Poole Pirates make long-awaited return to face Eastbourne Eagles

Eastbourne Eagles face an old foe in Speedway’s South Coast Derby at Arlington Stadium on Saturday (May 29) when Poole Pirates visit.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 4:00 pm
Edward Kennett / Picture: Mike Hinves

The two clubs have not met on Sussex shale since the summer of 2014 and the return of the Pirates to Sussex is eagerly awaited.

Last Saturday’s season opener at home to Newcastle was called off because of rain and an away KO Cup first leg fixture against Kent on Tuesday went the same way.

Co-promoter Trevor Geer said the Arlington track last Saturday was not fit for racing and could have put the riders at risk.

He added: “We also have a duty of care to supporters. With our "under cover" capacity currently reduced due to Covid restrictions, we felt it wouldn't have been a pleasurable spectating experience in the cold and damp for 30 heats. Spectators will always come first in our thinking.”

Geer is relishing getting to grips with Poole once again. “They have dropped down from the top league to the Championship but only a fool would under-estimate them. Poole have a winning mentality and their record this century is the envy of us all.

“Their top three are a class act and we saw in 2019 how good their No 1 Rory Schlein can be around Arlington. This is a tough start for us and we will need to be focused from heat one.”

The match is all-ticket because of Covid restrictions. There is no on-the-day admission at the door. Tickets are now limited and can be bought through the Eastbourne website. Ticket sales will stop at noon on Friday (May 28) or before if they sell-out.

Co-promoter Lee Kilby said: “We would encourage anyone who has not yet bought tickets for this match to act very quickly as at the time of writing we have just a few dozen of Area 2 tickets left for the Poole fixture. “Tickets for what is now the first leg of the first round of the KOC v Kent on Sunday, June 5, are also selling very fast, as Sunday afternoon fixtures at Arlington are always very popular with families in particular.

“We are working closely with the council to try to gradually increase crowd limits as they become confident in our Covid-19 processes and procedures but tickets for all fixtures in the coming weeks are likely to sell out, which is great news as, at the current capacity, we will still be someway short of the kind of 1,000+ crowds we had budgeted for prior to these incredibly difficult times for all sporting venues and sports.”

Teams: Eastbourne: Edward Kennett, Tom Brennan, Kyle Newman, Lewi Kerr, Richard Lawson, Jason Edwards, Drew Kemp.

Poole: Rory Schlein, Zane Keleher, Steve Worrall, Stefan Nielsen, Danny King, Ben Cook, Danyon Hume.