Morpeth Harriers Senior Men and Women’s Track and Field squad fought out a tense battle with host club North Shields Poly in their second round Northern League Division 3 match, held at a rainswept Churchill Track, at Whitley Bay, on Saturday, writes George Patterson.
Having won the first round match at Darlington at the beginning of May, Morpeth Harriers had every reason to feel confident about winning the second, and they nearly did that, only losing out by a mere nine match points.
It had become a two-horse race, with the combined Heaton Harriers/Tyne Bridge Harriers squad, a further 60 points adrift in third place.
In the Men’s events, as at Darlington, sprinters Jack Hepple and David Storey were in dominant form.
Hepple easily won both the 100m and 200m events with respective clockings of 10.9s and an excellent 22.2s.
Meanwhile, Storey duly obliged for maximum points in the B-races by comfortably winning in 11.7s, and 24.3s.
Both were also instrumental in their 4 x 100m squad’s relay victory in 47.5s later on in the match.
Added assistance came from Under 17 youngster Jamie Warburton, who was making his Northern League Senior debut, and Team Manager John Thompson.
While the Morpeth Male sprinters were dominant, their middle distance and distance specialists also played their part, forcing three double-string victories in the 800m, 1500m and 5000m events, only losing out in the 3000m steeplechase, having no athlete to take on the seven-and-a-half laps of barriers.
The incessant rain continued to prevail, however that did nothing to dampen the spirits of Ryan Green, Lewis Timmins, Ryan Stephenson, Nathan Cox, Ade Whitwam, and Elliot Kelly, who between them pulled off three magnificent double-string victories.
Green won a separately run Men’s 800m A-race in 2m00.2s, with Timmins clearly taking the B-event in 2m02.2s.
Stephenson ran an excellent 4m07.7s to win the A-race of the 1500m and Cox hung on to his shirt tails throughout, to win the B-race in an equally excellent 4m09.0s.
Whitwam was a clear winner of the 5000m A-race in a superb 15m17.6s,and only the force of North Shields Poly’s Scott Ellis prevented another Morpeth one-two, with Kelly coming home third in a new personal best of 16m15.7s to take the B-race in third place overall.
The Morpeth Harriers Field event contribution was dominated by the Appleby brothers, Steven and Paul.
Their best results came in the discus and shot events, where the pair achieved two double-string victories.
Steven took the discus event with his best throw of 30.90m, which was a good eight metres clear of his A-string rival.
The closest of all to him was brother Paul, who took the B-string with a best of 27.10m, which was nearly seven metres clear of his closest rival.
Appleby honours were reversed in the shot, with Paul taking the A-string with his best putt of 8.95m, which was only a mere centimetre ahead of his closest rival, and Steven took the B-string with 7.50m.
The pair teamed up in the hammer, Paul finishing third in the A-string with 24.52m and Steven taking second in the B-string with 20.86m.
Steven also backed John Thompson up in the javelin by finishing fifth in the B-string with 13.16m, while Thompson threw a best of 29.88m to clinch third A-string spot.
Thompson also finished fifth in the triple jump (9.50m) and won the long jump B-string with 5.02m, backing up debutant Jamie Warburton’s A-string effort of 5.04m, which gave him third place.
Warburton also cleared 1.50m to finish fourth in the high jump.
Lewis Timmins, Ryan Stephenson, Ade Whitwam and Elliot Kelly teamed up to bring Morpeth Harriers 4 x 400m relay squad home in fourth place in 3m51.9s.
On to the Women’s events, where Morpeth Harriers achieved no less than five A-string victories, four of them belonged to thrower Claire Reid, six B-string successes, plus an excellent 4 x100m relay victory, amidst a host of other good supporting performances.
Sprinters Beth Laidler and Megan Deakin nearly pulled off two double-string victories.
In the 100m, Laidler took second place in the A-string in 13.5s and was well backed up by Deakin’s excellent B-string win in 13.4s.
Deakin won an excellent 200m A-race in 27.2s, while Laidler took the B-race in 27.9s.
In the 800m and 1500m events, Under 17 athlete Abby Sheldon finished as third and second A-string in respective times of 2m25.1s, and 5m24.3s.
Fellow Under 17 athlete Lauren Eadington backed Sheldon up well by taking the 800m B-race in 2m41.9s and Under 20 athlete Hannah Sheerin duly obliged by winning the 1500m B-race in 5m39.9s.
Eva De Boer finished second in the 400m A-race in 68.5s and Kate Chapman was fifth in the B-string event in 84.2s.
Chapman also won the 3000m B-race in 12m29.8s, backing up Charlotte Jewell’s sterling A-race performance, in finishing second in 11m58.5s.
