Sports Update by Chris Lines

IN THE SPORT THIS MONTH...
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Sports Update

Wasn’t it brilliant to see local lad Jack Smith claim a gold medal in Tokyo as part of Paralympics GB’s wheelchair rugby team? It’s a fast-paced, brutal sport, and Jack has had to work very hard to reach its pinnacle, but reach it he has, supported all the way by his family.

I’ve reported about Jack in these sports updates before, as well as Bulls Wheelchair Rugby Club, which trains at Sedgefield Community College.

His story is a great example of how grass roots sports people can achieve the highest honours with the right combination of talent, drive, coaching, and access to local facilities. I spoke to Jack after his wonderful welcome home and he shares a few of his thoughts in the front page feature. Meanwhile, there’s other success and plans for success to report on…

Email club reports to Chris Lines: chrisjlines@aol.com
Youth teams - please call Tony Magee on 07837 114 271 if you would like him to report on your club or matches.

Squash

After a busy summer of ‘Bounce Back’ activities to encourage players back on court, two summer competitions at Sedgefield Squash Club reached their conclusions recently.

The individual Summer Ladder was won by Mal Woodhouse, with an impressive 24 wins out of 26 matches played. Lee Jones and Richard Flanagan shared the title of most matches played, 40 each - a great effort. The summer team event was won by ‘Off the Frame’ captained by Shaun Bottomley, in a closely fought contest against ‘The No Lets’. The full balcony of supporters helped make it a great concluding night to the competition. Well done to all of the players who took part, more than 50 in total, and special thanks go to Craig Muller for organising the event.

World Squash Day is fast approaching. The event is on Saturday 9 October and the club has both junior and senior events planned to celebrate the day, supporting the PSA foundation charity that helps squash communities across the globe.

For all coaching contacts, membership and general information, visit the club’s website at www.sedgefieldsquashclub.co.uk.

Athletics

A number of enthusiastic supporters of the East Durham Community Athletics Track (EDCAT) have stepped forward to help the project by running the Virtual Virgin London Marathon (VVLM) on Sunday 3 October. Another, David Bentley, a member of ‘home club’ Sedgefield Harriers has a place supporting EDCAT in the London Marathon itself. Mike Wood, chair of EDCAT, booked 10 charity fundraising places in the VVLM and one in the Virgin London Marathon, confident that runners would be keen and he wasn’t disappointed, though he hadn’t anticipated that the support would cross continents.

Among the runners will be two relay teams and eight individuals, including Jo James, who was secretary of the Harriers at the time the track project was launched, and who has since emigrated to Australia.

Jo jumped at the chance to support the track project: “I am thrilled to be asked to be a part of this and honoured to take a place.” Michael Pyle, who was born in Sedgefield and went to Sedgefield Community College before moving to Prague in the Czech Republic is also pleased to lend his support: “My passion for running came from joining my local club Sedgefield Harriers, and this provided me with the chance to pitch myself against others. Just imagine what a running track on the doorstep would do in terms of providing the next generation with the opportunity to emulate and experience the athletics they see on TV!”

A team from Coxhoe Active Life Leisure Centre, which will have a part to play when the track becomes a reality, will run the distance as a relay, as will a team from Sedgefield Harriers led by Enya Killen. Other runners supporting EDCAT on 3 October include Judith Porter, Diane Baines and Doreen Huxley, long-term supporters of the track project; Clair Walker, a Harrier who will be taking part in her first marathon; Jonathan Wallace, a long-time member of the Harriers and a member of the EDCAT steering group; and Ean Parsons, chair of the EDCAT steering group and a founding member of the Harriers. Ean will visit a number of other North East tracks as he covers the 26.2 miles.

The track, to be located on a site at Sedgefield NETPark, has strong support from the North East athletics community. The planning application is currently being considered and the team are well on the way to raising the funds needed. More information can be found at www.edcatrack.com.

The world’s biggest half marathon returned on Sunday 12th September. The route was a bit different this year, starting and finishing in Newcastle to avoid the huge crowds gathering in South Shields like usual, and runners were also set off in waves during the day. However, that didn’t deter plenty of people from Sedgefield from taking part, including 20 members of Sedgefield Harriers.

