A quiet corner of Manchester certainly became very much alive
at approximately 12.50pm on Sunday 23rd September 2018,
when the diminutive frame of Dylan Davies brought Morpeth Harriers Under 15 Boys home
to an excellent set of Gold Team medals in their 3 x 3.1k Relay, in the annual
Northern Athletics Autumn Road Relay Championships, held at Sport City,
next to the Etihad Stadium, home of Premiership Champions Manchester City.
An excellent first leg clocking of 11m33s by Ben Waterfield, saw him sitting in eighth spot,
however he was only a mere ten seconds adrift of a medal placing,
and only eighteen seconds adrift of early leaders, and local North Eastern rivals
North Shields Poly, courtesy of Josh Blevins, who clocked what was eventually
to emerge as the second fastest time of the day.
This mattered nothing to Morpeth’s second leg runner Euan Duffin however,
as he quickly set about clawing back any deficits, to eventually grab an
eleven second margin of lead, over newly second placed Wirral,
with a fastest of the leg clocking of 11m19s, which was eventually
to emerge as third fastest overall on the day.
Duffin, who is his clubs’ newly crowned Under 15 Boys Road Champion,
handed over to final leg runner Davies, who managed to fend off
a new threat from Horwich and Salford, as Wirral slipped back
to fourth, by clocking a sixth fastest leg time of 11m42s,
to take a very satisfying victory by a margin of seven seconds.
Morpeth could also take much pleasure from seeing their Under 15 Boys B team finish 25th of 43 teams
that started the race, posting a total time of 39m00s, four minutes and twenty six seconds adrift
of their winning A team colleagues, courtesy of an excellent first leg run by Dylan Gooding (11m57s),
and very competent performances by Jonny Kidd (13m45s), and Ben Walker (13m18s),
both who are recovering from recent injury problems, who bravely turned out nevertheless
in the cause of their club. In addition to the medal winning performance,
the club enjoyed no fewer than four further top ten performances on the day.
The next best came from their Under 13 Boys squad, who finished fifth, and only a mere thirty-seven seconds adrift of winners City of Sheffield & Dearne, who were retaining the title they won in 2017.
They were actually closer to the Bronze medals, as only a mere six seconds separated them from Sale Harriers.
Joseph Hudspith began a strong Morpeth three-man effort, when coming home
in eleventh place, posting a time of 13m08s.
Second leg runner Ryan Davies, younger brother of Under 15 medallist Dylan,
got them up to fourth with his second leg clocking of 12m18s,
which was seventh fastest on the day, and Bertie Marr clocked
an eighth fastest of the day 12m19s on the final leg, only just
losing out to fellow North East rivals Darlington Harriers in the final strides.
In 2017, Morpeth Harriers Under 17 Men’s squad had won the Gold Medals at the Championships.
On Sunday, with only Daniel Melling remaining from the successful trio this time round,
they finished seventh, missing out on medals by just around a minute.
Melling ran the first leg, posting a time of 12m10s, as he came home in eleventh place.
Second leg runner Rowan Bennett, enjoying his first Northern Championship for Morpeth,
following his early summer transfer from Elswick Harriers, very skilfully moved the squad
up a further two places on leg two, producing the legs sixth fastest time of 12m23s.
Unfortunately, the faster finishers at the head of the field in the final third leg prove
just a little too far ahead for Morpeth’s Tom Balsdon, who himself had managed
to shake off a worrying leg injury to take his place in the squad.
Balsdon’s efforts however, saw him take the squad up to a final placing of seventh,
and only a minute adrift of the minor medals, with his eighth fastest clocking
of the leg of 11m57s, making him his squads fastest performer.
This particular squad may prove to be stronger as the winter progresses,
should older leading lights Daniel Dixon and Ross Charlton, first and second
respectively in their recent club championships, be able to join their colleagues
in the quest for success and medals.
Unfortunately for the club, the pair were away taking part in other athletic competitions on this occasion.
A selection headache for their Team Manager Mike Bateman may be most welcome for once.
Although they are going through some rebuilding processes at the moment,
Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s squad still managed to produce some excellent
performances in their 6 Stage Relay, with each leg being a distance of approximately 6.4k.
Their A team finished an excellent seventh of the 140 teams who faced the starter,
and their B team were 25th, which means that both teams effectively finished
amongst the qualifiers for the English National Relays, due to be held on the
usual course at Sutton Coldfield in two weeks’ time.
Whether the club decide two send two teams remains to be decided,
and Team Manager David Swinburne will make his decision based upon
the likely strengths of squads likely to be at his disposal.
On Sunday things went well, especially after a very good first leg by the A team’s
fastest performer Sam Hancox, who posted an individual time of 19m46s,
which saw him finish fourth, and only a mere sixteen seconds adrift of eventual
Bronze medallists, and early leaders Liverpool Harriers, boosted by the day’s
fastest performer, former English National Cross-Country Champion Charlie Hulson, formerly with Sale Harriers.
Hancox, showed in his performance that he is more than a match for some
of the North’s best athletes, and has a great future in the sport.
