Author Archives: Chris Hood

About Chris Hood

I am a sport obsessive - you name it and I'm probably watching it, listening to it or reporting on it! I joined Phoenix FM in May 2014 after someone suggested I do something productive with my hobby. I've graduated from sidekicking to presenting and producing regular sports shows such as Phoenix Sport and Leyton Orient's official radio show, The Orient Hour.


The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

HAMMERS boss Will Pottinger admitted they just “didn’t have enough” to go all the way to the Championship Pairs final.

Richard Lawson and Nick Morris were knocked out at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Sheffield at Somerset on Friday night.

Just like the Fours at Redcar, Hammers just ran out of steam in the latter stages.

But boss Pottinger admits they are getting closer to glory. He said: “We were probably pre-meeting favourites but it’s never that simple.

“We just didn’t have enough in the end. Gate positions became paramount at the end of the meeting and that was vital.

“But we were close here and in the Fours. We are still in the title race for Play-Off places and the Championship Shield and KO Cup.

“The boys need to keep pushing. We just perhaps need a bit more luck along the way and we will pick up a trophy.”

The Hammers always looked likely to go all the way when they landed an opening race maximum over Scunthorpe.

Despite Morris being a tad hot and cold in the heats, with Lawson solid throughout, it was always going to be a tense semi-final.

But it was Howarth and Wright who prevailed with a strong first lap and it was game over for the Hammers stars.

PETERBOROUGH 21: Michael Palm Toft 15, Scott Nicholls 6
LAKESIDE 21: Richard Lawson 13, Nick Morris 8
EDINBURGH 20: Ricky Wells 12, Erik Riss 8
SCUNTHORPE 14: Jake Allen 9, Josh Auty 5
BERWICK 14: Aaron Summers 9, Kevin Doolan 5

SHEFFIELD 22: Charles Wright 12, Kyle Howarth 10
WORKINGTON 20: Nicolai Klindt 12, Ty Proctor 8
REDCAR 20: Ben Barker 10, Thomas Jorgensen 10
IPSWICH 19: Rory Schlein 15, Nico Covatti 4
GLASGOW 9: Chris Harris 5, Paul Starke 4

Semi-final 1: Workington beat Peterborough 7-2
Semi-final 2: Sheffield beat Lakeside 7-2
Final: Sheffield beat Workington 5-4

Hundreds Enjoy Grassroots Football Festival

Chris Evans reports…


Youths and Adults Take Part in Colchester Event

Male and female teams ranging from Under 7s to adults turned out in their hundreds to enjoy the Essex County FA Grassroots Football Festival in Colchester on Saturday 14th July, participating in recreational small-sided matches and fun sessions.

Similar to last season’s model, there were solely non-competitive tournaments at the University of Essex campus. This style of event eliminates pressure and expectations, especially for new teams or those who are experiencing a new format for the first time. Each year the festival provides as many opportunities and elements of the game as possible, and this year was no different.

The popular festival has evolved rapidly over the years, based on feedback from previous participants. One of the key elements in 2018 was to transition players between different formats of the game as they move up the age groups, as well as assisting their coaches in adapting to the changes in-between seasons.

Teams were creative in exploring new formations and playing positions without the pressure of the scoreline. Coaches and managers saw their players on a different-sized pitch and in different positions so they could understand how to support them for the new season.

Chelsea Ladies and England Under 17s star Charlotte put in a guest appearance for ‘Question & Answer’ sessions, reciting her progress along the Female Player Pathway from Galleywood, Writtle Minors, Great Danes and Moulsham High School, through the Essex County FA Player Development Centre and Regional Talent Club to captaining the ‘Lionesses’ Under 15s and 16s.

The former Essex County Schools FA representative team player explained how she’s since travelled to Norway to play and was part of an England age group to beat Germany on penalties! She said: “I love the central defensive midfield position as you can defend and score goals as well. If you play in several positions you can further your journey and my best advice is to believe in yourself.”

Senior Football Development Officer Danielle Warnes reacted: “It was a brilliant turnout and it was fantastic to see parents join us too to make it a real family atmosphere. It was a very hot day but everyone was very enthusiastic and we’ve had some really positive feedback. Thanks to everyone who contributed to an excellent event!”

The overall festival, this year in partnership with Boots2Africa, is divided into two events to maximise the number of teams who can join in. This was the first of the two dates, aimed primarily at the county’s geographical Group 1 (Braintree, Colchester, Maldon, Tendring) and Group 2 (Brentwood, Chelmsford, Epping Forest, Harlow, Uttlesford).

A second festival on Sunday 12th August will cater for Group 3 (Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock) and Group 4 (Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest). This will also include a disability element, as well as 7v7-to-9v9 transitioning.



Match Preview | Gloucestershire v Essex Eagles

Image courtesy of Essex Cricket

With just one success to show from their opening four matches in the Vitality Blast, the Eagles will be looking to turn around their form when they play back-to-back matches this week, starting with a trip to Cheltenham where they meet Gloucestershire on Friday starting at 5:30pm.

