SPORTS journalist Chris Woods, from Alnwick, takes a look back at the first six months of the year on the sports fields, courts, halls and pools in north Northumberland. Next week, we will feature the second half of the year.
THE year started with votes pouring in for 10 sporting candidates who were short-listed for the Sports Personality of the Year Award for 2010. Nominees included Lucy Bowden (angling), Lucy Bronze (football), Bobby Dodds (cricket), Sam Dronsfield (tumbling), Gemma Gibson (equestrian), Tamsin Green (surf kayak), Jim Manford (marathon running), Lucy Staniforth (football), Jake Storey (golf) and Laura Weightman (athletics).
u It was a successful start to the year for Alnwick Harriers who claimed a haul of 11 medals at the North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships and the North Eastern Counties Indoor Championships. At the cross country championship event in South Shields, talented 12-year-old Adam Weightman won the much-coveted U13 title. The U13 boys’ team claimed overall third. At Gateshead’s Indoor Stadium, 12-year-old Alexander Tait marked himself as one to watch as he came away with three gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
u Alnwick Rugby Club’s First XV began the year in impressive fashion with a comprehensive victory over Ryton which took them to third place in the Durham and Northumberland Division One.
u The Northern Area Point-to-Point season began at Ratcheugh, Alnwick, with more than 100 competitors. Catherine Walton reigned supreme with double riding honours. Alan Wilson and his team were praised after ensuring the course was in excellent condition after inclement weather marred the start of the year.
u Ocean Youth Trust North East (OYT NE), the North East’s only sail training charity, celebrated the launch of ambitious plans to help more young and disabled people in the country to unlock their potential.
u Local bragging rights were claimed by River Coquet after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over rivals Amble Dock Hotel in the Morpeth Sunday League on the same day as the North East derby, Newcastle v Sunderland.
u After nearly two months out of action, the Morpeth Sunday League returned with East Chevington booking their place in the semi-finals of the George Cave Cup after defeating Felton FC.
u Alnwick Bowling Club survived as two volunteers, Dave Quean and John Levy, offered their support in keeping the club afloat after previous recruitment drives were to no avail.
u Alnwick Town FC reached the final of the Northern Alliance League Challenge Cup after a narrow victory over Blyth Town. Goals from Dale Kennedy, Neil Catlow and Tom Vickers gave the hosts a 3-2 win.
u Lindisfarne Middle School was crowned county champions in the Under 11 Sportshall Athletics Final.
u Sam Dronsfield was the overall winner of the Sports Personality of the Year Award. The Glanton-based gymnast claimed the prize after scooping a hat-trick of gongs at both national and regional level. The 15-year-old’s proudest moment came by winning gold in the national event in Stoke.
ALNWICK teenager Steven Dunn became the first darts player from the Alnwick Premier Darts League to earn county honours. Dunn, who plays for Alnwick Gate A, represented Northumberland B in their opening fixture against Shropshire and made a successful start to his reign with the county.
u Alnwick Cricket Club held its annual awards evening at The White Swan Hotel. Winners for the 2010 season were Michael Brewis, Jamie Guy, Jonathan Roxburgh, Steve O’Hara, Andrew Scott and David Wright.
u George Batey, of Windsor Gardens, Alnwick, was appointed president of the Northumberland County Bowling Association for the second time. The current president of Alnwick bowls previously held the position in 1993. He became only the second person in the 89-year history of the Northumberland association to be awarded the honour twice.
u The traditional Percy Point-to-Point took place after originally being scheduled for the traditional Easter Sunday. More favourable ground conditions were the ultimate reason, and with over 144 horses taking part, it was a worthwile decision.
u Teenage rugby star Jessica Young was selected to represent the North of England. The talented Felton youngster was invited to a series of training sessions before a divisional festival in April. Jessica, a pupil of Duchess’s Community High School, plays outside-centre or on the wing and has previously represented North East England and Northumberland.
u Rain was the only real winner in mid-February with several football fixtures postponed. Only three matches survived in the North Northumberland League after heavy downpours. In the Northern Alliance League, Alnwick played one of only two fixtures, as they beat Murton. Elsewhere, all fixtures fell foul to the weather in the Morpeth Sunday League Division One.
u Three pupils from Longridge Towers enjoyed success at the Interschools County Cross Tournament as they progressed to the county level of the competition. Matthew Grundie came 16th while Jack Learmouth finished 18th. Meanwhile, Allison Brown acheived third place in the Junior Girls’ Final.
u Cumberland jockey Tristan Davidson took the Percy Point-to-Point meeting at Ratcheugh by storm, riding four winners and two third places from his six races on the day.
