Down to the Wire.

Our Midland League and Vets T&F teams and officials following the final league fixtures of the season.
Last week was very much a Track and Field week. Both our Vets team and Midland League team finished the league season off respectively at Worcester and Solihull. Our vets once again finished in 2nd place in the league and their focus now moves to the Cup Final on 4th September. In a tense and exciting finale at Solihull our Midland League team missed out on promotion by the narrowest of margins, with the outcome literally going down to the wire to decide the final promotion places

The weekend also saw the Midland Counties AA Age Group Championships at The Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton and hopefully we’ll have a report on these next week when the full results are published.

It’s the Summer Six this Saturday evening and good luck to those of you who are competing and well done to those of you who are helping out on the night.

Take care.

Best Wishes

David Jones.

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Cole Williams passes tha baton to Joel Watson.

Midlands League Track & Field – Fixture 4

Solihull – 13th August.

Report – David Jones

With temperatures uncomfortably in the mid thirties, this season’s Midland’s League T&F season came to an exciting finish at the Norman Green Athletic Track last Saturday.

The day started with 3 teams in contention for the 2 promotion places with just a couple of league points separating them. Yate & District were on 18 league points, we were on 17 and Cheltenham & County Harriers on 16.

In an extremely tense finale I think it’s fair to say that we were playing catch up for most of the day.

In the end we fell just 15.5 match points short with Yate triumphing. Cheltenham finished the day with 390.5 match points against our own tally of 375. 

The final league positions based on the provisional results are:

Yate – 25 league points

Cheltenham –  22

SAC –  22

If these results stand, Cheltenham are promoted alongside Yate by virtue of the match points they accumulated throughout the season. The best analogy I can think of is that they are promoted on goal difference.

Special mention and thanks must go to our volunteer officials who had to stand out in intense heat and with no shade for long periods of time.

Team manager Mike Sheppard commented “In the end, it looks like we finished a narrow third on the day and an even narrower third for the season (with the same overall league points as Cheltenham in second, but with a slightly fewer match points in aggregate). 

Unless there are late adjustments, this means that Stratford will remain in Division 3 for next season. Yate & Cheltenham are the promoted teams. Wolves & Bilston, Worcester, & Sutton-in-Ashfield are the three clubs relegated. 

Well done and thank you to everyone who has competed and/or officiated for Stratford this season. There have been ups and downs as always but I think we can all agree every match has been great fun. With so many outstanding contributions it seems unfair to single people out, but I make an exception for Paula Williams, Caleb Spriggs and Emma Sparrow who have been our three “ever presents” across the season”  


Richard Liggatt (M73) and Matt Burdus-Cook (M74) in the 3000m race.
The Fearless Fivesome : Kim Lee, Pip Bell, Becks Pridham, Phillipa Abrams and Hannah Osborne. 
Midland League Vets Track and Field League Fixture 4

Worcester 10th August

Report – Becks Pridham

Summer evenings in August are just perfect for spending time with friends and enjoying life, taking it easy…or running, jumping throwing, racewalking on one of the hottest evenings of the year?

The call came and Stratford athletes answered in the positive!

Worcester track was the venue for the final league match of the season.

Six of the evening’s athletes were T&F novices, some of whom were given less than 24 hours notice of their debuts.

I was one of those who was a newbie and 10 mins before my first ever 200m race, the lovely Christine Coote took pity on me and patiently showed me how to start (hands behind the line, knee on the floor). David Jones was on hand to give some top tips to the other novices in our group, as well as John Turner (lovely to both him and his son Andrew and have a grand chat!)

There were some superb results from the warm Worcestershire evening, notably new club records for David Jones in M70 discus (10.82m), Christine Coote in W60 800m (03:45.00) and Andy List in 200m (00:28.90).

Making their debut in the 3000m on Wednesday night were Pip Bell (W50,14:46.00 ) and Phillipa Abrams (W40, 14:23.00 ) both running strong and with confidence, as they joined Kim Lee (on top form, finishing in 13:25.00) for the Stratford ladies.

