3 August 2019 - British
League - Birmingham
And so another season is over. After four tough but
enjoyable matches we have finished 7th in the Premier Division of the
British Athletics League. Had we placed in that position in the Premiership
in football we might be competing in Europe next season.
Saturdays match in Birmingham was not dissimilar to
the previous three fixtures with plenty of good performances, and the
occasional blip against the best teams in the country.
Highlight of the day was the triple jump competition.
Like the Holiday Inn, which we viewed from our Premier Inn the previous
evening, Jonathan Ilori was on fire. His leap of 16.27 was easily his best
of the season and just one centimetre off his best. Three others in the
match also went over 16 metres plus one guest. Another three were over
15.60. It just shows how good a British League competition can be when the
athletes turn up.
The four best athletic performances in the match were
from the triple and a total of six from the event were in the top ten of the
day. Missing the top 10 were a 7.50 long jump; a 73 metre hammer; a 5.10
pole vault, a 2.14 high jump, a 60.47 discus and a 71.95 javelin.
Jonathan’s performance earned him third place and,
demonstrating the standard of the meeting, our only other top three A string
placing was Phil Sesemann. On Thursday he had set a new best of 13.45.73 for
the 5000 metres at the Belfast International but, two days later, he was
toing the line in the B 800, his first race over the distance this season.
He followed this with second place in the 1500 getting the best of most of
the lead pack in a tight finish.
He wasn’t the only one running heavy legged as B
string Declan Neary had run 8.23 for 3000 the night before at the Birmingham
Relays; while Lewis Mills only arrived at the hotel just before midnight
having flown in from Geneva from a photo shoot. Sitting on the floor of an
overcrowded train on the way up wasn’t helpful either. He was someway off
his club record in the steeplechase but he was there.
Elsewhere in the middle distance there were solid runs
from Joe Rogers in the 800, Ross Braden and Charlie Davis in the 5000 and
Tom Desborough in the 3000 steeplechase. Tom had earlier set a seasons best
in the 400 hurdles, his train having reached Perry Barr at 11.30 giving him
enough time to jog to the stadium to make the start line at 12pm.
“A” string hurdler Bailey Stickings had one of those
days. Sick earlier in the week, he thought he had recovered, but he hadn’t.
There must be a bug going round as Matthew Knight had to pull out of the
sprints having been ill.
Duayne Bovell was promoted from non scorer in the 100
in the last match to A string this, and responded with another sub 11
clocking. Ethan Brown stepped down to the 200 for this match and met up with
a loaded field, four of whom have run sub 21 seconds. In the B strings of
both sprints we welcomed Michael Damoah to the team and he made a good debut
picking up some useful points.
Joe Rogers volunteered to run a 400 after his 800 but
he hadn’t fully recovered and there was disaster for Adam Herring in the B
string, when, having thought he had heard a recall gun, he found he had
given the rest of the field a head start.
We had two seasons bests in the sprint hurdles from
Alex Nwenwu and Lewis Ely. Alex was one of four athletes who competed in all
four fixtures this season along with Duayne Bovell, Charlie Davis and
Kelechi has enjoyed his season in the top flight this
season. He wasn’t quite as high as he would have wanted but his two metre
clearance gave him equal 4th. Lewis Ely equalled his seasons best in the B
string and set another seasons best in the triple jump.
Like the triple, the long jump was a strong
competition with eleven seven metre plus jumpers in the field. Seven were
over seven metres on the day but not our youngsters Ben Sutton and debutant
Myles Xavier. They will be soon, and both are destined to be important
members of the team in the future. It may have been Myles debut for the team
but it didn’t stop him organising the running order of the 4x100, much to
the amusement of Duayne Bovell. “ I was that boy once” said the oldest
member of the team.
Another youngster who has made a big impression is
Barnaby Corry. Just 15, he equalled his best in the pole vault with a leap
of 4.20. He was fortunate to be partnered by Scott Huggins, who, despite not
having trained for nearly two months, cleared 4.80. A big thanks to Scott
for bringing Barnaby’s poles.
