It’s crunch time for the Edinburgh Monarchs – Liam Rudden
It's not often I get nervous before a speedway match, even with the knowledge that Edinburgh Monarchs’ live stream goes around the world every Friday night as well as the occasional Tuesday and Saturday too.
Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article
Today, if you're reading this online, or yesterday if you have the print version, I am already nervous ahead of the Championship Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg.
Yes, we're at the business end of the season - all meetings have to be completed by the end of October when riders' insurance expires - and thanks to the weather, amongst other things, the team's schedule has never been busier.
Last Friday, a 20 point win over arch-rivals Glasgow Tigers took the mighty Monarchs through to the Final of the Knock Out Cup, which sees us line up at home against Poole Pirates, today if you're reading in print, tomorrow if you're online, and then away on Wednesday. This is where it gets complicated.
In an ideal world, speedway would already be done for another year by now. October in Scotland is too wet and cold, as indeed it is England. The weather is so unpredictable it's almost impossible to plan ahead.
The other week should have seen the Monarchs race at home on an unprecedented three occasions - Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. The Tuesday match saw them through to the Championship Play Off Semi-Finals with a 57-33 win over Redcar. The Friday was the afore-mentioned 55-35 win over Glasgow.
Now the complicated bit. Last Saturday, the plan was to meet Glasgow again in the first leg of the Championship Play Off Semi Final, but as the supporters' bus made its way along the M8 to Armadale, the call came to say the rain had won and the meeting was off, leaving Edinburgh with two legs of a final, two legs of a semi final and another possible final as well as the last match of their development team the Armadale Devils to squeeze in.
This evening, if you're reading this online (yesterday if you have a paper), John McGillivray and I will be in The Tower streaming the second leg of the Play Off Semi FInal against Glasgow.
The first leg took place on Thursday when Tigers won by 22 points. If Edinburgh had a mountain to climb to get into the KO Cup Final, as co-promoter John Campbell has said, this time it's Everest. A 23 point win to get through to the Play Off Final and the chance of their sixth League Championship is a big, big ask, not that I put anything beyond this particular Monarchs squad. On their day they are capable of anything.
Either way, tomorrow (Saturday) it’s the first leg of the Knock Out Cup Final against the Pirates (followed by the Devils’ last match) – it won’t be until Wednesday that we discover if the club has its first silverware of the season.
Ironically, should we have once again defeated Glasgow on aggregate by the end of Friday's match, it will be Poole we will meet in the League Championship.