It was a great day for the club on Hampstead Heath yesterday as our Senior Men contested the South of England CC Championship at the legendary Parliament Hill course. And all due to an outstanding run which catapulted Ed Shepherd into the club's virtual Hall of Fame.
Hickey, Pearce and Ed Shepherd (photo: Nigel Bramley)
From the nine men we had on the Start line, Ed raced up the hill to settle into the top 20 by the brow. Our lad, Hertfordshire born-and-bred, but now settled in Chester after doing 2 years on an athletics scholarship in San Francisco, was an impressive winner of the recent Cheshire CC. Biding his time, recovering from the initial burst, he made sure he was never going to blow up. Then, later on the first lap of the 3-lap, 15K course, he started picking men off.
Once he had worked his way into the top 10, the men ahead of him included those who had finished 1-4 in the recent Met League at Wormwood Scrubs: Wright (Serpentine), Lepretre (Barnet), Martelletti (Victoria Park) and Poolman (Highgate). He reeled them all in. However, Hickey (Southend) and Pearce (Tonbridge) remained 21" and 25" ahead of him, respectively, at the Finish line as he picked up the bronze medal.
Ed: warmed by his bronze medal and Oscar the pooch
WGEL old-timers debated whether this was a historic individual high. It turns out that it isn't, quite.
One of the club's greatest-ever athletes was Harry Payne. He won the Essex CC every year between 1922-1929. He set British Marathon records in 1928 and 1929, the latter standing until the 1950s. He was also CC Captain for many years and served as president 1956-57. And in 1928 he won the South of England CC representing Woodford Green AC. He had already won it once before, in 1922, but representing Great Eastern Railway.
Since the 1920s, the closest anyone has come to matching Ed Shepherd's performance yesterday was Willy Heiberg, who was 5th in both 1961 and 1962. A couple of other names worth mentioning for observers of our current U13 Girls' squad are Eric Major (7th in 1959) and David Chapman (20th in 1958) - grandparents to our talented young Tilly Major. An honorouble mention, too, to Charlie Crump, supporting on the Heath yesterday (16th in 1958).
But... back to the present. Our next man home, having a very strong run, was Daniel Steel in 90th in the field of 1194 finishers. He was around 1' 20" ahead of Angus Holford (140), whose run was nonetheless pleasing given recent setbacks. Bertie Powell was 20" further back (151), grabbing more useful Ken Bray Trophy points. 40" down on Powell was Tom Phillips (182) who, as of tomorrow, may have more opportunity to train as he begins a new job without endless driving. Our sixth man crossed the line together with our seventh man. Harold Wyber was struck down by a stitch on lap 2 and suffered badly enough to allow Kevin Murphy to close him down. For mysterious reasons (which will not be dragged out of your reporter even under pain of torture!) 'Pink Shorts' Murphy refused to go past his struggling comrade but remained gallantly on his shoulder to the end (309, 310).
This gave us a team result of 11th. Given that we were missing Team Manager Darren Southcott (on a 2-week culinary tour of India), Simon Beedell (hamstring) and Tom Beedell (family duties), this was a reasonable result. Better than many, as 77 clubs closed a full 6 men.
Our 8th man home was Joe Everitt (501), pleased to sneak home under the hour (59 mins 59 secs); and Julian Russell was 597th as he enjoyed a solid run as he builds towards another ultra-distance Comrades Marathon (South Africa) this summer.
As usual, the team and supporters celebrated another great SEAA Champs in the Old Oak pub, where Club President Terry McCarthy was last seen (and abandoned) hobnobbing with a bunch of hardcore Tottenham fans, reminiscing about the good old days.