Promoter fans the flames
Mildenhall Fen Tigers promoter Kevin Jolly has opened up a war of words with arch rivals Cradley Heathens by declaring they are nothing more than ‘the Wolverhampton B side’, writes Graham Clark.
The two teams will meet for the first time this season when contesting the opening leg of this year’s National Trophy Final at Monmore Green on Tuesday (7.30pm).
While the Fen Tigers, who are the defending Trophy holders, are also chasing glory in the National League and Knock-out Cup, the Heathens elected only to compete in the trophy using a team made up of riders competing at other clubs in speedway’s third tier.
“At the end of the day they are not a proper team. You could call them a National League select side or the Wolverhampton B side,” said Jolly.
“What we have is a proper team of seven lads who all work for each other and all get on with each other and pull together.
“It’s not going to be easy up there but I’m not wanting to be big headed or arrogant, but I don’t care who we come up against; they are good enough to do a job.”
Although there is little love between the two sides, most of which stems back to the second leg of the 2012 National League Play-Off final and the exclusion of Heathens star Adam Roynon in heat 15, Jolly believes it is a meeting that both teams will be excited about.
“At the start of the season I think we were hoping this is how it would end up, and although Cradley have been a bit hit-and-miss they have got there. We wanted this and I’m looking forward to it,” added Jolly.
“I think we should all thrive off the rivalry and a bit of showmanship. I come from an era in which meetings were built up that way. We want to get people’s attention and hopefully create some excitement.”
Having spent last season sporting Heathens colours, current Fen Tigers number one Danny Ayres has claimed he is excited about the prospect of heading into battle against his previous employers and trying to help his new team defend their title.
“I’m fully pumped for it. I was a Cradley rider last year but I’m just pumped up to get this team the first trophy we deserve,” said the former Newmarket College student.
“I went there at the start of the season and struggled but I showed what I can do in the Golden Hammer.
“It’s going to be tough but Drew (Kemp) has been riding there this season. I feel we are solid throughout and as long as we keep it close we can finish it off at home.”
Before taking on the Heathens, the West Row-based outfit, who are assured first pick in the play-offs after topping the National League table following their 57-33 win over the Eastbourne Eagles on Sunday, will be on league duties against the Birmingham Brummies on Saturday (7.30pm).
Josh Bailey will be absent for both fixtures after he was stood down with concussion following a crash during the Fen Tigers’ 50-40 win over the Kent Kings on Monday.