Action and results from Midland Masters cup final at Tamworth
PICTURES BY GEMMA KNIGHT; REPORT BY DAVE COWLEY
The 2017 season had been a frustrating one for the Rugby and Northampton Masters athletics team selectors. Despite actually having one of the strongest teams on paper in the League; the only club to put out ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams, they were never able to field their best squad for any match due to illness/injury holidays or work commitments. This was especially true on the track where the younger age groups constantly had to be augmented by older athletes in order to produce complete teams.
Despite these handicaps the women’s A team, the Lions, still managed to win every encounter. Unbeaten in any league match in Eastern Division they continued to sweep away the opposition in the end of year Midland A final at Tamworth which included the top eight teams from all three divisions.
Sally Hine, W60, remained undefeated in her age group in sprints and. Likewise; Carol Birch W70, in the walks including 60s age group, Angela Copson in the W70 track and much of the W60. Angela also set League records for; W70 200m- 38.3s,and W60 3km -12:55.3s. In the cup final Angela was awarded Eastern Female Athlete of the year for her records.
In the throws Debbie Murch remained undefeated in the W50 age group throughout the season and won several of the younger age groups as well.
Representing the younger age group Janelle Quinn, W40, won all her High jumps ending with a new League record in the final of 1.45m and ran every relay during the year.
The Lionesses relay teams won five of the six relays during the year remaining undefeated at the sprint distances.
The addition of Leslie Willis, Gemma Knight, Tricia Garner, Helen Jones, Zoe Shepperd, Caroline Carroll, Alison Cooper and Sam Berry completed the league Team who amassed 521 league points against the next best team, Leamington with 321.
The Cup final team lacked Caroline, Zoe, and Sam who was struggling with injury.
Fortunately it was bolstered by Ellena Ruddock- W40, winning in the sprints which was just enough to tie Southern Champions, Worcester, on the track points, 121 each. However the Field events were the deciders with new girl Katie Roseblade -W35 javelin, and only one event as low as 4th Lions racking up 12 more field points than any of the other teams. Lions 203, Worcester 191, Stratford 171.
The Male Lions were less dominating. Frequently missing distance athletes through injury. They managed only one League win with Leamington taking the other three. Even so there were only 34 points separating the teams after four matches with over 1,000 points scored between the two teams.
Gordon Houghton, M70 was the only male R&N track athlete to win all his own age group events both 100 and 200m, including in the final, Kevin Murch, M55, won every age group javelin event while John Moreland, M55, Shot/ discus/ Hammer won all the events he attended. Ian Gidley remained undefeated at M40 HJ although injury kept him from some matches. Dave Cowley M65>M70, remained undefeated at Triple jump from M50 upwards.
Lee Woodward, M40, moving up this year to the A team was the man to go to in an emergency and filled an enormous amount of events in every match during the year both on the track and field. New vet Andrew Reeves, M35, emulated this, starting as a high jumper and spreading to sprints and horizontal jumps. When not injured, or away, Richard Bowers M40, showed winning ways in sprints and 400m as did John Bell, M40.
The bed rock of the distance runners was Paul Birch who attended every match scoring in events from 800m to 3km. Richard Franklin M60 targeted multiple events from 400m>3km and the race walk and was usually in the top four. Team manager Mark Barrowclough, M50, could be found in the top few of the 2Km walk and filled in for missing athletes in any other track event when injury required. Mike Devine was the only M50 sprinter and had to cover 100>400m when available. The longer distance men completed the team, Mike Aldridge M40, Mike Wilcox M60, Vince Carroll M40, Andy Morris M40, Ian Wright M60, Graham Dent M50, and Dave Birch M70, but unfortunately none of these could manage every match and by the Cup final only two of the distance runners could make it on the day leaving the team extremely short.
In the Final on the track the men finished last but one in track points but outscored every other team on the field. This resulted in the A final being won by Notts -199 but R&N Lions finishing second 14 points behind.
