02/03/2010: Roundhay clouds part for a Leeds City silver lining

OBITUARY

SIMON PEASE
(17.08.1966 – 20.02.2010)

Simon Pease, former Club Treasurer and the 1985 English Schools’ Senior Boys’ 1500 metres champion, died suddenly last Monday.

Phil Townsend, a personal friend from the start of his running career, writes the following tribute:-

“Simon joined the Club as a promising teenage middle-distance runner in the early 1980s, where he became a lifelong friend of several past and present Club members.  Coached by Brian Scobie, he rapidly developed into one of the country’s finest junior middle-distance athletes, wining both the Yorkshire Junior and English Schools’ 1500m titles in 1985 and narrowly missing selection for the European Junior Championships.  In the same year he ran 3.47.9 for the distance at Stretford, a time which remains second on the Club’s Under-20 List to the present day.

He was awarded an athletics scholarship to Rice College, Texas, where he continued to achieve success, and on his vacation returns to the U.K. became an important part of the British League teams of the late ’80s, one of the Club’s most successful eras, competing at 800m and 1500m.  Frequent injuries, however, meant an early end to Simon’s competitive career, although he made several attempts at comebacks on a more recreational level.

After graduating with a Master’s degree in accountancy in 1990 he returned to the U.K. and completed his qualifications as an accountant, becoming a partner with D.S.C. In Harrogate in 2001.  For a time in the 1990s he also served as Hon. Treasurer of Leeds City A.C.

Simon was probably not the most naturally gifted athlete of my generation at the Club, but his determination to succeed at everything he took on was second to none, and this enabled him to become the high achiever he was in all walks of life.  With all this he was always an absolute gentleman, and it was an honour to be one of his friends.  He will be greatly missed by all those who knew him.”

Simon is survived by his wife Alex, and three children Ben, Hannah and Francesca.

27th February – English National Cross-Country Championships, Roundhay Park

ROUNDHAY CLOUDS PART FOR LEEDS CITY SILVER LINING

There were occasions in the week running up to the National when The Scribe had severe doubts as to whether it would actually happen.  Heavy snowfall on the previous Sunday melted quickly enough, but left the Park as wet as he’d ever seen it, wet enough to have the Council staff considering a cancellation; and continuous rain on the day before saw water running off the grass, the descent of Hill 60 looking particularly treacherous, an unexpected spring surging up in the start area and a stream running down the first 100 metres of the course.  However, Roundhay’s amazingly resilient drainage had eighteen hours to recover, and duly did; and the meeting went ahead without any competitive problems.  (There were problems, but that’s another story!)   For Leeds City it was the story of the season – not well represented at the younger end (though there were some fine individual runs) but showing commendable strength at the older end.  There were no titles this year, but one individual and two team Silvers came to the Club, and the Senior team’s remarkable record of the 21st century  – never out of the first five since 2000, and never out of the medals since 2003 – continued to extend.

As has become traditional, the medal-winners get their own report:-

SENIOR MEN – CLOSE CALL IN IMPRESSIVE STRENGTH

It’s been threatening for some years, but in 2010 it happened- sufficient of Aldershot, Farnham & District’s youngsters matured to Senior level to allow them to take the title by 22 points in spite of a most determined effort from the Leeds City Seniors to bring it home on home territory.  One thing needs to be got out of the way first; while it might be suggested by some that matters would have been different if Dave Webb had elected to run, anyone wanting to be critical about it should first run a PB Marathon and see how long they take to recover.  (The Scribe, who’s been there and tried to race the week afterwards, isn’t throwing any bricks!)  There was no question from the off that the lads weren’t up for it; James Walsh was just off the five in the leading group from the off, and a frisky-looking Alan Buckley was never that far behind, with Simon Deakin on the edge of the first thirty.  Early on there was a bit of a gap to the next bunch, but as it included the likes of Martin Hilton, Chris Birchall and Darran Bilton, noted for coming through in mid-race, those in the know waited for developments.  Mike Burrett was with the group at this stage, and Adam Osborne and Martin Gostling were lurking just a little further back.

