Cookie refuses to crumble and becomes BRITISH CHAMPION

Victorious Craig Cook with the British Final Trophy – (Pic taken from Craig Cook Twitter)

This past Monday night saw Craig Cook finally able to call himself British Champion at the fourth time of asking, after the newly appointed Great Britain captain roared to glory on his home track and lift not only the British Championship at the National Speedway Stadium, but also book his place at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium for the British Grand Prix next month.

For the Belle Vue and Workington rider, it saw his victory as a culmination of hard work and determination over the winter to finally getting his hands on the trophy that has eluded him the past last three years on the trot. After finishing as runner-up to Tai Woffinden twice and then losing in the final at the NSS to the eventual winner last year in Danny King, it felt like the man from Cumbria would never there.
Craig Cook in (Red Helmet) battling his way to the front on way to four of his race victories (Pic. Wilts & Gloucs Standard)

The field for the meeting was a quite a competitive one, as former champions took part in 7-times winner Scott Nicholls, 3-times winner Chris Harris and last year’s winner in Danny King. Another entrant making his debut was a veteran of British Speedway in a sense, through Australian Rory Schlein who was riding on a British licence and qualified through the semi’s to make his British Final bow.

While the experienced heads were in the meeting and looking for glory, it gave way to the next generation of up and coming riders who wanted to showcase their talents too and put themselves in the shop window for future World Cup selection via this prestigious meeting. There was one other tantalising reward to the winner of the meeting, as who ever finished top of the podium would receive the number 16 race jacket for Cardiff, and take part in the British Grand Prix on the 22nd of July.

In the opening heat Ben Barker stormed to victory, as he held off the challenge of the reigning champion in Danny King for the full four laps to pick up three race points, as Barker was a late substitute into the meeting after Lewis Bridger was forced to pull out a couple of days prior through injury. Lewis Rose then won first time out in his debut race in the British final, as the King’s Lynn and Newcastle Diamond man missed out on the action all took place behind. Rye House and Peterborough rider Chris Harris saw him forcing his way through the pack, with the Cornish man coming from the back and into second place and saw him very nearly catching Rose on the final lap.

Heat four saw an interesting line up with home favourite Craig Cook up against former Aces in Rory Schlein, Scott Nicholls and Richie Worrall in their respective opening race. Cook flew away from tapes and was never troubled at all, with the other riders racing for second place and saw Nicholls finishing behind the leader and closely followed by Worrall. In the second round of races, it pitted the Worrall brothers against each other in heat five, with Steve powering around the outside of his brother Richie and leaving his rivals for dead as Richie took second.

‘Cookie’ made it two wins in two after a tough battle with Glasgow and Somerset man Richard Lawson for the race win, after passing Kyle Howarth on lap two and then rode handlebar to handlebar with the dark horse of the meeting in Lawson. In the end Cook just had too much speed for his opponent to claim the win and move onto six points. 

Rory Schlein then picked up his maiden win in a British Final, as he roared around the field in Heat 8 after Stuart Robson had made the gate ahead of Harris and Jason Garrity, but Schlein found plenty of room and grip to try the outside and pass them all down the back straight for three points. In the next race it saw the Australian making it two wins on the bounce with a fairly comfortable victory and saw him on six points level with the leaders.

Danny King then came to life in the second half of the meeting, with a stunning pass coming off turn two on the opening lap, as he powered his way pass the former champion in Nicholls and Stuart Robson at the front to take the lead and hold out for a big heat victory. Craig Cook then took his tally to nine-points after his third race win in Heat 11, with the Aces and Comets man making a huge cutback on the second bend to pass all his fellow rivals and was then ruthless on his Belle Vue team mate Steve Worrall, as he forced Steve to shut off on the fourth bend on the opening lap.

That win seem to have effectively guaranteed the Belle Vue man a place in the semi-finals at the very least and saw the three-time runner up looking untouchable around his home circuit. Richie Worrall kept in contention with a race win in Heat 12 after battling with Lewis Rose for the lead for a lap or so, and saw Rose losing out. Then came the shock result in Heat 13, as Rose who had just been beaten by Richie Worrall in the previous race, Rose then put the cat amongst the pigeons and inflicted defeat on Cook with a great ride to win the race.