u In women’s football, Lowick United lost their unbeaten record to an ever-improving Cramlington Juniors in the quarter-final of the County Cup. It took extra-time for Cramlington to eventually succeed, as they came out 6-4 victors.
u St Mary’s Middle School in Belford announced plans for their football team to travel to Malta in the summer. A group of players would be the guests of Hibernians FC in Paola and enjoy warm weather and professional training.
u An Alnwick boxer was defeated in the semi-final of a prestigious tournament after a flurry of punches left him with a broken nose. Chavez Pattinson’s dreams of winning the GB University Championships in the 81kg Novice Class came to an end in the last four of the competition as the 18-year-old was halted by talented Omar Sedeq. The referee broke up the bout as he feared that Pattinson’s injury could worsen.
u Talented swimmers from Alnwick Dolphins had success in the pool at the Durham Graded Meet. County qualifying times went to Lewis Bryson in the 100m individual medley, Eve Buddle in the 50m breaststroke, 50m fly, 50m freestyle and the 100m individual medley and Jake Cross in the 50m backstroke, the 50m freestyle and the 50m breaststroke. Lucy Hodgson also grabbed a county qualifying time in the 50m breaststroke, as did Samuel Macphee in the 50m backstroke.
A NEWTON on the Moor teenage netball player was selected along with 22 other students to head to Portugal for a summer training camp. Louise Laidler, from Newcastle-based Westfield Independent School, was part of the group to head to Praia de Vieira for a week-long camp. During the camp, the pupils would be put through their paces by elite England coaches and the Scottish youth coach.
u Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker called on schoolchildren in Northumberland to become a Barclays Ball Kid and join Andy Murray at the ATP World Tour Finals. North East regional trials took place in early March at the Northumberland Club in Jesmond. Twelve to 16-year-olds were tested on their agility, endurance, co-ordination, ball skills, speed and team-work.
u The Fishing For Everyone Ladies Fishing Club held its first fly-fishing event of the year on March 13. The club was keen to see more women join and the event was attended by qualified female angling coaches.
u Alnwick Town FC were held to a 2-2 draw by Carlisle City which saw them knocked off the top of the Northern Alliance Premier Division on goal-difference. Goals from Tom Vickers and Gary Patterson were not enough to see Town top the table outright.
u The Point-to-Point season came to a climax at Ratcheugh. A large crowd enjoyed some excellent early-spring weather and a full fixture of racing. Hold On Julio claimed the first victory of the day in the Northern Area Members’ Race. With racing now concluded at Ratcheugh for the season, preparations began early for the next meeting in December.
u Alnwick Rugby Club destroyed Sunderland as they enjoyed a 10-try romp at Greensfield. They roared into a 26-7 lead in the first half and then the floodgates opened in the second, as they ran out emphatic 68-7 winners.
u After months of bad weather, the day dawned bright and sunny for the Northern Dressage Championships at Titlington, near Alnwick. It was the culmination of a series of competitions in which riders had to obtain 60 per cent or more for qualification. Jay Rider was the overall winner of the preliminary class.
u Celebrations were in store at the oche as Alnmouth Village and Bell Bar B were crowned champions of their respective divisions with a week to go in the Alnwick Premier Darts League.
u Work began to transform the fortunes of a historic golf club which was on the brink of extinction. Alnwick Golf Club was in crisis last year, but a series of investments have led to positive signs for the Swansfield Park club. Nearly £200,000 was spent on new machinery as well as new staff members to maintain the course.
u Alnwick Rugby Club again ran out comprehensive winners for the second successive week as they ran in eight tries to destroy Gosforth 62-24.
u Alnwick Harriers ended its indoor season on a high at the final athletics meeting of Gateshead’s Indoor Series. Several strong performances throughout the five competitions saw the regular competitors from Alnwick scoop four trophies.
u Alnwick U10s took to the rugby field determined to win back the title of County Champions. The squad was split into two teams, the Lions and the Tigers. The Tigers were unfortunately beaten in the semi-final, but the Lions roared to victory over Northern A in the final to be crowned champions. The Lions have now been County Champions three times in the last four years.
u Alnwick Town U16s reached the semi-final of the Divisional Cup after a magnificent seven-goal hammering of North Shields. Expecting a tough contest against the top-of-the-table North Shields side, Alnwick made light work with a comprehensive victory.
