Author Archives: Chris Hood

Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY PREVIEW

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE are gearing up for important back-to-back fixtures against strongly fancied Scunthorpe this weekend.

The Hammers travel to North Lincolnshire on Friday (June 22, 7.30pm) before hosting the Scorpions at the Arena-Essex Raceway on Saturday (June 23, 7.45pm).

Second-placed Lakeside will be without star youngster Zach Wajtknecht for both trips who is abroad representing Great Britain in the European Under-21 Championship.

Hammers have booked Berwick’s Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen for both meetings with rider replacement operating for Kyle Newman who is out with a shoulder injury.

Team manager Will Pottinger said: “We had a good win against Berwick last week and their only real resistance came from Nikolaj.

“So he was on my radar as a potential guest and I saw enough last week to suggest he can do a good job for us.

“Scunthorpe have had injury problems of their own to the likes of Stevie Worrall and Stefan Nielsen, but that hasn’t stopped them starting the season well.

“So we know we’re in for two tough matches but the boys are riding well as a team at the minute and fingers crossed we can add more points to our total over the next couple of days.”

SCUNTHORPE: Charles Wright, Stefan Nielsen R/R, Josh Auty, Jake Allen, Jason Garrity, Danny Phillips, Gino Manzares.
LAKESIDE: Nick Morris, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman R/R, Richard Lawson, Ben Morley, Alfie Bowtell.

MATCH PREVIEW | Essex v Nottinghamshire

Essex return to County Championship action tomorrow: Image courtesy of Essex Cricket

Essex now concentrate once again on the red ball game with back-to-back home matches in the Specsavers County Championship starting on Wednesday when they entertain Nottinghamshire at The Cloudfm County Ground.

In their last fixture in the competition, Essex beat Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford, a victory that saw the victors complete the “double” over the Red Rose County. The win saw the Champions register their third win in Championship cricket this year.

Head Coach Anthony McGrath is hoping that his charges can add to that success over the next two matches. “After these two games there is quite a gap before we play four-day cricket again because the T20 season starts” he said.

“Therefore, it’s important that we get as many points as we can from these next two games. We are targeting at least one win from these two games and from where we are in the table right now, it would set us up nicely when we return to Championship cricket later in the season.

“I was delighted with the win against Lancashire, they are a good side and if you look at their side on paper, you would say that perhaps they are under-achieving a little bit. It was a really, really important win for us and to get two wins against them this season has been very satisfying. We’ve got them out of the way now and I’m sure they will pick up plenty of points this season.”

Essex will be without captain Ryan ten Doeschate for the match with Nottinghamshire as he completes a two-match ban and the side will be led in his absence by Tom Westley.

“It’s unfortunate that Ryan will be missing but we just have to get on with it” McGrath stated. “Any absence for whatever reason allows someone else to come in and grab their opportunity.

Essex have managed just 6 batting bonus points this summer and that is an area McGrath is anxious to improve quickly.

“I still feel that there is a lot more to come from our side, particularly in the batting where I am looking for us to step-up,” he said.

“The mitigating circumstances would be that the games have been fairly low-scoring affairs in our Championship matches this season. It’s not been easy but we have been below-par with the bat. Having said that, we’ve still managed to pick up three wins.

“Hopefully we can start to get some serious runs on the board from now on and give our bowlers some runs to really play with. We do need to start getting more batting bonus points because they can really make a difference by the end of the season.

“If you look at the table now, I know the first game was washed out but if you add in a few more batting points to the table, we’d be top and that shows just how important bonus points are. We have to start getting some serious batting points on the board and hopefully that can start against Nottinghamshire.”

The visitors, who were promoted from Division Two at the end of last season, start the match one place and 6 points adrift of third-placed Essex who, in turn are 7 points behind leaders Somerset. The West Country side though have only played 5 matches, one fewer than Essex and Nottinghamshire.

Essex Squad to face Nottinghamshire:

21 Tom Westley (C)
31 Adam Wheater (WK)
25 Ravi Bopara
6 Varun Chopra
1 Matt Coles
26 Alastair Cook
11 Simon Harmer
28 Dan Lawrence
19 Michael Pepper
44 Jamie Porter
94 Matt Quinn
13 Neil Wagner

Report provided by Essex CCC


Lakeside Speedway – KYLE NEWMAN UPDATE

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE’s Kyle Newman has received some positive news regarding his collarbone injury.

