Dave Greenwood/ Peter Shaw

The month of January has always been a hectic time to cope for Athletes with Cross Country in mind. There are County Championships, a MACCL fixture and the end of the month is the Northern Championships.

The last decade has given us Snow at Knowsley, a frozen field at Sunderland (which later thawed stranding many cars until a tractor towed them off.), fog at Blackburn, driving rain and hail at Knowsley and finally this year a mild day preceded by a dry week. Remember this year, it can’t last. Athletes who can run Cross Country make great employees- committed, never give up, determined, prepared and ever so slightly bonkers.! Forgive me though I’ve forgotten one important aspect for Sale runners – success.

Senior Men’s Champions for the last three years, Under 13 Champions two years with individual winner in 2019, U20 Women’s Champions the last two years with individual winner in 2018, U15 Girls winners in 2017. Now I’m beginning to sound like ‘Statman’ Fechin. If you are like Nigel Martin, you will have trained for Championships and rarely seen in local races-that’s how it works. Many of the younger members do all they can and the Championships are a step up for them. From all the successes it’s not been all the same people. If someone retires or goes to live somewhere else another steps up to take the mantle. After all our success how would we fare this year?

The U17 Women always begin the day and set the tone. It’s a difficult age, lots of changes and the pressure of exam year at school. We needn’t have worried because Lara Crawford led from the front all the way round and came home first with a fairy comfortable lead. Salford however packed quite well and their strong group took the team title leaving Sale content with Silver.

Pride of place goes to LARA CRAWFORD who won the U17 girl’s race having won silver and bronze in previous championships. Lara teamed up with JESS SPILSBURY, EMILY-KATE HALL and GEORGIA HEATH to finish runners up in the team race.

Next up were the Junior Women, a race with lots of strong individuals such as winner Olivia Mason but not many had a strong team. Although our first counter didn’t come in until 15th the team ran close together and few points separated the medallists, we were only nine points off winning. Bronze medals saw the Sale vest on the podium again. The youngest races took a loop that didn’t stray far from the finish area and the two laps were spectator friendly and avoided the heaviest ground. U13 races always seem very hectic with masses of eager runners streaming in close together. We had hopes of a medal and so it proved to be with the Clough twins leading the charge which ended with a Bronze medal.

The U17 Boys has not been a strong group for us recently and without some regular runners the strength of the field proved a little too much. Our runners made a valiant effort but without many recent races under their belts it was always going to be tough.

sale u13 at start northerns

Reigning champions the U13 boys had a lot to live up to after the heroics of the last two years. Freddie Meredith took individual Bronze, the North East challenge proving too strong. Oscar Schofield had a great race in 7th with Luke Carrington continuing his good year in13th with Ben Keeley having a good run in 35th, a great hat trick for the age group having almost 40 point lead over Wirral in second. Although the team results don’t show it we finished a B team which came 9th with 299 points, beating Gateshead, Vale Royal, York, Warrington and Salford. The last B counter beat 87 other runners.

FREDDIE MEREDITH ran the race of his life to finish 3rd in the U13 boy’s race and with OSCAR SCHOFIELD , LUKE CARRINGTON and BEN KEELEY won the team race for the 3rd year in succession. Their 3rd consecutive title is a record no other club has achieved in Northern XC Championships in at least the past twenty years. We were also 1st B team thanks to strong runs from FINLAY GODDARD, MATTHEW GARDNER JAMES O’BRIEN and FIN DAY.

Things were very hectic now and races were coming in before presentations could be completed. Girls Team Manager Lisa Davies was having a very busy day as presentations came thick and fast. There was no doubting the winners of the U15 as a very strong Vale Royal team had the race winner and fourth counter in at 21, beating Sale by over a hundred points. We weren’t complaining though as another set of silver medals came our way, completing our set of five team medals from five races.

Both our U15 teams finished in silver medal positions. The boy’s team of ELLIOT SAVAGE, JAMES KNOCKTON, WILL STANWAY and JACK SPARK all had great runs to finish in the first twenty but were narrowly beaten by a very strong Wirral team. Vale Royal were comfortable winners of the girl’s race with our girls well pleased with the silver medals. KATIE STRINGER in 10th was well supported by IZZY BURKE, LIBBY HILL and CARMEN SAFRANAUSKAUS.