Then, on Saturday, Hampshire visit The Cloudfm County Ground for a match that starts at 5pm.

One player who has been outstanding for the Eagles during the Vitality Blast campaign so far is Adam Zampa. The leg-spinner has taken seven wickets including 2 for 20 against Surrey and 3 for 17 in the match with Glamorgan.

The Australian believes that the Eagles need to start a winning run now if they are to maintain an interest in the competition.

“For me, I think the next game is pretty much do-or-die,” said the 26-year-old.

“Win that and the one on Saturday and we’ll be on a roll and in T20 cricket, things can turn around very quickly but we need to show some character now.

“The two defeats in as many days last week were hugely disappointing. To be honest, we weren’t at our best in any facet of the game on those occasions and so we didn’t deserve to come away with anything.”

Zampa pointed the finger at the reasons for the Eagles shortcomings.

“We do have the skills but we’ve made some poor decisions and we need to get the mental side of the game right,” he reasoned.

“We are losing crucial moments in games at the moment and that’s costing us. We need to put things right pretty quickly otherwise the competition is going to be out of our reach.”

Zampa, who has played in 13 T20 Internationals and also made 31 One-day appearances for his country, is delighted with his own form at present.

“I’m very happy with my game at the moment and to be honest, I think I’m bowling as well as I’ve ever done in this format,” he admitted.

“That’s all well and good for me but I’m here to help the team win matches and it sucks to be on the losing side. Hopefully, we can turn things around quickly.”

The Eagles have named an unchanged 13-man squad for Friday’s game.


Essex squad to face Gloucestershire:

Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain

Adam Wheater (31) wicket-keeper

Ravi Bopara (25)

Varun Chopra (6)

Matt Coles (1)

Sam Cook (16)

Simon Harmer (11)

Dan Lawrence (28)

Matt Quinn (94)

Neil Wagner (13)

Tom Westley (21)

Ashar Zaidi (99)

Adam Zampa (88)

Report provided by Essex CCC


Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE boss Will Pottinger hailed top duo Nick Morris and Richard Lawson as they helped the Hammers secure a 51-39 home win over Sheffield.

The pairing went unbeaten at The Arena-Essex Raceway as Lakeside maintained their 100 per cent home record courtesy of a battling performance against the reigning Champions.

Hammers won 12 of the 15 races, but had to dig deep at key moments to send the Tigers back to Sheffield without anything to show for their efforts.

Only six in front with three races remaining, Lawson and Morris teamed up for two 5-1 maximums in Heats 13 and 15 to see Lakeside home.

“That’s why they’re so invaluable at this level,” Pottinger said.

“Nine times out of ten, you can rely on them when it matters most and they did what we needed them to do tonight.

“They stepped up when one or two of the boys had a below par night and it was another good victory for the team overall and sending Sheffield home with no league points could prove crucial in a couple of months time.”

Lawson romped to a full 15-point maximum with Morris tucking in behind his team-mate in Heats 13 and 15.

Ben Morley and Kyle Newman both took two race wins as they chipped in with vital contributions.

Adam Ellis endured a rare off night, while Zach Wajtknecht rounded his meeting off with a paid win in Heat Ten.

Reserve Alfie Bowtell failed to score from three rides, which certainly doesn’t reflect his gating on what turned out to be another tough fixture for the 21-year-old.

Hammers compete in the Championship Pairs at Somerset next Friday (July 20) before travelling to Sheffield on Thursday, July 26.

LAKESIDE 51: Richard Lawson 15, Nick Morris 13+2, Ben Morley 9, Kyle Newman 7+1, Adam Ellis 4, Zach Wajtknecht 3+1, Alfie Bowtell 0.
SHEFFIELD 39: Broc Nicol 11+1, Kyle Howarth 10+1, James Shanes 7+2, Todd Kurtz 6+2, Georgie Wood 4, Charles Wright 1+1, Lasse Bjerre R/R.

Essex Youth Forum Guides Essex into 2018/19

Chris Evans reports…


Youngsters Help to Shape Grassroots Football’s Future

Essex County FA Youth Forum Chairman, Ciaran Whatley is aiming to find the next generation of club secretaries, managers, development officers and referees as he leads the group into another productive season in 2018/19.

As part of the Forum, young people aged between 16 and 24 have the opportunity to help shape and develop football, supporting and empowering a diverse workforce and influencing change. Currently a group of six individuals are supporting the County FA in delivering a strategy, aiming to give a voice to youngsters and make a positive impact.

Ciaran is proud to head the Youth Forum, and has pointed out that the knowledge within the group is valuable: “In my eyes, my main task as Chairman would be to give each Youth Forum member the best opportunities to develop and find their own successes, in a way which helps improve their clubs and the communities around them.”

