Final Gwent League – Ali’s Army on Manoeuvres – Saturday 1st March 2014

What a difference from 3 weeks ago. Brilliant sunshine, local venue and cake afterwards.

My army of ever increasing numbers rose to the occasion and all under-11 and under-13 lads were present and correct. The calls to arms clearly worked and what a great finish to this long and muddy cross-country season.

First off were the under-11 boys and as usual it was like the charge of the light brigade. I was slightly concerned to see a new recruit Harry at the front of the race in the initial stages and I do admire his competitive spirit. Although he could not maintain this pace full marks for having a go and hanging in there.

Old timers Otto and Caleb raced with great conviction with Otto proving that a small amount of speed training can go a long way when you are still so young.

Caleb always amazes me pulling through so strongly in the second half of the race. No doubt he was glad to get back to the playground afterwards with several of the team. At least I knew where to find them.

Fenn also made his first appearance for the club and what a great asset he will be next year giving further strength to the under-13 team. He kept a very cool head whilst being cheered on by his older brother. Interestingly both brothers will be in the under-13 team next season so for a coach and team manager I am well pleased; you could say two for the price of one.

An hour later the under-13 boys were off and at the final fixture we produced our secret weapon Jasper who due to other commitments has not been available. The team was the strongest we have put out all season and I knew this would make it extremely competitive between our lads and I would not have liked to bet on the finishing order. First to come through the woods was Jasper followed shortly by Nathan and Stan. At this point I had to rush off to my race which had just started (first time in 40 years I have missed the start of a race!) Although I was not around to cheer the next four lads in, they clearly gave their all and one performance which stood out was by new comer Ted in his first competitive race.

To sum up it is a great shame to be loosing Jasper but I wish him well next year as an under-15

Stan and Nathan have been very close all season and Nathan has just had the better of Stan in the last two races but I am sure these two great mates will both go even better together next year.

Harry, Dan and Robert were all very close in terms of position. This was the last race for Harry and Dan as under-13s and they have both been very loyal members of the team along with their parents.

Robert still has another year with me and if he can summer well I am sure he will surprise himself next season.

Last but not least I could not do all this without the help of the parents who put up with all my funny ways. I was even on the phone to a dad in Kuala Lumpur the night before the race, just checking on his son!

Next year bodes well. Enjoy the Summer.

Ali

Under-11

Aidan Oscroft 9

Otto  Kingston 11

Caleb Owen    14

Fenn Willoughby 23

Harry Hughes 29

Under-13

Jasper Eddison   7

Nathan Merchant 12

Stan Harding Hill 20

Ted Willoughby 23

Harry Feehily     46

Daniel Marshall 48

Robert Kiekuth 50