In the U15 Boys races locally Wirral have been very strong but our Boys pushed them very close to gain Silver medals and were way ahead of Morpeth in third.

Unusually in the Junior Men’s races we could not finish a team.

Our aim was to medal in all five female age-groups and, with both the U13 girls and U20 women, finishing in bronze medal position, we succeeded. This is a tremendous feat which we hope to emulate with our male age-group teams in the near future.

In the senior races we faced a very strong Leeds club who are current National champions, having done the double last year. They have recruited very well from the Universities. More than half their senior teams last year were University Alumni. In the women’s race Triathlete Georgia Taylor-Brown pushed Jess Judd close for much of the race with Judd only getting away in the last half mile. A fine Silver for Georgia and a creditable team Silver against an extremely strong Leeds women’s team. Last year’s winner Mhiairi McClennan was third. GEORGIA TAYLOR-BROWN is a major contender for the Tokyo Olympic Triathlon title and, as part of her preparation, turned out for Sale and ran a great race to finish 2nd in the senior women’s race and teamed up with HANNAH BROWN , ELLEN DOWNS and SOPHIE WOOD to finish runners-up in the team race.


The last race was a clash of the Titans with a field full of quality. Nigel Martin was first home in a very good eighth place and we had three in before Salford had one home but Salford packed well and it was looking close at one point but in the end we were victorious by 28 points and Leeds having started with 3rd and 5th came in well behind the two local rivals. The senior men retained their title for the 4th successive year, the first time they’ve had such a string of success in this championship. Well done to NIGEL MARTIN, GAVIN HILL, WILLIAM ONEK, JAMES WIGNALL, DANIEL KASHI and MATT BARNES.

What a successful day. Eight team medals out of ten races. Outstanding.

Thanks to Darkstar Photography for the photos.

Full results here.


Manchester Regional Arena (Sportcity).

The Outdoor Athletics Facilities will close from the end of January until May 2020 for major refurbishment works. The Indoors athletics facilities will remain open during this period.

We applogise for any inconvenience and disruption experienced during this time but it will all be worth after May it as we enjoy the wonderful new track with improved drainage.


MANCHESTER AREA XC LEAGUE (MATCH 4) Tatton Park near Knutsford.

Pete Shaw

After the fourth and penultimate match at Tatton Park, Sale looks likely to medal in six of the youngest age-groups and finish 4th team in the remaining two. This is a tremendous achievement against tough opposition from twenty clubs who make this one of the most competitive leagues in the country.

Pride of place goes to the U11 boys’ team who won for the fourth successive time and have already won the league title. Well done to LIAM O’BRIEN, ISAAC REED, BEN KEELEY, (A team winners). Also DAN OAKES, JOE EYRE, ED SPARK, JOSHUA RODGERS and MATTHEW CULLEN-BROWN.  Congratulations to BEN KEELEY who won the Cheshire county title last week with LIAM O’BRIEN taking silver. These two teamed up with DAN OAKES to become Cheshire team champions.  Our U11 girls had their best result of the season to finish runners up to WESPA, beating Northern champions – Liverpool, and will finish third in the final standings. Well done to IMOGEN HILL, IZZY HALL OONAGH Mc MANUS, (A team). Also SIENNA JONES KATIE ROBERTSON, HANNAH SQUIBBS, FRANCESCA HEWITSON, AMBER WEBB, HANNAH FEATHERSTONE, MOLLY IRWIN, GEORGIE CONROY, JAMILIA SCHOFIELD and ANNA WILSON.

In the U13 age group we provided the individual winner in both races with SARA CLOUGH and LUKE CARRINGTON winning by comfortable margins. We also finished runners up in both team races. Well done to SARA and AVA CLOUGH, IZZY APPLEBY, (A team) with also ELLIE GILDART, MADDIE HOLT, ASH GILMORE, DARIA DWYER-ROSS, SCARLETT WRIGHT, SOPHIE ARMITAGE. LUKE, FINDLAY GODDARD and MATTHEW GARDNER (A team) with JOE SPARK, FIN DAY, ALFIE CLARE and TOM LANGTON-CLARKE. The boys who are triple Northern Champions (i.e. road relay, cross-country relays and cross-country) will finish 2nd and the girls 4th overall in the league. 

