North East Masters Athletics Association (NEMAA) Track and Field League Meetings 5 and 6 – 31st July 2023 & 7th August 2023


Meeting 5

The penultimate NEMAA Track & Field League took place on Monday 31st July. As was the case with most of July (or so it seemed) it had rained quite a bit during the day, and a particularly heavy deluge in the vicinity of Monkton Stadium at about 5pm resulted in the cancellation of all field events. Here’s the post that appeared on the NEMAA website:

“It’s a washout!”

“Huge apologies to those athletes who turned up tonight to find that all field events had been cancelled. Unfortunately it had been hoped that the full match would be able to go ahead, but the decision to cancel was made following an inspection by our field referee, as it was deemed unsafe to throw and jump, given the condition of the infield and pits which were very waterlogged and/or flooded. Any athletes who were only entered for field events will be refunded (apart from season pass holders, sorry!). We hope the track athletes enjoyed their events despite the rather damp conditions! ”

In all the years I’ve been attending the NEMAA Track and Field League it’s the first time I can remember this ever happening. A great shame for several of our competitors – Heather J, Sharon B, Joe H, and Andy T – who had travelled through intending to only participate in the field events. Also, and rather unfairly in our view, it meant that we didn’t have a ladies team (minimum 3 competitors) so the points that Patricia White earned in the 3000m and 400m on her NEMAA debut didn’t count towards the Ladies League. We felt that as we had three ladies entered to compete, this should still have constituted a team – Heather and Sharon’s events were cancelled at short notice through no fault of their own.

Five of us did compete in the track events that still went ahead, and below is a summary of the results achieved. It remained cold and wet for most of the night (hardly ideal conditions, especially for sprinting) but all things considered we did pretty well.

Meeting 6

The 6th and final meeting took place just 7 days later, on Monday 7th August. Thankfully, the weather was much better than the week before, and conditions were fine for track and field competition.

Our men’s team had 9 competitors, and between us we managed to pick up 102 points. This was comfortably our highest tally of the season, and consolidated our 5th place finish place in the league table. We outscored all but the top two teams in the league, and considering our numerical disadvantage compared with many of the other clubs, we’ve not done too badly. OK, so Jarrow & Hebburn and South Shields continue to monopolise the league, with the luxury of almost guaranteed large turnouts at every meeting (of course those 2 clubs are geographically closest to Monkton Stadium and I suspect that the majority of their athletes probably don’t have to travel more than 10 minutes either way). However, we finished 59 points and 51 points behind North Shields Poly (3rd) and Blyth (4th) respectively. That probably equates to us having say one additional competitor doing 3 events at 4 or 5 of the meetings – I’m sure that as a club we’re capable of snatching that 3rd spot in the league if we could just get the numbers.

Team Grand Prix for Men

Phil Healey was our biggest points winner with 16, closely followed by Ken (15), Joe H (14), Percy (11), Danny O (10), Paul s (10) and Geoff H (10). “Speedy” Phil zipped round the 200m in 36.2s for 4 points, and scored maximum 6 in both the triple jump (5.91m) and high jump (1.00m). Joe finished age category runner-up in the discus with a excellent throw of 22.01m. He was also second M55 in the triple jump (6.49m) and 3rd in the shot (6.77m). Ken won his age category in the shot (7.28m), was 2nd in the discus (16.91m) and 3rd in the 200m (44.4s). Percy has been experimenting with the throws this season, in his quest to find events where he is least likely to fall over and injure himself! He was runner-up to Ken in the shot (5.14m), and 4th in both the discus (12.33m) and 200m (49.8s). Danny had his first go at the shot, and despite describing it like trying to lift a cannonball, still managed to launch it 4.28m for second place in the M35 and 5 points. His efforts in the 200m (35.9s) and 800m (3:22.0) earned a further 5 points, so overall a good night’s work. My own points were as a result of 2nd place finishes in the 800m (2:54.5) and triple jump (7.32m). I’ve commented in previous reports about how strong the M65 age-category is, particularly in the sprints. My time of 34.3s in the 200m would have given me 2nd place and 5 points as an M60, but in the M65 category I finished down in 8th place and zero points. Paul Smith performed well to score useful points in all 3 of his events. He was second in the M60 800m (3:19.0), 4th in the discus (16.71m) and 5th in the 200m (42.1s). Andy T produced his usual solid contribution from efforts in the discus (12.90m), shot (6.08m) and triple jump (5.83m). Last but not least, Jason Marr secured a 2nd place finish in the M50 800m (3:30.6) and was 4th in the shot (5.58m).

