HELLO, I’m Richard Hudson and am delighted the sports editor has asked me to take on coverage of the Eastbourne Eagles for the Sussex Express.
I have watched speedway at Arlington for many years.
Work has taken me all over Britain so I have watched the sport from Scotland down to the west country.
You may not always agree with what I say but at least, I hope, it will set you talking.
So without further introductions, let’s get straight to it!
It’s been a long time since the bikes last roared at Arlington and I will be as keen as anyone to get back on the terraces. The defeat by Poole on June 2 was hard to take, especially as two of our riders crashed when in scoring positions.
If they had stayed on the bikes, the result would have been different.
Ifs, buts and maybes count for nothing when the prizes are issued and on Monday Eastbourne need to work themselves into a winning position and keep it.
Losing home and away on Good Friday to Lakeside was hard to take and I certainly hope the Eagles will send the Hammers packing and their promoter, Jon Cook, back to his West Sussex home, with tails between legs.
Of course, Eastbourne v Lakeside is the Sky Sports match of the week but there will be no watching the television on my part. I don’t want to knock Sky’s coverage but there’s nothing like seeing sport live.
The smells, the sounds... the whole atmosphere just cannot be created on the small screen. It helps, of course, that Eastbourne have come up with a free meal for fans.
They understand that a lot of fans live an hour or so away from the stadium. If you finish work at 5.30pm it’s a struggle get home for your tea AND make it to Arlington in time for tapes up.
I hope the food outlets have plenty of chips, burgers and sausages in stock. So, let’s look ahead to Monday’s match: Eastbourne Eagles v Lakeside Hammers, at Arlington Stadium, 7.30pm.
Let’s look at the ‘head- to heads’ in the match.
n The No.1s, Joonas Kylmakorpi and Davey Watt: Kylmakorpi is back from injury and has ridden only four heats at Arlington this year – and he fell off in two of those.
Continental and long track form suggests he’s flying.
Watt is an enigma. Sometimes he is brilliant but a race later he can be dire. He’s not popular with most of us at Arlington after a difficult year as our No 1 a few years back.
RICHARD RUNS THE RULE: Kylmakorpi is set to rule.
n The No 2s: Lukas Dryml v Kim Nilsson: Until his injury last year, Dryml was having a wonderful season at Arlington. He was fast and winning races. In the last few weeks he has looked out of sorts and unable to string any sort of form together.
Nilsson is a big hope for the future for Lakeside and already at Arlington he has shown that he can gate and go.
RICHARD RUNS THE RULE: Advantage Nilsson.
n The No 3s: Simon Gustafsson v Peter Karlsson: This is classic old Sweden v new Sweden. Karlsson was once unbeatable around Arlington but now in the twilight of his career is very beatable. He’ll score points but will not dominate proceedings. Gustafsson will need his gating gloves on and needs to stay completely focused.
RICHARD RUNS THE RULE: Karlsson to edge it.
n The No 4s: Cameron Woodward v Kauko Nieminen: Nieminen is a gate and go merchant while Woodward is a chaser. Overall, Woodward will win out as Eastbourne has some pretty fast starters who should match Nieminen.
RICHARD RUNS THE RULE: Nailed on for Woodward.
n The No 5s: Lewis Bridger v rider replacement: Bridger can beat the best and then run a duff race. Eastbourne need him to weed out those poor races and replace them with the one he rode against Poole when he beat Chris Holder. Watt and Karlsson will be OK covering two of the r/r rides but after that Lakeside will struggle.
The No 5 is the position the much missed Lee Richardson would have occupied. Richardson’s death hit Bridger hard and those thoughts will not be far from his mind on Monday.
n The No6s: Denis Gizatullin v Ashley Birks: Eagles’ Russian should take the honours here, although I will admit I know next to nothing about Birks.
RICHARD RUNS THE RULE: Gizatullin different class.
n The No 7s: Timo Lahti v Robert Mear: Lahti is in the form of his young life having top scored in the last three Eagles’ matches. Mear rides Arlington well and could well be a thorn in our side.
RICHARD RUNS THE RULE: Lahti to laud it.
RICHARD’S PREDICTION: Eagles to win by 12 points.