Midland League Div 1, Round 4 – Stoke, Sunday 7th August
Rugby & Northampton AC went into the final match of the season, at Stoke on Sunday, lying in 4th place in the league but needing a strong performance as they were one of 5 teams who could potentially fill one of the two relegation places. The big danger were the home site who always have the potential to turn out some top names in their bit to avoid the drop. As expected it was a strong and closely fought match with all teams bringing full squads but with each having weak events. R&N knew that they needed to finish at least 4th on the day to guarantee safety.
After 6 hours of hard completion which saw R&N contesting the lead at the halfway point, the mighty Birchfield won to match to secure their place as Champions whilst Stoke battled their way to 2nd place and R&N finished a strong 3rd to finish in 2nd place overall, narrowly missing out on the runners-up slot.
On a day where winners were hard to come by it was all about the team performance and competing in every event to pick up vital points. With summer holidays in full swing resources were stretched so the team was made up of the club’s whole age range, from a group of U17 debutants all of whom performed creditably right through to 68 year old Dave Cowley who combined his timekeeping duties with the B string Pole Vault where he finished 2nd. That team spirit was epitomised by Kerry Murch who competed in her maximum allowed 7 events and scored an impressive 37 points as well as encouraging the younger members of the team on debut, whilst several other athletes completed 4 events. The club’s only A string winners were Craig Murch who threw a mighty 64.47 in the Hammer & Evie Harris-Jenkins who threw the javelin 39.92 metres in spite of the windy conditions, but it was a string of consistent A string performances and B string victories by the men’s squad which provided the foundations of the team performance.
Theo Walkley-Bartlett took 2nd place in both hurdles events as well as 3rd in the Pole Vault whilst Jason Dankyi also took 2nd in Triple Jump to go with his brace of B string 2nd places in the High Jump & Long Jump. Kevin Murch threw a seasons best of 50.06m to take 3rd place in the Javelin, Adnan Haq ran a smart tactical race to take 3rd in the 800m and Andy Reeves dealt with wind well to finish 3rd in the High Jump. With several regular’s missing the sprints weren’t their usual source of victories but Dan George, Tom Cheyne, Charlie Barker, Josh Faulds & Chris Morgan all picked up valuable points. In the B string John Moreland led the way with a brace of victories in the Hammer & Shot whilst Andy Reeves & Charlie Barker won the 110m & 400m Hurdles respectively and Thomas Lea threw a PB of 42.50 to win the Javelin. Joe Musgrove took 2nd place in the 800m whilst Chris Morgan was also 2nd in the Triple Jump with Craig Murch picking up a solid 3rd place in the Discus. The distance events proved to be very competitive so points were hard fought but Ben Musgrove, Alistair McDonnell, Pete Currington & Joe Wise all had solid races.
For the ladies squad the best results were from Kerry Murch with 2nd places in the Shot & 100m hurdles along with 3rd in the Long Jump. Hollie Moore made her debut over the senior 400 Hurdles and finished a creditable 4th in 73.3. The spirit of the team was personified by Olivia Sheehan & Anna Robinson both of whom learnt to Pole Vault for this fixture and succeeded in clearing the opening height, narrowly missing the next height as well as covering their normal events. The sprints were covered by Sophia Offord, Katie Langton, Maddy Wells & Flora Courtney, all performed well in classy races with Katie picking up a big PB in the 400m in spite of the windy conditions. The throws were covered by Kerry & Evie along with Debbie Murch who had a busy and successful day winning the B-string Shot as well as excellent 2nds in the B Javelin & Discus and 4th in the A string Hammer. The distance races in this league are always of a high standard but Tilly Lea, Tamara Hardman, Hollie & Olivia all battled hard to pick up the points which were on offer.
After the disappointment of the last match, all 4 relay teams successfully finished to round off an exciting and enjoyable days competition. The final results were:
1 Birchfield 395
2 Stoke 345.5
3 Rugby & Northampton 325
4 Cannock & Stafford 309
5 Bristol 306
6 Wolves 290.5
So a very close match where every performance in every match counted to the final result. Birchfield were once again champions with Wolves & Stoke being relegated. Thanks also to the coaches & officials who work hard to help & support the athletes.