Danny King refused to give up his British Final crown without a fight, and so saw him fending off fierce competition from Richie Worrall in Heat 14 to pick up his second race win of the night and remain in the top scorers. Rory Schlein made it three wins out of four for the debutante, following his win ahead of Ben Barker who raced Richard Lawson all the way and saw them both swapping positions throughout, before the Cornish man held on to grab second place. 

Heat 16 saw Kyle Howarth being excluded after the peak on his helmet caught the tapes and after a previous warning for a false start earlier in the night it saw the Wolves and Sheffield rider being kicked out by the referee and brought in first reserve Jack Smith for his first appearance in a British Final. Jack who is son of former three-times champion of the British Final and another Belle Vue alumni in Andy Smith, saw the youngster on pace with the others in the race and that until the back-straight when the rest of field all passed him by and saw a great race out in front between Steve Worrall and Scott Nicholls.

Worrall held on to beat Nicholls and put him in contention with a possible grand final berth still within reach for the man from St.Helens. Rye House Rockets team mates Scott Nicholls and Chris Harris met in Heat 17, but Richard Lawson wasn’t going to give up easily as he showed his liking for this track once again with a good battle between himself and Nicholls for second place, as with ‘Bomber’ gone it saw Lawson having the speed on his rival to get second place and move into fifth place in the qualifying standings.

Steve Worrall booked his grand final place with a stunning win in Heat 18 over King and Schlein, with the latter two racing each other hard along with Kerr with all three swapping places over four laps. Richie Worrall and Ben Barker then had a good tussle for the lead in the following heat, as for the first three laps of the race it was Worrall leading until Barker charged hard and had the speed to move ahead of Richie and book his semi final place.  

In the final qualifying heat it saw Craig Cook showing his passing ability yet again, as he was last of the gate before getting a lot of drive outside of both Lewis Rose and Paul Starke and that saw the Belle Vue and Workington man power his way to the front and make it four wins out of five. With the Belle Vue duo of Cook and Steve Worrall both advancing to the Grand Final, it saw the two remaining place up for grabs and was between a determined Ben Barker, a battling Rory Schlein and two riders that wanted to lift that title once more in Scott Nicholls and Danny King.

The semi final was without doubt the race of the night. Firstly it saw Ben Barker taking the lead on the first bend to which the Redcar Bears man held on to, whilst the remaining riders passed and re passed each other for the duration of the race and finished with Rory Schlein picking up second in the semi final and booked his place in the final along with Barker. It meant that with King finishing outside the top two places that we would have a new British Champion for 2017 and a new name on the trophy too. 

New British Champion holds aloft the #16 Race Jacket he’ll wear at this year’s British GP  (pic;

With the grand final forthcoming, it was anyone’s to win and saw it anything than straight forward win. As the tapes flew up it saw it a surprise with Steve Worrall making the better gate and saw Ben Barker going wide in to the dirt on the second bend to generate speed and that allowed Craig Cook to roar up the inside of them all and join his Aces team mate at the front. Worrall who had ruthlessly been cut off by Cook in the qualifying heats, saw him almost returning the favour as he was holding onto the lead.

However on the first bend of the second lap it saw Cook diving up the inside of Worrall and taking the lead from his Aces team-mate, as Worrall was not about to give up hopes of winning the title, but he was forced to settle for the runners up spot as Cookie took the British title in front of his home supporters and finally land the big one.  The GB star received a standing ovation and the traditional bumps for winning the meeting to complete a fantastic week for the Cumbrian man, as following the appointment as him taking over as captain for the forthcoming World Cup, he followed up his win in Italy at Grand Prix challenge semi-final last Saturday with the British title.