“When we’ve all met up over the course of the season, and before for those who are in their second year on the Youth Forum, I can tell that there is a lot of energy and a wide skill base amongst the group. When combined, those two mean we have a good platform for success.”

Ciaran started volunteering in 2011/12 with Hawkwell Athletic FC’s Soccer School, which soon developed into refereeing when he turned 14. He performs various volunteering tasks, including referee mentoring plus helping in their home ground’s kitchen. Currently a lot of his time is going towards setting-up a girls academy and organising a fun day to help launch this.

Across the season, the Youth Forum will be working alongside the County FA to deliver the annual Grassroots Football Festivals, Futsal Finals and various events, and Ciaran agrees that there are particular areas and specialisms where the team’s skills could be strengthened.

“I think having new faces would give us the perfect opportunity to build upon what’s come before,” he explained, “with new ideas and voices providing a fresh take on how we can develop both ourselves as a Youth Forum and football in Essex as a whole.”

Rhys Elmer, from the Essex County FA Development Team, added: “I believe it’s extremely important that we listen to the views of children and young people to shape the way grassroots football looks. Young people currently volunteering in football are our future generations of club and league committee members, coaches, welfare officers and first aiders.”

Could You Join the Forum?

The ultimate aim is to recruit a team of twelve, to cover as many areas of football as possible. Existing ‘Football Futures’ members are welcome to join if they are:

o   able to attend, and actively participate in, all monthly Youth Forum meetings

o   committed to Youth Forum aims to provide a voice for children and young people

o   capable of delivering and attending various football events related to the role

o   in a position to support a minimum of three Essex County FA events

o   willing to complete the FA ‘CRC’ process


If you’d like to join the Youth Forum, E-Mail Rhys Elmer at or call (01245) 393093.


FA 50-Year Awards for Essex Volunteers

Chris Evans reports…


Recognition for Dennis Wyman and Chris Baker

Rewards for decades of selfless work in the grassroots game were recently handed to Chris Baker of United Ockendon FC and Upminster Park Rovers YFC’s Dennis Wyman when they were presented with FA 50-Year Awards to thank them for their efforts.

To be eligible for The FA’s ‘Order of Merit’ Award, a nominated individual must have completed 50 years as a football volunteer, inclusive of their playing career but excluding any football played at school. Stalwarts Chris and Dennis both received their awards from the Essex County FA’s Representative to The FA, Alec Berry.

Chris Baker

Chris has been with one club all of his playing and administrative football career, albeit the club has changed its name several times over the years. He played for Duffins FC from the 1966/67 season until 1996/97, turning out when they were short of players or when individuals didn’t arrive on a Sunday morning, and he has been pivotal in maintaining his club’s existence.

Taking on many roles – including Treasurer, Secretary, Manager and Chairman – he’s ensured boys and men have had the opportunity to play football in South Ockendon. The club changed its identity to Albion Athletic (1971-73), Ockendon Plough (1973-95), Ockendon Motor Spares (1995-2007) and United Ockendon (2007 to date).

The club has appeared in eleven Essex Sunday Premier Cup Finals, winning the competition on seven occasions. United Ockendon (who were the original Ockendon Motor Spares ‘B’) have also won the competition on one occasion, their only appearance in the final.

Chris also took his Referee Course in 1991 and is still a match official to this day. He took up the whistle due to the shortage of referees locally, plying his trade mainly in the Thurrock Association Sunday League. Chris has been instrumental in helping to provide football to his home town with commitment and professionalism for 50 years.

Dennis Wyman

Upminster Park Rovers FC (UPR) were founded in 1965 when Dennis and Jim Sadler decided to start a side for their sons, and they quickly formed a team with boys from the local area. UPR joined the Echo Junior League in 1966 and became the first team to play matches at Hall Lane Playing Fields in Upminster. The cost of hiring the pitch for that first season was just £5!

As the club expanded, so did the area from which they drew their members. UPR now have players from all over Havering, and from many neighbouring areas. Dennis has overseen this expansion, and now UPR have many committed members and a strong committee.

Over the years, Dennis has guided and steered the club and has held most roles at some point, keeping them running on his own when new volunteers couldn’t be found. In the 1970s, UPR faced difficult times financially as the country was plunged into a recession. During this time, Dennis paid all the league registration fees from his own money just to keep the club in operation.

His dedication has been unwavering, with no undertaking too small to warrant his attention. For many years, he organised the Summer Tournament and managed to persuade professional players like Trevor Brooking to present the trophies. In the early days of the club, Dennis qualified as a referee and, until the age of 77, he still regularly refereed matches and waived any fee.

In 2006, he led UPR to FA Charter Standard status, no mean feat for such a large club. They continue to thrive, with over 30 teams playing in either the Echo Junior or Chelmsford Youth Leagues. He remains as Chairman of a club who, in June 2016, celebrated 50 years of football.


Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY PREVIEW

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE return to full strength when they host reigning Champions Sheffield at the Arena-Essex Raceway tonight (8pm).

In recent weeks, the Hammers have been without Kyle Newman through injury while Zach Wajtknecht has had to fulfil other racing commitments.

But the pair will return to the side on Friday for what should prove to be another stern test.

And after back-to-back away defeats at Glasgow and Peterborough, Hammers team boss Will Pottinger is keen to see his side maintain their 100 per cent record at home.

“Losing by 14 points at Peterborough and 13 points at Glasgow left me naturally disappointed although I always try to look at the bigger picture”, Pottinger said.

“I’ve got no doubt that both score lines would have been closer if we’d have been able to put out a full strength team on both occasions.

“On Friday we are able to do just that though and that’s a pretty big thing for us because Sheffield have got a strong looking team.

“This is our only home league fixture during July at the moment so it’s really important that the Lakeside fans back the team as we look to claim three more vital league points.”

Sheffield are without Danish ace Lasse Bjerre as he has been suffering from concussion, but skipper Kyle Howarth makes a his return from a shoulder injury sustained last month.

LAKESIDE: Nick Morris, Zach Wajtknecht, Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman, Richard Lawson, Ben Morley, Alfie Bowtell.
SHEFFIELD: Kyle Howarth, Todd Kurtz, Lasse Bjerre R/R, Broc Nicol, Charles Wright, Georgie Wood, James Shanes.

“Let Them Play” Says CelebrateEssex ‘Footie Dad’ Winner

Chris Evans reports…


South Ockendon’s Jason Plunkett Has Advice for Parents

“Just let them play and enjoy the game” says South Ockendon ‘Footie Dad’ Jason Plunkett, winner of the Essex County FA’s #CelebrateEssex Twitter competition having provided support and encouragement to his football-mad son.

#CelebrateEssex promotes inspirational personal volunteer stories, motivating new faces to get involved and grow the grassroots community. Once nominations closed in June, a select group of footie dads were chosen for a Twitter poll to identify the monthly winner who’d receive a prize and extra public plaudits. Jason won the vote in front of two strong challengers.

A ‘Footie Dad’ is described as someone who offers support to their son or daughter before, during or after a game in any number of ways. They help to make sure their ‘star player’ gets to training safely, enjoys participating in matches and is encouraged to do their best. Kelly Plunkett believed Jason shows these traits so she nominated him to the @EssexCountyFA Twitter account.

Football has always been Jason’s passion in life, and he’s been involved in all aspects of the game: watching, playing, managing, training, coaching and even scouting. He started managing when he had to stop playing through injury at a young age. Then followed nearly 30 years in the Thurrock Association Sunday League and the Greene King Essex Veterans League on Saturdays.

He also started training the ‘minis’ at County Park YFC when a coach left so they could grow the club and bring teams through, running his son Oliver’s team. Oliver then signed for Southend United and Jason was unable to dedicate the time to his County Park responsibilities. However, he grew to miss coaching youngsters so he became involved in schools district football.

Jason will be looking to coach two district age groups in 2018/19 for Basildon and Billericay alongside Manager Billy Manners from Woodlands School. Being involved in the development of his son’s skills is important to him, and he said: “I became a ‘Footie Dad’ nine years ago, and my son started at an early age. From three years old he has grown up around football.”

“He was even kicking a ball before he could walk, crawling round the house! I just try to be there for him and support him for all the games he plays for his school, district, grassroots and academy teams. I give up most of my free time these days for my son as Southend United’s Youth Academy is a big commitment, training three times a week with games up and down the country.”

Jason has been part of one Essex’s most successful Sunday clubs – Ockendon Motor Spares who won the County Cup seven times, plus three with Little Thurrock Dynamos Veterans – but he knows what currently makes him tick: “I’ve lost count of the other titles and cups I’ve won, but being involved and supporting my son is the best feeling, seeing him enjoying the game he loves so much.”

He also has a word for anyone thinking of offering their spare time for grassroots football: “You don’t need to have experience as my father-in-law helped me until I stopped. Without volunteers then teams, and even clubs, disband so just try it please. You will be surprised how rewarding it is.”

And Jason also has advice for parent or guardians supporting their child: “Just let them play and enjoy the game. Ask them the questions, don’t tell them the answers. Support them and just be there for them. You need to tell them they’ll make mistakes and they’ll be rejected, but football is all about opinions and it’s about them enjoying and playing the game wherever it may be.”


Wickford Town Open Upgraded Bartlett Park

Chris Evans reports…


New Facilities Unveiled by Mark Francois MP

Wickford Town FC’s brand new Bartlett Park facility will “help the club achieve sustainability” according to Essex County FA Chief Executive Brendan Walshe, who attended the grand opening on Saturday 23rd June.