The Hammers’ middle-order man crashed out of Friday’s win over Berwick and was withdrawn due to a suspected broken collarbone.

But x-rays show no broken bones and that the AC joint between the shoulder and collarbone is displaced.

Newman will require physiotherapy and is likely to miss the upcoming home and away fixtures against Scunthorpe – but could feature in the trip to Peterborough on June 29.

Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE produced another dominant home display to see off previous league leaders Berwick 56-34 at The Arena-Essex Raceway – but it may have come at a cost.

Middle order man Kyle Newman was unbeaten by a visitor in his opening two rides, but was collected by Bandits’ reserve Dany Gappmaier in Heat Eight.

Newman landed heavily and was withdrawn from the rest of the meeting with a suspected broken collarbone.

It put a dampener on what was otherwise another hugely encouraging Purfleet performance for the Hammers – who were already riding without Zach Wajtknecht who is in the Czech Republic representing Great Britain in the World Under-21 Semi-Finals.

The remaining five riders stepped up to the plate though, securing a sixth straight win in all competitions.

It moved them up to second place in the standings, with Peterborough the new leaders after their win at Scunthorpe on the same night.

Hammers team boss Will Pottinger said: “It was a fabulous win considering that we were without Zach and then lost Kyle Newman to a suspected broken collarbone after two rides.

“Both Ben (Morley) and Alfie (Bowtell) had to have seven outings each but everyone performed on the night to cover the absences.

“It was a long night so we thank the fans for sticking with us throughout.”

Hammers opened with three successive 5-1s and never looked in any real danger throughout the clash.

Lakeside travel to Scunthorpe on Friday (June 22) before hosting the Scorpions the following night (Saturday, June 23, 7.45pm.)

LAKESIDE 56: Nick Morris 14, Adam Ellis 12, Ben Morley 11+2, Richard Lawson 9, Alfie Bowtell 6+4, Kyle Newman 4+2, Zach Wajtknecht R/R.
BERWICK 34: Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 12, Aaron Summers 7+1, David Howe 6+2, Kevin Doolan 6, Theo Pijper 3+1, Dany Gappmaier 0, Jye Etheridge R/R.

Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY PREVIEW

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE welcome current league leaders Berwick to the Arena-Essex Raceway on Friday in an important Championship clash (8pm).

The Bandits are currently level on points with Peterborough at the top, with the Hammers two places and three points behind them.

But prior to Berwick’s trip to Sheffield on Thursday, the Shielfield Park outfit have only had two league meetings on the road so far, securing just one consolation point.

As for the Hammers, they’ve been in ruthless mode at Purfleet winning all six of their home clashes in all competitions.

And boss Will Pottinger is looking forward to what he reckons will be an entertaining meeting.

“The boys are riding well at the minute but we know we’ll need to keep a good level of performance against Berwick,” Pottinger said.

“They’ve surprised a few people in the early stages of the season and they’ve got some quality, experienced riders in their team.

“So we’re expecting a tough match, but we’re confident at the Raceway and we ideally not only want another win, but we want to send them home with no points as well if we can.”

The Hammers will operate rider replacement for Zach Wajtknecht who is representing Great Britain in the World Under-21 Semi-Final in the Czech Republic.
Six junior heats will take place before the main event, the first getting underway at 7.20pm.

LAKESIDE: Nick Morris, Zach Wajtknecht R/R, Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman, Richard Lawson, Ben Morley, Alfie Bowtell.
BERWICK: Aaron Summers, Jye Etheridge R/R, Kevin Doolan, David Howe, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, Theo Pijper, Dany Gappmaier.

James Foster to join Vancouver Knights as Assistant Coach

Fozzie is off to Canada at the end of the month: Image courtesy of Essex Cricket

Essex wicket-keeper batsman, James Foster, will head to Canada at the end of the month to become Assistant Coach of Vancouver Knights in the Global T20 League.

