Fechin Mc Cormick

Group shot

Sale Harriers returned to Premiership athletics for the first time in a decade when it won the National League's Championship Cup Final in Bedford last weekend. A memorable weekend packed full of exciting athletics and a fantastic club atmosphere that showcased the club and athletics at its best was undoubtedly the year's highlight!

The journey began in Manchester with the coach bound for Bedford unusually packed with a largely youthful U20 talented and exciting team. In it also were the club's T & F officials, several overseeing coaches and supporting parents like RACHEL Mc HUGH endowed with the responsibility to post live updates and photos on social media. Team managers DAVE MARSH, LUCY EVANS & JAMES BAILEY ensured there were hardly any competitive 'gaps', the blight so often of club success. On the coach Dave's promotional 'battle-cry' was that we must at all costs beat Tonbridge AC. With Crawley AC and Chelmsford AC already assured of promotion, Tonbridge was likely to be Sale's nemesis.

The team packed out the Holiday Inn for the overnight stay and Sale Harriers team spirit was at its best in the evening as many gathered around the foyer's telly to cheer on Aimee Pratt to a medal in the European Championships 3000m steeplechase.

The day's early announcements that echoed across the Bedford track to the throws field beyond proclaimed Sale Harriers were already in the lead. By mid-day the updates were of a 17 point lead over Chelmsford and Crawley. More to the point, Tonbridge AC were languishing in 4th . It was thanks to magnificent early top three performances from the likes of WILLIAM SCHOFIELD (Discus), SAMUEL EBONINE (Long Jump with a PB), MADDISON VERNON, SASHA BYROM & LAURE KIDUKULA (Sprints), ALEX BRADFORD (3000    m S/C), STEPHANIE JONES (Long Jump), HERMIONE MASON (400m Hurdles), DAVE PROCTOR (800m), ADETOMIWA OLADITI (800m), IZZY BURKE (800m), JACOB LINGARD (400m PB) and especially the maximum points scored by ELLISE FRYER-FRANCIS with a PB in the Long Jump and who competed in several other events, SHAUNNA THOMPSON's win in the Shot, KAMEL BENISSAD in the Discus, TESS Mc HUGH in the 400m Hurdles, NICHOLAS WALSH in the 100m, and sprinter MIA GIBBONS, who'd stepped in to the 800m at short notice despite not having run the distance for four years, and went and won it surprising even herself. Everyone scored priceless points - JASMINE RICHARDSON (Hammer), ALEX JAMES (3rd in the1500m B race), CAMERON DUFF (400m), ROBBIE RIGBY (3000m), SHONA WILKINSON (Pole Vault), TATENDA TSUMBA (100m) and RACHEL PUGH (Discus & Hammer) who'd travelled all the way from Inverness in Scotland.

Through the afternoon Sale Harriers looked like Cup winners and a near certainty for promotion to the top flight of athletics as repeated announcements proclaimed the club to be in the lead with Tonbridge in 4th place. Victories and top three places just kept coming from the likes of BLAKE TIGER-LEE BROWN and MARCUS Mc CLEAN in the 200m, JASMINE RICHARDSON in the Hammer, ELLISE FRYER-FRANCIS and STEPHANIE JONES in the long jump, SEUN OKOME in the triple jump, MEGAN DAVIES in the 3000m, LAURE KIDIKULA in the 400m, MARCUS Mc CLEAN in the 200m, HARRY LORD & KAMAL BENISSAD in the Shot, ANNABEL AMADIN in the Discus, ROSIE SEMENYTSH (Javelin), ANDY ASHURST (Pole Vault), BEN BRUNSWICK (1500m), SAM EBONINE and TOLU ADEJEMI (High Jump both got PBs), BETHANY WOODHEAD (High Jump), People like OLIVIA RUSSELL & OLIVIA NOLAN (2000m S/C) ran their hearts out to lifetime best performances and even many of those disappointed with their performances like PHIL ROBERTSON and ROBBIE RIGBY (3000m), SARAH GOULDEN (3000m), GEORGIA HEATH (1500m) it was often because they were prepared to 'die' in pursuit of their Tonbridge rival.

Pole Vaulter SOPHIE ASHURST, who'd easily won her competition, was still trying for a PB when the victorious team gathered for a team photo with the Championship Cup held aloft. No way could it be taken without the club's stalwart champion and World's U20 sixth placer from the recent Championships in Colombia, so the team waited and rallied onto the track to cheer and clap her attempts for a PB. The scene captured Sale Harriers finest team spirit!

For every T & F event, club's must a quota of officials. AYO SHONIBARE, FRANK CORDINGLEY, FECHIN Mc CORMICK, IAN SCHOFIELD, BRIAN GOULDEN and JAMES BAILEY were the club's, who were awarded the maximum forty-five points towards the overall team result and also massively contributed to the day's victory and club promotion.

Well done to everyone both on the day, and who were part of the journey, especially the team managers. Wait and see the numbers who'll now want to join Sale Harriers to be associated with a Premier Division club!

See also NAL report here.