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Sunday
2 April, 4:00pm

NDL

Mildenhall
Fen Tigers
v
Kent
Royals

Speedway Cup Finals are like London buses at Mildenhall Speedway – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – on Sunday [23rd. Oct.], you wait for one and two come along at once!

The double header sees the Fen Tigers take on Leicester Lion Cubs twice – starting with the First Leg of the Grand Final of the Play Offs in the National Development League (the title the Suffolk side are defending after being crowned champions this time last year); and then the Second Leg of the Knock-out Cup Final  In perfect symmetry that one is a title being defended by the East Mildlander visitors – as it was last staged pre- the pandemic in 2019 and won by Leicester.

With the two sides having finished first and second in the NDL table this term, this really is shaping up to be a double-pronged battle royale for the two pieces of major silverware and for supremacy of British Speedway’s third tier.

Mildenhall have Jack Kingston fit to resume his place in their line up – having missed the First Leg of the KOC away at Leicester last weekend due to concussion.  Filling the vacant reserve berth will be a second 15-year-old debutant in as many weeks – with this time, King’s Lynn-based Ashton Boughen looking to see what he can do after fellow teen Luke Harrison’s extraordinary first home match in Fen Tigers’ colours last Sunday.

The visitors are unchanged – unlike Mildenhall who’ve had all sorts of injury woes throughout the 2022 campaign, the Lion Cubs have basically been able to ride with a unchanged septet from June onwards.

They are led at the top end therefore by an impressive heat leader trio of former Mildenhall man Connor Coles and the Thompson twins, Joe & Dan.  The brothers from Nuneaton won the NDL Pairs title at their home track earlier this year and both recorded maximums against the Fen Tigers in the KOC Final first leg last weekend.

The Lion Cubs have three very promising teens in their side: Mickie Simpson, Vinnie Foord and former World Youth Long Track champion, Max Perry.  The latter will be keen to show the West Row crowd what he can do after a pointless visit when the Lion Cubs came in the regular NDL match in June.

Completing the line-up for Leicester is the largely unsung Tom Spencer: talking of singing, the 22 year old with the pop star’s name, proves by his always dependable middle-order scoring that in Speedway it’s not  ‘All About You’!

The Play Off Final of course starts at level-pegging and Jason Gardner & Malcolm Vasey’s Fen Tigers will know that literally every point is vital in terms of building a score to take into the second leg – which is now confirmed as taking place up at the Lions’ Beaumont Park circuit on Saturday 29th. October.  Getting a big home win on Sunday could mean that Mildenhall fill the Leicester fans with horror on Halloween weekend!

The KOC situation is obviously a somewhat different matter with a not insignificant 26 points deficit to overcome from last Saturday’s first leg – however with the Fen Tigers having blown away Berwick Bullets 67-22 last Sunday, it proves that on their own track and with all barrels blasting, no first lead would be deemed unassailable.

For the vastly experienced team boss Malcolm Vasey, Sunday will be his last home meeting in charge as the octogenarian is hanging up his clipboard (though one doubts his trademark baseball cap!) and stepping down from Speedway Team Management after close to 25 years in the game. Finishing with silverware will be the best possible retirement present for the Mildenhall legend.

Also approaching legendary status at the club now is hugely popular, cult-hero Luke Muff who has hit the best form of his career at exactly the right time, a useful paid six at Leicester in the KOC Final was followed by a first-ever maximum against Berwick to propel the side into the Play Off Grand Final and the reserve commented,

“We need to get our heads down and go - ride hard and not give them anything”.

The North Yorkshireman knows the value given by the ‘extra man’ of a vociferous West Row crowd,

“We need a big crowd to get us really going – we want as much support as we can have”

The meeting – the biggest for years at Mildenhall Stadium – begins at the earlier time of 2pm, with the gates open at 12.30pm, on Sunday 23rd. October.