Photo by NEWSPICS
The Lakeside Hammers began the 2007 season with the aim of reviving its fortunes after some lean years. It ended the season fifth in the Elite League and semi-finalists of the Knock Out Cup. Terry Catley looks back on their season of promise.
Changes at the Arena Raceway
Changes were announced at the end of the 2006 dinner dance, with the main sponsor Stuart Douglas, under his Duggo 7 company, taking over as promoter from Ronnie Russell.
Douglas sought the advice of the vastly experienced Len Silver as consultant and then sprung a surprise when he announced the arrival of Jon Cook as co-promoter and team manager. Cook had fourteen years at the helm of arch rivals Eastbourne and together they set about forming a team for the new season.
Stuart Douglas took over the reigns
Joonas Kylmakorpi, Leigh Lanham, Henning Bager and Paul Hurry were retained and Krzysztof Kasprzak, Christian Hefenbrock and Adam Shields were added with Chris Neath named as number eight. A further change was unveiled; the new regime was to be known as the Lakeside Hammers at Arena Essex.
At the pre-season press and practice day the new promotion were hesitant to make predictions, but did promise a wholehearted commitment to building a foundation for the future.
Injuries played a part once the track action got underway. Kylmakorpi dislocated a shoulder early on, Bager broke a wrist at Ipswich, rider replacement was used and Chris Neath was brought in. Then Paul Hurry injured his leg at Peterborough, so guests were also utilised.
May was a rollercoaster for results. The Hammers' first away success came at Oxford, only for this result to be deleted from the records when the Cheetahs withdrew from the Elite League.
Following the high after the win at Sandy Lane came the low with the first home defeat by Wolverhampton on a wet night when the Wolves coped much better on a difficult surface.
There was a further away win, however, at Reading; with double figure scores from Kasprzak, Shields and Neath, the Hammers had a 49-41 victory. This was on a Monday, the following Thursday they suffered a 62-29 defeat at Swindon!
AJ joins in
There were team changes in June as Lubos Tomicek replaced Hefenbrock. Two weeks later, Ricky Kling was recruited and Andreas Jonsson made his debut, whilst Hurry and Bager dropped out.
Andreas Jonsson rode brilliantly
Jonsson's initial career was short lived as, in his first appearance, he crashed on the third bend of the first race at Eastbourne. Although he did appear at Wolverhampton he wasn't seen again until late August.
Kylmakorpi was injured in August, so once again it was rider replacement and guests as the Finn had to sit out the rest of the season. With Tomicek being committed to meetings on the Continent, Andreas Messing was brought in a reserve position.
Matching the big boys
The Hammers progressed to the semi-final of the Knock Out Cup. Despite holding Coventry to eleven points at Brandon they could only manage a draw at home, as the Bees went on to meet Swindon in the Final.
Lakeside wrapped up their season with a win over Eastbourne and, by taking the aggregate bonus, moved up into fifth place in the final Elite League table.
The promise at the start of the year was kept and the Lakeside Hammers should look ahead to greater success.
last updated: 30/10/07
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