Reports by Alan Mead
UK Women's Athletics League Division Four - 2004
Final league standings: (To be confirmed) 1 Havering Mayesbrook (605) 20; 2 Cardiff (595) 20; 3 Belgrave (536.5) 18; 4 Kingston upon Hull (468.5) 16; 5 Radley (476) 13; 6 City of Stoke (406) 11; 7 Bournemouth (125) 3; 8 Pitreavie (0); 0.
Match 3, Abingdon, 31 July 2004.
What a nail-biter
With just the 4x400m to go Belgrave led the match. A slender half a point was the margin over Cardiff, with Havering & Mayesbrook half a point further adrift; a single point covering three teams! If only it could have all stopped there, for with those team positions combined with the results from earlier matches, Havering & Mayesbrook and Belgrave H would be promoted to Division Three. There were so many combinations of what might happen in that final 4 x 400m relay and in fact our team ran tremendously - but it was Cardiff that got home first with Belgrave second - and we stay in Division Four for another year.
We could have found two additional points in so many places: Diana Holden - a certain winner of the hammer got lost en route, Jacqui Smiter injured her arm practising the pole vault and couldn't take part (and later went to hospital), and in administering help to Jacqui, Gail Porter missed her last javelin throws and probably missed the cut as a result. The misfortunes were many. But as Hannah Stares reminded us when it was all over, "we might not have gained promotion but had in fact given it a pretty good go with a very small team".
Winner of the SEAA Heptathlon the previous week, Hannah was in good form, winning both B hurdle races and scoring well in the high jump as well. Caroline Stead, talking about retirement before next season, was a double jumps winner, and with Olympic Team member Shelley Newman turning out for the discus backed up by Laura Fox, and Northern Ireland Shot Putt Champion Eva Massey dominating her event accompanied by Belinda Heil, the throws gained us massive points. Still troubled by a hamstring problem, Captain Jennifer Culley nevertheless won the long hurdles race and placed second in the 200m, and another who has been suffering from injury, multi-eventer Julie Hollman, was busy winning the sprint hurdles, the B 200m, and having a nightmare long jump competition.
We were desperately short of specialist sprinters and middle-distance runners but thanks to those who are game for anything, the team sheet was full, and when one saw the effort put in by lead-off runner Liz Horrobin in the long relay, one can see that with determination like this, our halt along the road to the top division is sure to be a temporary one.
Of course, the scorers could easily have slipped up to the tune of one or two points - but as the team headed home the scores were announced as -
1 Cardiff 202; 2 Belgrave 201; 3 Havering Mayesbrook 196.5; 4 Radley 179; 5 Kingston upon Hull 169.5; 6 Stoke 118.
100m: 6 S.Gailey 13.7; 3 M.Nestor U20 13.5. 200m: 2 J.Culley 25.9/1.7; 1 J.Hollman 24.6. 400m: 5 S.Gailey 62.7; 6 L.Cooper 74.7. 800m: 6 L.Horrobin 2:32.2; 6 D.Hearn 2:46.2. 1500m: 6 L.Horrobin 5:08.9; 5 D.Hearn 5:49.3. 3000m: 4 L.Cooper 11:13.0; 3 C.Eastham 13:08.3. 100mH: 1 J.Hollman 14.4/0.0; 1 H.Stares 14.5/0.6. 400mH: 1 J.Culley 61.3; 1 H.Stares 61.9. HJ: 3 H.Stares 1.55; 2 M.Nestor U20 1.50. LJ: 1 C.Stead 5.50; 5 J.Hollman 4.02. TJ: 1 C.Stead 12.20/1.9; 2 M.Nestor U20 10.77. PV: nht J.Smiter; nht G.Porter. SP: 1 E.Massey 15.30; 1 B.Heil 10.61. DT: 1 S.Newman 55.01; 1 L.Fox 38.96. JT: 5 B.Heil 26.56; 4 G.Porter 24.80. HT: 2 B.Heil 38.85; 4 G.Porter 27.94. 4x100m: 6 Belgrave (D.Hearn, M.Nestor U20, S.Gailey, J.Hollman). 4x400m: 2 Belgrave 3:56.5 (L.Horrobin 63.8, J.Culley 57.7, H.Stares 58.1, J.Hollman 56.9).
Match 2, Scunthorpe, 4 July 2004.
1 Kingston upon Hull 199.5; 2 Havering Mayesbrook 193.5; 3 City of Stoke 189; 4 Belgrave 171.5; 5 Cardiff 156; 6 Radley 150.5; Pitreavie and Bournemouth did not take part.
After a lacklustre opening match there were plenty of promises to turn out for match two but in the days leading up to the meeting the team managers went from hope to utter despondency when it appeared that not only could we not turn out a team to do ourselves justice - we were unlikely to be able to find enough athletes to cover the minimum number of events required by the rules of the UKWL. Thanks to alternate competition and injuries, far from looking for early promotion, we were facing the possibility of a return to the league qualifying match. Even those taking part were restricted because in this league, athletes can not do more than three events plus relays.
The call went out to members old, members as yet untried and members totally unfit - in fact any female Belgravian prepared to don racing strip. Birhan Dagne flew in from a Friday race in Germany, Gail Porter shrugged off illness, two lapper Sarah Gailey “volunteered” for three sprints instead of her preferred event, Liz Horrobin was press-ganged while spectating at the previous day’s men’s match and ended up doing three individual events and two relays, and gradually enough events were covered to pass the minimum mark. Not only that, with a sprinkling of front line troops, it also began to look as if we might not finish last!