Second time round the picture was a little clearer; Leeds had two up in the first dozen but Aldershot had three including the possible winner Andy Vernon, Deek was hanging in around thirty, the tried and trusted double act of Bilto and Hilto had the bit between their teeth and were moving up, Mike was suffering a bit but Chris was looking strong, and the last Aldershot man was a bit behind them.  It was all going to depend on the middle order on the last lap – but for once the surge wasn’t quite strong enough and the guys didn’t quite do it.

Vernon hung on to win (interestingly, Steve Vernon was third), James very nearly equalled his 2008 finish in seventh, and Alan turned in his best performance since joining the Club to battle through to 10th, splitting two Aldershot lads.  However, Simon had a bit of a torrid last lap and went back a little to 39th, one in front of the Venerable Pickering Charger (and yet again Darran finished ahead of his years in a National).  Both Martin (49) and Chris (63) gained ground on the last lap, and were giving it absolutely everything up and off Hill 60 – but the last three Aldershot guys did just enough to deny them.  Still, an eighth successive set of National team medals – four Gold, three Silver and a Bronze –
is a record few squads have ever surpassed.

There was another historical landmark – Leeds City had in the previous three Nationals got out enough bodies to finish three teams, but surpassed that on Saturday by finishing five – including two in the first ten.  The B team equalled last year’s placing of 9th, led home by Mike B. (78th after suffering a bit in the middle) and the consistent Adam O. (92) who just held off a speedily-finishing Martin G. by two places.  Right behind (101), looking friskier than at the Northern, was Martin Roscoe, and no great distance behind that came Greg Hull and Josh Whitehead, battling all the way around the last lap as they moved through, Josh (133 to 138) just getting the better of the contest.

If the B team consisted largely of those over 30 (so did the A team, for that matter!), the C team was led in by two of the most improved young Seniors running as well as they’ve ever done – Ollie Ziff in 143rd and Alex Davy in 161st; could it be that two more of the Club’s unfancied youngsters are going to metamorphose into solid and reliable performers as they mature?  (Just remember that in his first Senior National Doscoe didn’t make the first thousand!!)  They were backed up by Aidan Adams, looking strong in 191st place,  Gavin Chatterton running a solid race in 204th, another youthful improver in James Dean (252) who was as impressive as anybody against known form, and Mark Bryant continuing his return in 315th, and that was good for 23rd (and let’s have a tiny gloat, though not too big a one as they were helping out invaluably on the course – the C team was just seven points behind Bingley!)

To complete things at Senior level, Martin Farran led home the fourth sextet only nine places behind Mark – 19 in 324, how about that then!  He was supported by a trio close together in the upper 400s – Ben Dyson (451), Chris Needham (455) and Leon Foster (467) – and a second pair in the 600s – Steve O’Neill (621) and Pete Steel (641).  The six gents who had the honour of being the Club’s first-ever E team (and who weren’t last by a considerable margin) were John Wood (677, a good debut at this level), Positively The Last Appearance of Arthur Cooke (869 – he’s off to the States shortly, and Clubnews wishes him and his Lady Wife all the best), Danny Jones (952), Gary Wilks (1054), Rob Gatenby (1162) and John Mace (1194) – who deserves a special mention for having delivered the Club stakes (and others) to the Park on Thursday, getting lumbered with loading off 2500 copies of Athletics Weekly (which on the day they were having difficulty giving away!) and then after racing took the stakes back to Bodington again!

A brief look back (they’re in one or other past Clubnews) at Brian Hilton’s analysis of the squad’s performances in the Senior National since 2000 serves to underline their remarkable record (a full version of Brian’s analysis is appended to this edition of Clubnews).  It’s not just the eight sets of medals.  On Brian’s scoring table (six points for a win and downwards) Leeds City are now, by virtue of being the only club that’s ever-present, in a huge lead, having scored more points (51) than the next two (Bedford with 23 and Tipton with 22) put together; the fact that Aldershot won on only their second appearance in the list actually extended the Club’s lead.  Moreover in each of the past four years the Club has put another team theoretically in the first dozen places.  Individually within the squad, scored on the same basis, Martin Hilton leads with 49 points and seven medals, from Martin Roscoe with 29 and Simon Deakin with 28.  The 48 medals have been shared by 14 different athletes, two of whom – Dave Webb and James Walsh – have got one on each occasion they have started; Simon Deakin is the only member with a full set of eight medals, and he, Martin Hilton and Darran Bilton have a ‘full set’ of all three colours.