Only Heather J and Sharon B were present to represent the ladies this time around, so unfortunately it meant that we didn’t have a team as far as the league was concerned (they were still credited with their points for the individual Grand Prix). With zero points from the last 2 meetings, a 7th place finish was probably the best we could have achieved under the circumstances. Scoring an average of 41 points per meeting, would have gained an extra 82 had we been able to replicate this at meetings 5 and 6. That would have put us on 245 – neck and neck with Tyne Bridge Harriers, and just 33 behind North Shields Poly in 5th.

Team Grand Prix for Women

Heather and Sharon each contested the two throwing events. Heather won her age category in both discus (14.80m) and shot (5.37m), whilst Sharon finished 2nd in the discus (12.11m) and 3rd in the shot (5.66m).

Individual Grand Prix

Congratulations to our medal winners in the various individual Grand Prix categories (a separate competition that runs alongside the League):

Heather Jones W65 Throws and W65 Jumps
Ken Cawkwell M75 Throws
Percy Parkin M75 Sprints

In addition to the above, we had several runners-up. Of these, Sharon Bridge came closest to a win, with a second place finish in the F50 Throws and just 4 points behind the overall winner.


The evening (and season) concluded with the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relays which don’t count towards the league or the individual Grand Prix but NEMAA records are at stake. In order to qualify for a record, the entire team must consist of NEMAA members from the same club; mixing of age categories is permitted with such teams competing in the age category of their youngest member. Teams made up of mixed sexes and/or athletes from different clubs are also allowed to take part in the relays but are not eligible to qualify for NEMAA records. These relay events were first introduced to the Track and Field league program in 2016 and have been very well received in terms of providing a bit of fun competition and a fitting end to the season. The 4 x 100m has often been particularly entertaining in the past, on more than one occasion descending into near carnage, with dropped batons bouncing around the track, faulty changeovers, and red DQ flags being raised at every corner. In fairness, however, this year’s competition appeared to contain some very professional and well-practiced squads, all of whom managed to get their batons round without mishap.

Our club has enjoyed a fair bit of success in these relays over the years, and prior to Monday’s competition we held the following NEMAA records:

M60 4 x 100m 69.6s
W40 4 x 100m 66.3s

M60 4 x 400m 5:33.7
W45 4 x 400m 5:10.4

We weren’t able to field any ladies relay teams this year, but did have 2 male squads.

The original aim was to establish new records for the M65 category, but unfortunately Gerry had to pull out due to a recent injury. We decided to draft in “Speedy” Phil Healey as a replacement, and therefore had to compete as an M60 squad. In the 4 x 100m our quartet of Geoff H, Phil H, Percy P, and Andy T clocked 72.0s, only 2.4s outside our existing record of 69.6s. We were pipped in the race, however, by our M35 squad of Danny O, Paul S, Jason M, and “Turbo” Joe Hall, the latter just managing to hold off Andy T in a barnstorming finish to the final leg by 0.1s. However, North Shields Poly had fielded a “star studded” quartet of M60 athletes who absolutely smashed our record with a time of 59.1s.

It was a similar story in the 4 x 400m relay. Ken C was brought in to replace Percy on leg 3 for the M60 team, and we got round in 5:48.1. Our M35 team (same order as in the 4 x 100m) completed in 6:23.2. NSP put out the same squad as before, and again smashed the existing record by a massive 55 seconds to set a new mark of 4:38.4. It’s going to take a very good M60 team to challenge either of these records in the future.

As far as the women’s relays are concerned, new records were established in the 4 x 100m by North Shields Poly F45 (67.1s) and Tyne Bridge Harriers F50 (67.7s). None of the existing records were broken in the women’s 4 x 400m. Happily, therefore, our own ladies’ relay records survive for another year!

Finally, then, a big thank you to everyone who supported the club throughout this Track and Field season, whether competing or spectating. As we’ve said numerous times in the past, success in this competition as a club is mainly down to numbers, and the more people we can encourage to take part the more points we’ll achieve, and the higher we’ll finish in the respective leagues. I’m still convinced that we have more than enough potential to finish at least 3rd in both leagues, and we’ll be starting the recruitment drive for the 2024 season early next year.

Geoff H