Athletic clubs’ strength set to be tested

Dean Phillips.
Dean Phillips.
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THE Sherman Cup and Davison Shield competition is the biggest test of a club’s cross country strength in the North East.

And on Saturday South Shields host the event at Temple Park that will determine the overall winners.

The five events for the Sherman Cup for men and the Davison Shield for women, cover all age groups from under-13s to veterans. In each of the events, the first three runners from each club to finish will determine the team score.

The club with the lowest points score are declared the winners and the total points of each of the age groups are added together to deliver the winners.

Sunderland Harriers first won the Sherman Cup competition in 1989 and they have gone on to win the former football pools trophy eight times with their last victory coming in 2000. They have regularly appeared in the frame since then, but first place has been beyond them.

Last year they finished second to Morpeth who have dominated the competition since 2000, finishing 37 points behind the Northumberland club. The Sunderland female team failed to close in a team in the Davison Shield after finishing third in 2012. The Wearsiders have never won this recently introduced competition.

The Sunderland team management are in for a busy week in ensuring that the club will be represented in all categories. Newly elected veterans’ captain Dean Phillips faces his first big test in ensuing that the men’s veteran team is at its strongest.

The over-40 veterans’, for many years the pinnacle of the club’s success over the country, has lost many of its leading lights as age has caught up with them.

But the senior team could again lead the way with Craig Isherwood, Kevin Jeffress and Nathan Reed, the likely counters. There is strength in depth in the under-17 squad, while the under 15s and under-13s will be fully tested.

The female team has the potential to get on the medal trail again and team manager Eddie Maddison will have his hands full to ensure full squads are in attendance.

Timetable (times are approx): 12.15 Under-11 Boys and Girls, 12.25 Under-13 Boys, 12.35 Under-13 Girls, 12.45 Under-15 Boys, 12.55 Under-15 Girls, 13.05 Under-17 and Under-20 Women, 13.10 Senior and Veteran Women, 13.50 Under-17 Men, 14.15 Senior and Veteran Men

H Sunderland Strollers hosted their first winter handicap of the winter.

The popular club competition took in an alternative route along the riverside due to the Roker illuminations and the event was chip timed for the first time.

John Barber was first to finish in a time of 24.39 while the first female home was Jennifer Hogg in 29.29. The fastest time of the evening over the interim route, which was just short of 5k, was new recruit Tony Noble in 15.53.

The fastest female was Rebecca Hartnack in 19.25. The next handicap is scheduled for November when the route will be back to normal.

H There were some outstanding performances in the Houghton Harriers’ junior mile handicap in a record field of 66 runners.

Alex Brown smashed the course record by seven seconds, setting a new mark of 4.44. Anna Pigford was the fastest girl with 5.49.

H In the Durham Young Peoples Cross Country Championships at Birtley, Sunderland Harriers scored a golden double twice. Chris Bell won the under-17 men’s race and with Johnny Howe second and Jack Smith third, they also won the team race.

They repeated that success in the under-17 women’s event with Jessica Fox winning and Alisha Richardson runner-up plus Ashlyn Liddle third, to win their team contest.