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Millennium experience soured by Polish ref
9:52am Saturday 5th July 2008 in Track Side
WITH no action for the Robins since the away win at Peterborough on June 23, all eyes have been firmly fixed on the British Grand Prix that took place at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff last weekend.
I took my place on one of the fleet of coaches that departed from the County Ground at lunchtime, and with many others making their own way along the M4, by early afternoon there was a real army of Swindon supporters in the Welsh capital ready to cheer on skipper Leigh Adams.
The pre-meeting atmosphere is always one of the highlights of my summer, with 45,000 fans converging from all corners of Britain, and often overseas, in an explosion of colour and noise.
I was soon propping up the bar in one of the many city centre pubs, discussing our sport in detail with the assorted members of the "British Speedway Forum" who had all emerged from behind their computer screens for the weekend's events.
As the meeting got underway, it soon became apparent that the performance of Polish referee Marek Wojaczek would be central to the night's proceedings.
Initially he harshly ruled that Adams had just failed to catch American Greg Hancock on the line in Heat 5 when the replays suggested otherwise, before neglecting to exclude world champion Nicki Pedersen in the following heat despite a blatant tapes offence.
Worse was to follow for the Swindon man, as he was inexplicably excluded for causing Pedersen to fall in Heat 17 when he had clearly made the gate, and Nicki laid his bike down after just catching Leigh's rear wheel.
Adams' performance had been solid if unspectacular, but there is no doubt that he was robbed of his place in the semi-finals by a shocking piece of officiating.
The look on his face on the big screen said it all.
The referee then compounded matters by incorrectly excluding Poole skipper Bjarne Pedersen in the semi-final in a carbon copy of the Adams incident, before former Robins' star Jason Crump raced to victory in the final after a thrilling duel with Hancock.
Britain's Scott Nicholls had battled his way gamely into the last four before blowing his chance by ploughing through the tapes when anticipating the start.
At least the best man had won on the night, before the fireworks display brought another eventful Grand Prix to a close.