Eagles retain National League KO Cup

Chairman Martin Dugard
Chairman Martin Dugard

Eastbourne retained the National League KO Cup with a 52-38 win over Birmingham at Arlington.

They took the trophy 94-86 on aggregate, after losing by six points earlier in the month at the Brummies’ Perry Bar track.

IT First Eagles chairman, Martin Dugard, said: “This has made the heartache of losing the league title at Birmingham a little bit easier to swallow.

“I have to say we rode well tonight and deserved the result. I am very pleased with it.”

Birmingham’s plans were thrown into confusion an hour or so before tapes after their plan to use Kent’s James Shanes as a guest at No 1 was ruled illegal.

Shanes had ridden at Arlington the previous Sunday for the Brummies and the rules precluded him riding a second time within eight days.

It meant Birmingham tracked only one rider in three heats.

Dugard said: “The rulebook caught out Birmingham. We were not aware of the situation, so it seems very weird situation that no-one seemed to notice.

“We didn’t know anything about it. We were quite happy for it to go ahead.

“The inkling we got was that all of a sudden, James Shanes was not allowed to ride.

“We asked Graham Drury (the Birmingham team manager) the reason why and he said on five occasions it had been done elsewhere, which we agree with.

“It wasn’t something we did. It was something that had come through from the powers that be to Graham.

“Eastbourne did not protest. I have to say it was lucky for us on the night and I have to say I think Birmingham were treated quite harshly for what they did.”

Match report

Eastbourne made the best start with Adam Ellis and Tom Brennan streaking away from the lone Brummie, Jack Smith, in heat one.

Birmingham's free-scoring reserves put their team back on level terms in heat two.

The teams continued to trade blows with Georgie Wood and Ellis Perks raced clear for another 5-1 in the third.

Heat 4 saw another strong ride from Brennan who trapped and followed his captain Jake Knight home for a 5-1, holding off Jack Parkinson-Blackburn in the process.

That put the Eagles ahead on aggregate by two points.

Parkinson-Blackburn sped from the tapes to win heat five and break the run of 5-1 heat results.

Ellis Perks chased hard but the Birmingham youngster was not to be denied and didn't make a mistake despite the pressure.

Adam Ellis sped to victory in heat six and with Powell third behind Tom Perry, the Eagles were leading 23-13 on the night and by four points on aggregate.

A win from Knight resulted in a 3-3 in heat seven but the Brummies closed the scores when Wood fell in heat 8 while chasing Parkinson-Blackburn. Brennan was second ahead of Daryl Ritchings to limit the damage to a 4-2.

Heat nine saw Perks fall leaving bend two as he tried to get on terms with the Brummies's duo.

Perks was out wide and got sucked into the last panel of the air fence.

In the re-run, Wood sped from the tapes to ensure Eastbourne shared the points.

In heat ten Tom Bacon threatened an upset by leading Ellis for three-and-half laps before the Eagle drove under him down the back straight on lap four and then executed a perfect last two bends to give Eastbourne a little bit more breathing space.

At the interval the score was 35-25, with the Eagles four ahead on aggregate.

Parkinson-Blackburn came out and inflicted Knight's first defeat of the match but with Powell third the gap between the teams was unaltered.

Birmingham team manager Graham Drury put Parkinson-Blackburn out in the next race and he duly won.

Perks was second but the crucial move for the Eagles was when Brennan passed Smith early doors and moved into clear air in third.

The Eastbourne turbo twins of Knight and Ellis struck in heat 13 with a 5-1 that put the Eagles eight up on aggregate with two races left.

Birmingham took a 4-2 in heat 14 but it was not enough and the Eagles had retained the KO Cup with one race to come.

Heat 15 developed into a good race with Knight emerging victorious in front of Tom Perry with Ellis third.


EASTBOURNE 52: Jake Knight 14, Adam Ellis 12+1, Tom Brennan 9+3, Georgie Wood 9+1, Ellis Perks 6+1, Charley Powell 2+1, Gary Cottham r/r.

BIRMINGHAM 38: Jack Parkinson-Blackburn 19, Tom Perry 7, Jack Smith 4+2, Tom Bacon 4+1, Darryl Ritchings 4, Danyon Hume r/r.

Eastbourne win 94-86 on aggregate.