Reports by Bill Laws
Men's British Athletics League Division One - 2002
A record sixth consecutive BAL Division One win
Match 4, Wigan, 21 August 2002.
With a clear 6 points lead over Woodford Green coming in to this match we would have been forgiven for taking a relaxed view of this - the deciding fixture - which could determine Belgrave's place in the record books. Winning the premier men's title for a unique consecutive sixth time was our aim and the team managers once again approached selection with the thoroughness expected by all concerned. Hotel bookings were made and letters and maps sent out to over 50 A team potential participants. And then the effects of a long hard season and the prospect of a long trip to windy Wigan became apparent as the responses fed back. Thirteen reported injuries, six were already planning to be on holiday and eleven more couldn't make it due to work and other commitments.
The Magnificent SEVENteen
And it was down to just seventeen of our stalwarts who turned up on the day to support the cause. And not all of them were fit. Kevin Brown was driven to the match with a trapped nerve in his back. His normal 54m+ effort became 12m less but his brave effort was typical of the fighting spirit as everyone mixed and matched to cover most events - but inevitably there were gaps. There were many unusual sights. Stuart Faben in the hammer and shot, Andrew Bennett in the high hurdles and high jump backed by James Tuson in the long, triple and high. Ben Flint won the pole vault from a high class field but unfortunately Paul Williamson no heighted in difficult swirling wind conditions.
Then on the track sprinters Darren Chin and Graham Beasley cleaned up with max points in both sprints. Graham handed out decisive defeats to Duaine Ladejo of Birchfield who by choice ran in the B100 and A200 against our man. Darren and Graham were joined by Matt Douglas and Femi Daramola to also win the sprint relay. Femi had a poor long jump but made amends with a season's best in the triple.
Meanwhile the middle distance squad performed magnificently. Chris Moss fresh (almost) from a fine 800 in Sweden won the B 800 and A 1500 while Neal Speaight answered a last minute call-up from the team managers and won the A 800. He also finished a creditable third in the B 400. We had not one of our 400m specialists in the squad and Matt Douglas stepped in for the A 400 leaving Andrew Bennett as our sole 400 hurdler. In cold and windy conditions times were irrelevant. Andrew finished third having paced himself to perfection.
But there was no better example of the team's determination to prove their quality than Will Cockerell's fine PB in the 5000m. Not content with that, just thirty minutes later Will stepped to the line in the 3000 steelechase with 18 year old William Docherty who was making his debut in our British League squad. And this time Will Docherty ran a 2sec PB with Will Cockerell again adding points to our growing tally.
Fortunately England and Belgrave team physio Paula Wild was working flat out keeping the team in one piece throughout the afternoon but even she couldn't present us with enough fit runners for the long relay which we declined to run! But by then we were assured of third spot on the day to ensure a wonderful League win. Yes, six years in a row Belgrave have been GB Men's Champions. Until today we had shared the record at five a piece with Haringey. Now we are clear and it will be a good while - if at all - before anyone betters that.
And thanks to everybody who supported us this year. None more so than the men who competed in all four matches despite a full competitive schedule. They are eight in number and are:
Graham Beasley, Andrew Bennett, Kevin Brown, Will Cockerell, Femi Daramola, Matt Douglas, Stuart Faben and Ben Flint.
100m: A 1 D.Chin 10.5; B 1 G.Beasley 10.4.
Match 3, Copthall, 3 August 2002.
A knockout performance and looks as if it's all over !
1 Belgrave H 386; 2 Woodford Green with EL 317; 3 Birchfield H 301; 4 Trafford AC 289; 5 Shaftesbury Barnet H 272; 6 Newham & Essex Beagles 266; 7 Border H & AC 173; 8 Harrow AC 162.
Match 3 was squeezed in between the Commonwealth Games and European Championships and we were fortunate that Richard Aspden, Matt Douglas and Paul Williamson returned from Manchester and made the effort to support this key fixture. Also adding to our potential problems was an under 23 match in France which took away a further five of our regular team. Plus the absence of our top hammer men which meant we would be off to a rocky start. But it became even rockier when with 20 minutes to go we had no 400 hurdlers due to traffic hold ups. Fortunately Noel Levy just made it but Andrew Bennett didn't. Andrew made amends by running a PB in the B flat 400.
