Speedway with Shaleman

SPEEDWAY at Arlington Stadium switches to Monday night (tonight) this weekend; for the benefit of the Sky TV cameras.

They will be broadcasting the Eastbourne v Peterborough clash live and a lot of the time the commentators and cameras will be concentrating on one man – Nicki Pedersen.

The former Eagles favourite is back in British speedway with the Cambridgeshire team and this is the first time he has been back to Arlington since he left at the end of 2007.

Nicki used to rule the roost at Eastbourne to such an extent the track was prepared to suit his style of riding.

If it wasn’t to his liking, you would see him stalk down the stock car track in front of the main grandstand to give Bob Dugard his opinion.

As soon as he could, Bob and tractor would swing out on to the track to carry out the necessary re-grading.

Pedersen enjoyed a successful time at Eastbourne, coming to the track after a massive falling out at Oxford. He was regarded by some in the sport as “difficult” but once in Sussex he settled into a points-scoring machine.

It seemed to be a happy relationship all round. Nicki was adored by the fans (well, most of them), he was spectacular and you knew the opposition would be given a hard time when he was on track.

The parting of the ways came, it was said, largely over the wages he wanted and his disquiet at the number of meetings in England. Pedersen, a Dane, has not ridden for a British club since then, until signing for Peterborough on the eve of this season.

As for his pay demands, I do not know. But the number of meetings in the Elite League is fewer this year and Pedersen believes he can fit them in. There’s also a feeling that it may boost his quest to regain the world title.

So what sort of welcome will Nicki get on Monday night? Once they sign for another team, heroes usually become zeroes for many fans and the boos will ring out.

They did for Scott Nicholls, they usually do Adam Shields and Lee Richardson.

I’ll stick my neck out and say there will not be a chorus of boos when his name is announced to the supporters. Some were never won over by Pedersen’s magic, others still regard him as beyond the pale but, on balance, the vast majority of Eastbourne fans will surely give him a polite welcome.

If anyone gets the “bird” from the Eastbourne fans on Monday it will Peterborough’s Troy Batchelor.

He’s not held in the highest regard by many supporters after a number of incidents. Forgive and forget? Never, it appears, when it comes to Mr Batchelor.

Of course, the match is not all about Nicki and Troy.

From the home camp the most important thing is to get back to winning ways after the shock home defeat last time out against King’s Lynn.

The reverse has not derailed the Eagles’ title hopes but they cannot afford any more such upsets. The great start to the season means a top four finish is on the cards.

They top the table having completed half their matches; although to be fair a number of other teams are way behind with their fixtures.

But the Eagles have the points on the board and the key is to get into the top four play-offs. Top two would be better and that’s what team manager Trevor Geer should impress on his charges. They need to refocus ahead of Monday’s match and put on a display in front of the cameras that says: Eastbourne are serious championship challengers.