management deserve massive credit and kudos for being a major part of what was above all a superb advert for the sport of speedway. Woe betide anyone who tries to tell them anything different.

With the Westcolour Gladiators seeking more match points to secure their place in the top 6 where they have been positioned all season, and a well deserved Play-Off place, there was crackling excitement and anticipation from the start, on a humid and sultry Devon summer evening.

The Westcolour Gladiators made a stunning start over the first 4 Heats with 5-1 advantages and excellent race wins for guest riders Richie Worrall, Lewis Kerr (with one of the fastest 4 lap times ever seen at The Coliseum on a superbly prepared track) and Josh Pickering, interspersed by a 4-2 Heat advantage to The Brummies in the second Heat from the rapidly improving James Pearson. 

With 4 races gone the healthy 10 point lead suggested an easy night for the home team and when Kerr won Heat 5 with Danyon Hulme 3rd, the gap was already 12 points.

The Brummies though to their massive credit, slowly but surely warmed to the task in hand and with the help of some fast starting and outstanding trackcraft, secured a heat advantage in the 6th race to reduce the margin to 10 points and then consolidated their position when a series of three drawn 3-3 Heats with Kerr very impressively winning two of the.  This left the scores at 32-22 after 10 races with some excellent close racing the theme of the evening.

When the Brummies secured a 4-2 Heat success in Heat 9 from the wonderfully entertaining Lee Complin, who turned back the years with an excellent display, and Broc Nichol in third place, few would have anticipated that the Brummies would be in the process of hitting top gear. 

However successive 4-2 advantages again to the Brummies in the next 2 heats reduced the gap to 4 points prior to what is always a pivotal Heat 13. 

Cue the Brummies coup de grace when Justin Sedgeman and Kye Thomson shot way to win the race 5-1 to shock and silence the home support and tie the match at 39-39 and with all of the momentum in their favour, it looked highly likely that the Brummies would deliver THE comeback win of the season so far!

Cometh the hour though, cometh the Westcolour Gladiators and we were about to witness two of the best Speedway races that you could ever wish to see. 

Heat 14 saw Ben Morley take an early lead from the Brummies Broc Nichol and Lee Complin, with Gladiators Danyon Hume also in contention,  the 4 riders raced literally wheel to wheel over 4 utterly pulsating laps and only when Hume fell on the last bend in an attempt to grab third place on the line, was a 3-3 heat result confirmed.

 All 4 riders deserve massive credit for their trackcraft and sportsmanship in a truly wonderful example of Speedway at its best. 42-42 after 14 Heats and the decider to come.

There were genuine expressions of shock when home Team Manager Garry May decided to select Richie Worrall over Lewis Kerr to partner Josh Pickering for the Home side whilst the Brummies decided on the impressive Thomson and Sedgeman who had already taken a 5-1 over the Home pairing in the 13th Heat. 

However we can confirm that Lewis had aggravated a collarbone injury earlier in the meeting and didn’t want to risk letting the team down by riding with the impaired fitness.

With Worrall taking an early lead with Thomson and Sedgeman closely following, the irresistible Pickering pushed and probed for three incredibly close fought laps, before finally rounding the unlucky Sedgeman on the final lap, with an outrageous overtake bursting every sinew of man and machine in the process, to deliver a 4-2 race advantage, and a 46 points to 44 victory, that quite literally delivered a shockwave of cheers and unbridled delight that would have reverberated around the Ocean City.

All 4 riders took a few victory laps with wheelies, all deserving of the appreciation of everyone in the crowd for some wonderful speedway.

Whatever the outcome of the Westcolour Gladiators season, the guest riders who have wonderfully supported the Club amidst an unprecedented injury crisis, will surely be honourable Westcolour Gladiator heroes for years to come.    

The result moves Plymouth into 4th place in the table with matches in hand and with 14 points still to play for, ambitions are still harboured of finishing second in the table. 