It has been a tough season in the throws but three of
our up and coming stars made a good fist of it against some on the nations
best. Charlie Short drove up on the day to compete in the hammer while in
the B string Dele Aladese even set a personal best. Dele was more at home in
the discus with new man Philip Bartlett, and both also picked up some useful
points in the shot.
In the javelin Duayne Bovell set a new best in the A
string as did Joss Barber in the B string, having just arrived back from New
Zealand. It is probably fair to say his distance thrown was in inverse
proportion to the air miles travelled, but we were very grateful he was
there to help the team.
Thanks too to all the relay runners at the end of the
afternoon. The teams were a little patched up after a difficult few days.
Duayne, Ben, Myles and Michael got the baton round safely; and Ben and Myles
joined Adam and Ethan to finish the 4x400 in 3.21.49. Adam has always
delivered in the relays and did so again while Ethan confided that the 47.1
split was his fastest ever. He has made a remarkable contribution to both
the Senior and Junior teams this year given his International and
Championship commitments. Thanks Ethan and everyone wishes you the very best
at European Team Championships this weekend.
Thanks too to all the officials, supporters and
helpers who made it such an enjoyable day for both our mens and womens
In the Botley Trophy for the top points scorer of the
season Dan Putnam and Jonathan Ilori both finished with 58 followed by
Kelechi Aguocha on 49. Full table to follow.
So 7th on the day and 7th for the season. This is
actually our highest position in the League since 1995 so that is something
to celebrate. The target was 6th and although we didn’t achieve that, there
has been plenty to suggest we are improving. Saturday’s team contained 7
under 23s, 7 under 20s and an under17. With our under 20 men and women the
best in the country and representing the UK in this years European Champions
Club Cup for juniors, and athletes already interested in joining us for next
season, the future is bright.
Quite where our League position leaves us for next
year is not clear. In a normal season it would be mean we would be relegated
back to Division One. However, there are proposals for a joint scoring mens
and womens league in which we would almost certainly be in the top division,
the number of clubs in which is still to be determined. More details on this
Regardless of what happens, it is time for a change in
management, time to pass on the baton (without dropping it!). Twenty five
seasons and a hundred matches really is enough. There’s no chance of getting
bored next Summer though. There’s the Malawi to Ireland car rally. It’s
Lilongwe to Tipperary…. I’ll get my coat.
Photos from Bill Foster
6 July 2019 - British
League - Sheffield
Three matches down and we prop up
the Premier Division in the British Athletics League. Saturdays match
followed a similar pattern to the previous two fixtures with lots of good
performances and a few mishaps. We finished 7th on the day but are still a
point behind Cardiff in the table. We had been hoping to beat the City Of
Sheffield as well, but they took full advantage of being hosts by taking
Perhaps the performance of the day
was that of Angus Harrington in the 800. Still to break 1.50 for the event,
he lined up against five who have, and showed them a clean pair of heels to
win in 1.50.81.
The middle distance success didn’t
stop there as Will Fuller put the final touches to his preparations for the
European Under 23 championships, where he is selected for the 5000, by
kicking away from the field and clocking 3.53.24. Amazingly Will, at 22, was
our oldest middle distance runner at Sheffield. Fellow under 23s James
Habergham (800), Declan Neary (1500), and Charlie Davis and Josh Schofield
in the 5000 all had useful runs. Charlie’s 15.00.86 means he has now run a
pb in each of the three matches this year. Our new Club Junior steeplechase
record holder (9.20.01) Lewis Mills met up with some strong opposition,
crossing swords with two sub 9 minute chasers. It was a cagey affair with
neither of the favourites willing to take on the pace. He was 4th in 9.34.31
but it could have been a lot quicker. Sadly we could not field a B string
despite contact being made with an esoteric group of individuals.
Ethan Brown, who has also broken a
Club Junior record this recently, found himself lining up against Newhams
Rabah Yousif, currently the fastest in the country, plus Birchfield’s Sadam
Koumi who has a best of 45.41, over a minute quicker than Ethan. It was a
cracking race with Koumi winning in 46.47, from Yousif with Ethan third in
47.01. Given how close he finished to the top two there is every chance the
Junior record will be revised again and the Senior record broken too.