And if that display of strength isn’t enough …..

JUNIOR MEN – DOUBLE SILVER!

Every so often a club’s team requires an influx of new blood as the stars of one generation get older.  By the looks of the Under-20 result it won’t be too long coming in the present squad’s case; not only was there another team Silver in this race, but a fine individual Silver as well.  It could, however, be said to be something of a surprise to some after the magnificent Northern performance at Blackburn that it was a Northern team which finished ahead of the lads at Roundhay; but an inspection of the Northern Championship results reveals the interesting fact that on that day Warrington A.C. were conspicuous by their absence.  Whatever the reason for this, they were certainly conspicuous by their presence on Saturday; you can’t argue with three in 14 and four in 32!

The individual story of this age-group all season has been James Wilkinson versus Belgrave’s Nick Goolab, and so it was again at Roundhay; and by and large Nick has usually had the edge, sometimes by as little as the thickness of a number and sometimes by about twenty seconds, and again, so it was on Saturday.  The pair were in a tight group of half a dozen on the first short lap but on the first of the long laps they began to move away from the rest of the group, which already contained a goodly collection of red vests (Hallamshire’s Andy Heyes making it look even more decisive than it really was!)  Carl Smith was on the back of the trailing group, but as in the Seniors there was then something of a gap to Spike Williams, Joe Townsend and Dale Worton in fairly close proximity; behind them Danny Davis was moving steadily into the top half of the field.  It was going to need somebody in the second group to do a bit – and on this occasion it was Joe, who on the second lap started to look like the Joe of three or four years back.  As he surged past people Dale made an effort to go with him, but Spike couldn’t find Blackburn form and appeared to be having a rough time.

On the third lap Goolab opened about eighty yards on James, who at one point looked in danger of getting swallowed up by the next pair but kept his head to hold his place comfortably enough and bring in the day’s only individual medal – and excellent effort.  Carl seemed to lose a bit of ground on the last lap and wound up 18th, by no means a bad run, and Dale, who sometimes looks to be just a little bit short of strength, paid a bit for hanging on to Joe  but stuck doggedly to it to come in 52nd.  Joe, meanwhile, seemed to go from strength to strength, ploughing through to 35th and turning in a performance on a level to his guest run in the West Yorks. League in November.  Spike also rode his rough patch to hold 78th, and Danny finished neatly in the first 100 – 93rd, in fact – to round off a good year.

This result certainly gives Greg, as Team manager, something potentially to look forward to.  Next year three of the counters – Dale’s the ‘youngster’ – will move into Senior ranks, along with Mike Salter and Geoff Belcher; and assuming they all stay fit and the Senior team does likewise, it could be a tasty collection of people who line up at Alton Towers in 2011.  It could be just as tasty a selection in a few week’s time at Sutton Coldfield as well; with these lads around the prospect arises of somebody of the talent of (say) Josh Whitehead having to fight for a place on the B team in the 12-Stage.  That’s a problem most team managers would give an awful lot to have to cope with!

TWO TEAMS (OR IS IT THREE) AND INDIVIDUAL SUCCESSES

The Under-17 Men’s team, already weakened by Rob Torch’s recovery from injury (he’s coming on, but not fully ready yet) took a further blow from whoever had planned Alex Hart’s Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition for this weekend, which left it pared down to the bare bones of Gordon Benson, Mike Wood, Elliot Todd and Jamie Higgins; and that meant that to get close to the medals everybody had to run out of their skin, which is a lot to ask of athletes of any age, especially when three of them are at the young end of the age-group.  The fact that they managed to finish 6th, and still be close to the Lincoln Wellington squad that beat them at Blackburn, is indicative that the quartet gave it a good shot.  The leading trio were never quite up with the front boys but always challenging for high places in one of the biggest youngsters’ fields.  Gordon found himself in the teens at the end of the first lap as the sizeable leading group began to break up; Mike an Eliot were a bit further back around the 50 mark, but looked poised to move through later.  Jamie had settled for a reasonably steady start, again obviously looking to make ground later.