The Gold Cup, awarded on Combined Scores for men and women, was in doubt until the last few events. The Lions 4x400m relay teams had to fall back on older athletes, due to injuries on the day, but still secured the last available points. Finally, after several recounts, it was confirmed R&N Lions the winners of the Gold Cup -388, 2nd Worcester 367, and Stratford 3rd 312pts.
The B team known as the Saints had an even more up and down year with fewer athletes managing all the fixtures. In the league Lions and Saints contest the same Eastern Division, but in the Final Saints were in the B Final.
For the men only Dave Bunker M60, Mike Kasongo M40 sprints and Adrian White M50 middle distance, managed every fixture. They were aided by the multi-eventers, Frank Blackwell M60, Dave O’Leary M50, and new comer Chris Carden M60, who between them accounted for more than half the team’s total points during the year.
As you may have noted most of these are over 50, in fact only 6/19 Male Saints are under 50. The oldest performer John Evans being 82 still finished in top three slots of the sprints against competitors 12 years younger, and frequently guested in the field events M60s.
Newcomers to the Team; Sprinters Andrew Wallace M35, John Marriott M60, proved valuable additions as did Les Hobson M60, and Alex McMurtrie in the longer events. Other track points came curtesy of Bernie Myers M50 Distance and Paddy Lynch M70 100m.
The Field Event team frequently scored in the top three teams, led by the throwers thanks to the return to health of Glyn Hollingworth M40 after a year out of throwing, new blood Peter Barabas M50, plus Dave Grum M60 Javelin, Dave Spence M70 shot, and John Gercs M40 javelin.
The jumps were mainly covered by the Frank and Chris, with Chris also taking on more of the throws as the season progressed. Dave O’Leary covered pole vault and Andrew Wallace also emerging as a jumper by the end of the season.
During the season the team improved from fourth to third, only behind Leamington and Lions by the end of the league matches however only 11 athletes were available to cover the cup final.
Both Dave O’leary and Frank were unavailable meaning no vaulters and not enough runners for some of the relays. Chris Carden managed a massive seven events including several season’s bests, with Dave Bunker and Andrew Wallace doing four each.
The throwers completing the depleted field team, Peter, John, Glyn and Dave Spence still enabled Saints to amass the second highest field score.
Adrian and Alex were the only distance runners leaving just three sprinters; Mike, Andrew Wallace and John Evans plus Dave Bunker and Chris to cover 17 track events plus two relays. Obviously this left many gaps resulting in the lowest track score of any B team but overall still good enough for fifth on the day ahead of Birchfield’s A team.
Saints’ Ladies had an even bigger task with only ten Ladies available over the whole season and a maximum of six turning out at any match. Maz Allen W60 and Minnie Chesser W40 were the only two seen at every match.
The first match three League matches saw Saints languish in sixth place, although scoring more each match. By the fourth match new athletes had joined the team and showed what could be achieved coming second behind the Lions. Due to the team’s poor opening performances they finished sixth overall.
Val Cross W60, and Maz, have been the mainstay of the team for the past couple of years; between them tackling almost every event from W35 upwards. In their own age groups they score particularly well. Minnie offers a similar attitude in the younger age groups.
Alison McMurtrie W40 and Kate Williams W50 operated at the longer distances where they were joined mid-season by Krasimira Raykova W40 who helped spread the load.
Another Newcomer Effie Katsogianni W40 brought new punch to the sprints and middle distance and in her final outing of the year demonstrated she can throw the javelin and jump. Unfortunately she had already booked a holiday on the finals date before joining the team.
Jill Dwyer W50, Sara Bowers W40, both throwers, and Julia Jones W40 sprints all appeared in two fixtures.
The cup final contained 29 individual events and two relays. A tall order for six women, but they managed 19 and one relay, overall in fifth place; also ahead of Birchfield. The combined male and female score in the B Final put them sixth.