The Lakeside Hammers secured the Club’s first ever senior league silverware last night when they lifted the Elite League Knockout Cup at Brandon Stadium, the home of the Coventry Bees, All roads from Essex, Kent and East London led to Warwickshire as the Hammers supporters turned out in force to cheer their team on to victory.
Having won the 1st leg by 23 points at their Arena-Essex Raceway the Essex based Club knew that they just needed to ensure that the Coventry Bees did not eat into the lead too quickly in the away 2nd leg but the travelling fans early concerns were not justified as the Hammers team went on to not only defend the lead but to win on the night 49-41 to extend their winning margin to a very impressive 31 points.
The turning point in the meeting came in heat eight when the Hammers were six points down on the night. Kauko Nieminen took the ‘Rider Replacement’ ride for the injured Joonas Kylmakorpi and sped from the tapes to beat Coventry’s Ben Barker who had already recorded two heat victories. Nieminen’s partner, Stuart Robson, held of Josh Auty to give the Hammers a 4-2 heat advantage. That appeared to spur on the Hammers riders even more with the remaining seven heats seeing them outscore the home team by 12 points, which turned a deficit of six points after heat seven into an eventual eight point victory on the night after the 15 heats of racing.
In what was a good all round team performance the Hammers were superbly led by their captain, Adam Shields, who amassed 16 points from his six rides to add to his unbeaten 14+1 from the home 1st leg.
The Cup was presented to the Hammers captain in front of their enthusiastic travelling supporters who had made themselves heard all evening over the large number of home supporters at the Brandon Stadium.
After the celebrations were over the Hammers promotion plus their captain had a few words to say about their first major trophy win at the top level of the Sport in this Country.
Co Promoter and Team Manager Jon Cook commented: ” This is a piece of Hammers history, to bring home the club’s first Elite League silverware. The damage was really inflicted when the team put in such a superb performance at home which meant we had some very specific tactics tonight. Putting Kauko (Nieminen) out in heat 8 was the turning point of the match – from there on our confidence was flying. I am so pleased so many Hammers fans travelled to see this moment.”
Co Promoter and Club owner Stuart Douglas stated: “I’m overwhelmed by the occasion, and I’m so pleased for all the lads and for Jon. Coventry are one of the biggest names in Speedway, so to win both legs is a phenomenal achievement. I’d like to thank all the Hammers fans that made so much noise, and all the Coventry supporters who showed so much generosity. For me it was unforgettable night.”
Adam Shields, the Hammers Australian captain, said: “It was a great night. To lift the trophy with an away win on the track was the icing on the cake. We knew we had a good team, and unlike last season when we fell away at the end, this year all the lads came good at the right moment. It’s a very proud moment for me to be skipper of this team”.
The Hammers supporters will have the chance of seeing the team with the Cup this coming Wednesday, 28th October, at 8pm when they will be in the Raceway Tavern at their Arena-Essex Raceway. The riders will be presented with their individual awards for winning this major trophy at this event. It will be open to all fans and entry will be free of charge.