The second, slightly longer, lap saw the threesome consolidate.  Gordon moved up to the edge of the first ten, but was just a shade lost for speed in the later stages and wound up 14th.  Mike, as he often does, made a move in the later stages, coming up Hill 60 strongly and kicking off the top to place 28th, while Elliot hung on to his place for a sound 46th.  The question was how close could Jamie get; he certainly got a great deal closer as the last lap went on, his 219th place representing a good effort, and if anybody suggests that he might have let anybody down, they didn’t see him come off the top of Hill 60 for the last time, focused and determined to do everything he could.   The Scribe did!

Considering that both Susan Partridge (with London and selection for Scotland firmly in mind) and Emily Klee gave this one a miss the Senior Women put on a creditable show in finishing 18th in a strong field, and in turning out a second team as well.  Sarah Peterson had another sound race in her first experience of the National; she seems to like hilly courses, and tackled Roundhay well to finish a worthwhile 81st.  Comparing their efforts with previous occasions when they’ve run alongside Sarah both Sophie Lovell and Alison Varley (who made sure she got the trace time right this time!) had good runs; Sophie started quite steadily as she frequently does and worked her way through to 133rd in approved Greg/Doscoe style, while Alison maintained her improved form of this year and in 178th finished as well up as she has for some years (she was probably higher up in ’97 when the Women were champions, but The Scribe can’t remember offhand).  However, ahead of her there was one completely out of the hat, which for The Scribe ranked as the run of the race, and one of the Club runs of the day – Chloe Ryall in 149th!   At first, having thought of Chloe as “a decent jogger,” The Scribe – and others, as he was later told – reckoned that it was a rush of blood to the head and she was bound to blow up; he was delighted to be shown the error of his ways as Chloe hung on for a monstrous breakthrough.  There was support for the counting quartet from Rachael Dyson, who in 192nd handled the mud better than she sometimes does, and Jennie Guard, looking a great deal more comfortable than at Wakefield last week and finishing exactly 200th; it would be interesting to work out how much higher up the team would have finished with six to score. Sian Davies (298) is turning into a more mature and dogged performer over the country, and put in another good run, getting the better of Veronique Marot (323) on this occasion; and the B squad had any number of clubs behind them.

There were no teams out in the other races, but there were several very fine individual runs and a couple of major improvements against form.  The two best individual efforts came in the Under-13 Girls, where Gemma Keir had her usual strong run to finish 27th out of over 400, and in the Under-15 Boys, in which Steven Eastwood had probably his best effort of the year to place 32nd in a similarly-sized field.  Gemma had Nicola Sawyer (a good steady run in 261st) and Gabrielle Scobie (401, and not displeased with it) for company, while in Steven’s race Harry Foster wasn’t a long way back in time – just thirty seconds – but in the densely-packed fields that appear in these Championships that meant a lot of places, and he finished 92nd.  There were three Under-15 Girls in action, with Georgia Yearby having by far the best run in a workmanlike 133rd (Grace Coburn placed 292nd and India Wilson 347th), while Chloe Harley (171) had a solo effort in one of the smallest fields of the day.  A field as big as the National was all a new experience for the two Under-13 Lads who turned out, whose runs were something of a contrast; Keiran Savage has had a few races, and ran well up to the form he’s shown in West Yorkshire Leagues to place 165th, in the first half of the field; but Jack Allinson, who’s only raced a couple of times for the Club before and was well behind Keiran then, was a revelation in 151st.  Hopefully he’ll now really believe he can do it!

Finally, a word of thanks for the Club’s ‘other team’ – the gang who assisted Brian Hilton to set out, marshal and dismantle the Club’s section of the course, who turned up at 8.30 or thereabouts and didn’t get away from the Park for the next eight hours.  They – and the members of the 20 or so other clubs who also put themselves on the line for a day’s toil – are the real reason why, whatever else happened on the day, the course was ready for use over an hour before the scheduled start-time, it was marked and marshalled so thoroughly that nobody was in danger of going wrong, and the races flowed one after another, trouble-free, incident-free and except for a few minor cuts, bruises and bent ankles such as you’d get at any cross-country race, accident-free.  The Scribe, as the one who’s been getting the praise for what was seen as a good job well done, would like to take this opportunity to pass it on to the people who in his opinion really deserved it.