Dan Hutchings made his T&F debut, first as a non scoring guest in the triple jump “not done it since school” and his result show by jumping 9.94m that he has lots of potential. He then competed as a scoring member of the team in both 200m (30.1) and 800m (2:42.7) finishing in 2nd place in both to earn valuable points for the team. Team captain Hannah Osborne has already planned his training for next year!
One of the top races of the night was the men’s 3000m which was effectively three races in one, with M35, M40 and M50 runners competing together. In the M35, debutant Richard Liggatt pretty much led from gun to tape. He looked comfortable and held his form throughout even finding something extra in the home straight when the 2nd placed M35 runner threatened. He won in a time of 9:44.5.  Matt Burdus-Cook and Richard helped each other out during the race with Matt finishing in 2nd place in the M40 in a time of 9:45.1. Pete Sugden (11:21.3) was 5th in the M50 race.

The racewalk was a definitely a race of two halves, with race walk veterans Kate Sergent and Gemma Smith competing alongside newbies John Devine and Pete Sugden. Kate and Gemma showed the boys how to do it, finishing confidently in 14:19.2 (2nd, W50) and 14:22.00 (2nd, W35) respectively, Pete (15:44.00, 4th, M50) and John (15:37.00, 3rd, M40) who having not quite perfected the admittedly incredibly complex rules and techniques, did the club proud by scoring important points. Gemma coming to cross the line for the 2km race walk was one of the finishes of the evening, that final focus and determination were evident in her strides.

Other fantastic results on the night came from the women’s 4x100m (Hannah Osborne, Christine Coote, Elaine Ledden and Kim Lee) finishing 2nd for the club in 01:10.20, and the men’s 4x100m (Andy List, Richard Liggatt, Pete Sugden, Max Ross), finishing 2nd in 00:56.10.
Other notable results came from Alaistair Webb coming 1st in M35 triple jump. Alastair who has struggled with injury this season managed a personal best of 9.94m beating his 2021 distance of 9.75m. Mark Illingworth coming 2nd, M60 in the hammer with 17.27m, and John Devine in the shot 6.53m (6th, M40).

Elaine Ledden continues with her outstanding running, coming 1st in W60 200m in 00:31.70, as well as bringing the womens 100m relay team home, she somehow managed to find time to jump 6.99m in the triple jump. Elizabeth Manzella excelled in the discus, achieving a personal best of 11.69m.

For those that saw me race on the night, you may have seen me grinning like a Cheshire Cat on the 200m, I was desperately trying not to laugh as I finished 8 seconds behind the rest of the field (they went off like bullets!), all I could think of was “stay in your lane, don’t laugh, breathe and ‘socket to pocket’!”. There were 4 in my age group, so I still received 5 points for “coming last”. That is the importance of having people turning up for the club and “giving it a go”. I have always been incredibly worried about “looking daft” but after seeing the women’s 5000m at the Commonweath Games (with one competitor lapped three times), and knowing that just turning up and not getting DQd will gain a point, I was willing to give it a shot.

Yes, I will do it again (when the speedy ones aren’t around or they need a body), and yes, I will definitely go and train at track and try something a bit different.

Support on the night from the team, fellow competitors and officials was superb. I wholeheartedly recommend that you consider “giving it a go”. If I can tackle running 200m and 800m for the first time at age 49, I am pretty sure anyone can!

Huge thanks to Hannah for painstakingly organising this season’s track and field. The amount of work and admin which goes into arranging who is competing for Stratford and finding replacements for those with injuries, holidays or illness, is no small job. 

It was another successful season for our Vets team who once again finished in 2nd place overall behind the all conquering Worcester team. Both our ladies’ and men’s teams also finished in 2nd place, again behind Worcester.

Focus now moves to the Vets T&F Cup Final at The Pingles Stadium on 4th September. The club have once again qualified for the ‘A’ Final.
Lynne Sumners

In a similar way that the two T& F fixtures reported on this week require volunteers to enable them to proceed, even an event as large and prestigious as the recent Commonwealth Games could not happen without the help of volunteers.

I know that many members and parents helped out at these games and three of them have very kindly sent in their thoughts and comments on their experiences.

The common denominator is that they are all parents with children who have been or still are involved in the club who have put something back into the club and then got these fantastic opportunities.

Commonwealth Games Volunteering Birmingham 2022

Emma Sparrow 

The Commonwealth Games has been an incredible experience. I was part of the Medal Ceremonies Team, which included these roles:

Athlete Escort – Preparing and coordinating athletes to receive their medals before escorting them to and from the podium.

Medal and Gift Bearer – Assisting with carrying the correctly laid out medals and gifts to the award-winning athletes on the podium. 

Back-of-House Support Team Member – Helping overseeing the smooth and timely running of events as well as preparing the correctly laid out medal trays. 