Mark Francois, MP for Wickford and Rayleigh, officially opened the state-of-the-art new changing rooms as Town look to become one of the largest youth football clubs in Essex. Their new facility was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

The grant enabled Wickford to double the number of team changing rooms, which will enable them to significantly boost their football provision throughout the community. The upgraded facility now comprises four team changing rooms, two changing rooms for match officials and increased access to male and female toilets.

A key improvement, however, is the upgraded club room complete with kitchen and servery area, which will help to increase the club’s long-term sustainability. This will mean they can stage more club events as well as coach and referee education courses.

The club hope the new facility will help them unearth more gems from their youth sides, which have already helped to produce Brentford goalkeeper Daniel Bentley and former Southend United Manager Steve Tilson. The new site will also assist Wickford who play in the Southend & District Junior League, to forge stronger local community links.

President John Bartlett, who has had numerous roles within the club since it was founded in 1969, is delighted with the new provision. Town were awarded a £397,764 grant towards the project, working alongside the Football Foundation and the Essex County FA to compile a five-year Development Plan, which is a vision with an emphasis on increasing sports participation.

The new facility will support the club in hopes of almost doubling their number of youth football sides, as they aim to draw in a further 20 teams thanks to their improved provision. This would take their total from 37 to 61, a move which would increase overall participation by 154%.

With a focus on retaining young players and backfilling their existing teams through all age groups, a 100% increase in football participation for those in the 14-25 age bracket is predicted. Wickford also plan to establish four new girls’ teams and a ladies side, in addition to the two ladies sides they currently run.

County FA Chief Executive Walshe commented: “This application has evolved over the last 24 months and a lot of work has gone into it. This included a variety of support to access additional funding, develop the applications and business plan, the operating model and a football development plan for the site.”

“The opening ceremony was a real showcase event for the club, demonstrating the journey they have been on over the last three or four years, plus it also acted as recognition of what it has been achieved during that period. It had a real community atmosphere, with players, parents, volunteers, coaches, managers, friends and family all in attendance to celebrate the work of the club.”

“Wickford Town FC are in an excellent position to achieve more things in the future at this excellent facility, which will help the club achieve sustainability. The site has enormous potential for future expansion, with land at its disposal to help meet the growing football development needs of the Wickford and the wider surrounding community.”

Clive Lodge, Chairman of Wickford Town YFC, added: “I would like to thank Mark Francois MP for opening our new facility. Additionally we would like to thank Brendan Walshe and the Essex County FA for their continual support over the last few years in making this happen. The club have received support from funding providers and years of fundraising from club members.”


Match Preview | Surrey v Essex Eagles

Image courtesy of Essex Cricket

Essex Eagles are set for back-to-back matches this week when the Vitality Blast campaign continues. On Thursday, the Eagles make the short trip to London to meet Surrey at the Kia Oval, before hosting Glamorgan on Friday in another sold out clash at The Cloudfm County Ground.

With one win and one defeat from the opening two matches in the competition, all-rounder Ravi Bopara is keen for the Eagles to put together a winning run of form.

“It’s been mixed fortunes so far, we weren’t happy with our performance in the defeat to Sussex Sharks but then we put our first win on the board by beating Middlesex last Friday, so we are okay,” said the all-rounder.

“Our aim at this stage in the competition is always to reach the knockout stages by finishing top of our group. A few wins and that gives you momentum and hopefully, we’ll get a couple more positive results this week.

“Qualifying for the next stage is the number one objective.”

The 33 year-old, who made 38 T20 International appearances for England, believes that the Eagles have a couple of aces in their bowling attack in the shape of spinners Simon Harmer and Adam Zampa.

“Spinners around the country are playing a key role in matches this season and that doesn’t surprise me particularly with the hot weather we’ve had,” he said. “The wickets are dry and they are going to turn or at least hold for the spinners.

“Generally anyway, in my experience, spinners play a big part in T20 and to have the two world-class performers that we have in Harmer and Zampa should give us a huge advantage. Regardless of where you play matches, spinners are always in the game and will always take wickets.

“Obviously the batters have got to do their part as well but I’d like to think our spin options will be vital in helping us to get to the next stage.”

Surrey are still looking for their first Vitality Blast win this summer after losing to Middlesex and Kent Spitfires but their ranks have been boosted by the arrival of big-hitting Australian duo Aaron Finch and Nic Maddinson. Both have experience of playing in the IPL and Big Bash, and Finch arrives in scintillating form.

Playing for Australia against Zimbabwe in an International T20 just over a week ago, Finch hit 172 from 76 deliveries in Harare. His first 50 runs took 22 deliveries before bringing up his second IT20 century from just 50 balls.

The Eagles squad to face Surrey:

Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain
Adam Wheater (31) Wicket-Keeper
Ravi Bopara (25)
Varun Chopra (6)
Matt Coles (1)
Sam Cook (16)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Jamie Porter (44)
Matt Quinn (94)
Neil Wagner (13)
Tom Westley (21)
Ashar Zaidi (99)
Adam Zampa (88)

Report provided by Essex CCC



The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE heat-leader Adam Ellis says he can’t wait for the Hammers to be back together again when they host Sheffield on Friday (July 13, 8pm).