In fact everyone who turned up competed magnificently. There might have been a few performances which the owners would prefer not to appear in the ranking lists, but the points began to pile up.
Hannah Stares started the track session going with a win in the 400m hurdles while Diana Holden was doing a demolition job on the hammer field. Trying to overcome a hamstring injury, Jennifer Culley was reduced to a single outing over one lap - but again she won. The discus gave good points with a win from Laura Fox, backed up well by Diana, and as it turned out the throws were particularly good for us as Eva Massey and Laura Fox gave us our only double win of the day - in the shot.
As we have already recorded, Birhan Dagne had come straight from Germany where she had run a 16:29 5k in poor conditions. She set off in the 5000m in determined fashion and it immediately became obvious that the division record was under threat. The first kilometre came up in 3:15, the second in 6:31, and so it went on until she crossed the line in 16:41.3 to take the best part of a minute off the old record. Someone who had the benefit of watching Birhan from close quarters was Catherine Eastham, lapped three times by our winner and receiving encouragement from her each time she came past. It was a hard run for someone not expecting to have to cover such an event but her efforts paid off and due to missing competitors from other teams, second in the B event came her way.
Birhan was into team mode now and her offer to run in the 1500m was snapped up. Her powerful front running over an unusually short distance (for her) enabled her to beat the outstanding young middle-distance runner from Stoke - Emma Ward. With Cardiff having a bad day, team managers Bob and Cynthia suddenly began to see the chance of the season being salvaged. Somehow two relay teams were mustered from those still standing - including another run from Birhan on first leg in the 4x400m.
Now, can we still pull off our original aim of achieving promotion? There are countless possible mathematical combinations but just take a look at this one: If we could turn out the sort of team that we do for the cup and win the final match at Abingdon on July 31st, and if Cardiff were to place second but 53 match points behind us we'd gain promotion. Of course, Cardiff could finish further back than 2nd - but then we might not win either. It will be a nail-biting finish to our first season in the UKWL.
100m: 6 S.Gailey 13.5w/2.3; 6 L.Horrobin 15.5. 200m: 6 S.Gailey 28.4w/2.2. 400m: 1 J.Culley 57.5; 3 S.Gailey 63.3. 800m: 6 L.Horrobin 2:34.4; 6 C.Eastham 3:00.3. 1500m: 1 B.Dagne 4:31.8; 3 L.Horrobin 5:14.7. 5000m: 1 B.Dagne 16:41.3 (Division Record); 2 C.Eastham 23:28.1. 100mH 2 H.Stares 14.4/1.8; 4 G.Porter 22.0. 400mH: 1 H.Stares 61.1. HJ: =4 H.Stares 1.50. 2 M.Nestor 1.45. LJ: 5 M.Nestor 4.87; 5 H.Mead 2.93. TJ: 4 M.Nestor 10.10/0.2. SP: 1 E.Massey 15.56; 1 L.Fox 10.67. DT: 1 L.Fox 38.52; 2 D.Holden 30.97. JT: 3 G.Porter 28.41; 6 H.Mead 20.08. HT: 1 D.Holden 49.73; 3 G.Porter 26.76. 4x100m: 6 Belgrave (G.Porter, L.Horrobin, S.Gailey, H.Stares). 4x400m: 5 Belgrave 4:30.8 (B.Dagne 64.0, C.Eastham 78.6, L.Horrobin 66.8, H.Stares 61.4).
Match 1, Mayesbrook Park, 06 June 2004.
1 Cardiff 237; 2 Havering 215; 3 Belgrave H 169.5; 4 Radley 146.5; 5 Kingston upon Hull 136; 6 Bournemouth 125; 7 City of Stoke 99; Pitreavie did not attend.
100m: 2 C.Harrison-Bloomfield W35 11.9/-1.4; 1 J.Culley 12.5/-1.3. 200m: 1 C.Harrison-Bloomfield W35 24.3/-0.9; 1 J.Culley 25.4/-1.4. 400m: 7 S.Gailey 63.9; no B string. 800m: 2 Emma Davies 2:11.0; 4 S.Gailey 2:32.6. 1500m: 5 R.Powell 5:06.1; 4 L.Cooper 5:22.5. 3000m: 6 L.Cooper 10:54.0; 4 M.Heaton 11:01.6. 100mH: 6 A.Forsyth U20 16.4/1.6; no B string. 400mH: 1 J.Culley 60.7; 1 A.Forsyth U20 65.8. HJ: =4 M.Nestor U20 1.50; 6 J.Smiter 1.25. LJ: 2 C.Stead 5.60; 2 M.Nestor U20 10.87. TJ: 1 C.Stead 12.27; 2 M.Nestor U20 10.87. PV: J.Smiter 1.70; no B string. SP: 4 L.Fox 10.38; 4 V.Thompson W50 8.60. DT: 2 L.Fox 39.08; 2 D.Holden 32.60. JT: 5 A.Forsyth U20 27.72; 5 V.Thompson W50 21.34. HT: 5 V.Thompson 21.55; 5 L.Fox 18.13. 4x100m: no team. 4x400m: no team.