Jon Cook has described his return to Eastbourne Eagles as one of the greatest nights of his long speedway career.

The Eagles promoter saw his side beat Birmingham 52-38 on their return to the professional ranks.

They pulled in a crowd well into four figures at Arlington and turned in some good racing in their National Shield group fixture.

Cook is back at the helm at the club where he grew up for the first time since leaving for Lakeside Hammers in 2007.

He was delighted with the reaction both he and returning heat-leader Edward Kennett enjoyed.

Cook told The Argus: “It felt like the return of the prodigal son.

“I would put it up there in my top three experiences in speedway.

“To get a four-figure crowd when so many of our supporters and staff members had gone to support Albion at Wembley – and understandably so – was outstanding.

“People were coming up and saying the place hadn’t felt like that for ten years.

“When I went to open the gates, there were about eight people wanting to get in to watch the football in the clubhouse and I thought it would be a nightmare.

“By about 6.30pm, I had a good feeling and I kept looking over to see the cars streaming in.

“There was a massive queue at the turnstiles and the whole vibe was so good.

“People from Kent and Lakeside came to have a look and it was a dream start. It could not have gone better.”

A close meeting topped off the night perfectly with maximums for Kennett and Richard Lawson.

Tom Brennan chipped in with paid-eight from reserve for a home side who led 39-33 after 12 races and closed things out with three heat advantages.

Eagles: Kennett 13+2 (5), Kerr 13 (5), Lawson 12 (4), Brennan 7+1 (5), Morley 4 (4), Wood 2+1 (3), Bowtell 1 (4).

Birmingham: Wajtknecht 9 (5), Castagna 8+1 (4), Morris 6+2 (5), Ostergaard 6 (4), Newman 4 (4), Thomsen 3+2 (4), Shanes 2+1 (4).