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Steve Harland  Sunday, April 07, 2002  20:34 GMT

HISTORY was made at a gloriously sunny Brough Park this afternoon as Conference League newcomers Newcastle Gems shared the honours with the Rye House Raiders.

An attendance of between 300/350 turned up to watch a close meeting marred by a number of falls and crashes which may have been down to the dry and dusty conditions. On more than one occasion the watercart was brought out.

Admission was six pounds for adults and four pounds for OAP, students, etc with the racecard thrown in free of charge.

Rye House used rider replacement for Barrie Evans who was in action for his senior team whilst down at reserve John Branney from Workington was 'loaned'.

Richard Hall and William Lawson were absolute stars for the Gems whilst the Raiders relied heavily on Daniel Giffard and Edward Kennett.

The meeting got off to a eventful start when Benji Compton touched the tapes and was handicapped for 15 yards. In the rerun the Raiders pairing of James Cockle and Simon Wolstenholme easily overcome the challenge of Jamie Swales.

Heat 2 was a cracker as two 15-year olds Gems William Lawson and Raiders Edward Kennett went full pelt in a rerun after John Branney had come to grief on the second bend in the original race. Kennett had made the gate but was aware that Lawson was gaining on him. On lap three fourth bend Kennett appeared to lose control of his bike and was lucky to stay on as he clouted the fence as Lawson came driving up the inside of him in a time faster than Heat 1.

After 45 mins just 4 heats had been run. Scores were level at 12 all but in the next heat Wolstenholme and R/R Kennett gated ahead of Gary Flint & Jamie Robertson who made no impression on the Raiders pairing.

At this point it looked like the Raiders had more strength in depth but as the meeting wore on the Gems made good use of reserve Lawson who looked really classy once he was out of the gate - his gating letting him down.

The Gems looked to be a two man team with Hall & Lawson impressing and the only two riders capable of taking the challenge to Rye House though reserve Carl Shields was working hard for his 6pts.

The Raiders had Wolstenholme, Giffard and Kennett all scoring and Cockle had won a race, ran a third and a fall.

As the meeting wore on there were a number of spectacular looking crashes involving the previously unbeaten Wolstenholme and Cockle. Wolstenholme may have been unsighted at the back of the field due to the dust in Heat 11 as he parted with his machine in dramatic fashion on the fourth bend. His mechanic came back to the pits and began threatening riders, officials and staff of Newcastle in extremely aggressive fashion. He was warned to calm down but he shouted: 'What the **** are you looking at?' to someone not connected with the on track incident. When Wolstenholme arrived back in the pits after some considerable time he tried to calm his mechanic down, whom apparently was unhappy over something that had been shouted from a spectator. He was also complaining about the state of the Brough Park track. Referee Will Hunter reported his unprofessional conduct in the meeting report.

All the way thoughout the meeting a much more experienced Rye House side had led only to be pulled back by Newcastle. In the final heat Cockle made a spectacular exit on the first bend as he was flung from his bike and landed somewhat awkwardly. At first it looked like a collarbone but somoene said it was his scaphoid but he was laid on the track for a considerable period of time. In the rerun Giffard got the drop on Hall and Lawson (who was having his fourth ride in four heats) and the honours were shared.

I'm sure the Newcastle camp will be happy with a draw as they were behind for half of the meeting and their riders had never rode together as a team before. Rye House will probably look at it as a point dropped as at the halfway point they led by six points but due to falls and crashes lost their way.

Believe me, Richard Hall & William Lawson (from Perth, Scotland) and Daniel Giffard & Edward Kennett looked really classy riders for this level of speedway.

Unfortunately I cannot go to next week's meeting against Mildenhall as I am at a christening, so if someone wants to volunteer a report it would be much appreciated.

There was quite a few up from Middlesbrough including a number of ex-riders: David Holiday, Jitendra Dufill (who hopes to be riding this season), Jonathan Swales, Tony Swales.

The only down was the poor effort of a programme Newcastle produced for the meeting. One page of A4 folded in half was a poor effort by a club who have produced one of the best Premier League programmes in speedway for many years now. Even an eight page effort and something on the visiting riders would have been of help. Come on George, you can do better than this!

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