MICHAEL Lee laid the blame for Sunday’s West Row brawl during the National League Knockout Cup final firmly at the doors of the Stoke Potters and referee Christine Turnbull.
The Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ co-promoter believes Turnbull’s failure to exclude Simon Lambert from heat 13 for a collision with home skipper Jack Hargreaves riled the “passionate” Mildenhall fans, and then accused the Potters of causing the situation to escalate between home supporters and the visiting team.
The two sides are set to face each other in the National League play-off semi-final at Stoke tomorrow (7.30pm) and Mildenhall on Sunday (4.30pm) before the Potters’ Loomer Road hosts the second leg of the cup final on October 22, in an intense end to the Tigers’ first season back in existence.
Lee said: “We were not overly happy with the decisions that were made out there, but we will abide by the referee’s decision.
“But when it is pretty blatantly wrong, it winds the crowd up and unfortunately that’s what happened.
“It’s nice to see the Mildenhall supporters are passionate about it, because the crowd partake in the whole thing, which is no different to football or anything else.
“Unfortunately, it caused a bit of grief, but our security are pretty strong and got it under control as quickly as possible. A chosen few people, namely from Stoke, carried on the problem and once we calmed them down it stopped very quickly.”
When asked if he expected tensions to boil over again during one of the Tigers’ three scheduled clashes with Stoke, Lee added: “Who knows? There is a rivalry – that’s for sure.”
Mildenhall had built an 18-point lead when back-to-back double-scoring tactical victories for the Potters saw them reduce the deficit to eight, and Lee urged his riders to take advantage of any tactical rides that may fall their way in the second leg on October 22.
He added: “A couple of our boys have come on form that haven’t been, but we need Cameron (Heeps) just to settle down a bit as it was his first meeting back.
“He found it a bit tough because he’s a bit race rusty, but I’m quite sure we can go there and get the result we need. We’ll give it 100 per cent, that’s for sure.”
In the meantime – thanks to a quirk in the scheduling – the Potters and the Tigers clash in the National League play-off semi-final.
The first leg is at Loomer Road tomorrow (7.30pm), with the deciding second leg at West Row a day later (4.30pm).
And the Tigers’ Joe Jacobs – who endured a difficult evening on Sunday – feels his side have what it takes to reach the league final, despite facing the side that finished clear at the top of the table at the end of the regular season.
Mildenhall’s number three said: “We’ll go good at Stoke, I’ll hopefully knock in more points than I did on Sunday, and it would be good to come away with at least one of the two trophies on offer to us.”