The Hammers look set to return to full strength for the visit of the reigning Champions with Zach Wajtknecht free of grasstrack commitments and Kyle Newman successfully coming through last Friday’s meeting with Glasgow.

Ellis is expecting one of the tougher home meetings so far against Sheffield and insists another big team effort is required if they are to maintain their 100 per cent home record.

“It’s another big meeting against Sheffield and it should be a good one for the fans,” Ellis said.

“At the moment we just need Kyle back to full fitness and a full strength side again.

“We’ve had such a good start to the season; we’ve not had many injuries and no one has been struggling much.

“As soon as Alfie (Bowtell) found his feet in the Championship as well, we were pretty strong.

“But we all need to chip in with some good points on Friday and hopefully we can get another win as a team.”


The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE promoter Jon Cook is looking forward to getting his side back on home shale when reigning Champions Sheffield come to town on Friday (8pm).

After a run of eight straight wins in all competitions, the Hammers have fallen to consecutive away defeats at strongly fancied Glasgow and Peterborough.

But Cook is seeking home comforts this week as they aim to maintain their 100 per cent record at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

“It will be good to get another home meeting in after a slightly longer enforced break due to England’s progression in the Football World Cup,” Cook said.

“The Peterborough and Glasgow away meetings were never going to be easy but now we have to show our character by getting back to winning ways in front of our own supporters on Friday.

“Again we’ll need everybody contributing though because Sheffield are another solid side and it should be an entertaining fixture.”

Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

HAMMERS boss Will Pottinger admitted that his side were “so near but so far” from grabbing a result at Glasgow.

The Essex side went down 51-38 at Ashfield tonight despite a sensational display from the top three.

But ultimately missing Zach Wajtknecht and having Kyle Newman only just back from injury left the Hammers too vulnerable.

Pottinger said: “It’s very frustrating to come all this way and get nothing. It’s a tough place to come and they were on form tonight.

“We were so near but so far. We stayed in the meeting but when Adam lost a chain while leading Heat 10 that was a massive blow.

“It meant I had to play my tactical in the next race and instead of being nine down were 13 and that was probably too much to bring back from there.

“It’s Sheffield next at home a week on Saturday and that’s another big clash for the club. We are strong at home but we must keep winning.”

Hammers’ top three of Morris, Ellis and Lawson were in terrific form but back-up was lacking with Newman only just back from injury.

But the heat-leaders kept Hammers in the clash until Heat 14 when a home 5-1 from Sarjeant and guest Ben Barker wrapped it up for the Tigers.

The home side edged ahead to a nine-point lead after Heat 8 with a vital 5-1 from Paul Starke and Sarjeant.

But it was a Hammer blow for the visitors when the classy Ellis dropped a chain while leading Heat 10, gifting Glasgow a maximum heat win.

Lawson and Morris held off a fierce challenge from Richie Worrall in the next race to reduce the deficit.

But Tigers wrapped it up thanks to hero Sarjeant in the penultimate race.

Glasgow 51: James Sarjeant 12+1, Ben Barker 11+4, Paul Starke 9+2, Chris Harris 9, Richie Worrall 9, Jack Thomas 1.
Lakeside 38: Nick Morris 12+1, Richard Lawson 11, Adam Ellis 9, Kyle Newman 3, Ben Morley 3, Alfie Bowtell 0, Ben Hopwood 0.

Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY PREVIEW

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE travel to Glasgow on Friday in another key clash towards the top end of the Championship (7.30pm).

The Hammers currently sit in second place, one position above their Scottish opponents, who are six points behind them in the current standings.

And following last Friday’s defeat at league leaders Peterborough, the Hammers are keen to add to their tally.

But in-form heat-leader Adam Ellis reiterates his side are in a strong position as they reach the mid-point of their campaign.

“We were obviously disappointed not to get anything at Peterborough but we’re not looking at it as a bad result,” Ellis said.

“At the end of the day we’ve been on a really good run and I guess it had to come to an end at some point.

“But we’re not too worried at all really because it’s just one meeting. There’s still plenty more to go and we’re still confident that we’ll do enough to stay in that top four, especially when we’re back at full strength and that’s all that matters.”

The Hammers will make a late decision on Kyle Newman while Ben Hopwood has been chosen as the National League guest to replace Zach Wajtknecht who is competing in a grasstrack fixture on the continent.

Redcar’s Ben Barker guests for Glasgow in place of Claus Vissing who is required in the Danish League, while Rider Replacement operates for the injured Lewis Kerr for the hosts.

