Morpeth Harriers & AC hosted the fourth and final North East Youth Development (NEYDL) Division 1 fixture at the KEVI Track on Saturday 17 July, on what was a bright, sunny, and very warm day.
Although it was the fourth fixture it was only the third in reality, as the first fixture in April at Churchill Playing Fields had been cancelled, mainly due to the more stringent Covid restrictions in operation at the time, rendering the competition licence inoperable.
As a result of that, the NEYDL executive committee decided to abandon the usual principle of promotion and relegation for the highest and lowest finishing clubs.
Perhaps it was all just as well, because disappointingly, Morpeth Harriers' band of young athletes would have otherwise been relegated for the first time since the league’s inception, having previously on all occasions being either league champions or serious contenders.
Harrogate Harriers carried off the Division 1 trophy this time, despite losing out on the day narrowly to North Shields Poly; having won the other two matches, the Yorkshire outfit always looked favourites to triumph.
The fact that Morpeth finished fifth was a bitter disappointment to team managers Mark Brown (Boys) and Vina Desai (Girls), who despite their hard work, could only muster 27 athletes between them to the event, which meant inevitably that the club would find it hard to escape their lowly standing.
The club had been blighted by a number of issues, the most prevalent being the fact that several of the club’s athletes were being forced to isolate, after being pinged by the NHS Track and Trace system in the week beforehand.
Nevertheless, the Morpeth athletes who did participate did their level best to maintain respectability in the end result.
There were a number of notable performances from Morpeth, including some personal bests, and four A String wins from Toby Marr (Under 13 Boys), Joseph Close (Under 15 Boys), Amelia Hamlin (Under 15 Girls), and Abi Leiper (Under 17 Women).
Marr, won the Under 13 Boys 75m Hurdles in a close race with Harrogate’s Gabriel Roberts, where both were accorded the same time of 16.5s, but Marr was given the nod in the judges room for his excellent win in a new personal best time.
Toby was one of only two Morpeth Under 13 Boys in action, the other being Kyle Phillips, whose best on the day performance, was his third place in the 100m, achieving new figures of 15.5s.
Phillips and Marr competed together in the Long Jump, where they finished fifth and third respectively in the A and B Strings, with performances of 3.25m and 3.22m.
Marr did the Javelin for the first time, finishing fourth in the A String with a best effort of 12.41m, and Phillips competed in the Shot Putt, also for the first time, achieving a best distance of 5.66m, giving him fourth place in the A String.
Morpeth’s Joseph Close proved to be a very clear winner of the Under 15 Boys 800m, posting a time of 2m10.60s, which was around one second adrift of his personal best.
In the B Race. Morpeth’s Elliot Mavir finished second, just losing out to Darlington/Allerton’s Elwood Kelley, both posting times of 2m20.20s, which for Mavir was a new personal best.
Also competing in the 800m for Morpeth was Ollie Calvert, who posted new figures of 2m26.10s.
Close set new figures of 43.7s, when finishing third in the A Race of the 300m.
Noah Thomas-Harrison finished third in the B Race, posting a finishing time of 55.7s.
In the Under 15 Boys 1500m, Oliver Tomlinson, who is gently working his way back following a heel injury, finished third in the A Race in 4m52.90s, and had B Race backing from newcomer Steven Craske, who posted a time of 5m48.90s, when finishing second.
Another Morpeth runner competing in the 1500m was Noah Thomas-Harrison, who posted a finishing time of 5m56.10s.
The Under 15 Boys sprint specialists also battled hard to add to the Morpeth points score.
In the A Races of the 100m and 200m, Conner Phillips recorded respective personal bests of 12.5s and 25.6s, when finishing third and fourth.
Morpeth’s Harrison Scott finished third in the both the 100m and 200m B races, in respective times of 13.1s, and 27.5s, the latter being a new personal best.
Steven Craske and Elliot Mavir also competed for Morpeth in the 100m and 200m, posting times of 14.8s and 27.9s, the latter being a new personal best performance.
Morpeth’s Under 15 Boys were the clubs only age group to be able to field a team in the 4 x 100m Relay events, and they finished fourth in 55.0s.
On to the Under 15 Boys Field events, where a number of personal bests were achieved by Morpeth athletes.
Harrison Scott set new figures of 4.27m, when finishing third in the A String Long Jump.
Good points came Morpeth’s way in the Discus, where Oliver Tomlinson finished second in the A String, producing new figures of 13.66m, and Ollie Calvert threw the 1.25k implement for the first time, producing a performance of 11.18m.
Conner Phillips added to his track personal bests, by achieving a personal best in the A String Shot Putt, where he finished second with 6.35m.
Oliver Tomlinson also produced a personal best in the B String Shot Putt, where he finished second with 4.74m.
Noah Thomas-Harrison and Steven Craske were first timers in the Under 15 Boys Javelin.