u Talented athletes from Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick notched up impressive finishes in a prestigious cross-country event which pitted them against some of England’s finest runners. Crowds of people turned out to support them at the high-profile English Schools’ Athletic Association Cross-Country Cup Finals, which were held in Alnwick. Battling it out on home soil, under the shadow of Alnwick Castle, the girls’ intermediate team came 14th out of 23 sides, beating schools from the likes of the West Midlands, Kent and Greater Manchester. Alix Eastham was the Duchess’s highest female finisher, crossing the line in an impressive 38th place, from a field of more than 125 runners. Phillip Winkler spearheaded the boys’ attack, as the 14-year-old came 25th overall out of more than 135 runners.
u Alnwick Harriers won promotion to Division One of the North East Harrier League. A fantastic performance from the men’s team in the final fixture of the Division Two campaign saw the Harriers achieve the feat, after just one season in the second tier.
u Lowick United Ladies exited the League Cup at the quarter-final stage after an extra-time defeat at the hands of Percy Main, but they remained unbeaten in the league campaign which saw them still in the title hunt.
u Four of Alnwick’s U16s rugby players took to the field for Newcastle Falcons. Adam Wilkinson, Tom Blythe, Aston Whitlow and Richard Elliot – all students of Duchess’s Community High School – helped the Falcons to an impressive victory over Borders.
THE U16 girls’ hockey team from the Duchess’s Community High School were runners-up in the County Cup. They lost to Central Newcastle High School on penalty flicks after the score was tied at full-time.
u Ellington FC won the first silverware of the season in the Morpeth Sunday League after victory in the ACS Dobfar Cup Final. Ellington edged North End Trap Broomhill 4-3 in a hard-fought final played at Ashington’s Woodhorn Lane ground.
u An emphatic cup-final victory saw Alnmouth Village clinch the league and cup double in the Alnwick Premier Darts League. The Village – already crowned Division A champions – completed the feat by beating Bell Bar B in the Knock Out Cup final.
u Talented teenage swimmer Alix Eastham had outstanding success at the Scottish National Age Group Competition in Glasgow. The Alnwick Dolphin went to the competition hoping to achieve what no other Alnwick Dolphins female swimmer had ever achieved – an English National qualifying time in butterfly. The 15-year-old’s aspirations were met in a weekend of personal best times in the 200m individual medley, 100m and 200m butterfly.
u Players, ground staff and friends were on hand to help Alnwick Cricket Club in their CricketForce event. NatWest CricketForce is an England and Wales Cricket Board volunteering initiative aimed at rejuvenating the nation’s cricketing facilities. A number of tasks were completed to prepare the club for the 2011 season, including setting up the outdoor nets.
u Alnwick triple jumper Emma Pringle was selected for a high-profile scheme which supports emerging athletes. Pringle was selected for her second stint on the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative and also attended an Olympic-focused workshop with triple jump legend Jonathan Edwards.
u Seahouses Golf Club was awarded a top accolade after launching a major recruitment drive for junior players. The club received the GolfMark award for its scheme to make the club child-friendly and build strong links with the community.
u History was created at Alnwick Bowling Club when the President of the Northumberland Bowling County Association bowled the first wood to open the club’s 134th season. George Batey, the new county president, a former president at Alnwick and last year’s Duke’s Medal club champion, performed the honour.
u Amble Pier 81 lifted the George Cave Memorial Cup after a resounding 9-0 victory over East Chevington.
u Ian Tate was crowned Alnwick Premier Darts League singles champion. Experience told for Tate who defeated Roy Belisle in the final of the event held at The Alnwick Gate.
u Three Alnwick sides faced Ponteland on April 23, with honours even across the trio. In football, Alnwick Town were held to a 2-2 draw. The final rugby game of the season saw Alnwick comprehensive victors as they scored 42 un-answered points to finish a respectable third in the table. Meanwhile, Alnwick’s cricketers suffered an opening day defeat, also at the hands of Ponteland.
u Warkworth kicked off the defence of their Premier Division title with an emphatic 68-run win over local rivals Alnmouth and Lesbury.
u Long-time leaders Bedlington Barrington Arms finally clinched the Division Two title of the Morpeth Sunday League, and after a brief blip, they claimed the crown thanks to a 6-1 demolition of Ellington.
u The North East’s first outdoor track and field meeting of the year got off to a scorching start, as 10 young Alnwick Harriers made an instant impact. Despite hot conditions, Alnwick’s U15s provided particularly inspiring results, as they claimed eight medals and set six new club records.
u Alnwick U10s travelled to Tynedale Rugby Club to compete in the annual seven-a-side tournament and returned as champions.
u Wooler Bowling Club officially opened their new green in time for the start of the new season.