Foster has been given permission by the Club to take up this coaching opportunity to further his coaching experience from 28th June to 17th July after which he will return to the club to continue his playing duties.

Having spent much of the winter coaching in the Bangladesh Premier League with the Khulna Titans alongside Head Coach Mahela Jayawardene and gaining coaching experience with Andy Flower and Paul Farbrace with respective England teams, the 38-year-old is looking to broaden his horizons as he reaches the latter stages of his playing career.

Foster is thrilled the Club have been so supportive and allowed him to take up the opportunity in Canada and said: “I am incredibly grateful that the club have given me the opportunity to pursue this coaching role in the Canadian Global T20 League.

“I did a lot of coaching over the winter and was fortunate enough to be offered some incredible opportunities, and this summer I was involved with the ICC Rest of the World Team vs the West Indies. I have always had a passion for coaching and have been working at Forest School for the last few years. But these recent opportunities have enthused me even more and the opportunity to travel to Canada was one that I had to accept looking longer term.

“I approached the club expressing my keen interest in taking this wonderful opportunity but given the dates it became clear that I would have to miss the Somerset 4-day game starting on the 25th June. Essex kindly agreed to let me take up the coaching role, but they felt it was in the best interest of the side to have the same wicket keeper for the block of three Championship matches against Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Somerset.

“This was a decision I gave great consideration to, knowing the hard work it took me to get back into the side during the 2017 championship winning season, however I felt this was the right thing for me personally as coaching is the direction I want to explore when I eventually finish playing. I respect the club’s decision to bring Adam in and wish him and the team the best of luck.

“I am thankful that the Club are helping with my transition into coaching and my career development. However, I am still feeling fit, enjoy training and playing and feel that I have a lot of cricket left in me.

“When I return from Canada I will be putting my all into contributing to Essex and I believe I still have a lot to offer this team and want to be playing for Essex beyond this season.”

Essex Head Coach, Anthony McGrath, is pleased that Foster has been offered such an opportunity, and added: “This a great chance for Foz to continue his coaching development in a high profile environment, with high quality players.

“This is a recognition of both his coaching ability, but also how respected he is within the game and I am sure it will be another great opportunity to learn and aid his career development.

“At James’ stage of his life he needs to start looking ahead to the future, and this is another chance to boost his coaching CV further. It is encouraging to see the growth of Michael Pepper who has played a lot of Second XI cricket, and he will be understudy to Adam Wheater until Foz returns.”

Report provided by Essex CCC


International Tournament at the Brentwood Centre

Dave Ryan reports…

International basketball comes to the Brentwood Centre in early September with a top class four team competition.

Levett Essex Leopards will host the first Essex Classic Basketball Tournament on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September 2018 with a packed schedule of games.

Eight games featuring four teams over the weekend will cumulate in Bronze and Gold medal games on the Sunday afternoon.

As well as the host team Essex Leopards, taking part in the Classic are BBL side London Lions who finished runners-up in both the league and play-off championships, Team USA Select and from Illinois in the US, ABA side the Libertyville Vipers.

“The Vipers are flying in from Chicago for their first visit to the UK. We are lucky to have had all three of these teams accept our invitation to play in this inaugural event” said event organiser Tony Shaw.

“We we’re looking forward to a great weekend of basketball, and after the announcement of our link up with University of Essex we believe it shows our continued commitment  to the Brentwood Centre and our partnership with Brentwood Leisure Trust.”

As well as great basketball, they’ll be lots to entertain the whole family with cheerleaders, face painting, a pop up store selling everything basketball, an opportunity to train with the Leopards and participation events for everyone.

Tickets for the tournament are on sale now and until the end of June there is a 10% discount on all purchases. Click on the link below for a provisional tournament schedule and further information are available


Grays Superfan Millie is #CelebrateEssex Winner

Chris Evans reports…


Five-Year-Old Athletic Volunteer Wins Twitter Poll

Superfan Millie has been hailed as the future of Grays Athletic FC after the five-year-old won the Essex County FA’s #CelebrateEssex ‘Supporter’ Award following a poll with nearly 1,200 votes on the @EssexCountyFA Twitter account.

