Sunday October 30, 2016
BIRMINGHAM missed out on a domestic treble after controversially being forced to compete the Knockout Cup Final at Eastbourne with a depleted side.

The Surestop Brummies lost 52-38 at Arlington, resulting in a 94-86 aggregate defeat.

Despite no official complaints from the Eastbourne management, SCB referee Paul Carrington brought into question the eligibility of guest No.1 James Shanes under the ‘eight day’ ruling after contact with home supporters just 30 minutes before start-time, and Shanes was subsequently prevented from riding.

Birmingham team manager Graham Drury said: “I have been told on more than one occasion this year that, due to the nature of rider availability in the National League nowadays, the so-called eight day rule no longer applies.

“Do you really think that I’d book the same guest rider on back-to-back Sundays if I thought that rule was still in use in our league?

“There have been a number of fixtures where this has evidently been the case and I can’t recall any problems with it prior to our meeting at Eastbourne.

“I thought the days had long gone whereby the public are deprived and robbed of seeing a team that has been advertised and publicised in the build-up to a meeting.

“Yes every now and again you will have riders who have last minute travel problems or illnesses and you’re forced to make late changes, but on the whole when there’s no problems at all, supporters should be able to turn up to a meeting and see all of the riders they are expecting to.

“There’s a procedure within the British Speedway Promoters’ Association and the Speedway Control Bureau where five days before a meeting, each club going head-to-head must exchange their team line-ups for that upcoming meeting.

“Those teams are then passed on to the SCB referee scheduled for that fixture who then has plenty of time to confirm the eligibility of all the riders down to participate in that particular event.

“Both the referee and the Eastbourne management have raised no objection or questioned the booking whatsoever in the build-up to the meeting and there has certainly not been any communication whatsoever regarding the ineligibility of James Shanes guesting for us in the Knockout Cup Final.

“So with that in mind, to then be approached just 30 minutes before the scheduled start time and told that James Shanes wouldn’t be allowed to ride in the meeting absolutely astonished me!

“Not only did it make our task even harder than it already was as we were already without Danyon Hume but it meant the supporters of speedway were once again the losers.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re ending the season on such a controversial matter and that we’re not talking about what a classic cup tie that should and would have been.

“It just seems very strange how standard regulations and procedures haven’t been followed in this instance.

“Eastbourne should have raised any problems or queries when I sent them our team earlier in the week and the referee certainly should have given us prior notice if he didn’t think James Shanes was an eligible guest.

“I’d like to apologise to our supporters who gave up their Sunday and spent money on petrol to make the long journey down to Eastbourne but unfortunately, this one was completely out of our hands.

“As for the meeting itself, the team battled hard but just found points and race wins in particular hard to come by – all except Jack Parkinson-Blackburn that is!

“The number of points he scored was higher than his age – it’s not often you get to say that in speedway!

“It was a sensational performance from Jack once again who scored half the team’s points on his own and it was just yet the latest example of why he is going to be one of the sport’s top stars in the future.

“We’re not going to lose to much sleep over missing out on the Knockout Cup though.

“We’ve had a sensational season and we achieved our main target of being crowned National League Champions for a second year running.

“If we’d have completed the clean sweep, it would have been hard to have matched that next year.

“By winning only two of the three honours, it gives us a real aim and focus for 2017!

“This season overall has been so memorable once again and we look forward to celebrating properly at our End of Season Presentation night on Saturday!”

EASTBOURNE 52: Jake Knight 14, Adam Ellis 12+1, Tom Brennan 9+3, Georgie Wood 9+1, Ellis Perks 6+1, Charley Powell 2+1, Gary Cottham R/R.

BIRMINGHAM 38: Jack Parkinson-Blackburn 19, Tom Perry 7, Jack Smith 4+2, Tom Bacon 4+1, Darryl Ritchings 4, Danyon Hume R/R.

Eastbourne win 94-86 on aggregate.

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