GLASGOW: Chris Harris, Lewis Kerr R/R, Paul Starke, Ben Barker, Richie Worrall, Jack Thomas, James Sarjeant.
LAKESIDE: Nick Morris, Ben Hopwood, Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman, Richard Lawson, Ben Morley, Alfie Bowtell.

Match Preview | Essex Eagles v Middlesex

Image courtesy of Essex Cricket

Essex Eagles entertain Middlesex at The Cloudfm County Ground on Friday having started the Vitality Blast campaign with a disappointing defeat to Sussex Sharks on Wednesday night.

The Sharks won by 36 runs after posting a score of 181 for 6, with the Eagles bowled out for 145, Sussex fast-medium bowler David Wiese picking up 5 for 24.

Eagles skipper, Ryan ten Doeschate, is looking for an immediate improvement from his squad and get the campaign up and running in front of packed house at Chelmsford.

“It’s good that we have an early chance to rectify matters because overall, we just weren’t good enough on the night,” he admitted.

“They probably got 20 more than we would have liked and we needed to have put in a better batting display. I thought our bowling was okay for much of the time but when we did have them on the ropes, we couldn’t capitalise. I think about 160 was about par on that wicket but we let them off the hook.

“We were facing two world-class bowlers when we were batting and we always knew it was going to be tough. They kept picking up wickets and the pressure was always on, particularly when the asking rate gets up above ten with eight overs to go, then that’s tough.

“So there is a lot of work to be done before we face Middlesex and hopefully, we can sort out a lot of things ahead of the match on Friday. We need to look at a number of aspects of our play but we do have some very good players in our dressing room and I’m expecting them to turn things around. But we do need to review a few things and work out where we need to be stronger.”

And the Essex Eagles captain is not ruling out changes to the side ahead of Friday’s sell-out match.

“We may need to change the team around a little bit and try and get a better balance,” he acknowledged. “Tactically I think we may have too many bowlers in there and so maybe playing an extra batter is one option.

“With the talent we have in the squad, perhaps we are still finding out what our best team is and what our best formula is. We need to look at our selection progress and need to learn from the Sussex defeat – and quickly.”

Middlesex include West Indian Dwayne Bravo, one of their two Overseas players, along with Australian, Hilton Cartwright. The 34-year-old Bravo has played 66 Twenty20 internationals, averaging 24.29 with the bat and taking 52 wickets at an average of 28.26 and spent the briefest of time with Essex back in 2010.

Essex Eagles squad to face Middlesex:

Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain
Adam Wheater (31) Wicket-Keeper
Ravi Bopara (25)
Varun Chopra (6)
Matt Coles (1)
Sam Cook (16)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Jamie Porter (44)
Matt Quinn (94)
Neil Wagner (13)
Tom Westley (21)
Ashar Zaidi (99)
Adam Zampa (88)

Report provided by Essex CCC


Lakeside Speedway – JON COOK SPEAKS OUT

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

The Lakeside Hammers meeting this Saturday against Glasgow Tigers has been postponed to avoid a clash with the World Cup football fever which is sweeping the country.

Hammers Co-Promoter Jon Cook commented “Having taken the opinions of our supporters on board, we agree that on another heatwave day and with England hopefully on fire, we can’t expect fans to travel in their masses to watch speedway after the match which may go to overtime and of course then sees England’s potential opponents kicking off at 7pm.

“The World Cup only comes around every four years and England haven’t created this much excitement since 1990.  We believe that moving one meeting to later in the year for the convenience of all, including Sweden’s many Scottish supporters, is a sensible decision for all.  Our thanks go to Glasgow for their understanding in this matter.”

The next meeting at the Arena Essex Raceway, will now be on Friday the 13th of July, when the Sheffield Tigers are due to be the visitors.

Cook continued  “This meeting however, and all our other Friday meetings, mysteriously disappeared from the official BSPA fixture list at the end of last week and although the club has yet to receive any explanation from the Association, the SCB (Speedway Control Board) has reassured us on the continuation of our season, but has asked us to move our meeting with Peterborough from crowded Fridays to ease the problems one or two clubs are having with guests, which we view as an eminently sensible request to solve this situation.

“We have a (BSPA) Association meeting next week and I expect the matter to be sorted easily there. The Association by its name is there for all clubs and not for the few, as the few can’t race against themselves.  A problem has been identified and there are enough speedway related brains there to sort out the issues in a fair and even manner, and one which doesn’t present clubs with a situation that could prove terminal to their season.

“We’ve lost one speedway club this week and I’m sure when my fellow members attend next week, the gravity of that situation won’t go amiss when all matters are discussed.”

Lakeside Speedway – SATURDAY POSTPONED

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE Hammers have postponed their home Championship meeting with Glasgow on Saturday – to avoid a clash with football fever!

Club bosses had been keen to press ahead with the attractive fixture against the Tigers but fear any extra time and penalties in the Sweden v England World Cup quarter final afternoon game would kill the attendance.

