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Review of the year
Published 31/12/12





January

HENLEY HAWKS’ head coach Steve Barnes said his side is still in the hunt for promotion despite losing ground on the league leaders.

The Hawks lost their 100 per cent record since the start of the year in National League Division 2 South when they went down to a surprise 21-17 home defeat against Shelford.

The Dry Leas side’s previous three matches in the month saw them defeat Clifton, Redruth and Westcombe Park.


The Hawks still have to play league leaders Richmond, who have 12 points more than them, as well as fellow promotion contenders Worthing and Hartpury College.

Barnes, a former Henley captain, said his side’s lacklustre display was a “blip” and he is confident they will bounce back in the big games.

He added: “We have some 10-pointer games coming up and the results will have a dramatic effect on where we finish up. There is still everything to play for.

“After a disappointing result, there is one side of you that wants to dish out a rollicking but the other side is to be more pragmatic. We have to look at the bigger picture. It is the worst time to lay into somebody after a defeat, everyone was disappointed and they flogged themselves quite hard and we picked up a few bumps on the day as well.”

“We need to retain our focus from the start of the year. We have worked a lot on our attacking structure but we have got to get a balance with defence.”

Olympic and world champion Mark Hunter was named rowing’s Olympic Athlete of the Year for 2011 by the British Olympic Association.

The Leander Club athlete received his award at Twickenham Stadium during the GB rowing team’s annual awards dinner.

Hunter was captain of Leander for two years in advance of the Beijing Olympics, where he partnered Zac Purchase in the lightweight men’s double scull to win Britain’s first-ever Olympic lightweight rowing medal.

Henley Town briefly moved out of the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division relegation zone following victory over Binfield and a draw with Wokingham and Emmbrook. However, following a postponement, the Lilywhites finished the month fourth from bottom.

Fast bowler Tom Lambert was one of four Henley Cricket Club players to depart the Brakspear Ground ahead of the forthcoming season. Batsmen Jono McLean and all-rounders Carl Crowe and Steve Naylor were the other departures.

Henley Hockey Club’s men’s first team remain in the MBBO Division 1 relegation zone after a month of mixed results. The amber and blues drew with Marlow, beat Sonning and lost to Maidenhead. Henley Ladies 1sts had a disappointing start to the year with defeat against Bicester and Wycombe.

Bowler Sian Gordon was selected to represent England at this year’s World Championships. The Standard reporter will be flying out to Adelaide for the outdoor competition in November.

Gordon said she was “absolutely thrilled” to be selected, saying: “Australia is the best place in the world to play bowls in terms of climate and surface.

“It will be challenging but I am looking forward to getting to grips with the conditions.”

Earlier in the month Gordon won the national U25s singles title, winning all four matches without dropping a set.



February

SNOW and freezing temperatures forced havoc at the start of the month with the entire local football and rugby programme falling foul of the conditions. The cold snap was so severe that the Uhlsport Hellenic League took the unprecedented steps of postponing its entire weekend programme two weeks running.

When play finally resumed mid-way through the month, Henley Hawks ran out 28-5 winners at home to Launceston while losing 35-21 at Worthing in National League Division 2 South.

Henley Town FC manager David Tuttle announced he would be resigning at the end of the season after two years in charge.

The former Tottenham Hotspur defender said the Lilywhites were failing to match his ambitions.

Tuttle said he has not received an offer to join another club but confirmed his assistant Chris Way and the rest of the back room staff would also be leaving the Invesco Perpetual Triangle Ground.

The 40-year-old said: “Personally the club isn’t going in the same direction that we want to take the club in. There are some very good players here and if I get another job offer then hopefully they can come with me.

“Over the two years, if we had added a few more, we would be pushing for a top six — that’s how well they have come on this year.” On the pitch the Lilywhites drew 2-2 at Shrivenham, lost 4-3 at Thame United before beating Witney Town 2-0 to end the month in 17th place in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division.

Goring Robins FC, in partnership with Goring United, were awarded the FA charter standard.

The charter will benefit the clubs in training, development, support and financial grants from the FA as a result.

Henley Rowing Club’s Jo Unsworth finished fourth at the great Britain junior trials held at Boston. Unsworth finished in a time of 22 minutes, 10.9 seconds in the single sculls, 33 seconds behind the winner.

Unsworth also teamed up with Walton’s Katie Denham in the double sculls with the pair finishing third.

An international hockey player from Henley says the GB women’s team has been given a “massive boost” as a result of its Champions Trophy performance.

Sarah Thomas, of Upton Close, was part of the side that won a silver medal, as they lost out against hosts and favourites Argentina in the final of the International Hockey Federation’s prestigious event.

It was the first time the Welsh midfielder and forward has taken part in the top eight nations event, which was held in Rosario. The squad beat Japan and Korea and drew with Holland in the group stages to earn a semi-final place.

A 2-0 win against Germany earned them a final showdown with the world champions, with Thomas scoring the first goal after 15 minutes. It was the first time that GB have reached this stage of the tournament.

Henley hockey men’s 1sts remained deep in relegation troubles after they lost to fellow strugglers Wallingford. Earlier in the month the amber and blues had defeated Tulse Hill and Dulwich while losing out to Chiswick.

Henley Ladies 1sts lost to Oxford Hawks 2nds and East Grinstead while drawing with Brighton and Hove. In the England Trophy competition, Henley Ladies made progress to the quarter-finals after thrashing Wootton Bassett 8-0.



March

THE Henley College/Wasps Academy Apprenticeship side were beaten 34-21 at Twickenham but manager Martin Unsworth declared himself “proud” of his players.

