KOC triumph seals domestic clean sweep
In winning the KO Cup for the second time Houston have become the first club in the sports history to win all five domestic competitions in a single season. A long and successful year for the Colts but they had the stamina to finish it in style, a celebratory buzz around The Stables this week as they steamrollered a Sedgley side already playing catch-up following their first leg loss, Blake White (14+1) and Ludoslaw Jaworski (14+1) both picking up maximums and Cameron Adams (11) falling just a point short of his as Houston took a fantastic 57-33 win. At 103-77 the aggregate margin of victory was the biggest ever recorded in the final of the competition, just one more record to add to the collection built up by George Seymour’s side in SL10. A special mention for 19 year old Adam Carroll (10+1) at reserve, he more than played his part with two race wins and a second place finish in the fourth of five Houston 5-1’s in heat 14, the rider who cost £120,000 at the start of SL9 set to be sent out on loan next season, as is Malcolm Lloyd who was left out of the Colts final league meetings this week in preparation. His absence may have played a part in their four point loss at Brookwood, a result which denied them the chance to break the top flight league points record set by Lincoln in SL3, their final tally of 71 only matching the Imps mark. It was a useful two points for Brookwood, who ended the year in third spot in the standings, a place which earns them European Cup racing next season for the first time since SL1, three-times winners of the competition, Belfast—who began the week in that position—miss out after losing both their remaining league fixtures.
The first of Belfast’s defeats this week had implications at the bottom of the table with seventh placed Hallamshire taking all three points from their meeting at the Titanic. Top flight safety secured for Matt Akers side with the 44-45 victory, Jan Tomenek scoring 10 at reserve for the visitors, matching the combined tally of the Sinks bottom four which includes Mandek Duda! Julian Harrison won a last heat 4-2 for the Sheffield side who had picked up a 0-5 in heat eight after both the host’s representatives failed to finish the race, with a GSA of 10.35 Harrison ends the year as the highest averaged rider in the top flight. Hallamshire’s good luck was Long Eaton’s misfortune, the result in Belfast ending their hopes of a seventh successive season in division one, they becoming the first side ever to win the title and then suffer relegation in the following season.
Jone Bergan (11)—who has been with Prague since being released by Houston at the beginning of SL8—was crowned World Champion in Warsaw this week following his fourth podium finish of the GP campaign. Second after a race-off loss to Stoke’s Vlasik Vladimir, who at 40 became the oldest ever winner of a Grand Prix meeting, Bergan had done more than enough to finish three points clear at the top of the standings. A surprising large margin given the top eight were separated by just five points going into the decider, however as so often happens the Polish round found out a few, with likely contenders Blake White (7), Erich Lacina (6) and Harry Nicholls (4) all tallying their lowest scores of the five round series.
Solihull beat Buxton of the final day 51-39 to clinched the remaining promotion place in division two. Peter Hay’s side went into the meeting level on points with the Bees in the standings, a nervy start by both but eventually the Scorpions pulled away, with back-to-back 5-1’s in heats 12 and 13 giving them the victory. Caversham could have still denying Solihull their top flight debut in SL11 if they’d won at Wavedon, however the Swans lost out 47-42 at the bottom of the table side having led with four heats of the fixture remaining. Elsewhere in the division Epping said goodbye to the British League with a 35-55 win at Stoke, the Stags—founder members back in SL1—close their doors for the final time having won five trophies, including the 4TT in the opening season.
Defeat at home for Leyton on the final day against champions Stirling handed Steeple the final promotion place in division three, with Herne Bay—promoted by Tony Cope—securing second spot thanks to their 59-31 victory over Tom Naylor’s Stars.
A second successive International League title for England and a first for their boss Matt Barnard as the Lions rounded off the season with a 49-41 win over the Czech Republic. Three 5-1’s featuring Adam Lucas (10+1) in the first eight races saw England take control of the crunch clash in Stoke, the victory seeing them top the standings on points difference from Denmark, who won in Oslo this week.
Sedgley pipped Hallamshire to the Junior League crown after beating them by a single point on aggregate in the final two meetings this week. The Sprites winning the title for the first time since SL1.