SPORTS UPDATE by Chris Lines

Athletics, Squash, Rugby, Football and more

Sports Update
Chris Lines

Finally, winter has departed the scene! As the weather warms (and occasionally brightens) up, the traditional summer sports are starting to emerge from hibernation. Sedgefield Cricket Club has been raring to go for a while, but the extended bad weather meant that opening fixtures of the season were delayed. By the time you read this, Sedgefield’s junior and seniors teams should have seen some action and I will provide regular updates here during the summer. Meanwhile…


Rugby Union

The Sedgefield first team have had some challenging encounters in recent weeks, due to both the weather and opposition teams jostling for final positions in the league table. Wintry conditions at Richmondshire resulted in a very dismal spectacle, ending in a 0-3 defeat, after Sedgefield declined the opportunity to kick a late penalty for a draw and instead went looking for the winning try without success. One of the highlights of the season then came in the local derby at Newton Aycliffe.

Sedgefield dominated from the start and tries from Ollie Lines (3), Dan Lawson (2), Graham Brennan, Dom Ryan, Rob Wade and a penalty try resulted in a 53-0 win against a woeful Aycliffe. The Beast from the East returned for a league and cup double header against Darlington. Sedgefield overcame testing conditions to record a memorable 17-7 victory against one of the region’s oldest clubs, and progress to meet Sunderland in the cup semi-final. This was followed by the visit of Bishop Auckland to Sedgefield. The rain again made conditions difficult for both teams, but Bishop handled them best and Sedgefield were outmuscled and consigned to a 10-22 defeat.

The most recent encounter to report on was a 51-12 defeat against promotion chasing Hartlepool. Despite the defeat, results elsewhere confirmed Sedgefield's place in Durham & Northumberland Division 2 for next season.

Although several of their regular players have had to step up to first team duty, the Sedgefield Saxons have acquitted themselves well recently, with a run of victories over Whitby II (42-0), Acklam Hustlers (22-14) and Bishop Auckland III (52-40).


Squash

April saw the traditional end of the squash season, and Sedgefield Squash Club certainly ended it in thrilling fashion. On 20th April, members were treated to the Club Championships finals night, with 10 finals across junior and senior categories, culminating in the Club Closed Championship Final.

Congratulations go to Olly Walls who regained the club champion’s crown after a hard-fought victory against final debutant Dan Toas. With the combined age of the finalists being 37, this was another victory for the club’s well-earned reputation for junior development.

But even that was trumped by the outcome in the Ladies Championship Final, which saw 13-year -old Jess Weatherspoon triumph in a five-game thriller against club captain Emma Allen. Jess becomes, by some margin, the youngest ever club champion - and it would be hard to find a more popular winner. The evening also saw hugely enjoyable finals across age groups from under 11 to over 60. Members, families and friends then headed to the Parish Hall on 27 April for the annual presentation evening.

All of the above caps a fine year for Sedgefield, in which the men’s and women’s teams secured hugely creditable high league finishing positions. Well done that club!


Athletics

With Spring here at last, there’s a glut of road running and track and field events for members of Sedgefield Harriers to choose from. Junior and senior athletes have been very active recently, producing some great early results. An impressive total of around 40 Harriers tackled the popular Hartlepool Marina 5 on 15th April (some are picured).

The first Sedgefield runner to finish was Kieran Walker, covering the five-mile course in a very quick 26:02, finishing fourth overall. Only a week after running Manchester Marathon in a rapid 2:45.46, Justin Cox was the next Sedgefield athlete to finish in 28:52, followed by David Bentley in 29:44. First Sedgefield lady was Lisa Darby in 33:34 (third in the V45 category), followed by Julia Atkinson-Tait in 37:05 (second in the V50 category) and Jane Spink in 38:17.

Three Sedgefield Harriers tackled the world-famous London Marathon, in very warm conditions that added to the challenge. First over the line was Gary Thwaites in 3:12.33, two weeks after recording a new personal best of 2:56.22 in the Paris Marathon. The next Harrier to finish was Daniel Probart in 3:58.33, followed soon after by Tracy Henderson in 3:59.59. Well done to all.

Meanwhile, junior and senior Harriers have been taking part in a variety of track and field events, with some notable performances early in the season. April saw the start of the North Yorkshire & South Durham (NYSD) series, which are open meetings on week day evenings that encourage athletes to try out whichever events appeal on the night. The first NYSD meeting in April saw a large contingent of Sedgefield Harriers of all ages descend on the Eastbourne track in Darlington, where they tackled the high jump, javelin (after a special coaching session earlier in the same week that had been led by club member and enthusiastic thrower Jane Spink), 1500m and other disciplines. There were some Sedgefield winners on the night and plenty of athletes stepping out of their comfort zones to try something new. Like most grass roots sport in the region, the NYSD meetings are only made possible thanks to the commitment of loads of volunteers. A regular among those is Tim Dredge from Sedgefield, who officiated in the high jump at Eastbourne, and is always a great champion for athletics and other sports.