Wednesday, December 6, 2023
ChargersOxford Speedway

REACTION: “It’s been a really tough night. But the boys got stuck in and I can’t fault them.”

MANAGER Peter Schroeck hit out after skipper Jordan Jenkins was prevented by red tape from riding for WSRA Oxford Chargers, powered by SD Timmo Car Sales, at Belle Vue in Manchester last night (Friday).

Coupled by Luke Killeen crashing out in Heat 1 at the National Speedway Stadium with a wrist injury, Chargers slipped to a 33-56 National League defeat to Belle Vue Colts.

Jenkins crashed out at Ipswich on Thursday with a suspected broken nose. Fortunately, those fears proved unfounded, although the medical note advising of his withdrawal at Foxhall Heath also advised about ‘potential, suspected concussion’.

Schroeck was in contact with the Speedway Control Bureau yesterday morning, and he was advised to take Jenkins to Belle Vue, where the medics would give him the necessary approval to race.

However, with Jenkins starting to prepare for the meeting, the medics in Manchester insisted it was not their job to give such approval.

Jenkins made a quick trip to the local hospital to get the all-clear, but he was advised there was a five-hour waiting list, so returned to the National Speedway Stadium. He was left twiddling his thumbs, with the protests of Schroeck falling on deaf ears and Chargers were forced to use rider replacement for their No 1. Had Oxford been notified earlier in the day that Jenkins was unable to ride, they could have booked a guest.

Jacob Clouting hit the tapes in Heat 1, and he was replaced by Killeen. With Jack Smith leading Henry Atkins, Killeen looked for an outside move after two laps, but hit the fence and took a nasty tumble.

It was suspected that the wrist was broken, but some good news on Saturday morning is that the injury may not be as bad as first feared, Killeen may have only chipped the bone and he may only out for a few weeks.

Without two of their star performers, Chargers had very little chance. But stand-in captain Atkins led by example, beating Smith in the re-run of Heat 1.

Atkins then handed the only defeat of the evening to Sam Hagon in Heat 12, after a thrilling race between the two riders, with multiple overtakes and Hagon rebounding off the fence with a lap remaining into the path of Atkins, but both showing their skills to avoid an accident.

Atkins (14) received support from Ryan Kinsley (9+1), while both Jody Scott (5+2) and Jacob Clouting (5+1) won a race during the evening. After Killeen crashed out, Jacob Fellows was left as Oxford’s only reserve, but he was plagued by machinery problems.

Speaking post-meeting, a still visibly upset Schroeck explained: “After a phone call with the Speedway Control Bureau, I was advised to bring Jordan up here, where the medics would take a quick check-up, but everything would be okay.

“But once we turned up, the medics would not look at him, because they said it’s not their job. If that’s the case, I can understand that, but we shouldn’t have been told to do it in the first place.

“The current situation is Jordan is currently out through the concussion protocols, but it was only ever said that he had potential, suspected concussion. The concussion rules are already a bit grey area and ‘potential’ and ‘suspected’ are two further grey areas.

“Jordan is going to the hospital tonight, where hopefully he will be given the all-clear and then he can ride again and ride for Chargers at Mildenhall on Sunday.

“I wouldn’t mind if we’d have been told in black and white what was happening, but we weren’t. It’s led to a 21-year-old travelling five hours to a meeting, believing he could ride, only to be told he wasn’t and, of course, it’s left him upset. If he couldn’t ride, then we shouldn’t have been told in the first place by the Speedway Control Bureau that there shouldn’t be any problems. Once we got here, everyone was passing the buck and no-one was taking responsibility.

“I’ve got three children around Jordan’s age. There’s no way I would have left him ride if I didn’t think it was safe. I travelled up with him for five hours, and there were no issues. I find it was a bit disrespectful to the rider what happened this evening – we have to treat young riders better than that. There needs to be clarity and clear procedures and there isn’t at the moment. I wear my heart on my sleeve at moments like this, because it’s frustrating – very frustrating.

“On top of that, losing Luke with a wrist was a big hammer blow, and that’s not for just the Chargers, but the Cheetahs too.

“It’s been a really tough night. But the boys got stuck in and I can’t fault them. Henry’s race with Sam Hagon [in Heat 12] was phenomenal. That was a race that you would see in the Championship or the Premiership – it wouldn’t be out of place. To see two young riders involved in a race like that was heart-warming.

“There were positives. This league is always about the progression first-and-foremost, and we definitely saw that tonight – Jacob Clouting went out and won a race and Jody Scott put machinery problems behind him and won Heat 14.

“It’s not the losing tonight – I can take that. It’s that I don’t think we were given a fair chance and, in particular, a young rider was treated in a poor manner.”

The Belle Vue v Oxford clash was preceded by a British Youth Championship round involving eight-year-old Oxford mascot Chloe Davis, who picked up valuable experience against older and more experienced competitors.

Belle Vue Colts 56: Jack Smith 11, Luke Muff 3+2, Sam Hagon 11, Matt Marson 6+1, James Pearson 14+1, Jack ShimeIt 3+2, Freddy Holder 8+2.

WSRA Oxford Chargers, powered by SD Timmo Car Sales 33: Jordan Jenkins R/R, Jacob Clouting 5+1, Henry Atkins 14, Jody Scott 5+2, Ryan Kinsley 9+1, Luke Killeen 0, Jacob Fellows 0.

PHOTO: Chargers’ top scorer Henry Atkins (pic: STEVE EDMUNDS)