Legend Thomas set to appear

Good Friday, 22nd April, sees the Hammers in action twice and the Hackney Hawks once in what will be a feast of Speedway.

The Hammers start the proceedings at the Arena-Essex Raceway with an important Sky Sports Elite League match against local rivals, the Eastbourne Eagles, and that will be immediately followed by the first home National League match for the newly reformed Hackney Hawks when they take on the Stoke Potters. The action will then move down to the South Coast where the Hammers will up against the Eagles for the second time in the day at their Arlington Stadium, Eastbourne.

In an afternoon of 30 heats of Speedway at the Arena-Essex Raceway the action gets underway at 1pm with the Elite League match for the Hammers with Hackney’s National League fixture to follow that at around 2.45pm to 3pm. The opening heat at Arlington in the evening is scheduled to be at 7.45pm.

The Guest of Honour at the Arena-Essex Raceway will be Hackney legend Barry Thomas, who rode for the Hawks between 1970 and 1983. He was initially seen in trials at the home of the West Ham Hammers in 1969 and was snapped up by Canterbury where he rode for the Crusaders for two years. He also rode for the Hackney Kestrels at the famous Waterden Road Stadium between 1984 and 1986 and again between 1988 and 1989 plus he had a spell with the Rye House Rockets in 1987. Barry will lead the parade of riders for the Hawks match against Stoke and it is hoped that he will also put in a couple of laps on the Arena track.

The Hammers go into their meeting against Eastbourne with the same seven riders who claimed the away win last Monday up in Manchester against the Belle Vue Aces. That means that the fans will be able to see Stuart Robson make his season’s home debut for the Essex based Club.

Eastbourne will be led by Bjarne Pedersen, the former Grand Prix rider. who moved along the South coast during the winter from Poole to Arlington. Former Hammers rider Joonas Kylmakorpi from Finland will be joined in the Eagles line-up with their new signing, and fellow Finn, 18 year old Timo Lahti. The youngster will be making his debut for the Eagles in this match. Also in the Eagles team will be their Australian captain Cameron Woodward, Swede Simon Gustafsson, Lukas Dryml from the Czech Republic and British International Lewis Bridger.

The Hackney Hawks will be led by two former Hammers riders, Barrie Evans and David Mason along with two new young Hammers assets in Marc Owen and Shane Hazelden. Their side is completed with Ben Morley, Ben Hopwood and Brandon Freemantle.

The Stoke Potters are new to the National League, having moved down from the Premier League during the past winter. They will be led by the experienced Tony Atkin and will include Gareth Isherwood, Jamie Pickard, James Sarjeant and Tim Webster in their side.

The admission prices will cover all 30 heats of racing from both meetings and are as follows:- Adults £17.50; Senior Citizens, Students and Disabled £13; Unemployed and Children aged 17 and 18 £11 with children aged 6 to 16 inclusive just £1. Children under the age of 6 will be admitted free if accompanied by a paying adult. These prices show real value for money, especially for the kids as they are £2 less than the usual price for a 15 heat Elite League match. Hammers Season ticket holders will be pleased to hear that their Tickets will be valid for these two matches. Supporters can pay on the day at the pay booths but those wishing to purchase their tickets in advance may do so online via the Club’s website at www.lakesidehammers.co

A bumper Bank Holiday crowd is expected at the Arena-Essex Raceway with the weather forecast to remain hot. Supporters are, therefore, requested to turn up as early as possible with the pay booths due to open at 11am.

Picture: Kauko Nieminen (blue) and Lee Richardson (Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)