Disaster strikes for Kent Kings
Disaster strikes for Kent Kings

Calamity struck at Central Park Stadium on Monday evening – when in an unfortunately apt (for those of a superstitious nature…) heat 13, the Kent SLYDE Kings’ skipper Luke Bowen crashed out – suffering suspected serious knee ligament damage.

Up to that point all was progressing nicely for the home side – nailed on for a sixth consecutive match victory and closing in on overhauling the 13 points (that number again) deficit from the first leg against an impressive Birmingham outfit.

At stake was only the Easter Cup – an event intended as an early season challenge but long delayed from April due to now long forgotten rains in that first month of the campaign. Only a Challenge, but there was no mistaking the passion in both sides, remembering the feisty encounters between these two clubs over the past few seasons.

Few were as wound up perhaps than former Kings’ man visiting his old home track for the first time in a rival team, James Shanes.  Getting the better of Jack Thomas in his first ride, the twice European Under 21 Grasstrack champion had his colours lowered by Bowen in their respective second rides; and heat 13 (with the aggregate gap between the sides perfectly poised at five points advantage to the Second City-siders, with three heats remaining) was an opportunity for the three to meet up in action again.

Adding spice to the race was the ever-impressive Tom Bacon who had sizzled to a sensationally fast win in the opening heat over his counterpart in the no. 1 race jacket.

As in that opening heat, Bacon was super-fast out of the traps with Thomas and Bowen in pursuit. On lap two, Shanes went for what he will have considered a gap around the outside of Bowen just as the pair prepared to exit the home straight.  There was no gap in truth and the Puddletown-based rider passing manoeuvre took away the Kent skipper’s handlebars causing him to totally lose control and crash heavily.

It was evident immediately that this was a serious incident and with medical staff in immediate and prolonged attention and the certainty of hospitalisation the proceedings had unfortunately be brought to a premature halt.

Initial fears were of a broken leg but after that hospital visit, team boss Chris Hunt was able to give a further update on his skipper’s condition,

“There are no broken bones, but initial diagnosis suggest there could be substantial ligament damage.  Injuries of this nature to a knee can be, as I’m sure we all know, as serious or even more serious in terms of length of recovery than fractures – so we are keeping our fingers crossed that once the considerable swelling of Luke’s knee goes down and they can examine better that this isn’t as bad as feared”.

Hunt knows how much the loss of the captain will hurt after such a great recent run,

“Whether or not we were going to be able to overhaul the Brummies’ aggregate lead (we perhaps would have come up just a bit short), we certainly had the beating of a strong Birmingham side on the night.  That’s six wins on the spin now with solid scoring through the team, so we have certainly built up momentum which we need to take forward into the forthcoming league matches.  Losing Luke is a massive blow but I’m confident we can carry on with a successful pursuit of those all-important play off places.”

The next stage in that top four quest is a home fixture next Monday (30th. July) versus local rivals Eastbourne – normal start time of 6.30pm.


Kent SLYDE Kings                                                                                        40

Luke Bowen                2          3          3          X                                              8

Taylor Hampshire       1*         T          1          3          0                                  5+1

Alfie Bowtell [G]          3          3          2          3                                              11

Rider Replacement – Anders Rowe

Jack Thomas              2          3          1*         2                                              8+1

William O’Keefe                      2*         0          0          0                                              2+1

Alex Spooner              3          1*         0          1          1                                  6+1


Birmingham Brummies                                                                                  32

Tom Bacon                 3          2          3                                                          8

Callum Walker                        0          1*         2          1                                              4+1

Dan Greenwood         2          2          2          2                                              8

Leon Flint                    1*         1*         1*                                                         3+3

James Shanes            3          2          3                                                          8

Arran Butcher             FX       0          0          0                                              0

James Laker               1          0          0                                                          1


  1. Bacon, Bowen, Hampshire, Walker, 57.1 (3-3)
  2. (re-run) (awarded) Spooner, O’Keefe, Laker, Butcher (f.exc) no time (8-4)
  3. (re-run) Bowtell, Greenwood, Flint, O’Keefe, Hampshire (exc.tapes), 59.4 (11-7)
  4. Shanes, Thomas, Spooner, Laker, 59.8 (14-10)
  5. Bowtell, Bacon, Walker, Spooner, 59.6 (17-13)
  6. Bowen, Shanes, Hampshire, Butcher, 58.9 (21-15)
  7. Thomas, Greenwood, Flint, O’Keefe, 60.8 (24-18)
  8. Hampshire, Walker, Spooner, Laker, 62.1 (28-20)
  9. Shanes, Bowtell, Thomas, Butcher, 59.2 (31-23)
  10. Bowen, Greenwood, Flint, Hampshire, 61.5 (34-26)
  11. Bacon, Thomas, Walker, O’Keefe (f.rem) 61.0 (36-30)
  12. Bowtell, Greenwood, Spooner, Butcher, 62.0 (40-32)
  13. (not rerun) Bowen (fell exc.)

{Aggregate: Kent 78 Birmingham 83}