While the rain teemed relentlessly, Morpeth Harrier Claire Reid produced a true five-star performance in the field events.
Winning no less than four A-string events, she was really the power performer of the match.
Her wins were clearly outstanding, with her 31.31m in the discus proving to be her best margin of all.
17.13m by Houghton’s Laura Fenwick was the closest performance to her and Morpeth’s Kirsty Lang’s 15.21m proved to be good for second B-string placing.
Reid nearly matched up her discus effort in the hammer, where her best of 29.47m clearly won the day.
She went on to throw 18.27m to win the javelin, which was well backed up by Under 17 athlete Abby Sheldon’s 18.15m, which saw her take the B-string to effectively seal a Morpeth Harriers double victory.
Reid and Lang also teamed up in the shot, with Reid taking the A-string with her best of 9.86m.
Lang was only fractionally away from creating another club double, when putting 5.43m for second B-string placing.
Not content with winning four A string throwing events, Reid also showed her good team spirit by jumping 2.22m to finish fourth in the long jump B, backing up Charlotte Jewell’s 3.25m in the A-string, which gave her sixth place.
Kirsty Lang was never far away in the pecking order, when she cleared 1.45m, to finish as second equal in the high jump.
Sprinters Beth Laidler and Megan Deakin showed that despite the increased deterioration of the weather conditions, their spirits were never fully dampened, and good earlier sprint form was maintained throughout, joining forces with Eva De Boer and Kirsty Lang to pull off a truly excellent Morpeth Harriers Women’s 4 x100m relay victory in 54.1s.
In the Women’s 4 x400m relay, Hannah Sheerin, Abby Sheldon, Kate Chapman and De Boer combined well to finish second to North Shields Poly in a time of 4m52.3s.
Although Morpeth Harriers just missed out on a match victory, they can take heart from the fact that after two matches, at the halfway stage of the programme, they still remain league leaders and by a clear four league points.
In second place are North Shields Poly, who share seven league points with three other clubs, namely Wallsend/Blyth, Houghton, and Heaton/Tyne Bridge.
Chester-le-Street are in sixth place and seem doomed to relegation.
Barring absolute disaster, with two matches remaining, promotion to Division 2 for next year looks a distinct possibility for Morpeth Harriers, which would be a very welcome outcome for them and for their increasing band of young talents, along with their hardworking Team Managers, plus supporting coaches.
Final match result: 1st North Shields Poly 378.5pts, 2nd Morpeth Harriers 369.5pts, 3rd Heaton Harriers/Tyne Bridge 309pts, 4th Wallsend/Blyth 281pts, 5th Houghton Harriers 276pts, 6th Chester-le-Street 234pts.
A record number of 110 participants took part in Sunday’s annual Morpeth Fair Day Fun Run, which was started by the Mayor of Morpeth, Coun Nic Best, just under the Clock Tower at 10.15am.
Run organisers Morpeth Harriers reported an increase in turn-out by 31 runners, who each received a goody bag for their efforts, plus a signed certificate from the legendary Commonwealth Games Marathon Gold Medallist Jim Alder, currently celebrating the 48th anniversary of his memorable victory in Kingston, Jamaica.
The event, which followed a course down Bridge Street, over the footbridge near the Joiner’s Arms and through the main gates of Carlisle Park, returning to Oldgate Bridge via the promenade, into Oldgate itself and finishing just underneath the Clock Tower (approximately 1 mile), was held for children School Year 8 and below.
First home was Year 8 pupil Joe Dowd, who attends New Minster and is also an established Under 15 Morpeth Harriers Boy athlete.
Joe clocked an excellent time of 5m20s, which was just outside the 2013 winning time.
Second place went to another New Minster pupil Ben Forster, who clocked 5m36s.
In third place was a much younger pupil, Bobby Stone, who attends Amble First School and is in Year 5.
He is also a Morpeth Harrier and he clocked 5m57s.
The first Girl finisher was Rhiannon Hedley, who is a Year 5 pupil, and also a Morpeth Harrier, and she was fifth overall in 5m58s.
Finishing 27th overall, the second Girl finisher was Chantry Year 8 pupil Katherine Shaw who clocked 7m04s.
Third Girl home was Warkworth Year 4 pupil Samantha Potts, who finished 30th overall in 7m14s.
Morpeth Chamber of Trade are to be thanked for the backing of the event.
Thanks also go to the Mayor for his attendance, and to Ladbrokes bookmakers, and Morrisons supermarkets for supplying the goody bags to all participants.
Full results of the event can be found on Morpeth Harriers website, on www.morpethharriers.freeservers.com