In addition, medical staff are working at big screen events in the afternoon and the club are keen to avoid any delays as a consequence.

Hammers will, however, still be making the journey to Scotland on Friday as planned to race Glasgow at Ashfield Stadium.

A new date for Saturday’s meeting will be confirmed with a fixture update when available.

Match Preview | Essex Eagles v Sussex Sharks

Image courtesy of Essex Cricket

Essex Eagles return on Wednesday evening to commence the Vitality Blast campaign with two home fixtures at The Cloudfm County Ground this week starting with a visit from Sussex Sharks on Wednesday evening.

Past encounters between the two sides have seen new records set for the competition.

It was ten years ago that Eagles all-rounder Graham Napier captured the headlines when he re-wrote the record books blasting an unbeaten 152 against the South Coast side at Chelmsford.

His century came off 44 balls, but the remaining 52 took just 14 deliveries and overall he smashed 16 sixes beating the previous best score in the competition of 141 set by Cameron White of Somerset.

But four years later at Chelmsford, Luke Wright set new figures for the domestic competition with 153 not out from 66 balls that included 11 sixes and 12 fours leading his side home in a world record T20 run chase to reach their 226 target.

Napier has since retired but the threat of Wright remains a potential concern for the Eagles who have attracted Australian International Adam Zampa to the Club for this year’s competition.

The leg-spinner has considerable experience of the T20 format having played for Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash and for Rising Pune Supergiants in the Indian Premier League. He has also featured in 31 ODIs and 13 International T20’s for his country.

The 26 year-old makes his debut for the Eagles on Wednesday night and is eagerly looking forward to the experience.

“I’ve been over here for a while now and spent time with the lads in preparation and I can’t t wait to get started,” he said.

“The ground here at Chelmsford is quite compact and it’s important for me just to get used to the size of the it, the crease, but I’ve had a couple of games here already and that’s given me a  good insight.

“It’s always an exciting time of the year when T20 starts and I know the guys in our dressing room are looking forward to it and to having a break from the longer form of the game. There is a pretty good buzz around the place.”

Meanwhile, Head Coach Anthony McGrath admits that he is hoping for an improved campaign this year from his squad.

“I think we have been below par in the past couple of years but I believe that with the squad we’ve got together this time, we can do well providing we play somewhere near our capabilities,” he acknowledged.

The signing of Zampa is one that delights him and offers a different look to the bowling attack.

“Personally, I think we’ve lacked some mystery to our attack in the middle overs in the past couple of years and he has the ability to take plenty of wickets and it should be really exciting watching him.

“We’ve also got Neil Wagner for the first part of the T20 campaign and then Peter Siddle joins us, so it’s good to have two overseas players throughout the group games.

“Overall, with the squad we’ve got, I think we look very exciting with the bat and very exciting with the ball, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Essex Eagles squad to face Sussex Sharks:

Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain
Adam Wheater (31) Wicket-Keeper
Ravi Bopara (25)
Varun Chopra (6)
Matt Coles (1)
Sam Cook (16)
Simon Harmer (11)
Dan Lawrence (28)
Jamie Porter (44)
Matt Quinn (94)
Neil Wagner (13)
Tom Westley (21)
Ashar Zaidi (99)
Adam Zampa (88)

Following the clash with the Sharks, the Eagles continue the Vitality campaign on Friday with another home game against Middlesex for a sell-out match at The Cloudfm County Ground.

Report provided by Essex CCC



The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

HAMMERS team boss Will Pottinger admitted it was a “great effort” to make the Championship Fours final.

Without Kyle Newman it ended up being a tough final and the Hammers ended up in fourth place behind champions Peterborough, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Nick Morris was outstanding all afternoon, dropping just one point in the qualifying run-off for the final but there just wasn’t enough consistent backing.

Pottinger said: “It’s hard to come into an event like this without your strongest side. I know some other teams were missing riders as well.

“But in the end Peterborough won it with a full strength team and that perhaps made all the difference.

“I’m proud of all the boys, they all had a good go but we just lacked an extra bit of power in the middle order. But it was a great effort.

“Nick was brilliant all day dropping only a point. To be honest he kept us in the hunt all afternoon and got the vital place in the run-off to make the final.

“Adam Ellis and Richard Lawson both gave it their all as did Alfie Bowtell and it has been great experience for him.

“Now we just put this behind us and concentrate on the next league matches at Glasgow and then home to the Tigers on Saturday. They are massive matches for us.”


Qualifying heats – 13: Morris 6, Ellis 5, Lawson 1, Bowtell 1.
Final – 14: Morris 9, Ellis 4, Lawson 1, Bowtell 1.

The Brentwood Cricket Festival is Back

Listen as Brentwood Cricket Club Chairman Paul Webb joined us in the studio to talk about The Brentwood Cricket Festival, including the annual match against the PCA England Masters, Adam Zampa, and some incredible performances by Brentwood’s teams this season.