Saturday 13 January 2024

Sherman Cup - Davison Shield 2024



Tyne Bridge Harriers claimed the Sherman Cup for the first time while North Shields Poly did likewise in the Davison Shield contest, the Newcastle outfit denying Morpeth Harriers another victory, the Northumbrian club having triumphed for over a decade and finishing fifth on this occasion. 

While Tyne Bridge had reason to celebrate winning the men’s contest they were pipped on making it three consecutive wins in the female section due to the Poly’s strong performance over the days’ proceedings consequently having to finish runners-up after victories in 2022 and 2023. While numbers were down overall, possibly as a football game was taking place just a few miles down the road, though it’s interesting to note that senior women’s numbers (253) were close to the men’s (268) despite another testing Temple Park circuit.


Despite having little time to warm up having being informed of a later start time North Eastern Counties champion Cameron Allan still managed to show a clean pair of heels to his rivals. Content to stay in touch with the leading bunch on the first of three circuits having no time to survey the course, the Houghton athlete stormed to the front at the commencement of the second lap, quickly opening up a significant gap with Morpeth’s Lawrence McCourt desperately trying to keep in touch as a group of Sunderland pair Liam Taylor and Stephen Jackson, Morpeth’s Alex Brown and Durham City’s Dan Garbutt being locked together a further 20 metres or so behind McCourt. Entering the final lap there was no doubt about the winner baring an accident as Allan continued to cut out a lone furrow as he weaved his was past the lapped runners. McCourt looked certain of the runner’s up spot but an exciting battle was taking place in the charge for the final podium place. 

It looked for a long while that would go to Taylor but Garbutt, the former England cross-country international and 2014 Northern champion, managed to reel in the Wearsider and claim the bronze medal. Before going for a warm down Allan, the recently-crowned North Eastern XC champion, said he was delighted with his run adding: “I wasn’t too sure of the course having arrived quite late but once we had completed the first lap decided to push and see if anyone came with me, as it happened I quickly opened daylight over the rest of the lads which meant I could then just relax and run at my own pace. The muddy sections didn’t bother me and now I can look forward to the Northerns with some confidence.” 

Morpeth were comfortable team winners with 14 points followed by Durham City with 26 and Gateshead with 41. James Anderson, 12th place overall, led the Poly to team victory in the Masters section ahead of Elvet Striders and Sunderland.


Catriona MacDonald led throughout the contest opening up a significant advantage over the chasing athletes at the completion of the first of the two circuits. Gateshead’s Shona Haston was in second place closely followed by Jane Hodgson (Morpeth), Nicole Burlinson (Durham City), Jacqui Penn (North Shields Poly), Wallsend’s Jenny Berry and Heaton’s Ellie Reed. MacDonald came home a comfortable winner (11 Seconds) though a superb second lap by Hodgson had closed down the day light considerably resulting in an excellent second place with Haston claiming the final podium place ahead of Penn, Burlinson and Berry. Morpeth claimed team victory ahead of Jeamond Joggers with North Shields Poly finishing in third place. The Masters category was held in conjunction with the senior contest with Judith Nutt leading Elswick to victory ahead of South Shields and the Poly.


UNDER-17 MEN (5k)

It was a North Shields Pole one-two with victory going to Ben Sproats who had 16 seconds in hand over team-mate Daniel Watson at the line with Crook’s Rory Hart claiming the bronze award for the North West Durham club. Elliott Moore, in sixth position, backed up Sproats and Watson for a convincing team with Tyne Bridge closing in in second place ahead of Sunderland.


UNDER-17/20 WOMEN (5k)

North Eastern Counties champion Charlotte Dillon (u17) led the field home with the biggest winning margin of the day finishing 42 seconds clear of fellow u17 Ellie Fellows (Blaydon) with Birtley’s Katie Francis first u20 in third place. Gateshead’s Iona Johnson finished fourth overall and third u17 while Sedgefield’s Abbie Walker was second u20 ahead of Gateshead’s Sophie Johnstone. Birtley were team winners finishing just one point ahead of the Poly with Gosforth in third spot.


UNDER-15 BOYS (3k)

Tyne Bridge Harriers’ Freddie Palmer led throughout coming home 20 seconds clear of North Shields Poly’s James Sturman with Tynedale’s Magnus Riddell completing the one-two-three. Palmer led the Newcastle club to team victory ahead of Sunderland and Wallsend.



North Shields Poly’s Anna Johnson held off Houghton’s Kathryn Pye to claim the gold award with Darlington’s Matilda Owens a close-up third ahead of team-mate Charlotte Owens. Once again, the Poly were convincing team winners ahead of Tyne Bridge and Heaton.


UNDER-13 BOYS (3k)

Morpeth’s Ewan Line led the 42-strong field home winning by 13 seconds with Phoenix Flyers’ Henry Englehart putting in another good stint to finish runner-up ahead of Elswick’s Dominic Kelso. In a tight team contest Morpeth came out on top just two points clear of Elswick with Low Fell, led home by James McClean, celebrating third place.



Emma Blackburn (Gateshead) led the 45-strong field home to claim a 10 second victory over Elswick’s Ayla Blight with Morpeth’s Faye Heatley a further five seconds adrift in third place. Elswick were comfortable team winners ahead of Gateshead and the Poly.


UNDER-11 (1k)

As is customary, under-11 “Try Cross-Country” contests open all harrier league fixtures and once again it was a success for North Shields Poly brother and sisters Noah and Ada Penfold, Noah heading the 44-strong field and Ada leading home her 52 rivals. Following Noah across the line were Low Fell duo William McClean and Charlie Wilson with just one second separating the pair. In the girls’ contest, Martha Carr (Prudhoe Plodders) finished in second place behind Ada with Chester-le-Street’s Faye Evans claiming the third place award.


**Once again the NEHL is indebted to South Shields Harriers for hosting another excellent event; to all their club marshalls and to all the technical officials all of whom were at their posts throughout the day. Also, thanks to Start Fitness for their continued support, to the First Aid team and to South Tyneside Council for the use of their facilities.  

Report by Bill McGuirk

Photos - Stuart Whitman Photography

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