A second successive win for our senior women at Ally Pally on Saturday was plenty good enough to secure the much-wanted promotion back to the first division, if not quite enough to bag the hoped-for top spot.
The on-paper potential of our women has never been in doubt, but for a few frustrating years, getting the spikes on the ground was. Finally a committed and consistent winter squad has emerged this winter and demonstrated its point-scoring power across the five fixtures, landing this result.
The muddiest course this year by some margin, Ally Pally is not a fixture to be taken for granted. Anybody who had been lulled into a state of complacency by the unusually arid flatlands of Uxbridge and Scrubs this winter was going to be in for a surprise, especially after a week of rain, not to mention the wind.
After the record turnout last month, a more modest 244 women made up this field, largely waterlogged. Two large laps, including a quad-killing cambered climb up to the famous radio tower, twice.
The now-familiar five scorers, switching order this time, were no surprise. Rachel Lund (28), deploying her super mud-strength on the unstable ground, managed to extinguish the 20” gap that team mate Suzanne Phillips had on her at Scrubs last month and open a small gap. Not quite able to hold onto the lead she had on the first lap, Phillips (29) was at least helped by intact footwear this time and was next home, trailing by a 4” margin. Alicia McArdell, who has been a pivotal addition to the squad this winter was next, making it 3 in 42, only 46” behind Woodford’s leaders. Next, by ten seconds and ten places, was ultra-enthusiast Zoe Watson (52) with a very strong run and making it 5 in 61 was the squad’s other key player, Becky Wilby, 18” down on Watson.
In now customary sixth and seventh were V50 Jenny Thomas (144), followed by fellow V50 Alex Wardle (170).
Delighted with their result and to have dented VPH’s lead to 34 points, promotion was secured. Roll on next year - and the search for a serious sixth scorer!