The unique sight of Kevin Brown and Lee Newman in the hammer was of interest to the opposition but resulted in few points with the result that after five events we were last and Trafford were leading. But then the track men got going with near max points from the 200 through to the 5000. Highlights were: seasons debuts from Chris Moss to win the A 800 and Richard Ward to win the B 1500 behind Spencer Barden who ran a season's best. Steve Sharp ran a big PB in the A 5000 while Paul Freary won the B. It was good to see Kevin Nash return from injury in the 3000 steeplechase while Will Cockerell ran a big PB in the B 'chase squeezing under 10 minutes for the first time.
Maximum points from Neil Owen and Richard Sear in the sprint hurdles plus a second place in the sprint relay and a win in the long relay moved us into an unassailable lead. Ben Flint gained a win over Paul Williamson in the Pole Vault to ensure near maximum points and further light between us and second placed Woodford Green.
100m: A (1.6) 1 K.Ellis (Trafford) 10.63; 4 G.Beasley 10.67; B (0.3) 1 D.Donovan (Shaftesbury) 10.59; 2 M.Dickson 10.80.
Match 2, Birmingham, 6 July 2002.
Track boys swing it Belgrave's way again
1 Belgrave H 382; 2 Newham and Essex Beagles 345; 3 Birchfield H 340; 4 Woodford Green with EL 305; 5 Trafford AC 242; 6 Shaftesbury Barnet H 210; 7 Border H & AC 187; 8 Harrow AC 161.
Another match, another format. Billed as a domestic Grand Prix and supported by UK Athletics with prize money and guests in certain events we waited to see how the fixture and our fortunes would pan out. After match 1, where we sneaked a last gasp win, we feared Newham, who have the desire and ability to beat all but our very best team. Missing for the first time in 4 years as he opened his son's school fete was Mick Jones so usual key points would be lost in the hammer. Added to this an injury to pole vault supremo Paul Williamson plus a total loss of our top steeplechasers meant that we would have at least three duff events. Would our increasing strength on the track and our remaining throwers be enough to defeat the opposition?
Well yes. A series of truly dominating performances from 100m to 5000m contributed to a clear win which put us in a slightly more comfortable lead as we chase a sixth consecutive and record breaking League victory.
In the short hurdles Neil Owen was close to beating Commonwealth bound Damian Greaves while Dominic Girdler ensured more good points with a B win. In the long hurdles Matt Douglas experimented with a new stride pattern from 7 and tied up badly to succumb to a 49.4 win by WG's Kemel Thompson (Jamaican) who finished 6th in the last Commonwealth Games. In the 200 Graham Beasley again won the A and Tim Abeyie claimed the famous scalp of former Belgravian Chris Rawlinson who now competes for Trafford.
But it was the 400 that set the pulses racing. On the start line Sean Baldock faced no less an adversary than Iwan Thomas seeking proof of a return to fitness prior to next week's AAA's. And it was Sean hitting the lead at 200 who held on well for a stunning victory in a sub 46 timing which was his fastest since the Sydney Olympics. He followed this with a 45.5 split in the long relay. A great afternoon's work!
In general the jumps were below par but Ben Challenger cleared 2.20 to win the A high jump and prove once again that when he puts on a Belgrave vest you can expect something special. One of his 2.26 attempts was pretty close. But it was the triple jump that yielded the biggest surprise. Last year junior Davis Welstead won the B and was headed by promising junior Seni Mayekodunmi who contributed to a 20 points total out of a max 28 for this event.
For Grand Prix events actual positions shown in brackets.
100m: A 1 T.Edgar (Woodford) 10.41; 3 D.Chin 10.75/-1.9 (1rB); B 1 M.Dickson 10.75/-1.9 (2rB); gst T.Abeyie 10.86/-1.9 (4rB).
200m: A 1 G.Beasley 21.44/-0.5 (2rA); B 1 T.Comyns (Border) 21.73; 4 T.Abeyie 21.76/-0.5 (4rA); gst D.Chin 21.63/-1.2 (1rB).
400m: A 1 S.Baldock 45.92 (1rA); B 1 M.Brown (Newham) 46.86; 3 T.Bayley 48.71 (8rA); gst G.Dearman 49.83 (6rB); A.Bennett 48.83 (1rC).