Our U15 girls’ team of JASMINE REED, LIBBY HILL and CARMEN SAFRANAUSKAUS finished 3rd team and, with three previous team victories, have now won the team title. Our U15 boys’ team of JACK SPARK 7th, CHARLIE TITTENSOR 9th and LUKE CHINOY finished 3rd team and are likely to finish 3rd.  WILL PARKER, GEORGE NOBLE and JOSH COLQUHOUN-LYNN ran well to finish 2nd B team.

Our U17 men’s squad of GEORGE SAFRANAUSKAS 3rd, CHARLIE HOBSON and ROBBIE RIGBY finished 2nd team,  with ALEX JAMES, AIDAN LYNCH and ZAC GAILLEMIN (and 1st B team) 5th, and will finish 4th overall. We are in the lead in the U17 women’s league but must finish a team in the final match if we are to medal and must beat Salford to win.  GEORGIA HEATH and LUCY ARMITAGE ran but we did not finish a team. On a positive note I must commend the team spirit shown by the junior section of the club with a total of 90 young athletes representing the club in the league so far.  One more match to go - let’s go for a hundred!

CAT WALSH had a great run in the W17-19 category for 1st place, along with CHIARA YOUNG and MIA GIBBONS to achieve 2nd team. No men’s team U20 on this occasion. The women’s 20 to 34 section was strong with HANNAH BROWN 1st in the scoring athletes with SOPHIE WOOD 2nd. In the W35-39 section HAYLEY ASHBY was running well for 6th place followed by EMMA FINNEY in 8th. The 40-44 group was well represented with ZOE GMEREK 4th, HELEN ARMITAGE 5th, CLAIRE MC CARRON 7th and SUZY SMITH 11th. W45-49 saw ANNE CHINOY 2nd, JAN NICHOLS 17th and SIMONE FISHER 18th. In the W55-59 LYNDA ROWLINSON was 11th and JACKIE CORDINGLEY 1st in the over 60s.

The open ladies team prize was won by Sale Harriers with HANNAH BROWN, SOPHIE WOOD, CAT WALSH and AMY MIDDLEMAST. The B team were 6th with HAYLEY, ANNE, EMMA, and CHIARA. C team 8th including ZOE, HELEN, JANE THOMAS and LYDIA BRIGGS. Our lady vets team came 2nd featuring HAYLEY, ANNE and EMMA with our B team 6th with ZOE, HELEN and CLAIRE.

Men 20-39. NICK BARRY was 5th. M 45-49. GAZ RAVEN 3rd, STEVE MC CARRON 6th. The unstoppable NICK PEACH was showing his pedigree with 6th in the M 55-59 section and MIKE CURLEY refusing to let age be a hindrance taking first place in the over 70 category. There are many athletes 20 years your junior who would love to be running as fast as you.

Senior Men.


Full Results.

Peter Shaw

The championships were held at Boggart Hole Clough over a very muddy course. The club had one of its best ever County championships with six individual winners, four team victories and eleven sets of team medals.

In the first race of the day, OSCAR SCHOFIELD gave us a great start by winning the U13 boy’s race and with FREDDIE MEREDITH (4th) and LUKE CARRINGTON (5th) we retained the team title by a comfortable margin. Such is our strength in depth, we also finished 3rd team due to fine performances from FIN GODDARD, MATTHEW GARDNER, JOE SPARK and FIN DAY.

In the U13 girl’s race, SARA CLOUGH had her best ever race to beat reigning champion FREYA MURDOCH (Stockport) and win gold. Sara team up with twin sister AVA and IZZY APPLEBY to finish runner-up in the team race.

Our U15 girl’s had a great day finishing in the top two positions in both the individual and team championship with our eight runners in the first thirteen out of 40 finishers. KATIE STRINGER retained her county title with LUCY DIXON in silver medal position and IZZY BURKE (5th) completing the winning team. Fine runs from AKIRA EDGSON, JASMINE REED, LIBBY HILL, OLIVIA BROWN and CARMEN SAFRANAUSKAS.

