SUNDERLAND Harriers, nine times winners of the Sherman Cup, will bid to improve on their second place of last year at South Shields on Saturday.
The Wearsiders bid to turn the tables on their form in the cross country competition that determines the overall male strength of a club throughout all four age groups.
You have to go back to 2000 when the city club last lifted the former football pools sponsored trophy. And, although they have been placed in the frame practically every year since then, it is Morpeth Harriers that have dominated the competition.
Last year, they beat Sunderland by 77 points despite the royal blue vests supplying two winners of the four events with senior man Jack Martin and Oliver James in the under-17s.
Again the club has been on a recruiting mission to ensure that the club has strong teams throughout the age groups.
Brian Bewick, a former quality half marathon runner and third placed finisher in the Inter Counties 20 miles road race championship in 1994, is expected to lend his hand to Sunderland’s challenge in the senior race.
At the age of 45 he returns to cross country after an absence of some time. As a youngster he won a bronze medal in the 1981 North East Boys’ Cross Country championship and was also a regular member of the Sunderland all conquering youth team.
Coaches Ken Jefferson and John Archer have an abundance of talent in the younger age groups and they have named athletes expected to lead the way.
Jack Kelly, Patrick Crombie, Hugh Danby-Platt and Michael Hind chase a team counting position in the under-17s event. James McAnaney, Jack Robinson, Luca Irvine, James Myers and much improved Joel Jones carry the flag in the under-15s, while Jack Smith, Keiran Watson, Tom Johnson and Luke Phillips bid for one of the three counting places in the under-13s.
The women compete for the Davison Shield, a competition that they have never won. You have to finish teams in each of the four races to be in with a shout of lifting the trophy. This has cost Sunderland dearly in the past and they hope to make amends on Saturday with full squads out to impress on the Temple Park course.
Already down to run are Amy Coulson, Alison Seadon and Eve Rogers in the under17/20 women’s race, Danielle Elliott, Alex Pearson and Ann Foster in the under-15s plus Laura Hand in the under-13s. Club captain Michelle Holt is again expected to lead the senior women’s team into action.
The meeting starts at 12.15 with the under-11s race. The senior men off at 1.15pm. This event is included in the Harriers’ grand prix with more points to be won.
Meanwhile, Holt won her second race of the year following her victory in the Lambton Run in May, with victory in the tough Richmond Castle 10k on Sunday. She finished an impressive 16th overall to clock 39.10 for the tough course in a field of 350. Sunderland Stroller Derek Wright was first over-60 in 74th (44.36). The race was won by the host club’s Marc Scott (33.26).
In the Amsterdam Marathon, Stroller Ken Maynard, an over-50, recorded 3.06.41., while in the half marathon there was a PB for Brian Carroll (88.01).
H The Lambton Run takes place on June 24 next year.