Sports Update by Chris Lines

In sporting terms at least, summer has arrived in Sedgefield. We know this for sure, because the cricket has started. Meanwhile, football (senior), rugby union and squash seasons are drawing to a close. I’ll report on the key outcomes for Sedgefield teams and individuals over the next couple of months, starting with squash.

Squash

The past few weeks has seen a flurry of activity at Sedgefield Squash Club, both on and off the court. The club is delighted to announce that it will be sporting the Great North Air Ambulance logo on team shirts next season. This has been made possible by the generosity of a local business offering sponsorship and the club is very grateful for that. The new kit is currently being designed by 305 Squash and will be available to members in the next few weeks.

Back on court, the club championships for both juniors and seniors concluded on a fantastic Friday finals night. This year saw the club bring in a professional England squash referee, Peter Fielding, to officiate on several matches. The balcony was packed with spectators cheering on the finalists and, for the first time, additional viewing behind the glass back was available on one court. The crowd was treated to some fabulous matches throughout the evening, with the winners and runners-up listed below. The night proved to be a great success, backed up by some positive feedback from Peter on how professional the club had been in running and delivering the event.

The key junior results were:
Under 11s - Magnus McKay won the final vs Huey Lamb
Under 15s - Luke Oliver won the final vs Harry Siddall
Girls Under 19s - Lauren Prynn won the final vs Jenny Walker
Junior Plate – Richard Flanagan won the final vs Alex Ashby
Junior Closed – Jess Weatherspoon won the final vs Joseph Billany.


The key senior results were:
Club Closed – Oliver Walls won the final vs Rob Pearce
Plate – Lee Jones won the final vs Phil Best
Ladies Closed – Jess Weatherspoon won the final vs Karen Naunton
Over 40s - Nick Hill won the final vs Patrick Billany
Over 50s - Simon Hill won the final vs Ian Williams
Over 60s - Rob Emery won the final vs Colin Pearce
Racketball – Simon Hill won the final vs Lee Jones.
The club presentation night will take place on Friday 6 May in the Parish Hall, starting at 7pm.

Looking ahead, Squash Stars is the club’s new junior programme for 5-11 year olds. It will start in June and build fundamental skills and confidence, encouraging kids to reach for the stars on and off court. This six-week junior beginner’s programme focuses on guiding children to develop skills in areas such as hand-eye coordination, racket work, movement, balance and match play.

Sedgefield sessions will be on six consecutive Saturday mornings, starting on 11 June from 9am to 10am. The plan is for these to run every three months for more new children, but on this occasion spaces are limited to six, so it's very much a case of signing up quickly to ensure that your youngster gets a place. Find more information at englandsquash.com/squash-stars/ about.

Anyone interested in getting involved or joining Sedgefield Squash Club can get in touch via info@sedgefieldsquashclub.co.uk.

Cricket

The first weekend of the senior season saw a clean sweep of wins for Sedgefield Cricket Club’s three teams. Starting their campaign at home on Saturday 16 April, the first XI bowled out Whitby for 121 in 44 overs and then chased down their target in just 33 overs. Connor Whitelock starred with ball and bat, taking three wickets and top scoring for Sedgefield with 48. Grant Sowerby also claimed three wickets, with two for Ned Hampson and one each for David Budd and Ben Wright.

Elsewhere, the second XI won away at Newton Aycliffe, while the following day saw the third XI win their home fixture against Barnard Castle, after bowling out the opposition for only 34 in under 13 overs. Sedgefield only used two bowlers, with Matteo Rutherford (six wickets) and Darren Bill (four wickets) dominating the batters. In all of the games, it was great to see young players making their debuts for the club, continuing the tradition of developing local talent.

Sedgefield Cricket Club’s junior teams are also preparing for a busy season ahead. After a winter of indoor training, the youngsters are back outside again on Friday evenings. Alongside standard cricket, the club will host softball cricket sessions from Friday 20 May, from 5:10- 6:00pm. The training is for those aged 8-10. The cost is £30 for eight weeks. To book, contact Mike Ridley on 07773 081278.


Look out for more news from the junior ranks in future updates.

Athletics

No report this month.

Cycling - from coma to podium
Ben Hetherington (left) on the podium, National Track Cycling Championships - photo credit SWPix

A Sedgefield cyclist has secured a silver medal in a national competition less than three years after an accident left him in a coma with life-threatening injuries.

In May 2019, semi-professional road cyclist Ben Hetherington was hit by a car while competing in a local time trial event and left fighting for his life. Luckily, first at the scene were two off duty medics, and then the air ambulance airlifted Ben to James Cook University Hospital where surgeons performed a life-saving operation to allow bleeding around Ben’s brain. He spent two weeks in intensive care in an induced coma, followed by a further four weeks in the high-dependency neurological ward before he was then put onto the main neurological ward.

Once on the main neurological ward, Ben had to regain his speech, concentration, and memory. As soon as these began to improve, all Ben wanted to do was ride his bike, even though at the time he could not even walk.

After five months in James Cook, Ben was transferred to the specialist neurological rehabilitation hospital, Walkergate Park, where through a combination of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and his own determination, Ben began walking independently, but he still wanted to ride his bike. As part of his physio, he progressed from the seated pedals to a stationary gym bike and by the time he left Walkergate Park he had progressed to a mountain bike which he rode around a small track.

Ben left hospital at the end of January 2020, eight months after his traumatic brain injury. His rehabilitation continued at home with the support of his parents Gary and Amanda, a case manager, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychologist and cycling friends. Ben got stronger and fitter physically but also needed to work hard on his cognition and memory due to the brain injury. The first lockdown enabled Ben and his mum to ride local roads, progressing from a mountain bike to road bike with normal pedals then eventually to cleats.

Ben's target was always to re-join his team and race, but as he came to terms with his physical and mental capabilities, he realised that the only way to reach his dreams was now to go into para races. He was given a C3 classification and entered individual pursuit event in the National Para Track Championship. With the hard work behind him and his dogged determination he was now ready to race and do his best, whatever the outcome would be, and when 5 March came around that was what he did. He finished second in the MC3 category in a time of three minutes and 49 seconds. He was proud and delighted to accept the silver medal.

Ben comments: “It feels amazing. My first ever track race and I was happy just to finish it, so getting a silver is blooming unbelievable! I didn’t expect to be on the podium at all, but this is perfect. It’s my first race of any type in three years and it’s nice to be back performing at a high level again. I can’t believe it really. When I found out I was second, I think my heart rate was higher than when I was racing! I’m so pleased with myself, and grateful to everyone who helped me get here – I couldn’t have done this without them.”

Ben is now looking forward to improving his time and is keen to race in more para cycling events.

Bowls

Fishburn Bowls Club welcomes membership from all ages and abilities. You are invited to try the sport without any commitment. Informal free tuition is available.

New members have free use of club bowls and unlimited use of the bowling green throughout the season subject to Greenkeeper’s works. For further details contact Carol on 07446 032450 or Ian on 01740 621952.