A fine home win in the final SAL fixture was just enough to clinch promotion for WGEL out of Division 3 North. The team started the day in 4th in the division with three to go up, but with the top three teams facing each other at Hemel Hempstead, a win was likely to be sufficient for the Woodford team. The main opposition was a Watford team who but for a very poor fourth match would also have been in promotion contention. The final gap was the widest lead that Woodford had in the match, provisionally 14 points, with 331 the highest achieved by the team this year. A distant third was Biggleswade, followed by Barnet and District, Enfield & Haringey (with HAWCS) and finally Ilford.
Eloise Lewis won the A 100m and took 2nd in the A 200m
From the start it was clear that Watford were reliant on a fuller team sheet than the home team, particularly on the women's side, with barely contested 12 points in several events leaving the overall score too close to call through the day. On the track early WGEL winners included Paul Scanlan and Anna Clark in the 800s and a clean sweep in the 100m races, with Eloise Lewis and U17 Matthew Adum-Yeboah (11.29) taking the A strings. There were numerous sprint PBs including Rebecca Fafowora as the fastest women taking the B 100 in 12.74 (+0.5), Karina Hope-Bruce (12.88), U17s Nicole Alves (26.31 +0.4) and Kyra Boyce (27.32), Winfred Hakeem (11.54 in taking the B 100 and 23.69 200 +0.7), and U17s Joba Ashiru (11.72), Ellis Ward (11.83) and Reece Barton (12.04).
In the throws Woodford’s customary hammer strength was evident with Steph Howe (44.62) and Emmaline Okafor well ahead of the rest of the field, while Peter Clarke (55.10) comfortably won with Fergus Harford also beating the other men. Emmaline’s three B string wins (including JT and DT) contributed to her being the top individual points scorer, while Eike Varjda won the javelin among her 4 events, and Hugh Williams the shot from his 4.
Ahmed Abdulle won the A 1500m and Angus Holford the B string
At 400m, Adrian Richards and U17 Sidnie Ward did the double, while Samanta Bendaraviciute ran a PB of 62.41 in the womens A race. Ahmed Abdulle and Angus Holford produced another double in the 1500, with Becky Wilby adding the womens race to her B 800m win and Georgina Warren improving her PB significantly to 5:29.87. Rob Wilbraham added valuable points over the barriers in his first 400m hurdles as well as the 2k chase. Peter Caton has made a fine contribution throughout the season and notched another 3rd in the B string 800m today.
Tolani Alaba improved his pole vault best by 20cm to win in 3.05, with fellow U17 Elliott Luscombe taking the B. The womens horizontal jumps saw some strong performances against tough opposition from Enfield and Haringey, including a second notable PB for Rebecca Fafowora, 11.06 in the triple jump, with Denesha Rocastle improving to 10.65 to add to her 5.26LJ. Adrian Stamp won a tight long jump off the back of an extended holiday ahead of relocating to work in the Netherlands. Joba Ashiru improved his triple jump PB to 12.46, with team manager Alan James taking advantage of Watford’s only field gap in the B to strengthen the team’s narrow lead.
Woodford needed strong relay performances to ensure the win and duly delivered a clean sweep. The women’s 4x100 team of Denesha Rocastle, Karina Hope-Bruce, Rebecca Fafowora and Eloise Lewis were relatively comfortable in 50.87, as were the men with Winfred Hakeem, Jos Farqhuarson, Tolani Alaba and Matthew Adum-Yeboah in 44.69. The most dominant win was the women’s 4x400 team of Samanta Bendaraviciute, Nicole Alves, Kyra Boyce and Anna Clark (4:10.78). By contrast the mens 4x400 ended an unbeaten season thanks to Adrian Richards (50.3) who had to work hard having taken over a distant second after legs from Jos Farquharson, Pete Caton and a debut over the distance by Tolani Alaba.
While promotion was achieved with only 2 wins out of 5 matches, WGEL were the most consistent team in the 23 team division through the year, never finishing below 2nd and losing out to champions Basildon only due to the cancellation of the pole vault at Ilford. 90 athletes contributed to the team’s success, 57 men and 33 women, spanning an age range of well over 40 years, while the team could not have done it without the 30 team officials and helpers through the course of the season. Well done to all involved.