The first Harrier over the line was Paul Weir in an impressive time of 1:26:10 and first lady Harrier was Paula Bayles in a similarly excellent time of 1:49:05. The day before the half marathon, three young Harriers ran well in the Junior Great North Run too – Gregory Killingley, Lillie Graham and Matthew Graham. It’s worth noting that former Sedgefield Harrier Kieran Walker finished 20th overall in a fantastic time of 67:16. Kieran was a junior Harrier for several years and was coached by the club’s volunteers.

His pathway into high performance running was through Sedgefield, but to progress to the next level he had to travel further afield to find the right standard of facilities.

Sedgefield Harriers hosted the ever popular Sedgefield Serpentine on Sunday 19 September – look out for a rundown of the results next month.

Find out more at www.sedgefieldharriers.co.uk

Cricket

Sedgefield Cricket Club’s U17 boys team continue to win plaudits and silverware. In early September, they won the Pallister Cup, their fourth trophy in 2021. Congratulations! Meanwhile, slightly towards the other end of the age scale, Sedgefield Cricket Club’s ‘social’ team, the Winkers, have won the North East social cricket league, going unbeaten, winning every game during the regular season, and then qualifying for finals day at Darlington CC. On the day, they beat Godfrey Boycotts from Stockton in their semi-final, and then Darlington Spin Doctors in the final. Congratulations to the Winkers too!

Parkrun

Since the last update, Sedgefield parkrun has returned, back after a long, COVID-enforced break. Since it launched in March 2012, the event has provided a great route into active lifestyles for so many people. As well as that, it has encouraged others to volunteer and has been the catalyst for the formation of new and valued friendships along the way.

Free for everyone to participate, Sedgefield parkrun has become the perfect start to the weekend, giving participants the opportunity every Saturday to register a timed run, jog or walk of 5k in the stunning setting of Hardwick Park (the cafe has done pretty well out of parkrun in the process!).

Over 10,000 different individuals have completed at least one Sedgefield parkrun since its foundation and its absence from the start of the pandemic had been keenly felt by a lot of people in our community. So the return (with a few changes to encourage social distancing) has been joyful, and as ever, only made possible by the continued commitment of volunteers. Just as exciting is the imminent return of Sedgefield junior parkrun (weekly 2k runs for children aged 4 to 14. After an appeal for some extra help over the summer, the team is preparing to restart on Sunday 12 September.

You can find out more about both events on www.parkrun.org.uk, www.facebook.com/sedgefieldparkrun & www.facebook.com/sedgefieldjuniorparkrun

Croquet

If you're looking for a new outdoor sport to try, why not consider croquet? Although it has a reputation as a 'toff's' game or a pastime for older folk, the truth is quite different. The England croquet captain is in their mid-20s and the current world champion is under 40. It's also one of the few sports in which men and women can play alongside and against each other on an equal footing What's more, there's a croquet club not far from Sedgefield. The Auckland Chilton Croquet Club is located at the Miners' Welfare Recreation Ground in Chilton (behind the Jet petrol station off the A167 roundabout) and the club is keen to welcome new players.

Croquet offers gentle exercise in a pleasant setting, with plenty of fresh air and healthy competition in a friendly atmosphere. You can learn as you play – it's not a difficult game to grasp, although there are skills and strategies to be learned as you develop your game.

It's worth noting that in the past, croquet has been proven to aid in the rehabilitation of stroke victims and it could be an ideal sport for those recovering from long COVID.

Auckland Chilton Croquet Club practices on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 2:00pm until around 4:30pm. You can pay as you play on a daily basis and your first session is free, as is use of the club's equipment. Give the club a call on 07835 103332 or just turn up on the day. All you need is a pair of flat shoes, protective gloves, and a waterproof jacket (just in case!).

Social football

A group of footballers who play at Sedgefield Community College on Tuesday evenings is seeking new players, as numbers have dwindled recently. The players have a broad range of ages (from 18 to mid-50s) and abilities, and while they all want to win, the games are not too competitive and they are not in a league. The sessions are aimed more at having some fun, getting some exercise and helping with mental health by staying active.

The games are also a great way to meet new people and develop friendships. The group aims to play each week with two five or seven-a-side teams, depending on who can turn up. Games take place on the 4G surface adjacent to the primary school, starting at 8:00pm, and the cost is a maximum of £3 per person. If you are interested in playing, send an email to tuesdaykickabouts@gmail.com.

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