Sunday 9th May 2004
Astley & Tyldesley Miners' Welfare / CTA Direct were in action at Bury on Sunday, competing in the Northern Cycle Speedway Cup Finals. Spearheaded by Polish stars, Tomasz Wlodarczyk and Przemek Binkowski, A & T fancied their chances of victory in the one-off match that featured the six Northern League teams. However, for some reason, the promoting Bury club chose to change the race formula that was agreed at the League AGM in the winter and use a race formula that favoured some teams but not others. This led to A & T having more unfavourable outside starts and less favourable inside starts than the other teams. Despite strong protests from A & T manager Mike Hack, prior to the match, the Northern League officials (Tony Mann, Pete Ward, Dave Blinston, Andy Schofield) chose to remain with the unfair formula as printed in the match programme.
Despite this, A & T started off with purpose and the match quickly developed into a three horse race, between the home Bury team, the holders Tameside, and A & T. At the half way stage, Tameside led A & T by 1 point, with Bury a further 5 points behind. The next series of races saw Tameside open up a 4 points lead as they made good use of their unfair start position advantage. From this point, A & T were chasing the match, whilst Tameside were able to control proceedings more. At the end of heat 24, Tameside held a 5 points lead from A & T, with Bury a further 10 points adrift in 3rd place. At this point, the bottom two teams dropped out, leaving the top four teams to contest the last four races. Frank Finnigan and Garry Pearce both recorded race wins, as A & T cut Tameside's advantage to 3 points. Heat 27 decided the match, as the fast starting Tomasz Wlodarczyk was bounced out on the first corner, and Tameside's Steven Ward was content to keep A & T's Pole at the back to secure a Tameside victory.
Binkowski was in magnificent form for A & T, dropping just 1 point from five races, with Wlodarczyk having dropped just one point up to his final race. For Tameside, Norman raced unbeaten but did not have a grid 4 to overcome, whilst Ward made full use of his two grid 1s in a good performance. The ridiculous allocation of start positions that favoured Tameside (four grid 1s and three grid 4s) over A & T (three grid 1s and five grid 4s), undoubtedly played a major part in the final outcome of such a closely balanced contest. After the match, A & T manager Mike Hack congratulated Tameside manager Dave Blinston on his role as a Northern League official in contributing to a decision that gave Tameside an unfair advantage over A & T.
Northern Senior Cup result:
Tameside 63 Astley & Tyldesley 61 Bury 47 Hull 43 Heckmondwike 33 Sheffield 26.
Tameside: Steven Ward 17, Terry Norman 16, Danny White 15, Chris Eaton 13, Mark Wylie 2.
A & T: Przemek Binkowski 19, Tomasz Wlodarczyk 16, Garry Pearce 14, Frank Finnigan 12.
Bury: Paul Dyson 14, Ben Scranage 12, Neil Howarth 10, Scott Jarman 10, Tom Doyle 1.
Hull: Chris Cooke 13, Ian Clark 10, Corey Graham 10, Andy Moody 8, Andy Schofield 2.
Heckmondwike: James Carter 15, Darren Kent 14, Richard Westcott 4.
Sheffield: Martin Gamble 10, Andy Knowles 5, Rob Mawhood 4, Jono Birks 4, Mick Knowles 3.Referee - Alan Farrell.
Astley & Tyldesley Fixtures