Good individual runs aren't enough for Morpeth Harriers in cup competitions

Morpeth Harrier Cat Macdonald won the Senior Women's race at the weekend. Picture: Peter ScaifeMorpeth Harrier Cat Macdonald won the Senior Women's race at the weekend. Picture: Peter Scaife
Morpeth Harrier Cat Macdonald won the Senior Women's race at the weekend. Picture: Peter Scaife
2024 got off to a disappointing start for Morpeth Harriers when, despite several strong individual and team performances, they lost their longstanding hold on the Sherman Cup and proved unable to mount a challenge for the Davison Shield at the weekend.

An annual competition, the Sherman Cup (for male athletes) and the Davison Shield (for female athletes) require clubs to participate across the full age ranges, with three categories that take in Under 13s, 15s and 17s for Young athletes, and two more for Seniors and Veterans, with the first three finishing in each category to count in a club’s overall team score.

It proved to be in the younger age groups where Morpeth were found wanting, with only their winning U13 boys able to show the way forward.

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Ewan Line had a deserved victory for the U13s, with excellent support behind him coming from Daniel Vermaas (13th), Jack Dhawar (27th) and George Moll (29th) for a team win.

In the matching U13 girls race, Faye Heatley was narrowly beaten into third with Lucy Raper fourth, but the unfortunate lack of a third counter meant the team missed out on a likely win.

The absence of a final counter cost both boys and girls teams in the U15s, with Ben Moll fifth and Michael Leeson 26th for the boys and Emma Tomlinson seventh and Charlotte Marshall 25th for the girls.

It was, if anything, worse in the U17s, with Elliot Kelso forced to drop out of the boys race and only Oliver Tomlinson flying the Morpeth flag, but squeezed out of the medals in fourth, and no girls running at all.

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The chances of victory had already gone when Senior and Veteran athletes lined up for the day’s final two races, but there was at least redemption of a sort with much better turnouts and several outstanding performances.

Two of these came in the women’s race, where Morpeth’s Cat Macdonald was chased all the way round by Jane Hodgson, with Macdonald taking the Senior and Hodgson the Veteran titles.

Some strong packing behind them saw Poppy Buck, Lizzie Rank and Lindsey Quinn finish 19th, 20th and 21st to finish as first Senior team, with Nicola McCoy (79th), Jane Briggs (84th) and Shuna Rank (92nd) ensuring the Veteran team were eighth.

The day’s final race Senior Men’s race saw three Morpeth runners in the top 10, with Lawrence McCourt picking up a silver in second, Alex Brown looking strong in fifth and Connor Marshall eighth. With James Tilley making the top 20 in 18th and Adam Pratt returning to competitive action in 23rd, the men’s team, like the women’s, finished as winners.

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In the same race, the Morpeth Veteran men also ran well, with Ian Walker first back for the club in 61st, Andy Hebden 68th and Ben Heatley 74th, the team finishing in fifth.

As the only club fielding full teams in both competitions, Tyne Bridge finished as winners in both Sherman Cup and Davison Shield, with Morpeth sadly having to look ruefully at what might have been.