Speedway 2022: Edinburgh Monarchs reveal Championship team for the year ahead - Liam Rudden
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The anticipation was palpable when John McGillivray and myself set up our virtual studios the other week to record the Monarchs’ Season Reveal Show, both keen to discover who co-promoters, John Campbell and Alex Harkess, had chosen to take us into the first full speedway season since 2019. That anticipation quickly gave way to excitement as we then had the honour of revealing the familiar favourites, new faces and odd wildcard or two who will make up the team that takes the club into its 74th year.
Although we’ll have to wait until April to see them take to the shale in competition, the pre-season build up always begins with the unveiling of the team, which will once again be led from the front by Australian No 1 and Captain, Sam Masters, in what will be his seventh season as a Monarch.
Backup will come from the man known as Armadale's 'Mr Entertainer', Josh Pickering, back for a fifth term in Edinburgh colours and Kye Thomson, who returns for a second year after claiming Monarch of The Year and Most Improved Rider trophies in his debut season.
Also back is James Sarjeant who last rode for the team in 2019 and returns after a horror crash at the end of 2021 while riding for Redcar. With no racing in 2020 due to Covid, Sarjeant lost his Edinburgh team place in 2021 as a result of the now scrapped 'Rising Star' regulation which required teams to field two British youngsters.
Similarly, Norwegian Lasse Fredriksen, also set to join the Monarchs in 2020 (he was on his way to the UK when lockdown closed borders and then ruled out of the 2021 team due to the same 'Rising Star' initiative), finally gets his opportunity to race here.
Another exciting new face this year is ebullient Italian, Paco Castagna. Always a great rider to watch, he’s done well around Armadale in the past.
Completing the 2022 line-up is 19-year-old Australian Jacob Hook. He may be the unknown quantity of the team but then, so many newcomers have proved match winners for the Monarchs in the past. Time will tell.
While other clubs drip feed signings one by one on social media, Edinburgh opted to reveal all seven in one fell swoop - a perfect start to the new year and a move sure to calm the nerves of more anxious contributors to the fan forums, worried by an apparent lack of news.
Also announced was that, for the first time in their 74 year history, the Monarchs will take to the track in race suits. They design has yet to be revealed but it’s safe to expect some blue, some gold and a touch of tartan.
All in all, the 2022 Edinburgh Monarchs look sure to provide some spectacular track action. Stacked with potential, it's the old story, if they all click at the same time and manage to stay injury free, anything is possible.
Bring it on, see you from The Tower...