ALNWICK Tennis Club started the month on a high after success in the North East Club Winter League. Alnwick I finished fourth in their group and went on to win the knockout section after defeating Blaydon and then a Hartlepool-based side in the final. Not to be outdone, Alnwick II finished eighth in their group, but also went onto win their knockout section.
u Talented youngsters from Duchess’s Community High School won the school netball league for the third consecutive year. The students, competing at U16 level, completed the hat-trick after previously winning at U14 and U15. The team is also county champions.
u Alnwick Town Reserves celebrated as they were crowned champions of the North Northumberland Division One after they beat Bedlington Terriers 3-1.
u Warkworth continued their impressive unbeaten run at the start of the Northumberland Cricket League with a third consecutive victory over Bates Cottages. Alnwick on the other hand, had opposite fortunes, as their third straight defeat at the hands of Consett left them rooted to the foot of the Nortumberland and Tyneside Senior League.
u Longhoughton Rangers claimed their sixth consecutive victory after an impressive display away to North Shields saw them run out 4-1 victors.
u One hundred and seventy seven people took part in the eighth Alnwick Sprint Tri. The event included a 500m pool swim at Willowburn Leisure Centre, followed by a 13-mile bike ride to the coast at Boulmer and finished with an off-road three-mile run.
u The inaugural Druridge Bay Marathon was a big success with runners coming from all over the UK to take part in the multi-terrain race. There was a limited entry field of 60 runners and the race included four laps of beach and lakes designed around the Country Park. Keith Lowery, of Durham, was the first man home in 3h 12m.
u Mountainbikers from Wooler’s Team Cheviot Hill Racers held a club championship, with Rob Tait claiming the overall King of the Hill for the second successive year.
u Alnwick Town FC played their penultimate game of the season knowing that victory away to Heaton Stannington would see them crowned Premier Division champions. Blustery conditions and a hard-fought game resulted in the points being shared with Alnwick looking over their shoulder towards Ponteland in a close finish to the season.
u Alnwick II continued an impressive start to the season with a comprehensive 10-wicket win at home to Leadgate, with veteran Allen Thompson and captain Andrew Stewart seeing the hosts home. The First XI fixture was a high-scoring affair, with Leadgate winning by three wickets.
u For the second successive weekend, a fixture in the Alnwick and District Cricket League failed to take place. This time out, Howick failed to muster a side, resulting in them conceding to Tillside.
u Seahouses’ Gayle Bloomfield, who thought she would never ride again after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, qualified for a prestigious national horseriding championships. After having a five-year break, Bloomfield qualified to represent the North region in the RDA national championships in Gloucester over the summer.
u In the final weekend of May – and the last of the football season – Alnwick Town FC’s dreams of winning the Northern Alliance Premier Division title were dashed. Although a final-day defeat at the hands of Heaton Stannington resulted in Ponteland dramatically claiming the crown, Alnwick earned promotion to the Northern League.
IN early June, it was announced that the Alnwick and District Sports Council gave more than £2,500 of grants over the last year to support grassroots sport in the area. The funding helped many individuals and clubs, including Alnwick Riding and Alnwick Croquet Club.
u Six hockey players from Duchess’s Community High School were selected to train in the North East of England regional squad in Durham over the summer. Linzi Taylor, Leanne Imeson, Katherine Noble, Grace Pettifer, Emma Brown and Hannah Pringle were those selected.
u Ian Harding, of Amble, finished more than two minutes ahead of the field to win a charity run for the second time in three years. Despite the blustery conditions, Harding completed the Druridge Bay 10k with an impressive time of 31m50s.
u Alnwick Cricket Club enjoyed a successful week as a century from Michael Brewis saw them to a win over high-flying Whickham, and just four days later they reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup with a high-scoring win over Ponteland.
u The curtain came down on the 49th season of the Morpeth Sunday League, with champions-elect Pegswood Ex continuing their dominance of the league with a 14-0 demolition of East Chevington.
u Lowick United Ladies footballers completed a remarkable feat as they ended their season unbeaten in the league and also be crowned champions for the first time.
u Mitford amassed a total of 309 for three wickets which was the highest total in the club’s history. The second wicket partnership, between Terry Dunn and Matthew Ellinor, was in itself a club record. Dunn was eventually dismissed for a spectacular 144, as Mitford were 139-run victors at home to Berwick.
u More than 200 children from middle schools in the Alnwick and Berwick area descended onto Berwick Middle School for their annual ASDA Kwik Cricket Festival. Lindisfarne Middle School won the mixed tournament, whereas Berwick Middle won the girls-only event.