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  • Writer's pictureNikki Latham

Speedway Meeting Report: Plymouth Centurions vs Kent Royals

The rivalry was there before even a bike was started as former Kent Rider Dan Gilkes was on the card for Plymouth. Both teams in their new names for the National League opener at the Coliseum in Plymouth.
On a lighter note another Dan who was the centre green announcer in Chesil Radio’s first speedway season made his return to Plymouth after 5 seasons working with the live steam service, so our bring back Dan finally happened.
There were some loyal Kent fans but as you will see although at the beginning the Kent cheers were drowned by Plymouth fans the tide did change.
In my neutral role, Plymouth did have some unlucky moments and nerves for both teams where riders haven’t been on track for some time did show. Richard Andrews commented on his social media earlier in the day that he had not been riding competitively since July 2021.
It was great to catch up with some faces that I personally haven’t seen since lockdown all asking if I was coming back regularly and sadly I said no to this season but hopefully next with a more open press pass. It was lovely to walk in the track and be welcomed by the track staff who recognised me from my previous visits.
There was a delayed start as tapes were due up at 7pm, but the paramedics were late arriving and received a round of applause as they moved onto the track centre green. Sadly their services were required a couple of times.
Plymouth Centurions - Team
Dan Gilkes
Connor King
RIchard Andrews
Adam Extance
Henry Atkins - Captain
Ben Trigger
Eli Meadows
Kent Royals - Team
Alfie Bowtell
Jamie Halder
Danno Verge - Captain
Joe Alcock
Ben Morley
Chris Watts

Sam Woolley

Heat 1
Alfie Bowtell - 3 - 52.34
Dan Gilkes - 2
Connor King - 1
Jamie Halder - 0
Alfie was all over Dan and lead from the start.

Heat 2
Sam Woolley - 3 - Awarded no time given
Chris Watts - 2
Eli Meadows - 1
Ben Trigger - 0
Crash between the two Centurions, nerves seem to show here.

Heat 3
Richard Andrews - 3 - Awarded no time given
Joe Alcock - 2
Adam Extance - 1
Danno Verge - 0 - Fell
Track grading carried out before heat. Interview with Dan Gilkes where he felt that it was great to get more track time in both Plymouth teams. Danno was back on feet relatively quickly.

Heat 4
This was re-run with Henry Atkins excluded after crashing.
Ben Morley - 3 - 54.53
Sam Woolley - 2
Eli Meadows - 1
Ben led all the way on the re-run.

Heat 5
Alfie Bowtell - 3 - 54.44
Adam Extance - 2
Jamie Halder - 1
Richard Andrews - 0
Another track grading before this heat. Andrews fell but got back on but was too far behind to catch up with the others.
Mattie Bates was interviewed on centre green and said that he felt Plymouth were a bit nervous and Kent had a lot of experience but not big names. He didn’t want to put pressure on his team on their first outing. He acknowledged Bowtell knew track and was hoping he might go a bit easier on them.
Heat 6
Dan Gilkes - 3 - 53.30
Ben Morley - 2
Connor King - 1
Chris Watts - did not finish
Dan led the way all the way and Chris couldn’t restart bike to carry on.
Heat 7
Joe Alcock - 3 - 54.84
Danno Verge - 2
Ben Trigger - 1
Henry Atkins - did not finish
Henry’s bike just stopped because his race jacket got entangled on his cut out. Verge seemed more settled in this heat.
Heat 8
Ben Trigger replaced Eli Meadows in rider replacement.
Double clash with Woolley being excluded but Trigger taking a big knock delaying the meeting by 10 minutes. Trigger’s inflatable protection had kicked in. After been checked he was allowed to return for the re-run.
Jamie Halder - 3 -54.03
Connor King - 2
Ben Trigger - 1

Heat 9
Ben Morley - 3 - 54.72
Adam Extance - 2
Chris Watts - 1
Richard Andrews- did not start due to bike issues
Another track grading before this heat.

Heat 10
Connor King excluded for stoppage.
Dan Gilkes - 3 - 52.63
Joe Alcock - 2
Danno Verge - 1
Connor King was down for some time adding to a further delay. Clearly a little sore it was announced that he had withdrawn from the meeting on medical advice.

Heat 11
Henry Atkins - 3 - 54.50
Alfie Bowtell - 2
Jamie Halder - 1
Ben Trigger - 0
This brought the crowd to their feet with the excitement. All looking more comfortable on the track but Plymouth trying to fight back. Atkins and Bowtell fighting for each corner.
A short break taken before next heat. The temperature has dropped and is very cold at the track. There was some discussion about the Gladiator team issues and were reassured that a full team will line up against Poole Pirates when they start their Championship season. We were lucky last week to see the Poole team in action at their press and practice.

Heat 12
Richard Andrews - 3 - 55.81
Danno Verge - 2
Chris Watts - 1
Eli Meadows - 0

Heat 13
Alfie Bowtell - 3 - 52.85
Dan Gilkes - 2
Ben Morley - 1
Henry Atkins - 0
This was the heat everyone in the crowd was talking about before it was run. There was two re-runs of this tussle. First was an unsatisfactory start and although all could restart Morley had a warning so had to start from a stationary start. All riders restarted the second re-run in the interested of safety after Gilkes took a tumble.
At this point the Royals announce winners as it would be unable for Centurions to catch up.
Heat 14
Joe Alcock - 3 - 53.97
Adam Extance - 2
Sam Woolley - 2
Eli Meadows - replacement for Ben Trigger - 0
Alcock lead the whole way and there was an apology for not announcing the change at the start of the heat.

Heat 15
Red - Atkins
Blue - Gilkes
White - Bowtell
Yellow - Morley
This had to be re-run with Bowtell excluded
Dan Gilkes - 3 - 52.78
Ben Morley - 2
Henry Atkins - 1
Result: Plymouth Centurions 38 - Kent Royals 52

It was great that Kent Royals got their lorry parade at the end, but by the time they organised the van it was the die hard Kent fans left to clap and cheer them round.
I was lucky to sit with Si Kellow, promoter of Kent Royals for Heat 15 and he said he was happy with the result.
Si added: “Plymouth fans have made me feel really welcome and lots of good banter. The boss is chuffed.”
It was not a full house at Plymouth, but was streamed online with the distance for Kent fans to travel on a week night. Kent took the 4 points putting them at the top of the league which is great for a team, that was not secure at the end of the season and we look forward to seeing them back at Iwade later in the year.
Big thank you to Mark and the team at Plymouth allowing me to attend to cover this meeting.

This brings a close our coverage for a few weeks of speedway but we launch our new page on our website over the next couple of weeks with all the videos and pictures we have yet to reveal from our three speedway events in past 10 days.
We will recap on some of those moments that we haven’t been able to cover and an explanation of why the title 10 Days of Speedway Pleasure and Pain coming in the next few days too.


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