1. Carl Wilkinson (Scunthorpe) – 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 = 0
2. Danny King (Leicester/Ipswich) – 2, 0, 3, 3, 2 = 10
3. Ben Barker (Redcar) – 3, 1, 2, 2, 3 = 11
4. Jason Garrity (Leicester/Redcar) – 1, 1, 0, 1 = 3 WITHDRAWN
5. Lewis Rose (Kings Lynn/Newcastle) – 3, 1, 0, 0, 1 = 5
6. Kyle Howarth (Wolverhampton/Sheffield) – 1, 1, 2, X, 0 = 4
7. Lewis Kerr (Somerset/Scunthorpe) – 0, 0, 2, 3, 0 = 5
8. Chris Harris (Rye House/Peterborough) – 2, 2, 1, 1, 3 = 9
9. Steve Worrall (Belle Vue/Newcastle) – 2, 3, 0, 3, 3 = 11
10. Richard Lawson (Somerset/Glasgow) – 3, 2, 1, 1, 2 = 9
11. Paul Starke (Peterborough) – 1, 2, 1, 0, 2 = 6
12. Stuart Robson (Rye House) – 0, 0, 1, 1, 2 = 4
13. Richie Worrall (Glasgow) – 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 = 9
14. Craig Cook (Belle Vue/Workington) – 3, 3, 3, 2, 3 = 14
15. Scott Nicholls (Rye House) – 2, 3, 2, 2, 1 = 10
16. Rory Schlein (Wolverhampton/Ipswich) – 0, 3, 3, 3, 1 = 10

17. Jack Smith (Belle Vue/Glasgow/Belle Vue) – 0 = 0
18. Andy Mellish (Belle Vue Colts) – 0 = 0 

Semi Final:   Barker, Schlein, Nicholls, King – Time: 62.66

Grand Final: Cook, S.Worrall, Schlein, Barker – Time: 62.40

(Courtesy of Speedway Updates:)


Mayhem Handed A Royal Beating By Steelkings

SHEFFSheffield Steelkings  10 – 2  Manchester Mayhem    17155952_1499932596740759_1981299675865431597_n


CREDIT: Peter Best Photography


In their third season of existence and after 19 matches played in the British Para Ice Hockey League, the Sheffield Steelkings could finally call themselves victors after a stunning 10-2 win over Roses rivals the Manchester Mayhem, thanks to a seven-goal haul for Gary Farmer. 

It was only a month ago when the sides played out a fiery game at the Altrincham Ice Rink and saw the meeting going the way of the Mayhem on that occasion, but you could that this rivalry was being to catch fire and look more like a competitive rivalry with a new look Sheffield side this year.

Sheffield who have long been the whipping boys of the Para Ice Hockey league since joining three seasons ago, it has saw them suffering hammers left, right and centre over the past couple of seasons and looked like they might never pick up a win. This season though has saw a change of fortune to the South Yorkshire club, so with a big crowd at Ice Sheffield and still buoyed by their recent performances so far this year, it saw the home side looking for their first win in their history.

Manchester came into the game short benched yet again, as they were missing three key players in their line-up, with Rob Allen out and the duo of Dean Lahan and Dominic Cosgrove. Coach for the Mayhem in Pete Hagan saw him needing to draft in Tony King from the Kingston Kestrels as a guest player and also handed a debut to Elizabeth Turner for the match.

From the drop of the puck it saw only one side truly in the contest at all, and that wasn’t the visiting Manchester side. With thirty-three seconds gone in the game, Gary Farmer put Sheffield ahead and that goal seemed to set the hosts up for the rest of the contest after such a early stage.  

Both teams enjoyed spells of possession with the puck and saw Pat Bailey having the visitors first shot on goal, but stand-in goalie Jake Oakley made a good stop between the pipes for the Steelkings after Sheffield had both regular goalies missing for the game. 

At the other end it saw Dougy Hankinson in the Mayhem net denying Mark Briggs for the home side, after he was forced to make a couple of saves from long range efforts by Gary Farmer. Sheffield then moved two nil ahead at 8.52 on the clock, with Gary Farmer shooting high on Hankinson in the Mayhem goal after a nice cross ice pass by Caroline Bonner saw the forward cutting in on goal and making it count.