#CelebrateEssex promotes inspirational personal volunteer stories, encouraging new faces to get involved and grow the grassroots community. Once nominations closed in April, a select group were chosen for a Twitter poll to identify the monthly winner to receive a prize and extra public plaudits. Millie won the vote in front of three other strong challengers.

Athletic have been without a home since they departed The Rec in 2010, and they currently groundshare at Aveley FC’s new Parkside stadium. Playing outside of their home base means they’re especially dependent on the dedication of volunteers to stay afloat, and Millie’s father, Grays’ Kit Man Sim Madgewick, is proud of how his daughter has taken the club to her heart so early.

“She loves it!” he explains. “She wears her Grays shirt to all games and has even worn it to school. It’s just a sense of belonging you get when you’re involved with a club like Grays, wearing that badge on your chest fills you with pride. Despite all the hard times we have faced recently we are still going and, for me, to see Millie have the love for the club that I had at a similar age is magical.”

Millie is described by her father as a “fourth generation Grays supporter”! Her Grandad used to attend matches in the 1960s – still going to games today – then her Great Grandmother purchased a flat which overlooked Grays’ old ground at The Rec in 1987. The 84-year-old has also attended games this season.

“That’s how I fell in love with the club 31 years ago,” said Sim, “along with my sister, so Millie was then born into it. Nowadays I’m occupied doing my job within the changing rooms and on the bench due the match which leaves Millie to help out with other volunteers within the club!”

“She helps out at every home game, without fail, assisting with raffles, turnstiles and kit. She’s helped prepare the food and drinks in the boardroom and looked after the directors of both clubs. She helps the ground staff put out corner flags, closes gates and wears her pink ‘hi-vis’ vest as a ball girl too. The most important job is for the players as she puts about ten bags of sweets into a bowl!”

Millie chose a special camera as her prize for winning, which will enable her to progress her hobby of photography and capturing videos at matches which heavily feature her favourite player, Ade Cole! “Millie is absolutely fanatical about Ade!” Sim added. “She has his name and number on her shirt. Every single piece of work she does at school or home has Ade written on it.”

“A day doesn’t go by when she doesn’t mention him. And full credit to Ade, he has embraced his superfan all the way. Every home match she walks out with him as his mascot and after every game they eat together, do drawings together and even puzzles. I think, being a primary school teacher’s assistant, Ade knows how to interact with her and they have created an amazing friendship.”

And he has advice for anyone thinking of volunteering at their local club: “It’s like an extended family. Everyone involved in the club is so good with Millie and she loves helping out. From the moment one game ends it’s a constant countdown to the next one. She just can’t wait for matchdays!”

“Go and enjoy being part of your community. You’ll make friends of all ages and you get a sense of belonging. If you’re a club like Grays you get a sense of achievement that a small group of volunteers are running and funding a football club. The supporters will always be there, standing firm.”



MATCH PREVIEW | Essex Eagles v Yorkshire Vikings

Could Dan Lawrence be the difference maker tomorrow? Image courtesy of Essex Cricket

The Eagles head into Thursday’s Royal London One-Day Cup play-off match against Yorkshire Vikings brimming with confidence after three consecutive wins in the competition.

Alastair Cook returns to the squad to bolster the batting ranks and Anthony McGrath believes his side have found form at the right time heading into a crucial encounter at The Cloudfm County Ground.

“We had been a bit inconsistent earlier on in the competition but those last three matches have seen us really get our act together,” he said. “The win over Kent Spitfires was probably the nearest you will get to a perfect performance in one-day cricket.

“Now we have to carry that level into the tie with Yorkshire, who are a good side, and we know the standards we have to achieve on Thursday if we want continue in the competition.

“It’s a bonus to have a home tie and to have the majority of the crowd behind us but whoever and wherever you play; you know you are going to be in for a tough game.

“Every team in the play-offs knows that you are only two wins from a Lord’s Final, that’s the incentive for all of us, not only the players but all the staff and supporters and hopefully, we can take everyone one step closer to that Lord’s Final.”

The Eagles will be without their Captain, Ryan ten Doeschate, who is suspended for the next two matches after an incident in the Lancashire County Championship game.

