Newcastle Gems open their season with a great National League win at Armadale
Armadale Stellar Devils: 43
Newcastle BTS Gems: 46
National Development League
Newcastle Speedway’s long wait to relaunch with new owners finally came to fruition 18 months after Rob Grant took the club’s reins, with his youth team, the BTS Gems taking on the Armadale Devils up at their Edinburgh circuit in the National Development League last night.
The Gems rocked up with a powerful-looking side for their season debut against a Devils’ side with two outings under their belt already vs. Berwick, but with Max Clegg leading the Gems, a side bristling with young talent, there were few confident enough to predict a winner.
Clegg chased hard behind Nathan Greaves in Heat One, blasting hard all race and just missed out on the win as Greaves took the three points in a shared race, 3-3, while George Rothery made the gate in Heat Two to win well from tapes to flag chased by Danny Smith and Archie Freeman tucking in to share the heat again, the match score now 6-6.
The deadlock was broken in the third with Gems’ Kelsey Dugard taking the three points easily over Tom Woolley as Joe Alcock took a further point for Newcastle who led 8-10, a Gems’ lead that doubled to four points after Heat Five also ended up a 2-4, won well Clegg who motored ahead of the field for a well deserved three points ahead of Woolley with Josh Embleton holding Lewis Millar at the back as the Gems led 13-17.
Former Newcastle Diamond, Danny Phillips and his Devils’ team mate Rothery made the gate in Heat Seven, but the man in second took too wide-a-line on the fourth bend allowing Alcock under him for second place as Dugard fell and remounted at the rear, but the home 4-2 halved the visitor’s lead, but Heat Eight was to prove vital for the Gems.
Smith made the best gate and led early on as Rothery swept from the outside to the inside down the back straight, and whipped round Smith for the lead, but his high speed took him into the third bend fence, stopping the race with his exclusion while in the Heat Eight re-run, Smith and Embleton were away ahead of Gregor Millar, who fell on the third lap gifting Newcastle a very welcome 0-5, giving the Gems a fine 20-27 advantage.
More drama came in the ninth after Ryan Terry-Daley was first out of the gate, with the determined Rothery trying to pass him on the inside line, but clipped the Gem in the process bringing him down and was duly excluded, while in the re-run Woolley took the win over Terry-Daley and Freeman for another shared 3-3 with Newcastle still maintaining their seven-point lead.
Heat 10 was also stopped in mid-flow, twice, as Dugard went down at the first asking with all four recalled for the re-run, in which Alcock made the gate, but Greaves attempted to fly round him off bend two leading to Alcock taking a wider line to try to block the move, but unfortunately closed the door too hard as the Devil hit the fence necessitating the second restart, this time without the excluded Alcock.
The third running is was straightforward from the off, won by a fair margin by Greaves over Dugard and Sheldon Davies to sneak two points back for Armadale, 27-32, while in Heat 11 Clegg made the gate, but was passed on the outside by Phillips off the second bend, but Phillips then also carried too much speed into the third bend and fell, remounting to roll in last, but the win for Clegg over Rothery and Embleton gave Newcastle a 2-4 advantage restoring their seven point lead, 29-36.
Dugard missed the two-minute warning in Heat 12, with Smith taking the reserve replacement ride, but Rothery and Woolley rode off from the gate ahead of Freeman and Smith for a home maximum 5-1,slashing Newcastle’s lead to three points, and after two more shared races, the match could still go either way with the last race to go, and the score at 40-43.
Clegg finished a great night’s racing by sealing victory for the Gems in Heat 15, passing Woolley off bend three on the opening lap to lead to the flag and take three points to ensure the Gems started 2021, and the new era of Newcastle Speedway with a famous victory 43-46.
Grant couldn’t have been happier with his first match as club owner, saying: “It’s been an emotional night for us all, finally coming to the tapes after taking over in the winter of 2019, and at last we’re here, and with a fine win at that. These youngsters really rode their hearts out for the Gems cause tonight and got the win they very much deserved with a superb team spirit. After so much time out of the saddle over the last year, it was a breath of fresh air to see them race with such confidence. Couldn’t have been a better start, and a perfect start to set our National League side on the track for a successful 2021.”
Individual Rider’s scores:
Armadale Stellar Devils: 43
Nathan Greaves (captain) 3,3,3,2,1* = 12+1,
Sheldon Davies 0,0,1,N = 1
Tom Woolley 2,2,3,2*,2 = 11+1
Lewis Millar 0,0,0,N = 0
Danny Phillips 3,3,0,1* = 7+1
George Rothery (reserve) 3,1,Fx,X,2,3,3 = 12,
Gregor Millar (reserve) R,0,F,N = 0
Newcastle Gems: 46
Max Clegg (c) 2,3,3,3,3 = 14,
Josh Embleton 1*,1,2*,1 = 5+2
Kelsey Dugard 3,0,2,N2 = 5
Joe Alcock 1,2,X,1* = 4+1
Ryan Terry-Daley 1*,2,2,R = 5+1
Archie Freeman (reserve) 1*,1*,1*,1 = 4+3
Danny Smith (reserve) 2,2,3,0,2,0 = 9
Photo credit TazMcd Photography
1 Skipper Max Clegg
2 Gems team photo
3 Danny Smith and Archie Freeman