Heart of England League – Banbury – 23rd June 2024

Heart of England League – Banbury – 23rd June 2024

The photos that Toby took at this event were amazing, so here is the link to those first and foremost!

It’s that time of the year again. Following the Heart of England junior league, I like to share my thoughts from my perspective as the overall team manager of the junior squad at BRAT. I’m under no illusions, whilst I am aware that my role is pivotal, what we are achieving couldn’t be realised without the foundations being in place for the years and maybe decades before I arrived around 4 years ago (yes, i’ve not actually been involved very long in the greater scheme of things).

Anyway, back to the Heart of England league. Rewind back to this time 2 years ago and we were in division 3. Since then, we have had 2 consecutive seasons of promotion and I was genuinely curious about how we would get on this year in the top division, up against the biggest clubs from across the midlands region. My expectation was that we would comfortably hold our own and finish comfortably around the middle of the division.

Back to sunny Banbury. Not gonna lie, it’s not my favourite venue with the annoying ‘sloping away’ bank on the home straight where you risk your chair tipping over backwards. But, arriving slightly late and seeing the grass banking absolutely packed out, it felt like BRAT had finally arrived in the place we are meant to be. The BRAT flag fluttering in the gentle breeze was a peaceful backdrop against a hive of activity. It’s funny how the words “when’s my next event?” become somewhat etched in your head, the amount of times it seems to be uttered throughout the day!

Anyway, new athletes, this bit is for you. If you haven’t pulled on a BRAT vest before or competed in the league team, well done for doing so. I’m fully aware of how daunting that “first race” or “first event” can be. What I saw, well, you should all be immensely proud of yourselves. It’s not just about this particular fixture, it’s building the confidence for the future and being aware of how important each and every event is. If you were there, you were a key part of the overall result, more on that later.

Ughhhhhhhhhh, now the awkward bit. I always cop out of writing special mentions as there is absolutely no way that I can keep track of each and every performance and PB along the way. I am aware of 2 individual club records being broken, Nya in the u13g 1500m and Jaya in the u13g HJ, amazing performances. There were also club records for the u17 4x100m relay, both M & F as far as I know. If I don’t mention you in this next bit, it’s my shortcoming, but here are a few things I remember from a fantastic day out:

  • We are the best club at supporting. No-one was louder than us. I am sure that our adrenaline inducing shouts played a role in our overall performance, well done everyone on that front!
  • Lily O’Mara having the confidence to hit the front in her first ever race in the 800m and come away with a very solid 3rd place and a fantastic time.
  • Arriella stepping in for a 800m/1500m double and following it up with a jelly legs high jump!
  • Outstanding relay performances for all age groups, especially the u13g.
  • The smile on Palia’s face when she said she threw over 7m in shot.
  • Joe Baker battling illness but stepping into the u13b HJ at the last moment (5 points scored, well done!)
  • Double discus wins for the Morriss. In fact, looking at the results, we did immensely well in the discus. Jai’s 34.17m will place him 23rd in the UK at the moment!
  • Seb’s battle to break 2:20 in the 800m continues with a 2:20.00 clocking. If only he had lost those milli-seconds stopping his watch. Oh well, if it’s not on Strava…
  • Eben making me smile in the hurdles by 3 striding his way down a complete flight of hurdles. Good job, never in doubt!
  • Zelia miraculously and instinctively flinging something over the line after falling in the closing metres of the 300m and achieving 2nd place!
  • Sam Downing’s debut 400m finishing in a strong 2nd place with a very good 53.2s. Looking back on that race, I have no doubt that there is more to come.

On to the overall results.

What can I say, we won!

Genuinely, I was not expecting it and it was a complete shock when the provisional results were sent out. It just goes to show what we can achieve when we all come together and support each other as a team! 

I’m never going to be a team manager that focuses on performance at the expense of fun and enjoyment. My ethos is that the foundation is fun, enjoyment and creating good vibes. Without that foundation, these amazing performances and achievements would never happen! 

Special shout to all the officials, coaches, volunteers and parents for making BRAT club the club that it is.

See you at the track. Work hard, try your best and smile. Next league meeting, 21st July at our track!


Points results as follows:

Full results here.

Amazing photos courtesy of Toby Gosnall here.

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