Eagles Head Coach McGrath added: “Obviously it’s a bitter blow to lose Ryan who has led the side superbly ever since assuming the captaincy. I’m really disappointed for him because I know how passionate he is about leading the side and bringing success to the Club.

“But now we have to now plan for the next two matches without him.”

Essex and Yorkshire have clashed on four occasions in knockout cup ties at Chelmsford since 2000 and the honours have been evenly shared.

The teams met twice in 2002, firstly in a Benson & Hedges Cup tie that the home side won by 7 wickets after an unbeaten 136 by Nasser Hussain. Then in a C&G Trophy quarter final tie when Yorkshire won a thrilling contest by virtue of losing fewer wickets when a certain Anthony McGrath, playing then for the White Rose, ended 72 not out.

In a Friends Provident Trophy tie in 2008, the home side won by 87 runs and McGrath again top-scored for Yorkshire.

The teams then met at the quarter final stage in the Royal London Cup in 2015 when Yorkshire emerged winners by 20 runs.

So does the current Essex Head Coach have any sentiments about playing his former County where he spent 17 years as a player?

“Not at all,” he insists. “I loved my time there but that’s all in the past, all my focus now is with Essex and trying to help them with trophies.”

The Eagles have named a 13-man squad for the match against Yorkshire Vikings.

Essex Eagles squad:
21 Tom Westley (C)
31 Adam Wheater (WK)
25 Ravi Bopara
6 Varun Chopra
1 Matt Coles
26 Alastair Cook
16 Sam Cook
11 Simon Harmer
28 Dan Lawrence
44 Jamie Porter
94 Matt Quinn
13 Neil Wagner
99 Ashar Zaidi

Report provided by Essex CCC


Ground Upgrades Unveiled at Little Oakley FC

Chris Evans reports…


Acorns Officially Welcome New Facilities

Investment from the Premier League, which has been delivered by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), meant Little Oakley FC were able to unveil their ground upgrade project to enthusiastic supporters recently.

The funding has allowed Oakley, who play in the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Division One, to make a number of improvements to their home ground. This has included installing new floodlights, boundary fencing, secure storage and two spectator stands.

A new floodlighting system will provide the club with better scheduling flexibility for training and matches, as well as improved safety. This is set to benefit Little Oakley’s three adult teams and 19 youth teams – a range of male and female sides from the Under 7s to Under 18s levels. Boundary fencing and storage, meanwhile, will improve overall security for the ground.

Two brand new stands have also been installed, which will provide a comfortable environment for all fans. Previously, the club had no covered matchday provision. Now, they can offer space for 50 seated and 50 standing spectators, as well as five wheelchair users. The club hope this will support them in inspiring new fans to visit the club, as well as retaining their existing followers.

Other works undertaken during the project include installing new hard standing, pitch perimeter fencing and dugouts. The club, including dedicated groundsmen Steve Gawn and James Martin, who have been looking after the club’s facilities for many years, are delighted with the outcome.

Oakley’s upgrades have helped them to meet the Grade ‘G’ requirements of the FA National Ground Grading Criteria for their new Step Six position. This was made possible by a £72,962 grant from the Premier League, which is delivered through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund – the sister organisation of the Football Foundation.

The FSIF is funded with £6.5m each year from the Premier League. It is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects which help improve the comfort and safety of lower-league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.

Michael Good, Little Oakley Chairman, said: “The club is extremely grateful to the Football Stadia Improvement Fund and the Premier League for the funding contribution that has enabled us to complete the project.”

Essex County FA Development Manager, Nick Emery, also reacted: “It’s great to see one of our FA National Leagues System clubs benefiting from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund and their new stand goes a long way to improving the matchday experience for all.”

Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, added: “Congratulations go to Little Oakley FC for their efforts throughout this project. The FSIF, thanks to investment from the Premier League, works hard to support clubs as they work to move up through the game and this is a great example of what that money can achieve.”

“I hope that Little Oakley FC are able to make the most of their ground improvements and that their fans enjoy the new, more comfortable spectator provision. I’m sure that this project will support the club in further growth, both through developing their players and encouraging more locals to come along for fixtures.”