In the build up to this final match, despite the odds, I asked for a “never say die” spirit; and I got it.
Despite three late withdrawals the night before, the team put in the best performance of the year by far; and probably the best performance of the two seasons that I have been team manager.
With the long jump & 800 races scheduled to start at the same time, Wole Odele, competing in both, had to balance his long jump efforts in order to have enough in the tank to compete well in the two lap event.
A fantastic effort by him to claim 1st M50 long jump, and just being edged into second in the M50 800.
Loosing Matthew Preston (personal) and Ray Daniel (injury), it meant that we had to reshuffle our 800 team. Mark Ashby (M55) took on the M35 A race, with Jerry Carnell (M60) in the M35 B.
Both battled well, but, unfortunately, Mark suffered an injury during the race. He carried on the the finish to ensure a point for the team.
Ian McCarthy, who supports the team regardless of selection, ran a superb race in the M60 800m for 4th.
Our other multi-tasker, Paris Hunt (M55) finished a very creditable second in the M35 long jump; while Tim Carter produced a superb performance to win the M60, contributing to 2 wins and a second place in that event.
The 100m races produced surprising results. Due to our lack of M35 sprinters – our youngest competitor being 49 – we have never expected anything more than two points form the M35 A & B.
Paris (M55), who had to juggle the M35 discus with starting this race, ran a superbly for 4th in the A-string. Michael Pape (M45), who earlier returned from holiday and landed at Stanstead, literally jumped out of the taxi and warmed up for the B-string, performing brilliantly for a 3rd place. So “bonus” points for the team.
Wole comfortably won the M50 100m, completing a personal tally of two wins and a second place form three events. Good points from the discus: Paris 4th in the M35, throwing the heavy 2kg plate, and a long awaited win in the M50.
And so, just as the script, our survival depended on the relay. The injury to Mark meant a slight reshuffle. The team of Wole, Paris, Tim, and Michael gave it everything; but we could only finish 5th.
The match result was very pleasing, as we finished second on the night, and two places above our relegation rivals. However, in the final league table, we are level on match points with Bexley, but have 5 fewer (total) event points. So that means we will be competing in Division two next season.
As team manager two things I have observed: firstly there is a real team spirit; everyone competes for each other. And secondly, everyone, especially the “core” athletes, have put in superb performances every match.
Finally, my thanks to Barry Ferguson for being Chief timekeeper throughout the season, to Tony Wright for turning up despite his mobility issues, and to volunteers on the night: Maria MacDonald, Stephanie, and Peter Hawney.