Meanwhile Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s B team were led off well by Ross Floyd,
who had his club in 28th place overall with his clocking of 21m11s,
and as third amongst a large number of B teams.
The excellent start, although saw the Morpeth A team slip back to seventh on the
second leg courtesy of Taylor Glover’s 21m20s, still saw them not far adrift of the medals.
Jake Masterman’s excellent 21m19s on the second leg for the Morpeth B team
saw the squad rise to an equally excellent nineteenth, and now second amongst the B teams.
Third leg saw Alex Brown making his Northern Championship debut for Morpeth,
having recently joined from Houghton Harriers.
Brown certainly maintained his club’s interests, as he held seventh place,
and still only a minute outside the medals with his individual clocking of 20m40s,
making him his new clubs’ second fastest performer on the day behind Hancox.
The B team meanwhile slipped three places and were back to third B team courtesy of Phillip Winkler’s 21m52s.
Morpeth Men’s A team fourth leg runner Joe Armstrong clocked 22m04s, as he slipped back to ninth,
as B team runner Andrew Lawrence progressed again to 20th, still holding third place amongst the B teams.
Jordan Scott clocked a superb 20m54s to maintain ninth place on the penultimate leg five
for the Morpeth A team, and Mark Snowball climbed a further place to nineteenth
with his clocking of 22m08s for the Morpeth B team, also holding on to the third B team mantle.
Scott’s time had been the sixth fastest overall on the leg.
Thomas Straughan produced the clubs third fastest time of the day of 20m46s,
which was also the sixth and final legs sixth fastest time, to take the Morpeth A team back
up to very respectable seventh place, also dislodging fellow North East club Tyne Bridge,
who had been a threat to taking Morpeth’s chances of finishing as first from the region.
Meanwhile Morpeth B team final leg runner Graeme Thorpe, battled to finish
25th with a personal clocking of 23m56s, finishing as fourth B team.
The Men’s event was won by Lincoln Wellington, who had led over the final three legs,
with Leeds City finishing second, and Liverpool Harriers, who had never been out
of the top three following Hulson’s opening leg, taking the Bronze medal.
A superb effort also came from the Morpeth Women’s section, who managed to turn out three teams
under the Managership of Helen King, who also very dutifully ferried them, and others down to Manchester.
Their respective squads finished in very respectable 23rd, 53rd, and 82nd places,
out of the 108 squads who started their 4 x 5.4k leg Relay.
The Morpeth Women’s A team, who included new signings Robyn Bennett, and Rachel Falloon
on the opening and final legs progressed from 39th to 23rd over the four performances.
Bennett certainly gave her all as she got around in 23m40s, handing over to second leg runner Gracie Hufton,
who excellently clawed back eight places, with a superb clocking of 24m14s.
Lorna MacDonald moved the squad up a further six places, with a very sound 23m57s on the penultimate third leg, leaving Fallon to provide a very respectable finishing touch of 23rd place, with her clocking of 23m58s.
The Morpeth Women’s B team eventually worked their way through to finish 53rd, and as twelfth B team,
courtesy of Helen King (25m00s), Lindsay Turnbull (27m11s), Jill Bennett, mother of Robyn (27m32s),
and a returning Hannah Rank (25m35s).
Sue Smith (29m01s), an injured Pam Woodcock (31m09s), Cath Young,
making her debut after transferring from Blyth (30m26s), and Lesley Chapman (29m16),
gave their all in ensuring that Morpeth’s Women’s C team finished in a very respectable 82nd place,
and were tenth amongst the finishing C teams.
Currently the Morpeth Women’s squads are going through a rebuilding process,
and are certainly remaining competitive as they do so, and this particular result was indeed most welcome,
and was achieved with a great deal of supportive teamwork by all,
and all looks bright for their future competitive engagements over the forthcoming winter months.
Morpeth’s Under 17 Women, who were without Lily Heaton due to illness,
produced an excellent effort in their 3 x 3.7k contest, that saw them finish eighth,
courtesy of Holly Peck (13m39s), Ella Duffield (15m16s), and Kirsty Duffin,
elder sister of Under 15 Boy Euan (15m42s).
Peck’s time proved to be the eighth equal fastest of the day.
Morpeth’s relatively inexperienced Under 15 Girls squad produced an excellent
team performance to finish 25th of 52 starting teams in their 3 x 3.1k Relay.
Abigail Leaper, who was doubtful earlier in the week because of a troublesome leg injury,
did well in getting around in 13m47s, and Rebecca Bradley had an excellent second leg
when she climbed four places on her clocking of 13m42s.
Olivia Carruthers battled to the final placing as she clocked 15m18s.
The days performances by all certainly epitomised the character and dedication
within the Morpeth Harriers ranks, with Team Managers being very much buoyed
by the tremendous efforts being made by those who competed respectively for them and the club.
A bright future during the forthcoming winter competitions is definitely very much in prospect indeed.
It has come to our attention that this weeks Morpeth Herald report failed to contain any Female performances
from Manchester, even though they were included in the Press Officers sent report.
This unfortunately is down to their editing process, and beyond his, or our control.