The 3rd and penultimate match of the 2019 Scottish Men’s League got underway at a hot and humid track in Aberdeen. Once again this year the club laid on a coach for the long-haul journey north to our furthest match, but holidays and injuries resulted in a squad of only 9 athletes and 3 officials making the trip. These situations are always testing for the athletes taking part, as everyone feels obliged to spread themselves very thinly over the maximum number of events (6 for seniors and 5 for U20 – more on that later). It takes a heavy toll, with performances suffering, and energy levels and injuries having to be managed throughout the day. Several of the other clubs seemed to be suffering similar difficulties, but in Division One the level of competition is always more intense so we can never count on any free passes.
It has been recognised previously that the main force behind the club’s rise in the Men’s League has been the drive and enthusiasm of the young sprint squad. One of the difficulties that comes with this age group is that it coincides with the journey through university education, so there is are constantly revolving availability issues, and we will find that continuing into next year. In Aberdeen we had Cole Milne, Jacob Scott and Elliott MacKay undertaking the majority of the sprints and also some jumps and throws.
Cole gave mature and measured performances across the 100, 200 and 400m events, and also the high jump and both relays. Cole scored points in all 6 events, and this is pretty much that maximum that any athlete can deliver, so well done!
Jacob too scored well, and only failed to meet the standard in the shot putt, but delivered in the sprints, the jumps and the relays.
Finally from that group of 3 was Elliott MacKay. Elliott suffered an injury in the warm-up for the 400m hurdles, and sensibly decided to withdraw from that event. It was just as well that he did, as his 400 flat, long jump and 2 x relays yielded impressive performances.
Sunday marked a first in a very long time, with Paul Masterton picking up a pole and vaulting. Due to being out of practice Paul narrowly failed to meet the points-scoring standard, but make no mistake, this marks a huge step forward for the club, and with Paul’s continued refamiliarisation with the event, along with helping to encourage and develop some others, we expect this to be a points-scoring venture in the future – perhaps even in this year’s final match?
George Key as always was a key performer out in the field, undertaking all 4 throwing events (javelin, shot, discus and hammer). George managed to score points in each and every one of his events, including the hammer. The hammer in particular is tough, as we have no training facilities at Saughton, so George’s only opportunity to practice this technical and dangerous event thus far has been under competition.
Also making a key contribution in the field was Dugald Williams. Dugald made the long trip with his family, to throw the javelin, and managed to secure 2nd in the B string with his best throw. This fitted into a busy day for the Williams’ and we appreciate their attendance.
Covering the middle and distance events were Ally Brockie, Aaron Hoyle and Tom Martyn. Ally had a disappointing start to the day, a slow 800 and then a DNF in the 3000 steeplechase. A large sandwich and Aaron’s arrival generated a bit of a boost and both athletes navigated the 1500 to score points. Aaron had less than 1 hour to recover before competing in the 5000m with Tom. Always one of the more engaging events, because the long duration makes it easier to see the ebb and flow of the power-balance, and it also invites a bit of live-commentary on WhatsApp! It wasn’t Tom’s day, after leading for a good portion of the race in strong winds, he had his pocket picked at the end and came home 3rd. In the B string, Aaron had a less eventful race, always steady in 4th, and a good performance after the 1500m.
Athletes are permitted to compete in a maximum of 6 events (including the relays), and with such a small squad this weekend, several were hitting that limit. Both Jacob and Cole did the maximum 6, with Elliot entered in 5, and Ally, George and Paul all taking on 4. Even the late-arriving Aaron clocked up 3 events. Because of these restrictions, both the 4×100 (Ally) and the 4×400 (Tom and Aaron) ended up being somewhat rag-tag affairs, but the sprinters kept everyone in line with excellent advice and we got the baton round in both events; 4th and 6th respectively.
Unfortunately, an oversight by the team manager resulted in Cole reaching 6 events with the 4×400, when the maximum permitted for an U20 athlete is 5. We have been disqualified from that event, which is such a shame after seeing people stretch themselves with one last run to complete a team. This really does highlight the difficulty in competing in this league with a skeleton squad. If perhaps one or two more individuals could have volunteered to make the trip it could have been different.
Our officials for this event were regulars John Ross and Chris Peggie (Chris also organised the coach – thanks Chris), and Scott MacKay. Scott would much rather be competing, but is currently frustrated by injury, so we appreciate him extending his enthusiasm to fill in with officiating duties. As always, we can’t compete without being backed up by officials. We’re grateful to all the officials helping out on the day, particularly our own, and I’d encourage anyone unable to compete to come along and take an official’s role to see what it’s all about.
Despite the heroic efforts described above, the size of our team meant that our exhausted athletes were only able to achieve 7th position on the day, leaving us in 6th overall this year, on 8 points compared to Falkirk and VP Glasgow’s 6. This was clearly a damage-limitation day, and the efforts from all those involved have set us up nicely for a final match showdown, where we need to perform well against Falkirk and in particular VP Glasgow.
The final event in the 2019 season is at Grangemouth on Saturday 31st August. We really need everyone in the club to pull together to get us the result we deserve. We’ve only once retained our D1 status after promotion (but not this century!!!), so staying up would be a significant achievement, and we are well placed to do just that. The best way to make that happen is with a large and enthusiastic team, so please, if you’re asked to compete (and we don’t want to ask – we want you to volunteer!), then please consider making a difference and contributing to what will be a success shared with the whole club. Speak to James Harrison, Ally Brockie or Ryan Kyle, or your coach, about what opportunities we have available.
The match 3 results can be found here.