One of Speedway’s keenest rivalries is set to be rekindled at Arlington stadium this Saturday (June 30) evening as the Eastbourne ‘Forman IT’ Eagles prepare to go head to head with the highly rated Birmingham Brummies.

The two sides first crossed swords in the mid-seventies and for a time were regarded the two best teams in the old British League Division Two.

The clock moving forward some forty years and a similar scenario came into being once more as the Sussex side made the transition to the National League.

Though the Brummies did eventually outpace the Eagles for the league title that year, the South Coast club were able to land not one, but two blows by firstly the knockout of the Perry Barr outfit in the Knockout Cup, en route to securing the silverware.

Then for good measure, they lifted the Gold Cup, effectively the forerunner of the modern day Play-Offs (though it didn’t possess that level of gravitas) in an aggregate shoot out against the Brummies.

The following season saw the teams continue in a similar vein, Birmingham again lifting the League title in direct combat with their Sussex rivals.

Eastbourne did gain a measure of revenge however retaining the Knockout Cup from under the noses of the men in red and yellow.

2017 proved to be something of a fallow year, silverware-wise for the Midland outfit, however the Eagles quest to secure the National League title once again just fell short as they lost out to the Belle Vue Colts at the final hurdle.

By way of consolation they did retain their Knockout Cup mantle yet again making it three wins on the spin.

Though Mildenhall have been widely tipped to hoover up most of the silverware this term, Birmingham, now under the stewardship of former Eastbourne Captain David Mason and his father Peter, have seemingly bounced back with strong looking team, one focused on picking up honours.

Eastbourne will still undoubtedly be riding on the crest of a wave following their recent, record breaking, victory over the Kent Kings and then last Saturday’s triumph against the Fen Tigers.

They will be only too aware however that the Brummies pose another stern test to Eastbourne’s usual home dominance and anybody doubting that should refer to recent results. A recent 50-40 win at the National Speedway stadium to end the Colts unbeaten home record in addition to a 51-39 success in midweek bearing testimony to the fact.

Tom Bacon and Danyon Hume were always likely to form an impressive spearhead but following horrific injuries sustained by close season capture Mitchell Davey, Birmingham sent out a statement of intent, re-signing Jack Parkinson-Blackburn and then subsequently former Kent rider James Shanes when JPB also was sidelined.

All that aside, it has arguably been the form of fifteen-year old Leon Flint that has set the Brummies season alight.

A string of tall scores has carried this hot prospect to a near 10-point average and the Sussex supporters will no doubt relish the chance to see how Flint fares against their own young talents, particularly Tom Brennan and Jason Edwards.

Saturday’s match will be Flint’s first in the Brummies top five so no doubt the sighs of relief will be audible inasmuch the visitors won’t be packing him at reserve.

With Charley Powell and Kelsey Dugard set to make their respective returns from injury, the Eagles will be near to full strength. The only absentee being Charlie Brooks, for whom Nick Laurence will be guesting, Brooks contesting a grass track meeting in memory of a good friend.   

Teams: (in alphabetical order)

Eagles: Mark Baseby, Tom Brennan, Kelsey Dugard, Jason Edwards, Nick Laurence (Guest for Charlie Brooks), Charley Powell, Georgie Wood. 

Brummies: Tom Bacon, Arran Butcher, Layne Cupitt, Leon Flint, Danyon Hume, James Shanes, Callum Walker.


Parade at 7.20pm

First race at 7.30pm.

Junior heats at 6.45pm.

Reading v Birmingham Bulls (inter league challenge) at about 9pm

Paul Watson