Manchester then called a timeout to try re-assess the early damage done against them, as defensive they were caught slacking and offensively they were unable to generate much at all.

The visitors then found themselves with a golden chance to possibly cut the lead in half soon after, after a Karl Nicholson clearance saw the puck heading up ice and into the path of Anthony Booth who had Pat Bailey with him in support on a breakaway, but they were caught offside much to the relief of the home side.  Bailey then found himself serving a two minute penalty towards the back end of the first, with the Manchester man being called for teeing and saw the visiting bench not happy at all with the call by the officials.

The Mayhem seemed to play a dangerous game of passing it around their zone while a man light, and that method would could back to hurt them as Gary Farmer gained possession of the puck in their zone and fired high over the head of the netminder for a natural hat-trick at 14.17. 

Sheffield moved out to a 4-0 lead on 16.12, when Farmer was on target yet again for the Steelkings to bring up his fourth of the game and you did feel that the contest was over already so early into the second. Majority of the play was down the Mayhem end and had the visitors lacking in ideas and looked all at sea for a lot of the time too. 

Barry Grayson almost made it 5-0 for Sheffield soon after with a near post effort, but the puck pinged off the iron and away from danger. The home side didn’t need to wait too long to extend their lead further though, as a long range effort by Mark Briggs saw the puck going into the Mayhem net for a fifth goal to the Steelkings at 25.46 and that was game, set and match.

Manchester were looking anything but their normal selves in the contest, as the Mayhem players were making one poor decision after another and it was almost like the team had never played together before. When the visitors finally got behind the Steelkings defence and bearing down on goal it saw the horn sounding for an end to play in the second period, as the Mayhem looked like not just losing the contest but possibly being shutout by the hosts too.

In the final period the Steelkings hammered home their advantage with a further five goals to their name and they didn’t just beat their rivals, but they humiliate them as well. The Mayhem were architects of their own downfall at times and that was shown on the hosts sixth-goal, after Karl Nicholson was left to battle on his own against three Steelkings before Gary Farmer picked up the puck and burst away up ice and saw his initial shot saved but Barry Grayson was on hand to tuck home the rebound at 30.58.

At 32.20 it saw Farmer grabbing his fifth goal of the game and the hosts seventh of the match, as the forward skated up the left side and fired a low shot that somehow managed to get by the goalie and and make it 7-0. The first real showing of any threatening intent by Manchester brought them a goal at 34.43, when Karl Nicholson skated into the Sheffield zone and played a lovely pass towards Anthony Booth in the Steelkings zone and the Mayhem forward composed himself and fired past Jake Oakley in the home cage for a 7-1 game.

The visitors tried to build on that goal and saw them coming forward once more in attack through Pat Bailey and Anthony Booth as they found themselves on a 2-on-0 for Manchester, but Bailey overran the puck and that summed up the visitors play in the game. Sheffield continued to punish a hapless Manchester side and saw them scoring two quick goals from the stick of Gary Farmer, as he took his tally for the match up to a magnificent seven and was a case now of how many more goals would they rack up.

With the match all but sewn up now, it saw the Steelkings side turning on the style and a the home side netting one last goal in the game. Their 10th goal saw a breakaway from Gary Farmer who played a pass across goal intended for Barry Grayson who mis-controlled it, however the puck fell nicely to Mark Colquitt and the Sheffield man back- handed the puck in for the hosts and complete a miserable afternoon for the travelling Mayhem side.

Manchester did score a late consolation goal through Karl Nicholson at 40.59 and that saw the Mayhem having the last word in this contest game, after Booth returned the favour in kind to his teammate and the Mayhem captain put it home for a 10-2 score line. As the game entered the closing stages of the game, it saw the home side revelling in the clubs first ever win when the horn sounded and the joy on every Sheffield players face was there for all to see.

For Sheffield, the win was a culmination of hard work and graft to get their first points on the board and maiden win under their belts too after a wait of two and a bit years, as capitalising on errors by their opponents and some good play saw them worthy winners in the game. In the case of Manchester, it back to basics and look to regroup before their daunting trip down to Peterborough Phantoms next Sunday evening.