Wimborne Athletic Club

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Hampshire League Cross Country – Salisbury – 14 February 2009

WAC MEN WIN PROMOTION AT FIRST ATTEMPT


 ‘Bionic’ Graeme Furley, who finished the season top of the WAC men’s averages, leads a group up the long drag at Hudson’s Field

 This race brought down the curtain on our first season in the Hampshire Cross-Country League. Just two weeks after we had raced at the same venue in the Wessex League we were back at Hudson’s Field, Salisbury. The number of runners in Hampshire League races this year have dwarfed those in the Wessex League and have provided a much sterner test.

As the season developed it became clear that our men’s team were contenders for promotion built on consistent race results. Or at least that had been the case until our men’s team had been decimated by illness and injury for the fixture at Reading. The promotion battle saw University of Portsmouth edging away from us as Division Champions, leaving us in a scrap for the remaining promotion spot with City of Salisbury AC. In the first three races the WAC men’s team finished third, but we could only manage 7th at Reading. This put Salisbury in the box seat with just one fixture to go, and it was a home fixture for them. This meant that we were no longer in control of our own destiny as, not only did we need to beat Salisbury but we needed to beat them by two places. It was a tall order as they had beaten us in three of the four previous races and the only reason were in contention at all was that their three point score wins over us had been by modest margins, but in our only finish ahead of them (at Goodwood) we beat them by a massive 188 points (like ‘goal difference’). The significance of that performance had not been apparent at the time.

Although promotion seemed an unlikely scenario a big effort was made to field the strongest team possible and at least make a fight of it. We had three WAC Hampshire League debutants in the team to help with the final push – Kevin Elliott, Tim Harris and Jerry Shield. The men’s race was to be the final race of the day – before that we had a full racing programme.

The first WACer to race was Sharon Hutchings (u13). Sharon had been struggling badly with a heavy cold over the previous couple of weeks and was not yet completely recovered. Under the circumstances she gave a great account of herself. Sharon finished the Hampshire League lying in 17th place in the season’s averages (you need to have scored in 4 of the 5 races to record an average).

The next race to feature WACers was the under 15 boys race. Callum and Jack resumed their rivalry which has continued all season – this time it was Callum who came out on top as he steadily made up places with a strong second half of the race (he finished 25th in the season’s averages).

Maddy has been an ever-present in the Hampshire League and she put in another good performance. Maddy finished the season in 13th place in the averages.

Next came the senior women, our pre-occupation with the men’s promotion push meant that we took our eye of the ball here as, after Claire strained her neck the day before and was unable to take part, we were unable to field a complete team. Nicki and Lyn both had good runs though, and Nicki came 35th in the season’s averages.

The final Hampshire league race of the season was the Senior Men’s. Could we secure promotion? We lined up for the race start on the look-out for City of Salisbury shirts. We needed to stop worrying about what everyone else was doing, just get out there and each of us concentrate pulling out our best performances.  Hampshire League debutant Jerry Shield was first WACer in, with ‘Bionic’ Graeme Furley in close attendance. Our other point scorer, Stewart Little, was also well up. Meanwhile the job for the rest of the team was to score as highly as possible to deny other teams points. There were some decent performances from WAC men, but had we done enough?


 Tim Harris and Stewart Little did a great job of backing up our top two

A group of WACers stood around for the end of season awards ceremony. Naturally the awards for the junior categories were done first and the senior men were to come right at the end. When we finally got there, it was announced that University of Portsmouth had won our Division, but as there is no silverware for the runners-up spot, the positions of the rest of us in the division had still not be calculated. We left Hudson’s Field still not knowing if we had achieved our goal.

The quality of the results service in the Hampshire League has been excellent all season and, sure enough, that evening my e-mail icon was bouncing on my desktop. A click of a button revealed we had done it – we had recorded an improbable result which rewarded our not giving up on the runners-up spot as long as it was still mathematically a possibility. We finished 2nd in our division on the day (our best performance of the season). We needed at least one other team to finish between us and City of Salisbury and Andover AC did the business for us. We finished on the same number of points in the table as City of Salisbury, but we beat them to promotion as our aggregate points score was 17 better than theirs. City of Salisbury had beaten us in three of the five races, but that big victory over them at Goodwood had proved decisive.

Having won promotion to Division Two, next season we will now need to have five runners to score – so we will need to work hard to consolidate our position there. When we were lying in second place early in the season I became aware that  promotion was a possibility. I had noticed that all our Dorset rivals - Bournemouth, Hamworthy Harriers, Poole AC and Poole Runners - were in the division above us and fancied getting in amongst them. This has not come to pass. Bournemouth were promoted convincingly as champions to Divison 1, Hamworthy and Poole AC were relegated, leaving only Poole Runners of the Dorset clubs for us to do battle with. There are also league tables for veterans team and our men finished 8th of 20 in Division Two. Four of the men record seasons averages, Graeme Furley was our top man in 35th, with Graham Whiffen – 65th, Ian Kennedy – 86th (45th in the Vets) and Steve Snook – 94th (53rd in the Vets).

The Hampshire League races have been hugely enjoyable, on great courses, with superb organization and we have seen some great performances and improvements from WACers over the season. Well done to all who took part throughout the year, thank you for your support and bring on the 2009/2010 season!

WACers times and results were:

Under-13 Girls

37 – Sharon Hutchings – 8:54

Under-15 Boys

38 – Callum Kennedy – 14:55

40 – Jack Snook  – 15:06

Under-17 Women

9 – Maddy Vaughan-Johncey – 15:50

Senior Women

49 – Nicki Roe – 21:10

65 – Lyn Hutchings –23:20

Senior Men 

66 – Jerry Shield – 31:35

71 – Graeme Furley – 31:48

84 – Stewart Little – 32:34

86 – Tim Harris – 32:45

103 – Daryl Davies – 34:16

110 – Graham Whiffen – 35:00

126 – Craig Dixon – 35:59

151 – Ian Kennedy – 37:41

156 – Phil Burgess – 38:45

159 – Steve Snook – 39:47

164 – Kevin Elliott – 40:31

Full results for the Hampshire League will be found at 

www.athletics.hampshire.org.uk

 

 

 
 
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