2002: That was the Year That Was
2002 will be remembered as the year in which St Helens-Sutton laid the
foundations for its later success both on the field of competition and off
it. The election of Ray Vose
as Chairman, heading a committed and unified team with united objectives, strategy and
development, represented a new departure for the club.
Many of the club's objectives were achieved during the first
season. The men's and women's track and field teams were each promoted
to higher divisions The club held its own in the Cheshire League and, in
their last season as separate teams, the Boys' and Girls' each finished
third in their respective Young Athletes' Leagues. From 2003
onwards it is our performances as a club which will determine our status,
not that of its constituent parts.
At the outset of the year the club had 22 (18 males and 4 females) athletes
taking part in the county cross country championships with Mike Burke winning a
silver medal and veterans Cecilia Fitzsimons & Pam Appleton collecting
silver and bronze respectively. Mike also won a county vest while Louise Casey
a late invitation to compete for the team which had been decimated by
withdrawals. At the end of the year end the club entered 43 competitiors
(25 males and
18 females) in the 2003 Merseyside event.
The club has also doubled its
Cheshire entry by 100%.In 2002 Jodi Nelson earned a place in the County
team and is looking to repat the performance alongside David Twigg who
announced his presence in the middle of 2002 with a new club record in the under
15 Boys' 1500 metres.
During the year numbers increased in the younger age groups with the Under
13 Boys' and Girls' teams winning medals at the
Merseyside County Road Relays in September. Mike Burke, Mike Ehlen, Ben
Clough, Kim Bridge, Lucy Cannon and Sara McLoughlin were the silver
medalists. At the same venue we fielded
three senior ladies' teams with Lyn Webb, Pam Fitzsimons and Louise Casey
taking silver medals.
The club remains committed to its five year programme of development based
on staging an annual primary school cross country meeting in February, raising
the interest of secondary schools later in the year and developing Sports
Hall Athletics in conjunction with the local schools and St Helens M.B.C.
Our development plan is being written to
dovetail with the Council's primary objectives for the good of the town as
a whole.Our schools' liaision officer, Terry Arnold, plays a vital part
is maintaining the link with the local authority, schools and the next
generation of athletes.
Five members took part in the Merseyside Track and Field championships.
Mike Burke set the agenda for everyone by a winning the 1500 metres
title and taking bronze in the 800 metres. There were bronze medals too for
Jessica Cretu (150m), Steve Mayers (800m) and Louise Casey (3000m). Our
other competitor, Barry Cunliffe, reached the final of the 1500 metres.
Five competitors, five medals. This is the start of something big. In
particular, the coaching staff were able to identify why so few members
were prepared for the County event and have taken action to triple the
number taking part in 2003.
Mike made the County and County Schools'cross country teams and was later
joined in representative honours by Mike Ehlen who represented
Merseyside Schools' at Coventry. County cross country honours were denied to Mark
Laithwaite & Tony Smith by an opaque selection system which was changed
following representations. Jon Calder competed for the County team on the
track and at the end of the year Gill Bacon was invited to represent the
Northern Counties on cross country but was prevented from doing so because
The veteran ladies' team of Cecilia Fitzsimons, Janet Holmes and Pauline
Picton took the silver medals at the Northern Veterans' cross country
championships held in conjunction with the Yorkshire event. Plans are afoot
to repeat the performance in 2003. In addition, the club has been asked to
stage the Northern Veterans' Track and Field Championships in May which we
are hoping will produce increased participation by - and additional medals
for - our members to add to Andy O'Connor's 1500 metres victory.
Under the leadership of Sue Clague, 10 new club coaches passed their Level 1
coaching examinations and most will be going on to take level 2
during 2003. Ten members took officials'examinations. To achieve its
aims the club has been able to apply for funds with which we hope to
increase the number, quality and grading of our coaches. In addition, we
hope our actions will also assist in the upgrading of the track so we can
stage matches for local schools and fulfil our wider league commitments.
The club's new status was demonstrated by the Northern Counties'
decision to stage their annual cross-country championships at Sherdley Park
in January 2004. Before then the club will be holding its first road race
for many years at the same venue with events for men and women on 16 March
With Ray Vose elected as a County selector and Julia Hayes County
Secretary the Club now has a voice in the running of athletics in
Merseyside. Major changes were made in the running of Sports Hall Athletics,
integrating this very important activity into the
overall development plan in November. With effect from 2003 the club will
actively compete in the Sports Hall Athletics League.
The club rejected calls to impose additional financial burdens on regularly
attending members but showed it was receptive to change. In a radical move
it reduced annual membership fees to take account of the area of social
deprivation in which we are situated. Individual members took upon themselves
the responsibility of paying entry fees for Championship races in order to
lift the burden on club finances.
Membership has risen and plans have been put in place for future
recruitment by the development of closer links with local schools and the
implementation of plans for the progression of individual athletes into
skill groups commensurate with their abilities and requirements. Retention
has been outstanding with only two resignations from athletes, both for
non-club reasons, and some memberships terminated. Pam Appleton's
first task when elected membership secretary was to create a new
The club's commitment to progressive change was demonstrated by the
adoption of a new constitution which embodied equal opportunities for all.
Several new members joined the Committee including Phil Robinson and Sue Clague. They
added new skills
to supplement the experience of Dave Morley, Alan Geraghty.
Treasurer John Irwin, Secretary Julia Hayes, Janet Holmes, Pam Appleton and Ray
who has become a popular chairman.
New people have come on board. In addition to the team managers'
roles played by Dave Morley, John Irwin and Phil Thomas, new managers have
emerged. Danny McLoughlin, Julia Hayes, Joe Ehlen and Sue Clague took
on specific managerial tasks in 2002 and will become increasing involved,
with others, during 2003.
This year also saw the participation of former members of Sutton Harriers
who returned to the sport after decades of absence. Lyn Webb (Vose) & Sue
Clague (Woods), both members of the 1979 Girls' team which won the
cross Country title came back and competed for the club. Chris Dempsey,
Merseyside Champion over 3000 metres at both walking and running, made her
debut as a veteran. Sue Lowrie (Crompton) was an integral part of our track
and field league team while Gill Bacon was our track and field athlete of
the year. Wayne Joyce showed he had lost none of his natural talent when
representing the club in the League matches while the club attracted a
number of second claim members who boosted our competitive ranks.
The Website was established in June 2002 and has become an increasingly
important medium of communication between the club and its membership,
although face-to-face contact remains our main focus. The site stands well
in comparison with those of other clubs, acting as an historical record
(which will be extended, in time, to include the club's history and
pre-history) and an avenue of information for all current and previous club
members. Phil Thomas and Joe Ehlen have formed an excellent working
partnership which sees the site updated almost on a daily basis.
No one will forget the impact that the loss of Rebecca
Clague had on the club. The loss of a young life, in such tragic
circumstances, put athletics and the pleasure we derive from it, into
proper perspective. Sue, Peter and Stephen remain constantly in our
thoughts, families remain the cornerstone of our lives and love is the real
meaning of life.
2003 will see St Helens-Sutton A C progressing in all spheres of athletics
and running thanks to the enthusiasm of athletes, parents and committee
members alike, united in their vision of a decade of progress based on
solidarity, quality performance and a policy which welcomes all who share
our vision for the future of athletics in St Helens.
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