TIGERS EARN THEIR STRIPES
Totton claim title hat-trick
Tottonhave become the first club to win the League Championship for a third time, the Tigers seeing off long time leaders and last years victors Houston after extending their run of top flight wins to seven meetings this week. A home 50-40 success over Belfast was that seventh, however they still needed something from their final day clash at Solihull to be certain of remaining clear of the Colts, and by holding an eight point advantage from the reverse fixture a much wanted bonus point was certainly within their grasp. On paper their goal looked easy, but it proved anything but with Solihull going in front on aggregate as early as heat five, a race in which both Simon Snow (13+1) and Gareth Walker failed to finish. The Tigers hit back immediately with a Simon Snow/Ianos Volk (13+2) 5-1 in heat six, the Scorpions though were not done yet, they certainly doing their bit for Houston’s cause, home riders taking wins in each of the next four races, which included a 4-2 and a 5-1, which resulted in a three point Scorpions aggregate lead heading into the final third. Another tactical substitute brought another 5-1 in heat 11, Miksa Mathe (9+2) the one to partner Snow on this occasion, but more would be required with Solihull back on course for the bonus and certain of the meeting victory following heat 13. Totton however finished it off in style, the season wouldn’t have one last twist, 5-1’s for the Tigers in heats 14 and 15 taking them to the bonus point which meant it wouldn’t matter whatever result Houston got at Cranford. After a trophy-less SL10, silverware is back in the hands of Simon Snow and Miksa Mathe—ever-presents since the club’s first league title in SL7—plus John Shuttler, who can count himself as the most successful manager in British League history.
A dramatic end to the KO Cup final in which second division Bradford and third tier champions Mansfield battled to the wire to become the first club from outside of the top flight to lift the trophy. Bradford took the honours, but only after a last heat Sarkis Evanoff (15) victory over Nichols Cole (11) and Deryugine Mikhail (9+1) at Bodhall, the three points from the Russian completing a 91-89 aggregate victory for the hosts. Both clubs will race in Europe next season and they will be the first to do so from division two, with Bradford staying at the second tier level after they failed to grab the final promotion place this week.
That final promotion place in Division Two behind Long Eaton and Caversham was taken by Buxton, Martin Harvey’s side securing their spot in the top flight after just three season’s in the sport thanks to the bonus point in their final day fixture at Stourbridge. Zvi Sundt—one of five ever-present’s in the Bees promotion winning team—will not be back though for that maiden division one campaign, last years world number 15 deciding to retire from the sport on the eve of his 45th birthday.
Trevor Walker’s Ringwood got the win they required to confirm their promotion to division two in the penultimate round of league fixtures, their 56-34 victory over Harringay was the club’s sixth in a row at home by a double figure margin. Fellow SL10 rookies Birmingham also go up, a 46-44 victory over promotion rivals Shetland proving to be decisive in the battle for third spot, Ally Carrol’s side coming away with all the spoils from the ‘six-pointer’ with the help of three wins from mid-season signing Vanya Golub (13+1), it was however the Russian’s second place finish in heat 14 which took his side over the line.
Any question marks over Durko Karban’s suitability to be World Champion were answered by the Slovakian’s third GP win of this years five round series in Warsaw, the Pori star racing to three wins to top the final round standings in Poland by two from Simon Snow (2nd) and Aaron Campbell (3rd). The 27 year olds 13 point tally saw him finish with a record 60 for a single campaign and an all time best winning margin over the runner-up of ten points. That runner-up was Stirling and Australian star Aaron Campbell, who went on to cap a great second season at the Seahawks by winning the Division Two Championship. Olcay Fugleberg of Heath and Daniel Pesola from Ringwood won the first and third division rider crowns respectively.
A 62-28 rout of Denmark ensured a third straight England title victory in the International League, Julian Harrison top scoring for the Lions with 12 in the win, which saw Matt Bernard bow out as the home nation manager.
His side may have missed out in the KO Cup, but Pete Watmough will still be delighted in a season which has seen Mansfield win the third tier double. A season the Yorkies capped off by taking the Junior League title by two points this week from Long Eaton.