FIRST FOOTERS OUT IN FORCE AT TEMPLE PARK
Report by Bill McGuirk
THERE were many First Footers - and numerous Fast Footers - setting the trend for a new decade at the annual Sherman Cup and Davison Shield contests at Temple Park, hosted impeccably once again by South Shields Harriers.
And, as is customary these days, the Sherman trophy winged it's way back to Northumberland and Morpeth Harriers while, after an absence of five years, Gateshead Harriers regained the women's crown much to the delight of their band of supporters.
|Double Gold for Robyn & Rowan Bennett|
Just as he did to end the year - a winner of Saltwell Harriers 10k road race before Christmas - Calum Johnson decimated a huge field of over 400 to win comfortably by well over a minute with Gateshead team-mate, North Eastern Counties under-20 gold medalist, Charlie McMillan, came through strongly in the later stages to take second place with another junior athlete, Morpeth's Ross Charlton, finishing in third spot.
|Senior Men's winner Callum Johnson|
Three twisting circuits faced the competitors and it was North Shields Poly's David Green who took up the early running. However it wasn't long before Johnson appeared at the head of affairs. At the completion of the first lap Johnson had opened up a lead of around 100 metres with Green, Durham City's Matthew Hornsby, who had one eye on this coming weekend's Brass Monkey Half Marathon, and Charlton in a group while eventually runner-up McMillan, was languishing in sixth place.
Lap two saw Johnson increase his advantage significantly as Green and Charlton just managed to keep the leader in sight. There was an impressive forward move by McMillan going into the final lap and he eventually clawed has way through into second place going into the final kilometre.
Meanwhile, Johnson had extended the daylight between the chasers as he crossed the finish in 28min 51sec. While McMillan finished a comfortable second (30:29) there was disappointment for Green as he looked to be heading for third place only to go off course 500 metres from home which left Charlton to come home to claim the bronze medal.
Gateshead's ever-reliable Conrad Franks finished fourth, Houghton's Luke Pickering, another junior athlete, finished fifth with Green, after retracing his steps, crossing the line in sixth place.
With their three scorers inside the top four it was an easy team victory for Gateshead with Morpeth finish second and Tyne Bridge third.
Terry Scott led the Masters home (over-40) finishing in eighth place overall in an excellent time of 31:35. Second home was Birtley's Darren Purvis in 32:36 while Gosforth's Al Johnson completed the one-two-three in 33:04.
|Master's winner Terry Scott|
Sunderland came out on top in the team stakes led home by fourth-placed Chris Jackson with Scott's Tyne Bridge second and Birtley third.
Rowan Bennett took a number of major scalps to claim an extremely comfortable victory over two thee-kilometre laps. The Morpeth athlete tracked early leader Will Bellamy on the first circuit he but proved much the stronger on the second lap overhauling the leaders long before the finish. At the line, reached in 17:43, Bennett had a cushion of 38 seconds over Bellamy with Gateshead's Charlie Daley finishing in third place a further 26 seconds adrift.
|U17 Gold Rowan Bennett|
Houghton, led by Bellamy, won the team race finishing ahead of Morpeth with Gateshead a close up third.
|Start of the U17 Men's race|
Chris Perkins, the recently-crowned North Eastern Counties cross-country champion, eased to victory over 3k in 10:25 after never being headed throughout. Morpeth's Joe Dixon was a delighted runner-up (10:42) with Blaydon's Will Collinson completing the podium places in 11:02.
Dixon led Morpeth to team success with Gosforth in second place and North Shields Poly third.
|U15 Gold Chris Perkins|
DARLINGTON'S Alex Boyer scored a notable victory winning over the same 3k course in 11:34. Gateshead's Theo Dragoi crossed the line in second place 12 seconds behind with North Shields Poly's Adam Feenan claiming the third-place medal.
North Shields Poly with their three counters inside the top seven, won the team race by just two points from Gateshead with Morpeth holding off Durham City for third place.
|U13 Gold Alex Boyer|
THE 'Try Cross-Country' for this age group does not count towards Sherman Cup points. Nevertheless there was an excellent turnout over 1,500 metres. It turned into a Gateshead one-two with victory going to Alex Lienard who had nine seconds in hand over team-mate Harry Hunter with Morpeth's Rob Walton a further four seconds back in third place.
THE smile told it all as Elswick's Amy Fuller held on to take The gold medal by the narrowest of margins. It certainly was an unexpected result for Fuller could only finish in 10th place in the county championships and she faced a number of rivals who finished ahead of her that day before Christmas.
Ladies line up for the start of the Senior & Masters Women's race
It wasn't surprising that Morpeth's Catriona MacDonald cut out the early pace over two 4K laps for she was bronze medalist at Alnwick. However, the two were running side-by-side as they entered the second circuit but when they came back into view it was Newcastle athlete who was leading by about 20 metres. In the final field MacDonnell called on all her experience and gradually began to haul back the deficit. However, the line came too soon and it was the red and white vested Fuller who got the verdict, albeit by a matter of a stride or two. Gosforth's Helen Warburton, another athlete who finished ahead of Fuller at Alnwick, claimed third place ahead of fit again Josie Cram (Morpeth).
|Senior Women Gold Amy Fuller|
In a tight race for team honours Morpeth came out on top by just two points ahead of Jarrow & Hebburn with Sunderland finishing in third place.
AFTER Finishing in ninth place overall, Gillian Manford led Gateshead to a runaway victory in the team race helped by Kim Simpson and Jane Giles the Tynesiders totalled just 17 points. Elswick, led by second-placed Judith Nutt (who was third lady in the first ever Davison Shield fixture in 2002), finished runners-up on 38 with host club South Shields celebrating after finishing third. Alison Dargie (Tyne Bridge) was third individual.
|Master's winner Gillian Manifold|
IT turned into a great day for the Bennett family for they celebrated their second success of the day when Robyn came home in pole position to win by eight seconds ahead of Gateshead's Chloe Wellings. Third across the line was Emily Chong who was first under-17.
|U17&20 Women's winner Robyn Bennett|
Houghton came out on top in the team stakes finishing ahead of Morpeth and Gateshead.
ALNWICK'S Millie Breese bounced back after being under the weather at the county championships to push the victor that day, Birtley's Katie Francis, into second place, seven seconds separating the duo at the line. North Shields Poly's Holly Waugh finished a further five seconds back in third place.
The Poly claimed team success ahead of Blackhill Bounders and Durham City.
|U15 Gold Millie Breese|
DURHAM City's Charlotte Dillon produced one of the biggest winning margins of the day as she crossed the finish 28 seconds clear of county champion Zara Jones (Darlington) with Gateshead's Annabel Milburn 16 seconds back in third place.
Gosforth, led home by fourth-placed Hannah Wightman, claimed team success finishing ahead of Elswick and Durham City.
|U13 Gold Charlotte Dillon|
SOPHIE Quinn, who contested the under-13 race at the county championships and picked up a medal, won comfortably by nine seconds from Durham City's Grace Carter and Katy Otterson ((North Shields Poly) who couldn't be separated by the timekeepers!
THANKS go to South Shields Harriers for hosting a superb day's sport once again and to all the marshals, technical officials and league officials for without them we wouldn't have a competition to be proud of.
Photos with thanks to Stuart Whitman, Adrian Hall & Robyn Bennett