The annual Manchester Area Cross-Country League (MACCL) that's a winter trek through the hills, dales, mire and mud of five Manchester parks, ended at the weekend in Woodbank Park. It was a memorable finale to delight the mud larks with additional chill easterly winds and drizzly rain to boot, made it a 'memorable' afternoon! This report is an overview of the five matches that began at Heaton Park last October and monthly toured Sherdley Park, Wythenshawe Park, Boggart Hole Clough and, finally, Woodbank Park.
Beginning with our U11 boys and girls, unlike the other age-groups, they had to score points in only three matches. Almost thirty of the club's little stars and starlets braved the wintery elements and all of them ran their little hearts out. Well done to every one of them. Beth Thornton and Lizzie Twite finished equal 2nd and 4th and equally talented Megan Mc Hugh would have been right up there with them had she not missed earlier matches.
The U13 girls have been the club's most successful through the winter with the Northern Relay Championship title under their belts and the National Cross-Country Relay silver medals. They convincingly added their second consecutive league title to their litany with a clean sweep of dominating victories. This section has been rightly applauded through the winter for their success, promise, ability and depth. Aine Cunningham won the individual U13 title to add to her Northern XC silver medal by winning all five races. Danielle Stringer separated her in 2nd place from Ellie Twite who was 3rd overall. With Frankie Hacker-Davis 6th, Niamh Nugent 7th and Claudia Cowan equal 9th no other club could boast having 50% of the league's top ten finishers. It was also great having Francesca Brint back to her great form in the final matches and again being a big asset to her team. The U13 boys, title holders for the past two years, weren't quite in the same league and this year finished 3rd, largely because of other clashes that split the squad.
The U 15 girls finished runners-up to Stockport AC this year. It's always a close tussle between the two clubs and Stockport AC won their third title in four years. Zara Thompson, with a victory at Woodbank Park, two runners-up places and two third places was among the league's top two finishers with Amber Towns in equal 3rd place. The backbone of this team with them was Flora Whyte, Aimee Pratt, Frankie and Charlie Reid and Georgia Plant. The U15 boy's could have retained their MACCL title had they finished a team in the final two matches. They finished fifth as a result! Euan Gilchrist was the club's top man in 3rd place with further superb performances in four matches from Saeed Absiyeh, Dylan Stanway and Jordan Bezzina in fewer matches next year.
The U17 lads had to contend with the emergence of a very strong Liverpool squad and had the gauntlet thrown to them if they were to retain their 3rd consecutive title. Liverpool, as expected, triumphed with four impressive outright victories and, with Stockport also very strong this winter, Sale finished 3rd. Matt Metcalf was the club's representative in most matches but Khalid Absiyeh, Jimmy Castle, Marcus Campbell, Matthew Beacock, Sam Mayon and Dennis Powell all performed very well though in fewer matches.
The U20 men are easily the club's best for a decade and they've been applauded throughout the winter for their achievements. When most regional clubs have struggled to field even one junior team, Sale finished an 'A' and 'B' team and, of course, won their third consecutive title. Individually, well done to Callum Rowlinson who ranked second overall but there were superb performances through the winter from Callum Greenwood, Charlie Hulson, Ryan Moore, Luke Betts, Kyle Conway, Dillon Bezzina, Ben Fox, Matt Holmes and David Rich. The demise of women's running was again reflected in the junior women's section unable to finish a team for the twelfth consecutive year. Individually, Misha Nayak-Oliver was the club's hero who performed brilliantly throughout all five matches and had Victoria Calderbank, Jenny Simmons and Georgia Taylor-Brown been able to run more often, they'd have easily broken this unenviable record!
The well-documented decline in the U17 & U20 age groups was again reflected with less than thirty competitors in some matches. This year, however, four clubs did finish teams and Sale's U17 girls could have taken the title from Stockport AC had they competed in more than the Sherdley Park and Wythenshawe Park matches. They still finished 3rd. The squad of Megan Davis, Hannah Christy, Rachel Hibberd and Imani Modahl all had great runs through the winter and hopefully they'll keep together for even better results
The senior men, ably supported by the junior and veteran sections, did really well to retain the league title. On those matches when the 'big guns' turned out, the team was particularly impressive but they risked the title on three occasions by weaker teams. In the end, they won by just one point from Salford AC and Wilmslow AC. The significant thing about this section is its record depth in numbers that resulted in an amazing five teams featuring in the results. Those seniors and veterans who turned out most for the club were Rob Flannery, Dave Marsh, Carl Barber, Steve Townley, Paul Barrett, Chris Heys, Chris Cook, Tim Rainey, Jerry Smith, Lewis Green and Miran Aprahamien.
Many of the club's large endurance section are 'veterans', and a large number greatly contributed to the senior team's success as well as battled within their own leagues Wilmslow AC have been unbeaten for years but Sale have remained consistent, this year with the 'A' team finishing 7th and retaining Division 1 status whilst a 'B' and 'C' team are solid in Division 2. Well done to Carl Barber who ranked 7th in the M40 category and Jerry Smith who was 5th in the M55 category.
Like the men, our women have unprecedented depth in numbers and this was reflected in the record five teams that completed the league. They also retain similar consistency to the men, this year with the 'A' team finishing 4th in Division 1 and a 'B', 'C', 'D' and 'E' teams solid in Division 2. This section's performances are inextricably linked to the veteran women and the senior women's league results greatly depended on L40 Jan Nichols who's had a fantastic winter and finished 2nd overall in her category, L35 Helen Armitage, L50 Jackie Cordingley, who was 3rd in her category and L50 Lynda Rowlinson, 6th in her category. As veteran teams, Wilmslow AC were the again dominant but Sale were consistent and solid in 4th place in Division 1 with three other teams solid in Division 2. Other seniors and veterans who made a big difference through the five matches were Hayley Cavill, Cara O' Brien. Zoe Gmerek, Jo Street, Helen Armitage, Carla Ousey and Belinda Hammond.
Well done to all who participated through the winter and endured cold, wet afternoons, muddy conditions and the region's hills and dales to either do what they love; endure the bitterness for some higher cause (hopefully Sale Harriers among them!) or came to applaud, support, admire, coach or team manage.
Written by Fechin Mc Cormick.
Full results www.race-results.co.uk
Posted 14/02/2013 09:56