800m: A 1 Andy Graffin 1:49.03 (1rA); B 1 A.Zawadski 1:50.54 (5rA).
1500m: A 1 S.Sharp 3:52.10; B 1 S.Barden 3:53.00.
5000m: A 1 E.Kerui (Birchfield) 14:18.12; 2 Paul Evans 14:30.11; B 1 Alaster Stewart 14:39.22.
110mH: A 1 D.Greaves (Newham) 13.80; 2 N.Owen 13.91/-0.5 (4rA); B 1 D.Girdler 14.12/-0.5 (7rA); gst R.Sear 14.67/-0.2 (3rB).
400mH: A 1 K.Thompson (Woodford) 49.44; 2 M.Douglas 50.01 (2rA); B 1 N.Levy 51.55 (5rA).
3000mSC: 1 E.Kerui (Birchfield) 8:51.39; 8 W.Cockerell 10:22.75; B 1 E.Malloch (Shaftesbury) 9:27.9; 7 I.Wells 12:10.93.
HJ: 1 B.Challenger 2.20; B 1 D.Plank (Birchfield) 1.95; 2 R.Aspden 1.95.
LJ: 1 C.Tomlinson (Newham) 7.66; 4 J.Flynn 6.77; B 1 S.Faulkner (Birchfield) 6.96; 3 F.Daramola 6.52.
TJ: 1 C.Madeira-Cole (Newham) 15.43; 5 S.Majekodunmi 14.12; B 1 D.Wellstead 13.98.
PV: 1 C.North (Woodford) 5.20; 4 B.Flint 4.80; B 1 S.Simpson (Birchfield); no Belgrave competitor.
SP: 1 M.Proctor 17.55; 4 G.Beard 15.73; B 1 B.Kelly (Trafford) 16.36; 2 D.Readle 15.61; gst S.Thompson 15.56.
DT: 1 R.Weir (Birchfield) 55.24; 3 K.Brown 52.16; B 1 G.Smith (Birchfield) 53.70; 2 L.Newman 50.89.
JT: 1 N.Nieland (Shaftesbury) 72.46; 3 S.Faben 66.53; B 1 P.Howard (Woodford) 60.09; 4 W.Smith 57.19.
HT: 1 I Nichulin (Birchfield) 69.60; 5 J.Osazuwa 57.85; B 1 S.Brown (Newham) 63.61; 5 S.Thompson 45.94.
4x100m: 1 Birchfield 40.39; 2 Belgrave 41.33 (M.Dickson, G.Beasley, T.Abeyie, D.Chinn).
4x400m: 1 Newham 3:09.78; 3 Belgrave 3:11.07 (N.Levy, A.Bennett, T.Bayley, S.Baldock).
Match 1, Watford Stadium, 19 May 2002.
Last gasp victory in opening match
Teams: 1 Belgrave H 355; 2 Newham and Essex Beagles 350; 3 Woodford Green with EL 299; 4 Birchfield H 259; 5 Trafford AC 253; 6 Shaftesbury Barnet H 235.5; 7 Border H 232.5; 8 Harrow AC 211.
Team managers John Jeffery and Bill Laws had predicted that this venue and date would always present a severe test of our strength in depth due to the previous day’s televised meet at Loughborough which attracted 20 male and 12 female Belgravians. Out of the 20 men only 5 were able to double up for this meet and the southern team was raided to fill in the gaps.
The Newham team had put out a five line whip and 11 of their Loughborough stars turned up for duty to ensure a hot competition which we seemed destined to lose. But that was not to take account of our young members who competed for every point to ensure a last gasp victory.
The sprints were outstanding with a double win in the 200s for Graham Beasley and Tim Abeyie. That was after an excellent opening 100m from Marlon Dickson who gained a close third in the A event with 10.55 into a 1.8m/s headwind. In the 1500 Andy Graffin followed up his previous day’s 800 with a debut in the 1500 which turned out to be a high class and fast tactical race. Andy was surprised at the quality losing out to a fast finishing Matt Shone but was rewarded with a 3.42.8. Steve Sharp was in contention all the way but at 300 to go fell off the pace and jogged the straight. If this hadn’t been his first track race he would have held on and looks worth about 3.44 at present. His B string win brought welcome points. Surprisingly our middle distance, which was so strong on the road relays, was weakened by illness, exams and Loughborough to the extent that only Jason Lobo toed the line in the 800. Ian Wells was nominated for the B race but pulled a hammy on the physio’s couch. (Poor old fella).