Both Plymouth Speedway Teams, the Westcolour Gladiators in the Championship and the SWTR Centurions in the NDL will now embark on a crucial weekend, with fixtures in Edinburgh and Berwick before the SWTR Centurions return to The Coliseum next Tuesday Evening for NDL action against Berwick

The Westcolour Gladiators return on Tuesday 16th and Tuesday 23rd August for a pair of potentially massive Fixtures against the Play Off Chasing Redcar Bears and Glasgow Tigers respectively.

Tickets for the NDL Match v Berwick will go on Sale tomorrow.

Due to the anticipated huge demand for tickets for the Championship matches against Redcar and Glasgow, which will define where the Westcolour Gladiators finish and who they race in the Playoffs, tickets for BOTH Fixtures will go on SALE on Saturday 6th August, giving everyone maximum opportunity to secure their seats in the NHS Stand and elsewhere in the Stadium and also to give what are likely to be large travelling support from Redcar and Glasgow an equal opportunity too.

We hope to have Team and injury updates for the weekend in our PREVIEW on Friday morning.

In the meantime once again a  massive thank you to you all for your support; and to Richie, Lewis, Danyon, Josh, Ben, Harry, Kye, Jacob,  Broc, Justin, Lee and James for some quite wonderful entertainment last night.

Plymouth Gladiators = 46

1. Richie Worrall (G) – 3, 2, 2, 0, 3 = 10

2. R/R for Alfie Bowtell (BM – 2’, HMG – 0, LK – 3, BM – 0) = 5+1

3. Lewis Kerr (G) – 3, 3, 3, 3, 2 = 14

4. Danyon Hume (G) – 2’, 1, 0, 0 = 3+1

5. Josh Pickering (G) – 3, 3, 0, 1, 1 = 8

6. Ben Morley – 2’, 2, 2’, 0, 0, 2, 3 = 11+2

7. Harry McGurk – F, 0, 0, 0 = 0

Birmingham Brummies = 44

1. Kye Thomson (G) – 0, 2, 3, 2’, 2 = 9+1

2. Jacob Hook (G) – 1, F/X, 0, 1’, 1 = 3+1

3. R/R for Stefan Nielsen (JH – F/X, JP – 1’, LC – 3, BN – 3) = 7+1

4. Broc Nicol (G) – 1, 2, 1, 3, 2 = 9

5. Justin Sedgmen – 1, 3, 1’, 3, 0 = 8+1

6. Lee Complin (G) – 1, 1, 2, 3, 1, 1’ = 9+1

7. James Pearson – 3, 0, 1’, 2 = 6+1

Heat Results

Heat 01: Worrall, Morley, Hook, Thomson 5-1, 50.53

Heat 02: Pearson, Morley, Complin, McGurk (F) 2-4, 7-5, AWARDED NO TIME

Heat 03 Re-Run: Kerr, Hume, Nicol, Hook (F/X) 5-1, 12-6, 49.79

Heat 04: Pickering, Morley, Sedgmen, Pearson 5-1, 17-7, 51.56

Heat 05: Kerr, Thomson, Hume, Hook 4-2, 21-9, 51.50

Heat 06: Sedgmen, Worrall, Complin, McGurk 2-4, 23-13, 50.88

Heat 07: Pickering, Nicol, Pearson, McGurk 3-3, 26-16, 50.54

Heat 08: Kerr, Complin, Hook, Morley 3-3, 29-19, 51.16

Heat 09: Kerr, Pearson, Sedgmen, Hume 3-3, 32-22, 51.09

Heat 10: Complin, Worrall, Nicol, Morley 2-4, 34-26, 51.50

Heat 11: Thomson, Morley, Hook, Pickering 2-4, 36-30, 51.84

Heat 12: Nicol, Kerr, Complin, McGurk 2-4, 38-34, 52.09

Heat 13: Sedgmen, Thomson, Pickering, Worrall 1-5, 39-39, 51.56

Heat 14: Morley, Nicol, Complin, Hume 3-3, 42-42, 52.56

Heat 15: Worrall, Thomson, Pickering, Sedgmen 4-2, 46-44, 52.87

Courtesy of Speedway Updates

Image credit: Blumonkey Media