Woodford’s men’s team finished a frustrating 5th in the second-round fixture at Allianz Park (Copthall) on Sunday. Newham produced a strong performance to win with 362 points, from first-round winners Birchfield on 312, Shaftesbury 291, Harrow 283, Woodford 274, Sheffield 250, Cardiff 209 and Blackheath 207. That leaves the League tables at the half way stage, with Newham and Birchfield each on 15, Harrow and Shaftesbury on 11, Woodford in 5th on 8, Cardiff on 5, Sheffield 4 and Blackheath on 3. There were a number of fine Woodford performances, which included double wins in the high jump, long jump and javelin, a 400mH win for Jack Lawrie, and personal bests for Ewan Dyer and Youcef Zatat. Frustration came with a technically correct (but seemingly very unjust) disqualification in the steeplechase, without which Woodford would have placed 4th on the day.
Sam Khogali: long jump victor
Performances were mixed throughout the day, and whilst many were strong, key athletes were missing from certain events which affected the overall scoring. Both the hammer and pole vault had been good scoring events at Swansea, but on this occasion we were missing hammer stalwart Andy Frost and the Gardner brothers in the pole vault. The first two events resulted in a slow start for the team, as in the hammer Fergus Harford and Thomas Finch covered placing 7th in the “A” with 29.36m and 6th in the “B” with 19.58m respectively. In the pole vault, decathlete Howard Bell covered the “A”, placing 8th with 3.80m, and Ryan McKinlay gamely filled in for 7th in the “B” with 2.20m. However, the other field events made up for this difficult start, as a double win the long jump for Sam Khogali (who has recently been selected for the World University Games) with 7.29m (+1.4) for the “A” and junior Calum Henderson taking the “B” with 7.03m (+1.7). The high jump also produced a double win as Will Grimsey, also selected for those World University Games, took the ‘A” with 2.15m, and Robert Wolski the “B” with 2.10m. The discus was a tougher event, as shot specialist Youcef Zatat recorded a decent 47.44m w for 7th in the “A”, with Chris Linque a little below his best recording 44.78m which placed 4th in the “B”. In his specialist event Youcef, the current UK no. 2 in the shot, placed 2nd (to UK no. 1 Scott Lincoln) with 17.80m, and Howard Bell was 7th in the “B” with 11.79m. It was later in the javelin where Youcef was a part of a third field event double as he recorded a personal best of 56.88m to take the “B” javelin as Bonne Buwembo continued his comeback from injury to take the ‘A” with 66.31m.
Bonne Buwembo: javelin winner
Track events had opened with a close but fine win from the outside lane for Jack Lawrie who took the “A” 400mH with a season’s best of 50.71 secs, with George Vaughan 4th in the “B” with 54.84 secs. It was over 800m that Ewan Dyer recorded his personal best as he dipped under 1m52 for the first time in placing 4th in 1m51.87 secs. Declan Gall who, after a decent start to the season over 400m has since been recovering from injury, covered the “B” where he placed 7th with 1m59.89 secs. Jack had a busy day, as he later placed 5th in the 110mH with a decent 14.65 secs (-1.3), and not long after (nor fully recovered) he placed 2nd in the “B” 400m with 48.67 secs. In that “A” event Ellis Greatrex made his BAL debut for Woodford and in a good field he placed 5th with 47.64 secs. Ryan McKinlay again gamely covered the "B" 110mH and his 6th in the "B" event with 20.26 secs brought more valuable points. Chis Stone and junior Matthew Adum-Yeboah covered both sprints against good fields. Over 100m they each placed 6th with times of 10.67 secs (+1.0) and 11.14 secs (-0.8) respectively, and over 200m placed 5th and 7th with 21.64 secs (wNT) into a strong headwind and 22.62 secs (-2.1)
In the 3000m steeplechase Matt Arnold was very unfortunate to be disqualified, although technically in breach of rule 169.7a where, on clearing a water jump, he did not land in the water but to the side. However, that had become necessary as the Newham athlete (who later apologised) stumbled in front of Matt across the barrier forcing Matt’s evasive actions. Given that the Woodford athlete had been slowed by the stumble in front of him and therefore not really gained an advantage, and moreover that by combining this event with that of Division 4 and therefore creating an inappropriately large field for tackling barriers, many officials would have taken this on board and would not have enforced the DQ, but despite protest it stood. This meant that Angus Holford’s solid 4th in the “B” with 10m20.93 secs became 7th in the “A”, and those lost points cost Woodford an overall position in the match.
Matthew Arnold: protests were to no avail
In other distance events there were useful points. Ed Shepherd had his first outing over 1500m of the season and placed a close 5th in the ‘A” with 3m52.60 secs, with Matt Arnold covering the “B” (after his s/ch) placing 7th in the “B” with 4m07.36 secs. Later Ed was back in action over 3000m and this time placed 3rd in the ‘A” with 8m27.27 secs with another Woodford BAL debutant, Ash Harrell, 4th in the “B” with 8m46.98 secs.
In the relays Winfred Hakeem, Matthew Adum-Yeboah, Paul Scanlan and Chris Stone combined over 4x100m to place 6th with 42.64 secs, whilst over 4x400m Declan Gall (51.2) Ewan Dyer (49.2) Jack Lawrie (48.3) and Ellis Greatrex (47.8) combined to place 5th with 3m16.51 secs.
Now, with the team lying in 5thplace in the Premiership, team manager Gladys Bird will be hoping to ensure strong teams in the final two fixtures to secure a top half placing at the end of the season.