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Lakeside Hammers Cook insists they will keep fighting despite hosting a farewell meeting

PUBLISHED: 11:30 14 September 2018

Arena Essex Raceway (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Arena Essex Raceway (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League

Lakeside Hammers co-promoter Jon Cook insists the fight to keep Speedway in the Thurrock area continues – despite the last-ever meeting at Arena Essex tonight (Friday), writes Jacob Ranson.

Cook is expecting an emotional occasion when bikes roar for one last time at the venue which has staged the sport every year since 1984. Glasgow are the visitors in a vital Championship meeting (8pm).

Developers have taken over the site and Hammers will see out the season at Rye House – but the ultimate aim is to return closer to home in the future.

Cook said: “At times, many times, Stuart Douglas and I have questioned whether carrying on was itself futile and if it hadn’t been for the political support and insistence that speedway will be found a home in Thurrock then we’d not be here now.

“It’s time to see those words met with actions, but the developers in meetings with us have always stressed they understand as part of the planning process that support from them has to happen.

“I’ve had some great times at Arena, both as an opponent and also as a home manager. It’s going to be an incredibly emotional night on Friday.”

A host of former riders will be on hand and the club’s record points scorer and appearance maker Leigh Lanham will ride the final four laps.

The club have also produced a special commemorative brochure ‘Farewell to the Raceway’ which includes exclusive interviews with former promoter Peter Thorogood, ex-Arena racers Martin Goodwin, Andrew Silver and Troy Pratt along with 1991 title winner Bo Petersen speaking from Denmark.

Gary Havelock, the 1992 world champion, also pays an emotional tribute to the late Lee Richardson.

Cook and club owner Stuart Douglas have also written emotional pieces along with commercial manager Russell Keetch and there’s a look back at the first ever meeting in 1984 with Phil Lanning. The brochure doubles up as a match programme and is £5 on entry to the stadium.

Lakeside: Richard Lawson, Ben Morley, Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman R/R, Nick Morris, Zach Wajtknecht, Alfie Bowtell.

Glasgow: Craig Cook, James Sarjeant, Claus Vissing, Paul Starke, Chris Harris, Jack Thomas, Broc Nicol.

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