AFTER three failed attempts to run the Midland Development League Grand Final, MK Knights were finally crowned champions as they completed a dream return to speedway action with victory over Belle Vue Colts at Coventry’s Brandon Stadium.
Finishing first and second in the regular season, the two sides went into the final on Friday night in good form, and with one win apiece from their previous two league meetings this year. They had also both drawn their earlier matches against Mercia Vikings at the Brandon track, so a close final always looked on the cards.
However, Knights had other ideas and raced to a 21-15 victory to complete a memorable return to competitive action for the club that had disappeared for more than 20 years.
Belle Vue fielded their regular four-man team of Max Clegg, David Holt, Tom Woolley and Michael Neale, while Knights were forced into two changes with Adam Portwood and Mark Baldock – in for injured skipper Conor Dwyer and Adam Sheppard respectively – joining Shaun Tedham and Ollie Greenwood in the city side’s line-up.
Race one saw Tedham, who has developed into one of the best riders in the MDL this season, quickly shoot from the tapes to claim the first of his three race wins on the night and first full maximum in a Knights race jacket.
Race two saw Greenwood and debutant Baldock edge Knights in front with a 4-2 heat advantage, before Tedham and Baldock doubled the team’s lead in the next race with another 4-2 success.
Greenwood protected the lead in race four – holding off a late challenge from Clegg – and then in race five, stand in skipper Tedham raced clear from the tapes with Holt and Woolley holding Portwood at the back, knowing that a 3-3 draw would take the contest into a last race decider.
As they entered the third lap, Woolley went wide, letting Portwood through into a crucial third place. He then took up the chase and nearly caught Holt on the line, but his third place finish was enough to ensure that Knights had an unassailable six-point lead going into the final race, confirming them as MDL champions.
With the last heat a formality, all that was left was for Greenwood to claim his sixth maximum from seven meetings and confirm a resounding 21-15 Knights victory.
With champagne corks popping, Knights were presented with the MDL Championship Shield, and the team’s jubilant supporters started to celebrate a fantastic first season back in the sport.