Noah threw 13.63m for third place in the A String, and Steven won the B String with 11.86m
Team Manager Brown experienced a big loss of manpower in his Under 17 Men’s section, with some of his better squad members having to sit the fixture out due to isolation requests.
In the end, he only had four athletes to call upon, so a good result would be hard to find.
Nevertheless, the quartet did give him the best support they could muster.
Cameron Mullarkey very nearly offered him A String wins in both the 400m and 800m, however he was only narrowly beaten in both cases by Harrogate athletes.
Mullarkey’s times of 57.7s, and 2m16.10s, were fairly respectable.
Backing Mullarkey in the B Races was Adam Howliston.
Howliston won the 400m, which he was running for the first time, clocking 62.2s, and he also won the 800m B Race in a new personal best time of 2m23.30s.
In the 100m, specialist sprinter Evan Logan produced a personal best time of 11.6s when finishing third, and in the 200m, he equalled his personal best of 24.0s when also finishing third.
Logan was Morpeth’s sole Under 17 Man Field Eventer, doing the Triple Jump for the first time ever, finishing second with 12.15m.
Morpeth’s only remaining Under 17 Man in action was Ryan Davies, who despite running an attacking race, finished second in the 1500m, posting a time of 4m30.90s, only beaten in the final strides by a strong Harrogate performer.
Vina Desai had 13 female athletes to choose from, with the biggest strength in number coming from the Under 13 Girls.
However, in performance terms, the best performances came from Amelia Hamlin in the Under 15 Girls, and Abi Leiper in the Under 17 Women.
Producing a personal best time of 2m28.30s, Hamlin took the 800m race by scruff of the neck with 200m remaining, to take a handsome victory marginally from Lauren Creaby of Blyth/Alnwick.
Hamlin also ran an excellent race in the 300m, finishing second in a personal best time of 45.3s
She also gained more points for the squad when finishing fifth in the A String Long Jump, producing a personal best performance of 3.54m.
Backing up for Morpeth in the B String competition was Freya Caygill, who placed fifth, also with a personal best performance of 3.51m.
Caygill was more at home however in the 100m and 200m, where she finished third and second respectively, with personal best performances of 12.8s and 26.5s.
Keira Peck and Tosin Obishai were the Morpeth Harriers representatives in the Under 15 Girls Throws events.
In the Javelin, for the first time throwing the 500g implement, Peck finished fourth in the A String with a best of 17.83m, and Obishai finished third in the B String, with a new personal best of 9.96m.
In the Discus A String, Peck also used the 1k weight for the first time, throwing 23.65m for fifth place, and Obishai again produced personal best figures of 12.77m for second place in the B String.
Obishai also Putted 5.39m for the A String Shot Putt, in which she was competing for the first time.
One of Morpeth’s best results of the day came in the Under 17 Women’s 800m, where the club secured a double victory, when Abi Leiper took the A Race in 2m25.80s, and Caitlin Flanagan took the B Race in 2m36.40s.
Ellie Wickens finished third in the Under 17 Women's 200m in 28.6s, and she produced a personal best performance of 16.66s, when finishing fourth in the A String Javelin.
Backing Wickens up in the B String Javelin for Morpeth was Sadie Charlton, who finished second with a best of 7.62m.
Charlton also competed in the A String Discus (9.85m), and Shot Putt (6.15m), where she finished third and fourth, respectively.
Desai had five athletes at her disposal in the Under 13 Girls section, and the best points haul here came in the Discus where Emma Tomlinson finished second in the A String (8.24m), and Molly Roche won the B String with 5.69m.
These two also did well on the track in the 800m, where Tomlinson finished fourth in the A String in 2m50.8s, and Roche finished third in the B String in 2m55.9s.
Roche produced a personal best performance of 16.3s, when finishing fifth in the 70m Hurdles.
Charlotte Marshall finished third in the 1500m in 6m51.50s.
Hannah Foggon and Esme Thomas-Harrison teamed up for Morpeth, in both the 100m and 200m, and also in the Long Jump.
First timer Foggon was sixth in the A Races of both the 100m and 200m, posting respective times of 17.1s and 39.7s.
Thomas-Harrison was also sixth in both respective B races, clocking a personal best of 17.7s, and 39.8s
In the Long Jump, Foggon finished sixth in the A String (2.52m), and Thomas-Harrison was fourth in the B String with 2.34m.
That was the concluding chapter in a disappointing season for Morpeth’s young athletes, and team managers will seek to build up strengths for next season, hopefully restriction free.
The Ccub would like to thank all members, parents, and friends who gave their time to help on the day.
MATCH SCORE (Subject to Scrutiny )
1st North Shields Poly 594pts, 2nd Harrogate 579pts, 3rd Gateshead Harriers 535pts, 4th Darlington/Allerton 449pts, 5th Morpeth Harriers 432pts, 6th Blyth/Alnwick 324pts.