Perfect ten for Speedway’s National League
Perfect ten for Speedway’s National League
Kent Kings enter their sixth season in the sport competing again in British Speedway’s National League and allied competitions, the National Trophy and the National Knock-out Cup.

2018 is a massive landmark season for the sport in the UK which celebrates its 90th. anniversary in February – having debuted on these shores when pioneers from the Essex Motor Cycle Club including WJ Cearns, introduced dirt track motorcycle racing to the entertainment-hungry interwar public in 1928.

The sport was a massive instant success and from its beginnings in the leafy surroundings of High Beech in Epping Forest, within no time was spawning new stadia across the towns and cities of the UK.

Now nine decades on, it’s appropriate that the Kent Kings who race in one of the sport’s best-appointed venues, Central Park Stadium in Sittingbourne, are one of the modern-day sport’s most up and coming clubs: under the helm of club chairman and stadium owner, Roger Cearns – grandson of the pioneering WJ Cearns from those legendary King’s Oak track days back in the late 1920s.

The National League [NL] is very much “what it says on the tin” – a division which spans each corner of England and in 2018 ten clubs will come to track competing for the championship title.

Reigning champions Belle Vue Colts are based in Manchester and other big city sides contesting the NL are Birmingham (the Brummies having won the NL title the previous two years), Plymouth Devils, Stoke Potters and new in for this season, Coventry Bees.

The West Midlanders are actually one of the sport’s longest running sides, having first raced at their Brandon base back in that opening year of the sport in 1928 – but with significant question marks over their famous venue, the Bees will be using a venue in the East Midlands in Leicester to stage their home NL matches in 2018.

Kent’s local rivals from just over the county border in Sussex (and the visitors on the opening day of the forthcoming season on Good Friday) Eastbourne Eagles were a top three side last term alongside the Kings and Belle Vue.

Also from the south coast are the Isle of Wight Warriors. East Anglia is a traditional hot bed of Speedway and representing that area are National Trophy winners in 2017, Mildenhall Fen Tigers. And completing the ten are the perennial Buxton Hitmen – the side who ride high up in the Derbyshire Dales having been ever presents in this division since its inaugural season in 1994.

Cradley Heathens (based in Wolverhampton) are not contesting the NL this year – with only limited dates available in their Black Country rented home – but the 2013 & ’14 champions are still in the fold, riding instead in the National Trophy [NT].

The NT sees two regionalised groups with the winners contesting a final to take the silverware. The SLYDE-sponsored Kings are in the ‘South’ Group alongside Eastbourne, Isle of Wight and 2017 beaten finalists, Plymouth. The ‘North’ Group sees Birmingham (who beat Kent in the 2016 NT Final), fellow Midlanders Cradley and Coventry along with Buxton and Stoke.

The third National competition Kent will contest in what will be another packed fixture list, is the Knock-out Cup. And Chris Hunt’s charges will certainly be racking up some miles as they seek to progress to the Final of this competition.

Drawn to compete in the Preliminary Round, the Kings are taking on Stoke Potters up in the north-west. The winners of that two-legged Round One contest will then have to take the long journey out to the south-west cost to take on the Plymouth Devils in order to secure a place in the semi-finals.

NATIONAL LEAGUE
(in alphabetical order)
Belle Vue Colts
Birmingham Brummies
Buxton Hitmen
Coventry Bees (based in Leicester)
Eastbourne Eagles
Isle of Wight Warriors
KENT KINGS
Mildenhall Fen Tigers
Plymouth Devils
Stoke Potters

NATIONAL TROPHY
South Group: Eastbourne, Isle of Wight, KENT, Plymouth
North Group: Birmingham, Buxton, Coventry, Cradley Heath, Stoke

NATIONAL KNOCKOUT CUP [NKOC] DRAW:

Round 1 Eastbourne vs. Isle of Wight
KENT vs. Stoke
Byes Belle Vue, Birmingham, Buxton, Coventry, Mildenhall, Plymouth

Round 2 Birmingham vs. Mildenhall
Buxton vs. Belle Vue
Coventry v Eastbourne or Isle of Wight

Plymouth v KENT or Stoke

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