But back to the start where we got maximum points in the 400 hurdles. In the A race Matt Douglas looked strong after recent illness while in the B event 20 year old Andrew Bennett took 1.2 secs off his pb to get the experts thumbing through their books to see who this new talent was. In the high hurdles Neil Owen showed impressive form in the A race to finish second while new member Dominic Girdler got his Belgrave career off to an exciting start with a fine win in the B event.
The throws and jumps which normally give us near max points were good in parts and contrived to ensure that our lead was never more than a few points throughout the afternoon until event 16 when we seemed to be easing towards a clear win. At this point several of the tired Newham relay runners who had performed valiantly over two days called a halt little realising that the triple jump and steeplechase results would bring us almost level as we approached the final sprint and long relays. And it was our young up and coming youngsters who once more performed above expectations to secure a close victory with two first rate performances
100m: A (-1.8) 1 K.Ellis (Trafford) 10.52; 3 Marlon Dickson 10.55; B (-1.4) 1 D.Donovan (Shaftesbury) 10.70; 3 Darren Chin 10.75.
200m: A (+3.7) 1 Graham Beasley 21.3; B (+1.4) 1 Tim Abeyie 21.5.
400m: A 1 P.McKee (Border); 6 Geoff Dearman 49.38; B 1 Tim Bayley 48.1.
800m: A 1 R.Adams (Birchfield) 1.53.07; 4 Jason Lobo 1.53.84; B 1 B.Donkin (Birchfield) 1.56.41; no Belgrave competitor.
1500m: A 1 M.Shone (Woodford) 3.42.5; 2. Andy Graffin 3.42.8; B 1 Steve Sharp 3.54.2.
5000m: A 1 E.Kirui (Birchfield) 14.21.32; 5 Alaster Stewart 14.50.27; B 1 R.Birchall (Birchfield) 14.23.77; 5 Will Cockerell 15.24.80.
110mH: A (+2.4) 1 D.Greaves (Newham) 13.78; 2 Neil Owen 13.90; B (+1.6) 1 Dominic Girdler 14.3.
400mH: A 1 Matt Douglas 51.01; B 1 Andy Bennett 52.6.
3000mSC: A 1 E.Kirui (Birchfield) 8.54.2; 4 Lee Hurst 9.16.3; B 1 D.Lewis (Shaftesbury) 9.31.0; 6 Steve Kennefick 10.27.4.
HJ: A 1 D.Grant (Woodford) 2.15; 4 Richard Aspden 2.00; B 1 J.McDade (Woodford) 2.05; 2 James Hilston 1.90.
LJ: A 1 C.Tomlinson(Newham) 7.51; 4. Femi Daramola 6.91; B 1 Chris Davidson(Newham) 6.96; 4 Julian Flynn 6.54.
TJ: A 1 L.Achike(Shaftesbury) 15.38; 7 Julian Flynn 13.33; B 1 CM Cole (Newham) 14.33; 4 Dave Wellstead 13.16.
PV: A 1 K.Hughes(Newham) 5.00; 2 Ben Flint 5.00; B 1 J.Quarry (Harrow) 4.50; no Belgrave competitor.
SP: A 1 M.Proctor(Newham) 17.58; 7 Greg Beard 14.65; B 1 Brian Kelly(Trafford) 16.03; 7 Kevin Brown 13.02.
DT: A 1 E.Udechuku (Woodford) 58.15; 3 Lee Newman 53.82; B 1 Kevin Brown 54.14.
JT: A 1 Stuart Faben 72.50; B 1 Tony Smith(Shaftesbury) 64.04; 2 Clifton Green 63.37.
HT: A 1 Mick Jones 69.37; B 1 S.Brown (Newham) 63.76; 2 John Osazuwa 61.45.
4x100m: 1 Belgrave 41.22 (Graham Beasley, Darren Chin, Tim Abeyie, Marlon Dickson).
4x400m: 1 Border 3.10.39; 2 Belgrave 3.10.60 (Michael Parper 49.10, Ian Deeth 47.4, Matt Douglas 47.1, Tim Bayley 47.1).