Herne Hill Harriers’ men’s track and field team won promotion to the BAL Premiership, the top division of 8 club men’s teams in UK league athletics. Going into the final fixture at Eton a result of 6th or better among the 8 competing teams was required to guarantee us promotion and on a day when very little seemed to go right for us we were made to sweat in the sweltering heat before our elevation to the top flight was confirmed by the final match scores. Despite calamities for us in both relays we had some other fairly strong late events to ensure we finished 5th in the match, one point ahead of the 6th team, which meant we were 2nd in the final National 1 table and are promoted with division champions Enfield and Haringey.
The final BAL National 1 league standings were as follows: Enfield & Haringey 26 points, Herne Hill Harriers 25, Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow 21, Cardiff 20, Belgrave 18.5, Thames Valley Harriers 17.5, Gateshead Harriers 11, Harrow 5.
Our fantastic season was based on all round team effort and we have had relatively few event winners, emphasising that everybody’s contribution is always vital. At Eton we had no A string event winners and only enjoyed two B string winners. The 400m and triple jump, which have been strong events for HHH all season in BAL were our best events at Eton, as we recorded 2nd A string and 1st B string in both. Peter Phillips ran under 48 seconds to place 2nd in the A 400m, clocking 47.95, while Sammy Croll-Mensah won the B string in 49.42. In the triple jump Shola John-Olojo placed 2nd with 14.76m while Taiwo Aderini jumped a PB of 14.59m to win the B string.
Another HHH athlete to set a new PB was Gavin Johnson-Assoon, who placed an excellent 2nd in the A string javelin with 62.31m. Club junior long jump record holder Jonathan Grant jumped well for 7.15m in the A long jump to place a very good 2nd. The sprint races were very strong, with internationals and one 400m Olympian competing, so Robert Graham’s 3rd in the A string 100m was a decent performance, although he felt he should have run faster. Idris Ojuriye also ran well to place 3rd in the B 100m. Stuart Thurgood’s 55.16m in the hammer placed him 3rd in the A string, while Michael Wheeler and Thomas Ashby placed 3rd in the A and B shot respectively. Paul Oluyemi was 3rd in the B long jump and Piotr Spas 3rd in the B pole vault.
Our team spirit shone through in an unfortunate 4 x 400m relay where, after great legs by Sammy Croll-Mensah and Michael Dyer put us in the lead, Byron Robinson was holding that lead in the home straight when the baton was knocked from his hand and he had to scramble to retrieve it on the infield before handing over to Peter Phillips who brought us home 6th in a race in which we were headed for something so much better.
But we got over the line in that race, in the match and in the season and achieved another famous promotion. Just a year after being promoted into the second tier we are upwardly mobile again and will be dining at the top table in 2013 for the first time in the history of the club.
Geoff Jerwood, HHH BAL Team Manager.