Unity is Strength: 2003 in Perspective.
doesn't seem a year since the quartet of Dave Forrester, Mike Burke,
Mike Ehlen and Ben Clough shocked other clubs on Merseyside by
winning the county under 13 title cross country team title, albeit
on the narrowest of margins. Our delight was shared by County
President Ramsay Hewson (Wallasey) who remembered the club's
previous title in 1978 but not by some other clubs.
of subsequent medals in the Northern and National were dashed when
injury, illness and absences cost us third place in the Northern at
Heaton Park, in which Dave Forrester finished fourth (our best
individual result for a decade) and the team sixth. In the National
we were the first Merseyside team to finish taking a creditable
eighth place in an event in which experience was lacking on the day
but gained for future years.
Our seniors finished teams
in all the championships, the Northern thanks to a courageous run by
Julia Eccleston who, having been confined to bed all week with 'flu,
insisted on taking part. The National provided a great backdrop to a
weekend away with all age groups enjoying conviviality, brilliant
accommodation and lessons on taking the train.
ladies triumphed in the Nick Beer 10k at Llandudno, our
winning team of Louise Casey, Cecilia Fitzsimons and Chris Dempsey
providing the smallest winning trio in living memory, not one above
5ft tall. It wasn't their only team prize of the year, Louise Casey, ZoŽ Strong, Julia Eccleston and
Pam Appleton taking
second place at the Salford Women's 5. There was such a good
response to the women's unofficial road race championship that it
was decided to award prizes to the overall winner and the best
newcomer. In May no fewer than 16 club members completed the
Liverpool Women's 10k. Most have since bought club vests to
celebrate their achievement.
The club's first road race
not without its problems, including the timekeepers rushing off to
another event with the finishing positions(!) but the organisation
was superb thanks to the pre-race work and the number of people who
turned up on a sunny Sunday in March to ensure it was a success. Numbers were
small but there was a near British veterans record and we gained ZoŽ
Strong and Ally Young as new members as a result. Many thanks are
due to aimbec ltd., for their sponsorship which met the statutory
costs of closing the park.
The track and field season was
outstanding. In the senior leagues the club faced tough opposition
but managed to come through safely, discovering new talents along
the way including the ability of our girls to spot a ringer when
they see one. Officials who were sunburnt at Lancaster in June
and drowned at Blackburn the following day will not forget the
weekend in a hurry. The closeness of the results showed just how
much team spirit was present throughout the season as our depleted
number of female athletes tackled everything and topped off the
afternoon with a never to be forgotten 4x400 veterans relay team. As
a club we supported the move to a joint scoring League and will
compete as such in 2004.
We won the Young Athletes
League, scoring more points than all but two other clubs in the
entire country, even topping the 600 points barrier at Crewe.
strength in depth prompted an application to join the National
Junior League for 2004. Dave Forrester earned a silver medal in the
Northern Under 15 3000 metres, our first this century while we
collected our best haul of medals at the county championships for
Caroline Morley set the ball rolling in
March when she established a new club 300 metres record, the first
of 100 new track and field marks set during the year. This
underlying quality earned over a dozen club members places in the
2004 Northern Junior Championships.
It was a pleasure to
welcome back into membership Laura Davenport, Kate Sheffield and
others we had not seen for some while, Laura quickly establishing
new club records over 800 metres.
None of the Leagues
were complete without a regular supply of officials, including John
Irwin, George Mullineux, Joe Ehlen, Phil Thomas, Dave Morley, Sue
Clague and Dennis Fulton. Roger McCall provided grade
1 expertise on several
occasions. Several parents also assisted as required and others will
be added during 2004 in order to meet the demands of all Leagues in
general and the Young Athletes League in particular.
club turned out teams together in the Northern 12 and 6 stage road relays
for the first time anyone can remember, building on the ladies'
participation in the six stage in 2002. The turn out was repeated in
the Northern 6 and 4 stage races in September with the ladies
adding the National to their repertoire in the latter. One result of
this increased participation was a threefold increase in medals at
the Merseyside road relays. The titles will come
Administrative changes continued in light
of demands on time and resources. Ray Vose, having guided the club
during a major transition in 2002/3, stepped down to concentrate on
coaching. Phil Thomas stepped up as chairman to add to his overall
role in coaching development and organising the club's championships
participation. Julia Hayes continues to combine her roles as Club
Secretary and Joint Team manager of the Cheshire League side with
that of County Secretary. Dave Morley handles League administration
matters in track and field and John Irwin, as ever, keeps a tight
rein on the purse strings.
At the AGM held at the Bull
& Dog Hotel Billy McMinnis was re-elected President.
was confirmed as Chairman and Trevor Prescott (still competing in
the over 70's age group) became our latest life member. The
Committee was strengthened with the addition of Paul Davenport
Denis Fulton. Ben Fisher, who has taken all the club's javelin
records this season, won the Athlete of the Year award with Julia
Eccleston, Claire Newing and Lucy Mitchell amongst the other
St Helens-Sutton A C is more advanced
towards the Clubmark standard than any other Merseyside club.
The club has embraced the philosophy of making ourselves available to all
members of the community and working in close contact with St
Helens MBC and local teachers on the provision, recruitment and
development in athletics. The Primary Schools' Sports Hall Meeting
was an outstanding success. Julia Hayes, Joe Ehlen,
Roseanne Hutchinson and other club leaders have been crucial to real
development in this area. The increasing cooperation between the
Council and the Club was seen in the liaison which took place in the
staging of the St Helens Schools' Trials for the
Merseyside Youth Games in
April and those for the Cross Country Championships in
The club continues to invest in coaching with
the number of qualified coaches rising to three dozen, including
some who specialise in "Children in Athletics". The number of
qualified officials will continue to increase as the rising demands
of the Leagues make an impact (we need 10 for every Young Athletes
League match). We will continue to meet these challenges because we
are united in common objectives for the benefit of the athletes and
We can look forward to 2004 in anticipation of
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