There were 24 in our team but that didn’t include the MOD who we worked alongside. I never thought a group of people could get on so well. It’s like we had known each other for years. We have left staying friends and have a WhatsApp group which is always going off!

Being backstage I saw athletes coming back from the podium. They would take off their kits and swap them with the athletes from different countries. They were also swapping numbers and calling each other friends. I was asked by some athletes if I could film or take photos of their medal ceremonies on their phones.

Being a Stratford AC Coach and Official my most memorable moment was being part of our Andrew Pozzi’s medal Ceremony. I presented the tray with his bronze medal and mascot!

When we didn’t have any ceremonies we would watch the athletics on the track. I would have to say the atmosphere was amazing! If you get a chance to volunteer at major competition like it, I would recommend it. I would definitely go for it again!

Michael Lane

Volunteering at a large event can be very daunting but also very rewarding.

My role was with ‘Athlete Services’. We were responsible for making sure that the athletes were able to use the warm up track safely, Access from warm up, through ‘Call Room’ to the stadium was problem free. Making sure that they entered and exited the ‘mixed zone’ the correct way. Be aware of unauthorized people trying to enter the athlete corridor which takes them to ‘Anti-doping’ and ‘Post Event Control’.

There was around 60 of us in the team, 30 doing the morning session and the same in the evening. Although we didn’t get to see a lot of the events trackside. There were plenty of TV screens within the areas I mentioned that we could watch. 

The 4.30am alarm was a shock to the system. But I had to be at the Alexandra Stadium for 7am. Car to Dorridge to catch the train to Moor St, followed by a short walk to catch the shuttle bus direct to the Stadium. The positive response we had from the fans reinforced how much volunteers are valued at such events and how important they are at grass roots level.

As a Stratford AC official, former coach and age group leader for many years, the highlight of the week was sharing in the celebrations of our very own Andrew Pozzi, winning a deserved medal.

Mandy Newton

Wow, what a week! An unforgettable, once in a lifetime, experience.

I have just finished my Commonwealth Games volunteering as a member of the Commonwealth Collective in the (now magnificent) Alexander Stadium. My role was a Production Runner for the team who produce the whole show, to make the experience as rich as possible for the audience.

I helped in many ways: from looking after Radzi Chinyanganya, Iwan Thomas & Kadeena Cox, ensuring they were fed and watered, to running scripts and paperwork up to the presenters, Kris Temple & Geoff Wightman (dad to Jake, world 1500m champion). I also got to catch ‘Aerial Perry’ and lead him back safely around the track to his home, deep inside the west stand. When I had time out, I was able to watch the athletics action from either the balcony or the tunnel and got to see all the dignitaries and athletes getting ready for their medal ceremonies. That’s where I caught up with our very own Andy Pozzi for a chat and a cheeky photo or 2.

Standing within touching distance of Seb Coe, one of my childhood favourites, and KJT was a highlight too. I had to pinch myself to check it was all still real!

This, of course, would not have all been possible without my volunteering experience at Stratford AC. Paul approached me when my eldest children were only in the U11’s and asked if I could help out at the club and I’m an assistant coach and UK Athletics timekeeper and have been for several years..

Stratford AC is a fantastic, inclusive family club and it has been a joy to be part of it over the years; so rewarding and not onerous at all. You can do as little or as much as you’d like, you may need to go on a course to make it all official but then again you get to meet some lovely people who are also passionate about sport.

Get involved, it’s worth it, look what I got to do!!!

Lynne Sumners

So my Commonwealth Games story couldn’t be any different from the others. 

I did stress at interview, that I love athletics etc and I’m one of the club’s timekeepers but I was placed in Event Services at Leamington for the Lawn Bowls and Para Lawn bowls.

The experience was so amazing but compared to other venues, really low key and quite chilled. I was mainly on meet and greet or information services in the Plaza, where I got to meet lots of lovely people and bowls athletes.

I also did a 12 hour shift in Warwick at the Cycle race and again that was completely different. I watched the whole race from the disability platform in the start/ finish straight making sure the platform wasn’t abused with such good views.

Overall, it was a wonderful if not exhausting experience and I would volunteer again for something on this scale.

And Finally
 A few more photos from the last Vets T&F league fixture of the season at Worcester.
L to R : Peter Sugden, Richard Liggatt and Matt Burdus-Cook in the 3000m race.
John Devine in the shot put, watched by an eagle eyed official.
Becks Pridham and team manager Hannah Osborne.