The A F Stocktaking Hammers lost out on the aggregate bonus point with this seven point defeat at Eastbourne in a meeting that was marred by two terrible crashes, which saw both Eastbourne reserves take hospital trips.

The Hammers riders did not come away unscathed as two of their riders were also injured in an evening where man and machinery were in a poor state by the end of the meeting.
The first incident came in heat two when Eastbourne's Edward Kennett was involved in a third bend spill with the Hammers pairing of Josh Larsen and Leigh Lanham during an exciting chase for second and third place.

After a lengthy spell on the track, both Arena men rose to take their place back in the pits area but Kennett was stretchered from the circuit, with reports of shoulder injuries. It transpires that he put his shoulder out but the hospital were able to pop it back in and the rider was back at the track with the arm in a sling by the end of the meeting.

The second accident came in heat eight when the Eagles Andrew Moore and Adrian Miedzinski together with Arena's Leigh Lanham all got into difficulty on the first turn and thumped into the air barrier. Moore was taken away by the medics, having sustained a reported broken leg. The Eagles Pole Miedzinski was excluded from the re-run by the referee as being the cause of the crash.

Both Eastbourne reserves now in hospital and their Pole in discomfort in the pits with a shoulder injury. However, the Hammers riders were not without their problems as Josh Larsen sustained further ankle problems in that heat two crash, needing assistance to return from the track and clearly suffering when he appeared for subsequent outings.

The bikes of both Larsen and Lanham had been damaged in the heat two incident and mechanics had to work feverishly in attempts to repair the damage and get the riders back on the track for their remaining rides.

The hammers captain, Kelvin Tatum, again aggravated his hip injury with his efforts in heat three, announcing to the Arlington public that he could only take one further outing, which may have been his career swansong. Perhaps ironically, he gated first in this race (heat seven) before finishing third to generous from both home and away supporters.

Operating the rider replacement facility for Greg Walasek, who was sidelined with a viral infection, Arena struggled for firepower and were outscored 27-14 over the course of the first seven heats. Race victories for Mark Loram in heat one and Dean Barker in heat three were the bright spots for the travelling Hammers supporters in a meeting that looked to be slipping away fast until those eighth heat problems for the Eagles.

The Hammers pairing of Barker and Lanham rode to an unchallenged 8-0 in the re-run of heat eight as Barker had been nominated for a tactical ride during the first running of the race. That result closed the gap to five points.

Further points were lost when Larsen suffered a broken chain on the start line in the re-run of heat nine after Shields had crashed out of the first attempt to run the heat. Shields fell on the fourth bend and his partner Joonas Kylmakorpi fell whilst taking avoiding action. Both these riders eventually were able to return to the pits after receiving medical attention on the track. Arena's woes continued, however, when former Eagle Dean Barker suffered a blown engine whilst lying in second place in heat ten.

Mark Loram beat World Champion Nicki Pedersen in a hard-fought heat eleven, earning six points thanks to a tactical ride nomination. Larsen, although in obvious pain, rode to an unchallenged third place, as the injury-stricken Eagles were unable to field a second rider in this heat.

The Eagles continued to battle and their lone representative Kylmakorpi beat Barker and Lanham in heat twelve to keep home noses in front. It was then left to the pairing of Pedersen and guest Joe Screen to push home their advantage with a 5-1 over Loram and Paul Hurry in heat thirteen.

Lone Eagle Shields won heat fourteen from Larsen and Lanham to seal victory for the patched up Arlington outfit, riding their third race with only one representative as the rest of their team did their hospitalized team-mates proud.

The meeting finished with a Loram victory, defeating Screen and Kylmakorpi after Barker had been harshly excluded for unfair riding by the referee despite Screen admitting that he fell on his own.

It was of great disappointment to the A F Stocktaking Hammers riders and supporters that they failed to gain the win, which would have given them three vital League points. Of more concern, however, was the damage done to both man and machinery.

A lot of time will be needed both in the workshops and at the physios to ensure that the Hammers are able to put out a competitive team for their next fixture, which takes place on Monday (16th August) at Wolverhampton.