Dan Putnam won the B string by over
half a second in 47.26 to continue a great season. Surely a sub 47 second
run will follow soon. Dan and the Club did not have such a good day in the
short sprints, however, as he suffered a DQ in the 100 and the relay team
dropped the baton. Despite decent runs from Korede Awe, Matthew Knight and
Duayne Bovell we didn’t pick up a lot of points.
It was swings and roundabouts as
well in the 400 hurdles. Joe Fuggle claimed a very useful fourth place
against some good opposition but in the B string Bailey Stickings tweaked a
hamstring and bravely made it to finish nearly ten seconds down on his best.
Thanks Bailey for getting round. There was disappointment too for Bailey’s
dad Nigel, who had been looking forward to the weekend until he found he was
sharing a room with Ken Daniel.
Alex Nwenwu was promoted to the A
string sprint hurdles and took a good 5th place, keeping control despite an
athlete crashing out next to him. It was 5th also for Lewis Ely in the B
string, another example of doing an event for a point and ending up with
The day finished on the track with
another strong performance in the 4x400 from Jordan Layne, Joe Rogers, Dan
Putnam and Joe Fuggle. The time of 3.15.82 is the second quickest time since
the Club record of 3.11.59 was set in 2010 so it was a bit disappointing to
find we weren’t going to receive any splits because there weren’t sufficient
There were some more impressive
performances in the field and again some disappointments. Jonathan Ilori was
just outside 16 metres in the triple jump gaining second place with 15.94.
It was a competition riddled with no jumps and sadly three of them were
recorded by one of our most reliable team members Rob Sutherland. So nil
points in the B string. Jonathan also took second in the B long jump with
Ben Sutton 5th in the A string with 6.79. Most of the athletes seemed to be
around 30 centimetres down on their bests so Ben will be over 7 metres any
Kelechi Aguocha is the best high
jumper to come through the Club’s younger ranks since the days of Trevor
Llewelyn and Tim Foulger in the late 1970s. His best at the start of last
season was 1.80 and at Sheffield he lined up against seven athletes who have
jumped higher than 2.10. Yet he finished equal second with 2.05. With
another year in the under 20 age group, Trevor’s 41 year old Club record is
under threat. Ever dependable Lewis Ely took fourth in the B string with
1.85 and was close to 1.90.
Youngest member of the team was 14
year old Barnaby Corry in the pole vault. He went over 3.80 which was down
on his recent best of 4.20 but it was the same with the other athletes. Five
have gone over five metres this year, but the competition was won in 4.80.
So thanks to Barnaby and his mum and driver Emma for being there and making
an important contribution to the team. It was just a shame we couldn’t field
a B string on this occasion.
There are a maximum of 112 points
available in the four throws and if all strings are filled a minimum of 20
can be scored. At Swansea we scored 22 points, at Allianz, it was down to
21, but in Sheffield we achieved a seasons best of 24! We have been having a
tough time of it but we will improve and one of those who will help us do
that is discus thrower Dele Aladese. Only a first year senior he has the
potential to throw a lot further, having already added over three and a half
metres to his best this season. He is also a good team man and helped out in
the shot and hammer as did Angus Harrington in the javelin. A big big thanks
to Duayne Bovell for his efforts over the weekend. The oldest man in the
team competed in six scoring events including all four throws.
It seems only yesterday that he made
his debut as an under 17 in 2002 and was running in the relay with our
President Julian Golding. Julian was in attendance supporting the team and
catching up with lots of old friends and acquaintances.
Finally thanks to officials Keith
Field, Dave Cordell and Steve Hollingdale; to Nigel Stickings and Ken Daniel
for their help with the management; to Chris Ely for coaching help with
Kelechi; and to the supporters. We were, however, one man light as Chris
Haines had been planning to join us from Leicester but was taken ill. Get
well soon Chris!
So, one match to go on the 3rd of
August in Birmingham where our women will also be in action in the UK Womens
League. It is going to be difficult to make our target of a top six place
finish but not impossible. Remember in 2016 when Basingstoke were bottom of
our division but rallied in the final match to save themselves from
The strange thing about this season
is that there may not be any promotion or relegation anyway as, if approved
at the AGMs, the British League and UK Womens Leagues will merge to form a
joint scoring League in 2020. All the more reason to be available for not
just the last match of the season but possibly the last ever Premier
Division match of the British Athletics League. See you there!
