Kings v The Hammers – Meeting report

After an absence of two years, a team of Thurrock Hammers returned to the Old Gun Site track at Iwade to contest the latest version of the Tunnel Trophy vs the current holders, the Kent Kings.

After an amazing afternoon of red-hot action on a warm and sunny day on the Estuary, the Hammers returned to Essex with the trophy safely tucked away, after securing a comprehensive 47-43 victory. 

Every Hammer made a positive contribution, none more so than budding teenage star Jamie Etherington, who bagged a hugely impressive 13 points from five completed rides, before slipping off in his sixth – and most competitive race. 

It was less of a shock to see Hammers’ Number One, Alfie Bowtell, rack up 14 points from his five rides, headed only by ex-Hammers favourite, Ben Morley, in Heat One. 

Luke Harris gated superbly to secure two tapes to flag wins to help push the Hammers into an early eight-point lead after five heats (19-11), before struggling with changing track conditions to finish with a solid seven points. 

The Hammers late call-up, Connor King, mounted on equipment borrowed from Jordan Jenkins, produced a controlled and mature performance to end the afternoon on eight (paid 10). 

However, Elliot Kelly was less fortunate, his day’s racing ending prematurely when he fell while leading his third ride, damaging his hand and thumb. After making the long journey down from North Yorkshire to race, this wasn’t a fitting reward for such a likeable and talented young rider. 

Chris Laidlaw was the owner of the widest smile, after completing his rides with a three (paid four) score, including a paid win behind Etherington in a crucial Heat 13. This was Chris’s first-ever senior fixture, and his enthusiasm was infectious and a joy to behold!

The Hammers trailed just once, after Heat One, and were never headed again, even though the Kings fought back to level the scores after Heat 11. 

The Hammers banged in two consecutive 5-1s to re-establish a comfortable lead and, despite conceding a maximum in Heat 14, Bowtell secured success, with a dominant first turn in the last race. 

Joint Team Manager, Mark Sexton, was ecstatic after the meeting: “All the hard work that was put in before and during the meeting was rewarded on track, and it was fantastic to see so many Hammers fans in attendance. We hope that we gave them all a memorable afternoon!” 

Mark added that he’d like to thank the Kent promotion, management and track staff for the invitation to track a Hammers team and for their cooperation throughout the day. Personally, I’d also like to say thanks to Andrew Silver for his invaluable contribution in the pits. 

The Hammers were celebrating their new charity arrangement with the British Heart Foundation, and the performance was certainly one to remember! 

Hammers Scorers:

Alfie Bowtell 14 (5 rides) Chris Laidlaw 3+1 (5) Luke Harris 7 (5) Connor King 8+2 (6) Elliot Kelly 2+1 (3) Jamie Etherington 13 (6) 

Image credits: Brian Connolly