Cradley Heathens riders have given Wolves plenty of headaches down the years. Last night one of their latter-day Dudley number almost did the same.
Tom Perry has had a superb season for the men of ‘Monmore Wood’ and adapted well to the demands of the Premier League with Somerset.
But this was his first taste of top-flight action. And the 19-year-old, drafted in by Belle Vue for the injured Josh Grajczonek, so nearly helped the Aces to victory.
Perry was entitled to be more than satisfied with a paid six return from his first three outings, which featured a wheel to wheel dice with his Dudley team-mate Ashley Morris and an audacious second place when he caught Ty Proctor napping on the run to the line.
But it was heat 13 which really raised the eyebrows. Rory Schlein, en route to a consummate 15-point maximum, was off and gone for Belle Vue – and there was Perry tucked in behind him with Wolves guest Scott Nicholls and Pontus Aspgren left in his wake.
Victory over Nicholls, the seven-time British champion and current holder, would have been the sweetest of scalps for Perry – and would have seen the sides level with two races to go.
But the Parrys International Wolves got a huge break when Perry’s chain let go on the second lap.
He was out in the very next race, but again the speedway fates conspired to deny him as team-mate Renat Gafurov lost control in the first corner and took Perry with him to the fence.
The Albrighton speedster was stood down and a relieved Wolves secured the victory in the rerun, Aspgren capping a good night by holding off Mark Lemon to top the home scoresheets.
Wolves could afford to concede a last-race 5-1 to the admirable Schlein and Patrick Hougaard, who came alive after two disappointing outings to be unbeaten in his last three.
Indeed, given anything remotely resembling a scintilla of interest in proceedings from Artur Mroczka, whose performance was an affront to the legendary Ace of Clubs racejacket, Belle Vue could have taken their first away league win of the season.
Wolves, with Nicholls guesting for Tai Woffinden and club asset Morris covering for the injured Jacob Thorssell, became even more threadbare when they lost skipper Freddie Lindgren to a heavy heat 11 fall.
Schlein had ambushed Lindgren and Aspgren, rounding the two Swedes as they lost shape on a heavy track which had been battered by rain. Lindgren, in full cry, threw his bike in too hard on the pits turn and took a heavy fall.
He was stood down for the rest of the meeting with a grade three concussion and will require a medical OK before taking his place in Saturday’s final Grand Prix of the season in Torun, Poland.
The injury headaches that have blighted Wolves’ season show little sign of abating.
* Wolves legend Sam Ermolenko is to ride in the Banks’s Olympique individual meeting – at the age of 51.
The American rode a series of match-races at Monmore last year against Heathens great Jan O Pedersen.
But his riding appetite has been whetted after coming second in an August meeting in New York.
Now he is getting ready to tackle the Olympique on Tuesday, October 16.
“I’m pretty relaxed about it. I don’t have any ambitions of going out there and thinking I’m going to compete at the level that the top guys are going at,” said ‘Sudden Sam’.
“I’ll go out there to hold my own.”