9 June 2019 - British
League - Allianz
Having been given seventh place on Sunday after the
second British Athletics League match, we received notification the
following day that there had been an error. We had actually come eighth.
Half the British League season has gone now and at the bottom of the table
we have 3 points, Sheffield 4 and Cardiff 5. There is everything to play
We all knew it was going to be tough in the top
division but this is where should be aiming to compete. Eight members of the
team set personal bests. Well done Joe Rogers (800), Charlie Davis (3000),
Bailey Stickings (400 hurdles), Tom Desborough (3000 steeplechase), Barnaby
Corry (pole vault), Charlie Short (hammer), Dele Aladese (shot) and Richard
Morris (400 hurdles). In addition, Kelechi Aguocha equalled his best of 2.10
in the high jump and there were thirteen seasons bests plus our fastest
4x400 for a long while, 3.13.61. This is why the League is important.
We had a stronger squad than at Swansea but ended up
with less points. In the first match we were the second best track team.
Yesterday we were the eighth, despite many good performances. Best event was
the 400 hurdles where Bailey Stickings (52.31) and Joe Fuggle (54.06) picked
up third places in the A and B strings. Dan Putnam ran another good 400 with
47.46 from lane one and Jordan Layne’s 49.37 was a seasons best. Dan (47.0),
Joe (48.5) and Jordan (48.2) then teamed up with Joe Rogers (50.0) for the
4x400. They were over two seconds quicker than at Swansea but two places
Again in the middle distance, in addition to the three
pbs mentioned above, Declan Neary and Josh Schofield (1500), Alex Bruce
Littlewood (3000) and Alex Gibbins (3000 chase) all set seasons bests.
We had a tough time in the sprints but Dan Putnam,
Duayne Bovell, and Matthew Knight did fine. It was good to have Reece Young
back in the team in the sprint hurdles. Despite running into a -1.3
headwind, his 14.68 was his third quickest time ever. Alex Nwenwu had one of
those days in the B string with a DQ and we were a DNF in the 4x100. These
things happen. They will bounce back.
We were the seventh best field events team with a big
improvement on match one. The triple jumpers had been speaking to each other
and they all arrived at Allianz to provide a top class competition. Jonathan
Ilori jumped 16.00 and yet this was only good enough for third, just five
centimetres off the winning leap. Eight jumpers were over 15.40 so Rob
Sutherland didn’t make the cut, I think for the first time. Jonathan also
set a seasons best in the long jump for fourth with young Ben Sutton picking
up a good third in the B string.
Nil points at Swansea in the pole vault, it was a
different story here. Scott Huggins set a seasons best of 4.92 for third in
the A string. Barnaby Corry is only 14 but looked perfectly at ease on his
British League debut as he set a personal best of 4.10 for another third
place. Our highest placed A string of the day was Kelechi with his second
place in the high jump. He equalled his 2.10 best and it surely won’t be
long before he goes higher. Lewis Ely returned to competition and, despite
going off a short run up, he cleared 1.85. It was good to see his dad Chris
there after illness.
We were stronger in every string of the throws but the
opposition must have been on a yogurt rich diet because we were mullered.
There is a scoring system which is used to compare performances across the
events. The top eight performances of the day all came in the throws. But
our guys did fine. Charlie Short set a new best of 37.29 in the hammer and
was sixth in the A string. If he had thrown a further 17.59 he would have
taken fifth spot! It was Alex Pope’s first competition after injury and,
despite his best efforts to get the contest abandoned by destroying the
cage, he had to settle for three no throws. It was great to have him back in
the team though as he was there also for the shot, discus and javelin. We
may not be as strong in the throws but all these points are important. You
only have to look at the League table to see why. It was also good to have
Dele Aladese back in action after his exams. He was close to his best in the
discus, and he made his debut with the senior shot. Richard Morris set an
electric timing pb in the non scoring 400 hurdles and then chipped in with a
seasons best in the javelin.
Thanks to all the supporters who came along and to our
officials Dave Cordell, Ann Brown, Keith Field, Sam Purser and Mark Purser.
