Glasgow City headed deep into auld (and slightly obnoxious) enemy territory for the 3rd match of the 2018 BAL season at Bedford International Stadium on the 7th July. The casual observer may have mistaken the exuberance of our own group (and the dress sense of some) for a lads’ holiday but it merely masked the sense of anticipation and confidence there was heading to BAL’s ‘Big Saturday’ competition. Not even the England football team could dampen our spirits as Scotland’s sole club representative in the league delivered an outstanding performance to win the Division 2 match, claim a trophy for being amongst the top 3 points scorers across ALL divisions, and place ourselves firmly back into promotion contention - not bad for a day’s work!

Despite a much earlier than normal start, Connor Henderson and Martin Hayes were alert enough to seal 2nd place finishes in their heats of the 400m hurdles to set the points tally ticking. Hot on their heels was Cristiano Ronaldo doppelganger, Sean Fontana, who showed impressive footwork of his own to run 8:27.15 and win the 3000m with a last lap sprint. Sean was supported by newbie Max Milarvie who had a mature run to claim 2nd in the B-string with a P.B. time of 8:44.38. The 3k pairing’s placings were then mirrored in the 800m by Grant Muir demonstrating his tactical noose to take the A-string victory in 1:52.59 and Chris Boyle - who is becoming one of GCAC’s most reliable points scorers - finishing 2nd in the B-string.

Such a fast and furious start can sometimes be difficult to maintain but Alec Thomas produced what was arguably the individual performance of the day to take a stunning win in the 100m B-string heat. Alec had a flying start and managed to hold on at the dip for a massive P.B of 10.60secs. This, we think, may be GCAC’s first ever victory in the event at a BAL competition! The model-like duo of Greg Louden and Blair Crawford also secured good points, claiming 3rd and 4th place finishes in their respective A and B-string heats of the 400m sprint.

Back to the guys who run in circles and there was an increasingly dependable clean sweep in the 3000m steeplechase courtesy of Michael Deason and Martin Hayes. A somewhat bemused Mike kept everyone on their toes at the last barrier but held on to run a S.B of 9:26.79. Training partners Matthew Turner and Scott MacAulay followed this with solid runs in the metric mile. Matthew finished 4th in the A-string 1500m whilst Scott was able to hang on to the leading pack to be rewarded with 1st in the B-string competition after setting the early pace.

Having missed the last match for a trivial competition in Tenerife , the vocal Andrew Murphy set a captain’s example on his return with a massive 48 point haul over the 5 events he contested. Our influential leader (and my personal tormentor) claimed 4th in the A-string 110m hurdles in 15.11secs, 4th in the A-string discus in a S.B of 41.83m, 2nd in the A-string long jump with 7.12m, as well as 4th in the B-string shot putt and 3rd in the B-string javelin!

It has been a challenging season for us in the field events but a much-needed surge in availability made a huge difference. Our talented teenagers, Reuben Nairne and Scott Brindley, were completely unphased by their surroundings, bordering on a nonchalance that only they could pull-off and were 2nd A-string and 1st B-string in the pole vault, respectively. Both youngsters cleared 4.20m which was a P.B. height for Reuben. The also flame of hair, Jax Thoirs, leapt to 7.00m in the long jump for 2nd place in the B-string pool to compliment Andrew’s result after he achieved a P.B. in the triple jump of 13.27m that earned him 3rd place earlier in the day.

The high jumpers matched the placings of the pole vaulters in frustrating circumstances which saw 3 separate stoppages lead to the competition lasting almost 3hrs! Marcus Morton did enough to clear 1.95m to claim 2nd in the A-string event whilst Amit Kumar, the most laid-back member of the team, soared to a new P.B. of 1.90m for the ‘W’ in the B-string.

The throwers of Glasgow City’s northern section displayed big commitment in simply making the long journey and didn’t disappoint either. Finlay MacLeay was Mr Consistency over his series of javelin throws, the best of which was a 49.74m effort to take 4th place in the A-string pool. His fellow Inverness Harrier, Nicky Stone, also finished a creditable 4th in the A-string hammer with a S.B. throw of 46.12m. To complete the throws line-up, adopted Glaswegian Sam O’Kane had a few eye-catching performances (and not just on Saturday night) as he won the B-string discus with a S.B. of 40.63m as well as a 3rd place finish in the B-string hammer competition.

The relay teams concluded a rather successful day for the club with the 4x100m team of Alec Thomas, Stephen Dunlop, Kade Thomas and David Clark getting the baton round the track in 42.75secs for 2nd place. The 4x400m team of Connor Henderson, Grant Muir, Chris Boyle and Blair Crawford made no less effort but ultimately were pipped into 4th in a hotly contested race.

There was a fantastic buzz about the squad at this match and was proof of what the club can do when we can assemble a full team. Incredibly, a win at the last match and some help from the soon-to-be division 2 champions, Bournemouth, could see us gain promotion.

We are as ever indebted to the help from a number of people. The boys wish to thank Evelyn Melvin for her work behind the scenes in organising the trip; Brian Donaldson for transporting the poles; Hugh Baillie, Mark Stringer and Jim Harvie who gave up their weekend to officiate in the sweltering heat on our behalf; and Andrew Murphy (the other one) for providing us with water.

Thanks to Martin Hayes for writing up the great report