Reigning U13 Gtr. Manchester & Northern Counties boy’s champion JACK SPARK moved up an age-group and ran well to finish 3rd in the U15 boy’s race and, with LUKE CHINOY and ELLIOTT SAVAGE, finished third team.

The U17 & U20 women ran in a combined race. JESS SPILSBURY made light of the muddy conditions, crossed the line first and won the U17 race and teamed up with GEORGIA HEATH and LUCY ARMITAGE to finish 2nd team whilst BETH THORNTON finished 3rd in the U20 race . In the U17 men’s race we finished 2nd team with fine runs from GEORGE SAFRANAUSKAS, ROBBIE RIGBY, ZAC GAILLEMIN, ALEX JAMES and AIDAN LYNCH.

Our senior teams were in tremendous form. DANIELLE FEGAN had a great run to retain the senior title with HANNAH BROWN in silver medal position. We finished in gold and silver medal position in the team race to retain the team title. Our senior men also retained their team title whilst GAVIN HILL was an impressive winner of the County title. Thanks to Harry Shakeshaft for donating photos.

HAR 9874

See full results at link

Thanks to Pete Brown Photography link


Wythenshawe track and plans for the site developments.

A strategic 10 year plan for Wythenshawe Park that includes the track facilities is now formally accepted by Manchester City Council and has begun to be implemented. It has short, medium and long-term objectives.  The more ambitious plans for the track facilities are part of the longer strategy (i.e. must be completed within 10 years). Some smaller, shorter term objectives are already actioned e.g. cafe franchises reviewed, new notice boards put up etc. Work recently done on the track and lighting is not part of the strategic plan but urgent work that had to be done with the risk also of losing £150,000 in a long-standing ‘106 Community Fund” ring-fenced for Wythenshawe communities.  Apart from the smaller short term objectives delivered, two major ones also have......

1 Debbie Marsden has been appointed by Manchester Council as the Project Manager to deliver the park developments - the strategic plan.  She has a very credible background as the former Heritage Regeneration Project Officer for Alexandra Park. Her assistant Project Manager is Mike Wastell who was much involved in the development in Heaton Park.

2 The park management across the City has now also been extensively restructured into five areas. Wythenshawe Park is outside of these structures designated as an ’area’ in its own right. This is to facilitate future developments.

At the last Park Development meeting two weeks ago, Debbie Marsden’s set out as her immediate and first priority to oversee the formal handing over the completed Wythenshawe Hall to the Council. This will take several weeks because of H & S issues, snagging, on-going security etc. I emphasised that the track facilities must be among her next priorities.

Recently we had an initial meeting lasting over two hours with track user representatives, so that she could see for herself what the facilities were like.  Because the longer term objective for the facility is still several years away, a ‘quick-fix’ is what’s now being pursued to include the replacement of cabins for more toilets and changing facilities as the priority.

Manchester Council’s ‘top-man’ for Sport & Leisure is Neil Fairlamb, I remember first meeting him when he came to Manchester from Stoke, to ‘lead’ on delivering the 2002 Commonwealth Games!. His vision for the track facilities is a building similar to Trafford AC’s.  Funding for it will come from 3 sources - external bodies like Sport England, Users and Manchester City Council who will also match- fund external contributions.  A next step in the ‘short-term’ part of the strategy is to set up ‘Governance’. This will have user representatives who will manage on-going developments.  It’s time for Sale Harrier’s younger capable members to step up to the mark and contribute on this governance.

I have complete empathy with those completely disheartened, cynical and disillusioned from so many previous false dawns. However, I’ve more confidence this time for the following reasons

  1. There is a strategic plan in place to which Manchester Council are accountable for delivering, and there is a commitment and determination to deliver it
  2. They’ve already appointed (at great cost) the Project Manager who takes will forward the developments.
  3. They’ve set Wythenshawe Park apart from the other new Park areas to give it the priority it requires.

I hope this helps to clarify

Fechin Mc Cormick