Over the last few seasons we've had some absolutely brilliant results in the British league, with 2 league titles in 6 seasons and some excellent match wins. This weekend saw the latest episode in the story, with a win that was as unexpected as it was hard earned. We went into the match having taken 2nd place in both of the first two fixtures, which, because of Shaftesbury winning on both occasions, meant anything less than a victory would effectively kill our title challenge. With a series of injuries to big scorers, Chris Baker preparing for this week's European Under 23 Championships and the UK Championships only a week away, our team was slightly weakened compared to the previous matches, so, while we knew we would do ok, a win wasn't exactly predicted.
`The team rose to the challenge magnificently and pulled some superb top 3 places out of the bag, which was enough to take the win with 312.5 points, from Sheffield with 308. Incredibly, Shaftesbury came 5th, meaning that heading into the final fixture we are top of the league with 22 points, ahead of Shaftesbury, who have 20. This means that we need a top 2 finish in London to take the league title again, which means we need to put our strongest team out, as the match will likely be the most competitive in years. Shaftesbury are at home and will be formidable, while traditional powerhouses Newham are currently in 7th and 2005 champions Woodford Green are just 0.5 points ahead in 6th. They will all be very strong, so coming 1st or 2nd will be no easy task. I'll be in touch with everyone soon to ascertain availability, but please do get in touch to let me know as soon as you do. With a carrot of another go at the European Cup, it's certainly worth pulling out all the stops.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the fixture due to work commitments, so many, many thanks to John Smith for standing in and taking my place on Saturday. On the day we had 3 A-string wins from Simon Horsfield, who is making a habit of taking fine victories (and who was pushed close by Charlie Hulson, who won the B), Tomas Rauktys in the discus (he also threw over 17m for 2nd in the Shot) and the 4x100m team (Hameed, Craig, Oswald and Odujobi). The relay was the team's 3rd successive BAL win and was again under 41 secs, showing that they're the best team out there at the moment.
There were further B wins for Matt Sumner (400mH on debut), George Caddick (400m), Ryan Oswald (200m) and Jacob Brown (LJ), while hard earned top 3 A and B spots were taken by Chris Wakeford (400mH), Ryan Oswald (100m), Gabriel Odujobi (110mH), Jack Andrew (110mH), Antony Ford (5000m), Andy Burgess (a PB and 2nd in the LJ), Matt Cullen (PV), Thomas Furlong (also on debut in the hammer) and Jonathan Ferryman (TJ). The 4x400m team of Pat Swan, Josh Oguntayo, Debo Ademuyewo and Chris Wakeford also performed admirably to record a season's best and a strong 5th place.
In such narrow team wins every point counts, so the contributions of James Barratt, Chris Craig, Josh Oguntayo, Umar Hameed, Pat Swan, Ryan Worland, Stephen Porter, Matt Holmes and Rob Flannery shouldn't be underestimated. Indeed, massive credit to Gabriel Odujobi and Matt Cullen, who filled in on the high jump, and Rob Flannery, who did likewise in the 800m (thus sacrificing his own hopes in his specialist steeplechase for the cause), as if it weren't for their efforts, the match win wouldn't have happened.
Well done gain to all that contributed and good luck to everyone competing at the trials next weekend and, of course, to Chris over in Tampere. Let's make one last push in the final match! (Team Manager Dean Hardman)
Posted 10/07/2013 11:28