Rod Witham Memorial Fours tournament
HETHERSETT HAWKS / YELLOW BRICK MORTGAGES welcomed a big crowd to the Memorial Playing Field when they staged a special tournament to remember a person who had such an influence on the sport locally, nationally and internationally and who sadly passed away in 2020 – the Rod Witham Memorial Fours.
The first Semi-Final set the tone for the day after the Ipswich B team was transformed into what was essentially their A team due to start time availability of riders. This meant three strong teams chasing two Final places and Hethersett left to battle for scraps of seconds and thirds. Scores were close at the interval but Suffolk side Gt. Blakenham won five of the next six races to ease into the Final. Ipswich and Horspath (Oxfordshire) were battling for second place. An exclusion in heat 13 cost Ipswich and Horspath did all that was necessary to retain their advantage.
GT BLAKENHAM 50 – Josh Brooke 15 Adam Peck 14 Leon Mower 13 Jamie Chittock 8
HORSPATH 40 – Mark Boaler 14 Zak Payne 14 Will Jeffery 7 Steven Beesley 5
IPSWICH B 39 – Ash Hill 12 Lewis Brinkhoff 12 Ben Clarke 11 Owen Wells 4
HETHERSETT 26 – Leigh Cossey 8 Paul Delaiche 5 Olly Buxton 5 Mason Martin 4 Glyn Morgan 4
The second Semi-Final was an easy victory for Birmingham with Chris Timms and Paul Heard unbeaten but the battle for second was well contested with Paddy Wenn, wearing a former Galley Puraes shirt displaying Rod Witham’s name, just the difference between Norwch and Ipswich A with Birmingham B having Connor Steel’s win from grid 4 in heat 5 as their highlight.
BIRMINGHAM 59 – Chris Timms 16 Paul Heard 16 Ricky Johnson 15 Mark Winwood 12
NORWICH 39 – Paddy Wenn 12 Lee Grange 10 Ben Loombe 8 Jamie Medler 7 Shaun kell 2
IPSWICH A 35 – Fraser Harris 10 Kai Gowers 9 James Porter 9 Luke Dunningham 7
BIRMINGHAM B 27 – Connor Steel 9 Paul Timms 7 Jake Steel 6 Bekah Humphries 5
Next up was the Consolation Final and it was no surprise to see narrow Semi-Final losers Ipswich B take this by storm dropping just three points and with three riders unbeaten. Hethersett salvaged some home pride by taking second place, Leigh Cossey’s win in heat 14 getting one of the loudest cheers of the day. “Super Vet” Glyn Morgan weighed in with a solid 11 points being probably the only rider in the field to have raced against Rod Witham. James Porter was Ipswich A’s only winner while Birmingham B battled really hard for little reward. The winners trophies were presented to Ipswich B by Rod’s brother Mel.
IPSWICH B 61 – Ben Clarke 16 Lewis Brinkhoff 16 Ash Hill 16 Owen Wells 13
HETHERSETT 42 – Leigh Cossey 12 Glyn Morgan 11 Mason Martin 11 Paul Delaiche 8 Olly Buxton 0
IPSWICH A 38 – Luke Dunningham 10 James Porrter 10 Fraser Harris 9 Kai Gowers 9
BRMINGHAM B 17 – Connor Steel 5 Paul Timms 4 Jake Steel 4 Bekah Humphries 4
After a minute’s silence in memory of Rod and the National Anthem to acknowledge the Queen’s Jubilee it was down to some furious and robust racing in the Grand Final. No quarter was given and the crowd were immersed in some amazing racing, the likes of which had not been seen at the Hawks track for mamy a year. Throw in the odd controversy and it was the ideal entertainment mix. Great Blakenham set the early pace but by half-time Birmingham were two up over their two closest rivals. Their four grid one starts produced 15 points and the other teams were then left with much to do in the last four heats. Birmingham set about a damage limitation exercise which was enough to secure the victory by two points over Great Blakenham who finished with four wins.
BIRMINGHAM 49 – Paul Heard 14 Chris Timms 13 Ricky Johnson 11 Mark Winwood 11
GT BLAKENHAM 47 – Jamie Chittock 13 Josh Brooke 13 Leon Mower 11 Adam Peck 10
HORSPATH 39 – Mark Boaler 13 Zak Payne 11 Will Jeffery 8 Steven Beesley 7
NORWICH 23 – Paddy Wenn 7 Ben Loombe 6 Lee Grange 6 Jamie Medler 3 McKenzie Loombe 1
Rod’s widow Karen was on hand to present trophies to all the finalists, sponsored by Yellow Brick Mortgages, and afterwards thanked the Hethersett Club for a fitting tribute to Rod.
Referees on the day were Shaun Dyball and David Ewbank.