Kent Kings beaten in Grand Final
Kent Kings beaten in Grand Final

The curtain came down on the most successful season so far for Kent Speedway – with the pursuit of the League title just proving a step too far: going down to a last heat decider defeat in the second leg of the Grand Final against Leicester Lion Cubs at Central Park Stadium on Monday.

An aggregate defeat to a margin of 32 points doesn’t really reflect the gap between these two sides – the damage having been done in that first leg calamity 12 days earlier, up in the East Midlands; but with Leicester having been the only visiting side to win at Kent in the National League [NL] proper and then repeating the feat in this Play Off denouement – well, there can be no argument that the Lion Cubs are fully deserved champions.

As previously, it was their awesome top pairing of Ellis Perks & Danyon Hume who did the damage – delivering seven wins or paid wins between them, including two 5-1s which ultimately saw the visitors take victory on the night as well as on aggregate.

Their 5-1 in heat 11 made aggregate victory mathematically certain – the two roaring Cubs stopping at the end of the race to lift the trophy from its resting place by the finishing line in melodramatic style. And then when the sides went into the final heat level, they well and truly played the part of party poopers taking a second 5-1 to mean there wasn’t even the consolation of a share of the honours or a second leg victory for the homesters.

That it wasn’t going to the TouchTec Kings’ night was apparent as early as heat three with skipper Rob Ledwith falling when leading and then in the rerun Dan Gilkes jumping the gun to fall victim to a 15 metres handicap for breaking the starting tapes.

That 5-1 by the Thompson twins was built on two heats later with Perks and the lively Ryan Terry Daley moving Leicester into a six point lead on the night; a massive 34 on aggregate.

The Kings fought back though : Gilkes and Jordan Jenkins finally ended Hume’s long unbeaten run relegating him into an uncustomary third for a 5-1 which was the highlight of the night for the home fans.  Though a bigger cheer was reserved for heat 13 when Drew Kemp lowered the colours of Leicester’s main man, Perks.

That kept the scores level, as did man of the meeting Ledwith’s third race win in heat 14 before Hume & Perks extracted revenge in the final heat.

Team boss Chris Hunt was realistic about the outcome but bullish regarding the future,

“The first leg defeat and the scale of it had left ourselves too much of an uphill struggle and a couple of falls tonight have cost us the second leg too,  We will have to do it again next year and we intend to come back stronger in 2020.

“At the end of the day with the National Trophy, the Pairs title and first and second in the NL Riders Championship we’ve had a silverware laden campaign and so it’s been a good season.”

Co-promoter Len Silver shared similar sentiments as the silver medals as NL runners up were presented to the squad members,

“Silver isn’t as good as gold – and I can’t pretend I’m not disappointed that we fell just short of our aim of winning the title.  But second is a lot better than last for sure and I’m proud that all our lads gave all that they’ve got for the cause”.

Kent TouchTec Kings 43 (74)

Anders Rowe – Rider Replacement

Jordan Jenkins 2, 2′, 1, 2′, 0 7+2

Dan Gilkes 1, 0, 3, 1, 3, 1 9

Rob Ledwith FX, 2, 3, 3, 3         11

Drew Kemp 1′, 1′, 3, 1, 3, 0           9+2

Alex Spooner 2, 1, 0, 0         3

Jake Mulford 1′, 2, 0, 1         4+1

Leicester Lion Cubs 47 (106)

Ellis Perks 3, 3, 2′, 2, 2′ 12+2

Luke Ruddick – Rider Replacement 

Joe Thompson 2′, 2, 2′, 1, 2 9+2

Dan Thompson 0, 3, 0, 0, 2 5

Danyon Hume 3, 1, 2, 3, 1′, 3 13+1

Josh Embleton 0, 0, 0, 0 0

Ryan Terry-Daley 3, 0, 1, 3, 1′         8+1

Heat details

1 Perks, Jenkins, Kemp, D Thompson  59.4 [3-3]

2 Terry-Daley, Spooner, Mulford, Embleton (fell rem.)  60.0 [6-6]

3 (rerun twice) D Thompson, J Thompson, Gilkes (tapes offence, 15m handicap), Ledwith (fell exc.)  60.0 [7-11]

4 Hume, Mulford, Kemp, Terry-Daley  59.0 [10-14]

5 Perks, Ledwith, Terry-Daley, Gilkes   57.9 [12-18]

6 (rerun) Gilkes, Jenkins, Hume, Embleton  60.6 [17-19]

7 Kemp, J Thompson, Spooner, D Thompson  58.6 [21-21]

8 (rerun) Terry-Daley, J Thompson, Jenkins, Mulford  61.0 [22-26]

9 Ledwith, Hume, Gilkes, Embleton  59.1 [26-28]

10 Ledwith, Jenkins, J Thompson, D Thompson  60.4 [31-29]

11 Hume, Perks, Kemp, Spooner 58.7  [32-34]

12 Gilkes, J Thompson, Mulford, Embleton  59.4 [36-36]

13 Kemp, Perks, Hume, Jenkins  58.3 [39-39]

14 Ledwith, D Thompson, Terry-Daley, Spooner  60.8 [42-42]

15 Hume, Perks, Gilkes, Kemp  59.8 [43-47]