Grand Final Tonight

It is the biggest meeting of the 2018 speedway season for the Eastbourne Forman IT Eagles tonight (October 21).

The take on the Mildenhall Fen Tigers in the first leg of the National League Play Offs Grand Final at Arlington stadium.

The racing begins at 7.30pm.

Second leg of the final is at the Suffolk club’s West Row stadium on Thursday (October 25).

Mildenhall were clear at the top of the National League table when the Play Offs cut-off date hit.

They had already won the National Trophy and were aiming for a grand slam of all three pieces of silverware on offer.

Those hopes were dashed when Eastbourne beat them last weekend over two legs to take the KO Cup.

Now, it is the big one.

Eastbourne have slowly been stalking the Fen Tigers in a modern-day version of the Tortoise and Hare – an Aesop Fable.

Mildenhall were straight out of the blocks as the season began while the Eagles began more slowly.

Since then the Arlington outfit has gathered speed. 

That is perfectly illustrated by the away matches against Coventry this year.

Back in April, Eastbourne lost by 12; the deficit was only two when they returned in May for the KO Cup.

Last night (October 20), the Eagles won by ten points.

The story throughout the season from Arlington HQ has been this: our team is built to get better as the year goes on.

That message has come loud and clear from team boss Connor Dugard and captain Mark Baseby.

Time and again, when asked about a particular success, they have said it was good but emphasised on every occasion there is more to come.

The aim was always to make the Play Offs – at which point every team started again on an equal basis.

Now is the moment of truth. 

Three years in succession the Eagles have come up just short of winning the title.

Can they do it this season?

The riders are really buzzing after winning the KO Cup and comfortably despatching Coventry.

This is the anniversary of Trafalgar Day, when on October 21, 1805, Vice Admiral Lord Nelson recorded a vital victory in a famous sea battle during the Napoleonic Wars. He signalled from his flagship: England expects every man will do his duty.

Martin and Connor know they will have to send no such signal to their seven crew. They know what is needed – as they have all season long.

Eastbourne are at full strength.

Mildenhall, who have been hit by a series of injuries, look set to have a patched-up side. Jordan Jenkins, who was injured in the cup final at Arlington is out, and we understand Danny Ayres has failed a fitness test.

The declared team is (riding order to be confirmed)

1. Drew Kemp

2. Kelsey Dugard (g)

3. Josh Bailey

4. Ryan Kinsley

5. R/R (Danny Ayres)

6. Sam Bebee

7. Matt Marson