27/28th February – England U20, U17 & U15 Indoor Championships, Birmingham

MEDALS FROM ESTABLISHED AND UNRECOGNISED SOURCES

The younger end of the Track & Field section were also in action over the weekend – well, ten of them were – and a very reasonable return of three medals and four P.Bs was the outcome,which was quite a decent percentage.  Two of the medals came from a pretty predictable source in the form of Jacob Gardiner, who by the looks of things appears to have set himself the target of getting higher up any available Ranking List than brother Dan did four years ago. (Mind you, he should have a chance; he now overtops his ‘big’ brother by a couple of inches.  Who was the idiot who used to call him Little Jake???)   He’s already achieved it in the Shot (by over two metres, no less), and to rub it in he equalled his Best of 14.40 to take the first of two Bronze medals; the second, in the Long Jump, was at 6.75 actually a centimetre short of Dan’s mark, but that was done with wind assistance – and there ain’t no wind in the N.I.A.!

The other medal, however, might no have been noticed – as on a technicality it wasn’t won in a Leeds City vest!  Luke Cooper resigned from Pudsey & Bramley around Christmas, and his formal transfer is in process, but as these things go it won’t be officially announced until March 1st – which meant he had to wear his old club’s colours at Birmingham.  However, after a lengthy conference over a pint between The Scribe and The Ranker (any excuse will do!!) it was agreed that his performance in taking the Silver medal – 2.08.54 – would count In the Lists, as it was done by a genuine Club member.  As he only lost the title by just over half a second and hasn’t, The Scribe understands, had a lot of experience ‘on the boards’ there could certainly be some summer fireworks at that level of performance.

The standard of this meeting is naturally very high; this can be judged by the fact that in their respective 60m Hurdles heats Fran Coldwell (U17) and Melissa Fletcher (U15) both ran P.Bs (9.67 and 10.31 respectively) to finish last!   Alyssia Carr did somewhat better in the younger event, getting through her heat and running not far short of her best (9.56) for 4th in the Semis.  It’s an interesting point whether for athletes of their standard  results like that can be seen as an achievement or a psychological battering, but one point of view came to the Scribe in an e-mail from Alison Campleman, Matt’s Mum.  Describing Matt’s effort in the Under-15 Lads’ 60m Hurdles – he ran 9.66, a twentieth of a second slower than his recent  P.B., to finish 5th of seven in his heat – she noted that “eight of the top ten ranked boys in the country were running,” and asked “how will kids learn if they only go to meetings for a guaranteed win?”  Matt certainly had a learning curve in his first Championship event; he was “using starting blocks for the first time and said he was really nervous,” but like the rest of the group he showed himself capable of swimming in the big pool.  The other Club hurdler in action, though, has swum there before, but never quite as fast; Katy Marchant skimmed four-hundredths off her best with an 8.93 Heat, and was only two hundredths slower finishing 6th in the Final.

There was also a bit of decent sprinting.  Tom Mosley was quite near his ‘legal’ 200 Best in the Under-20 race with his 22.29 heat, though he wasn’t quite as quick in the Semis; brother Jack ran a sound 53.07 in the Under-17 400 heats but didn’t progress; Alyssia had a further go in the 60, but probably left her best over the Hurdles and went out with 8.50; and Kadena Cox ran a purposeful double in the Under-20 sprints with 8.10 and 26.11.

ELDER STATESMAN MASSAGES THE SNAKE EFFECTIVELY

Just one Club member preferred the tarmac to Roundhay Park at the weekend – Chris Corcoran ran the Snake Lane Ten-Miler at Pocklington and just missed the first three in the Over-55 category with 67.47.  No doubt he’ll take out any frustration on the first pair of legs he gets to work on in the Medical Room on Tuesday night!

Brians Stats Appendix:

Leeds City AC National XC Team Performances

Leeds City AC National XC Team Performances

Individual National XC PerformancesIndividual National XC Performances