Sunderland Harriers’ Seniors hoping to avert disaster and claim North Eastern Harrier League title

Sunderland Harrier Michael Thompson.
Sunderland Harrier Michael Thompson.

Sunderland Harriers’ senior men go into the final North Eastern Harrier League at Wrekenton on Saturday, with a handsome three points lead over their closest rivals at the top of the first division.

With three wins and one fourth place finish to their name, they have scored seven points, ahead of Tyne Bridge on 10 and National cross country champions Morpeth in third on 12 points.

These are the only clubs that could lift the title and the Sisterton Cup, as the other seven clubs are too far off the pace.

Only a disaster can prevent Sunderland from winning the title for the first time since 2010.

Team manager Albert James said: “The title is within our grasp, only a disaster can stop us now after a demanding season.

“We have seen fixtures postponed and one cancelled at Newcastle’s Town Moor through flooding. This has left just five fixtures to contend with instead of the usual six.

“I’m not sure if this has been in our favour or not, but you have to be prepared for any outcome and we have been very consistent throughout the season.

“I’m sure this will continue on Saturday and the lads know what we need to ensure the season ends in victory.

“We have a proud record in the league, we have never been out of the first division and had a marvelous run of 19 victories on the trot between 1991 and 2010.”

James will build his six-man team around slow pack runners, veteran Michael Thompson and Matt Devlin, plus medium pack man Andy Powell for the six-mile handicap race.

Sunderland Strollers are third off bottom of the second division, but they appear to be safe from relegation with a six point advantage over Jesmond Joggers and have nine points on bottom club Blyth.

The Strollers’ women are in danger of losing their first division status in being second off bottom and seven points off safety.

In the individual Grand Prix, the following are in contention for prizes: Houghton Harriers’ Henry Johnson 1st under-13, Nicole Phillips 2nd under-13 girl. Sunderland Harriers’ Steve McMahon 2nd senior men, Jess Fox 2nd under-20 women, Paul Merrison 3rd veteran men, Sarah Knight 5th under-15 girl, Nicola Woodward 6th veteran woman. Sunderland Strollers’ Gillian Ritchie 4th senior woman.

The Sunderland Harriers’ cross country Grand Prix comes to its conclusion on Saturday.

Long time leader Paul Merrison has only to turn out to clinch the title and the £150 first prize.

Others in contention for one of the five prizes with their points total are: Nicola Woodward 52, Emma North 51, Dean Phillips 50, Paul Redman 50, Gary Fox 49 and Steve McMahon 49

Following his personal best in the Seville Marathon (2.27.44) three weeks ago, Sunderland Harrier Matt Jones made a winning return to competition in the Harewood House multi-terrain 10k (35.13) on Sunday.