A brilliant summer day and 25 degrees awaited the arrival of 31 of the country's, nay WORLD's, best Veteran riders as they gathered in the picturesque village of Horspath near Oxford to resume their Short Track activities. First item on the agenda being a "revenge" match (on the part of last year's losing Euro-Vets side) against the successful British Lions touring team, hugely successful in all their Australian outings over the winter. The corresponding clash at Norwich last year saw a very closely fought encounter with the Lions edging it at the finish. Tourist's Team Manager Geoff Gamage brought his side to his home track in Horspath to defend their position, strengthened now by a relatively fit Dave Hemsley while that other superstar Steve Harris, Horspath track expert of course, once again led out the Euro-Vets octet managed by our very own Fred Rothwell. With several of last year's E-V riders not available today, Fred drafted in Rob Geach, Jason Ashford, Paul Graham and Phil Hemming to plug the gaps left by Mark Griffiths, Kev Burns, Andy Johnson and Glyn Morgan.
On with the preliminaries - victorious Lions Sskipper Craig Marchant bpresents the Fred Rothwell Shield to the One and Only man himself.
The revenge-seeking Euro-Vets get a heads-up from skipper Steve Harris before the off.
The match was again a very closely fought duel with 14 heats shared this time as opposed to 11 in the first staging but the extra weight of their reserves and second strings saw the Lions home again in a thrilling contest with more-or-less the same scores as before. On their way to victory the Lions were pushed very hard by the Euro-Vets whose flying heat leader trio of Harris, Ashford and Frith ensured there'd be no higher margin of victory while the Lions had more of a solid look from the top down. Marchant, Wenn and Hemsley were outstanding for the "homesters". The effort put in by Mick Knowles, Rob Geach and Paul Graham deserved a better reward.
Heat One gets undeerway: R-L Steve Harris, Mark Whitehead, Rob Geach, Mark Winwood.
There were a few spills along the way, not all unforced errors, demonstrating the fierce level of competition and will to win amongst this bevy of mature talent, hugely appreciated by a decent crowd basking in the sunshine. Six Lions saw the chequered flag first while only three E-Vs managed that feat, a telling difference.
The once again victorious, possibly unbeatable Lions.