Lakeside co-promoter Jon Cook insists the fight to keep Speedway in the Thurrock area continues – despite the last ever meeting at Arena Essex on Friday night.
Cook is expecting an emotional occasion when bikes roar for one last time at the venue which has staged the shale sport every year since 1984. Glasgow are the visitors in a vital Championship meeting (8pm).
Developers have taken over the site and Hammers will see out the season at Rye House – but the ultimate aim is to return closer to home in the future.
Said Cook: “At times, many times, Stuart Douglas and I have questioned whether carrying on was itself futile and if it hadn’t been for the political support and insistence that Speedway will be found a home in Thurrock then we’d not be here now.
“It’s time to see those words met with actions but the developers in meetings with us have always stressed they understand as part of the planning process that support from them has to happen.
“I’ve had some great times at Arena, both as an opponent and also as a home manager. It’s going to be an incredibly emotional night on Friday.”
A host of former riders will be on hand and the club’s record points scorer and appearance maker Leigh Lanham will ride the final four laps.
The club have also produced a special commemorative brochure ‘Farewell to the Raceway’ which includes exclusive interviews with former promoter Peter Thorogood, ex-Arena racers Martin Goodwin, Andrew Silver and Troy Pratt along with 1991 title winner Bo Petersen speaking from Denmark. Gary Havelock, the 1992 World Champion, also pays an emotional tribute to the late Lee Richardson, one of the club’s all-time greats.
Cook and club owner Stuart Douglas have also written emotional pieces along with club commercial manager Russell Keetch – and there’s a look back at the first ever meeting in 1984 with Phil Lanning.
The brochure doubles-up as Friday’s meeting programme and is £5 on entry to the stadium.
A breakdown of key timings for the meeting will be provided tomorrow, including information regarding the Speedway Riders Benevolent Fund collection.
Richard Lawson, Ben Morley, Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman R/R, Nick Morris, Zach Wajtknecht, Alfie Bowtell. No 8 Jason Edwards
Craig Cook, James Sarjeant, Claus Vissing, Paul Starke, Chris Harris, Jack Thomas, Broc Nicol.
Admission: Pay at the gate (cash and cards accepted)
- Adults: £17
- Concessions: £14* (concessions cover Male OAP’s 65 and over, female OAP’s 65 and over, Disabled, Unemployed, 17 and 18 year olds in full education and Students over 18)
- Students 16yrs up £8
- Kids (8-15) £1
- 7 years and under free
- Programme: £5
(*proof of entitlement may be requested.)