Morpeth Harriers senior Track and Field team were in league action for the first time since 2019 on Saturday when they competed in their opening Northern Athletics match at Middlesbrough Sports Village.
From this year, all clubs compete regionally, and the Northumbrian squad were beginning their new life in the North East Premier League.
They lined up against match hosts Middlesbrough AC (Mandale), Gateshead Harriers, New Marske Harriers, North Shields Poly, and a combined team of Wallsend Harriers and Blyth Running Club.
Although only two of the clubs - Gateshead and New Marske - had seen any league action in the last two years as a result of the pandemic, most clubs experienced a much-weakened turnout. This included Morpeth who, on the day, managed to finish fourth, a good 158 points adrift of match winners Gateshead. New Marske finished second and the hosts third only thirteen points ahead of Morpeth.
Although they were lacking strength, those that did turn out for Morpeth on the day, gave their all in pursuit of points.
None more so on the men’s side, than Alistair Douglass, who competed in three track events, and three field events.
His best result came in the men’s 400m A Race, where he finished fourth in 53.1s, just a mere second adrift of his personal best.
Also on the track, he finished fourth in the 100m B Race, clocking 12.9s, the first time he had done the sprint event, plus a first outing in the B 200m (25.4s).
On the field, Douglass competed in the Shot Putt A, producing 6.19m, Discus A (20.75m), and Javelin B (12.24m).
There were some excellent men’s track results coming from the 800m, 1500m and 5000m.
In the 800m, Sam Hancox finished second in the A Race in 2m06.2s, and Under 17 athlete Liam Roche, making his Senior debut, won the B Race in 2m10.0s.
A little later, Hancox lined up in the 1500m A race, finishing third in 4m06.9s, and Under 23 athlete Connor Marshall took the B Race in 4m20.1s.
In the 5000m, Adam Pratt finished second in the A Race in 15m56s, the first time he had tackled the distance on the track, and an injured Jordan Scott battled on to take the B Race in 16m53.2s.
Making his Senior debut, Under 17 sprinter Evan Logan performed well to finish fourth in the 100m A Race in 12.2s, and also fourth in the 200m A Race in 24.1s, the 100m being a new personal best, and the 200m, being only a whisker away from a personal best.
Morpeth’s other male athlete in action was Mark Snowball, who finished fourth in the B 400m in 64.7s, a new personal best, and third in the 3000m Steeplechase (11m23.1s).
After fourteen years away seeking higher competition with Trafford AC, it was good to see Nisha Desai back in action in the blue and white vest of Morpeth.
In all of that, it was also good to see her make her mark as quickly as the first women’s track event, when she won the 400m Hurdles in 63.0s.
Desai certainly had a zest for hard work, as she finished second in the A Race of the 400m in 61.2s, third in the A Race of the 200m in 27.3s, second in the B Triple Jump (9.88m), third in the B Shot Putt (6.16m), and added to this she lined up in the 4 x100m, where Morpeth finished third in 55.5s, and in the Morpeth 4 x 400m, where the club also finished third in 4m42.5s.
Another hardworking Morpeth athlete was Charlotte Earl.
The under 20 athlete finished second in the Triple Jump A Event, producing a best effort of 10.76m, only losing out for victory by 11cm.
Earl cleared 1.30m, to finish fourth in the A String High Jump, and 4.54m, to finish third in the A String Long Jump.
She finished fifth in the 100m A race in 14.0s.
Rachelle Falloon finished third in the A String 3000m in 11m20.4s, and Claire Calverley was second B String in 12m57.2s.
Making her Northern League debut, Under 20 athlete Kate Gaffing finished fourth in the A String 800m in 2m43.3s, a new personal best performance.
Morpeth Veteran thrower Claire Reid, finished third in the A String Shot Putt (9.19m), and third in the A String Hammer (25.35m).
In the B String Hammer, Morpeth team manager Vina Desai finished third, producing a best of 14.18m, and she finished sixth in the A String Discus, producing a best of 13.01m, her first ever Discus performance.
In the Javelin, Under 20 athlete Abby Ross threw 11.46m to finish fifth A String, her first ever effort in the event, and Laura Kincaid threw 3.84m in the B String to finish fifth, also her first ever attempt with the implement.
Ross also finished second in the B String High Jump with her clearance of 1.25m, again, her first ever time in the event.
In the B String Long Jump, Ross finished second with 4.39m.
She also placed fourth in the B String 200m, clocking 30.2s.
Laura Kincaid rounded off an excellent day’s work by finishing fifth in the B String 100m in 14.9s, and fourth in the B String 400m with 71.3s.
All in all, it was a sterling effort by all who turned out on the day, however if the club’s position is to be improved upon, it will take more effort from within, and the club’s coaches will need to be more proactive in getting their athletes to make more commitment to the club in competition terms.
The next Northern League match will be held, again at Middlesbrough on Sunday 6 June, followed by match 3 at Whitley Bay on Sunday 4 July, with the final match being the home fixture at Morpeth on Sunday 1 August.
All that the club is asking for is for a little more support to be given to the athletes who have, and already made commitment, in order for the club to maintain a respectable position ongoing.