So we can still achieve our target of a top six place
this season. To do so we need more of our top guys available and for
everyone to carry on performing to their best on the day as those at Allianz
did. Let’s do it! Well done all. The next match is at Sheffield on the 6th
Photos from Andy Hodge
12 May 2019 - British
League - Swansea
I suppose all the disappointment occurred before the
first British League match of season with a long list of people unavailable
for all sorts of reasons. Looking at the teamsheet it seemed we would finish
But we didn’t. Although we had a small team, it
contained a lot of talented athletes who were prepared to do a little bit
extra on the day to help out. Most other clubs were below strength too.
After 13 events we were in eighth place but only 18 points off fourth place.
We ended up 7th and were less than 30 points off 4th, that is not a lot. We
were the second best team on the track but it was no surprise we were last
in the field where we scored 48.5 out of a possible 224.
So who were our Lucas Mouras?* We won three A strings
on the track. First of these was Lewis Mills who had been expecting to be
dragged round to a fast time in the steeplechase. Only nine athletes toed
the line and he led from start to finish setting a personal best of 9.28.70.
Second win of the day came from another under 20,
Ethan Brown who ran a perfectly paced 400 to cross the line in 47.20. Dan
Putnam made it maximum points in the B string with an excellent 47.31.
Both joined Duayne Bovell and Matthew Knight to secure
victory in the 4x100 in 41.91, before, with Jordan Layne replacing Duayne,
they took runner up spot in 4x400 with our fastest time for a while,
3.16.40. This included a 46.8 split from Dan.
Phil Sesemann raced a 5km on the road the night before
in Ipswich but still travelled across country to compete. He was rewarded
with second place in the 1500 with James Habergham third in the B string.
Like Phil, James had raced the day before, setting a new best of 3.55 for
1500 at the Yorkshire championships before travelling down to South Wales
where he also did the 800 and shot.
Youngest member of the team was Ben Gardiner who made
his League debut in the 800. He ran a blinder in the B race battling down
the home straight to secure third place and take over a second off his
personal best with 1.54.80.
One of the best races of the day was the 3000 metres
where Ross Braden missed out in a last lap burn up finishing 5th in a very
useful 8.28.55. Charlie Davis set a best of 8.38.78 in the B string.
Matthew Knight’s 21.90 in the 200 was another personal
best and Richard Morris 55.78 for the 400H was a best with electric timing.
Richard is one of our HCAs who was happy to help out
once his main event was out of the way. He did the hammer, discus, javelin,
high jump and 110 hurdles. He was one of a number who went the extra mile
for the team.
Tom Desborough only came into the team at short notice
having just started running again after a ten week injury lay off. He came
third in the steeplechase and fourth in the 400 hurdles as well as throwing
Alex Nwenwu is not fit yet but still made the trip and
threw the javelin after his 110 hurdles. Then there was Ross Braden and
Jordan Layne in the long jump, and Duayne Bovell (shot and hammer).
We did have two “proper” field eventers though.
Kelechi Aguocha, our find of the season last year, took fourth in the high
jump with a clearance of 2 metres before scoring some important points in
Rob Sutherland, spent much of the weekend doing his
University studies, and despite one or two niggling issues gained sixth in a
useful triple jump contest.
Each club is now required to supply officials at the
British League so it was great to have John and Margaret Baldwin, Dave
Cordell, Kieve Brown, Keith Field and Denis Lawrie helping out plus Chris
Haines, Ken Daniel and Nick Brooks supporting and helping out.
Conditions could not have been better, bright
sunshine, not a cloud in the sky and a gentle breeze. Oh and the
refreshments were good, with the mini Cornish pasties a bargain at 30p each.
Time will tell as to the significance of the match
result. In terms of team positions at the end of the season it may prove to
have been a missed opportunity, but maybe not. We have plenty of firepower
to help us improve, but so do the other clubs. We shall see.
For the moment though, those who competed should be
congratulated for some fine performances and nine personal bests. You can’t
ask for more than that. Well done!
Next match, Sunday 9th June, Allianz Stadium, (Barnet
Copthall for older people).
* = superheroes!