Gloucestershire outfit Hartpury College won the Advance Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence Championship to dash Henley’s dreams of winning the competition in their first year in the AASE programme.

However, the team never gave up and were cheered on by an army of 200 fans to score three tries.

Unsworth said: “They had a go and we’re immensely proud of these lads. To play at Twickenham in our first year at this level is fantastic.”

Earlier in the month Henley College had won the AASE Southern League following a 34-14 victory over Ivybridge Community College. They followed this up with a 32-17 over Prince Henry’s Grammar School to set up the Twickenham final.

Henley Hawks’ promotion hopes took a knock as they crashed to a surprise 12-3 defeat away to Dings Crusaders in National Division 2 South. Former Hawks player Mitch Burton did most of the damage as he kicked three penalties for Crusaders.

In their following matches the Hawks had home wins against Southend and Lydney before ending the month with a 24-24 draw away to Hartpury College. The result left them 18 points adrift of second-placed Richmond.

Alec Hepburn helped England win the RBS six nations U20s championship. The dual-registered Henley Hawks and Wasps player made his first start in the competition, having previously come off the bench for England, as he helped his country to a 20-9 victory over Ireland in front of a crowd of more than 6,000 at Wycombe’s Adams Park ground.

Henley Town FC could be taken over after the club confirmed it will be relegated at the end of the season.

Chairman Jamie Butler, who is stepping down at the end of the season, was in talks with AFC Henley over merging the two clubs.

Despite sitting clear of the drop zone, the Lilywhites will be kicked out of the league because they cannot afford to meet league regulations.

Following promotion into the Hellenic Premier Division last season, the club needed to double the amount of seating at the Triangle Ground by March this year.

It has been unable to find the 13,000 needed to install two new stands for spectators.

On the pitch Henley beat Ascot United and Holyport, drew with Wantage and Reading Town and lost Cheltenham Saracens and basement-side Bracknell Town to finish the month in 15th place in the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier Division table.

In hockey struggling Henley 1sts pulled off a shock result as they won 3-2 away to promotion-chasing Oxford. They followed this up with wins against Wycombe 2nds, Eastcote, Ashford (Middlesex) and Old Merchant Taylors to avoid relegation from MBBO regional Division 1.

Henley Ladies drew with Oxford, Banbury while also losing to Teddington and Oxford University Ladies. In the England Hockey Trophy competition Henley crashed out at the semi-final stage, going down 2-1 at Tulse Hill and Dulwich.

Cambridge University saw off the Oxford challenge to win the Newton Women’s Boat Race.

The light blues took the early lead, while Oxford suffered from their steering and were warned by four-times Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent from the umpire’s launch.

As Cambridge headed for home their hopes of a comfortable win were suddenly cut short in dramatic fashion as Caroline Reid, in the Cambridge two seat, caught a crab that stopped the boat dead in its tracks.

Oxford drew level but, after a hurried restart, Cambridge once again found their stride and led the way across the line to take their first win since 2007.

Henley Rowing Club elected John Friend as their new president, taking over from Cliff Blakeway who had held the post for the past 10 years.

Athlete Chantal Cummings won the U24 age category at the British National Duathlon Championships. The event, held near Rutland Water in Leicestershire, consisted of a 10km run, followed by a 42km bike time trial, followed by another run of 5km. Cummings, who lives in Henley, finished in a time of two hours, 24 minutes. This was more than five minutes faster than her nearest rival.



April

READING FC secured promotion back to the Premier League following a 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at Madejski Stadium. A goal by Mikele Leigertwood 10 minutes from time secured the win for the Royals.

A remarkable sequence of results saw Reading take 49 points from a possible 54 to propel them from a mid-table position in November to top of the league.

Manager Brian McDermott said: “It was incredible. It was a night for the supporters and the players.

“It feels unreal, like I’m looking down on a different bloke managing Reading!”

Eleven months ago, the Royals lost the Championship play-off final to Swansea and McDermott said: “After the worst moment of my career at Wembley, May 30 last year, now to this, my best moment.

“We are in the Premier League now, we are promoted, and I can celebrate for the next couple of months.”

Henley Town is on the road to recovery after volunteers stepped forward to help run the club following the management committee’s decision to step down at the end of the season.

Jack Hollidge was appointed interim chairman to co-ordinate the filling of the vacancies which includes secretary and treasurer.

On the pitch it was all change as manager Dave Tuttle stepped down at the end of the season and as replaced by reserve team manager Mark Coles.

In their final matches of the season Henley Town beat Abingdon Town but lost to Cheltenham Saracens, Binfield and Slimbridge to finish 17th in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division.

Hambleden won the Wycombe and District League Senior Division title for the first time since 1979 following a 4-0 away win at Great Missenden.

Elsewhere Park United won the Oxfordshire Intermediate Cup with a 2-1 win over the Riverside.

Henley Hawks held promotion chasers Richmond to a 16-16 draw at Dry Leas before hammering Barnes 41-11 away. In their final match of the season the Hawks thrashed Hertford 52-0 at Dry Leas to finish fifth in National Division 2 South.

At the end of the season Steve Barnes announced he was stepping down as head coach due to pressures away from Dry Leas. Former head coach and captain Nigel Dudding, who played more than 300 games for the Hawks and guided his side to the equivalent division of what is now known as the championship, will take charge of the side next season.

Henley Hawks 2nds narrowly lost out in the Oxfordshire County Cup final after going down 13-10 to Chinnor at Iffley Road.

In hockey Henley Ladies 1sts escaped relegation from Trysports Three Counties Premier Division 2 with a final day 3-1 win over Oxford Hawks 3rds at Jubilee Park.



May

LEANDER athletes returned from Belgrade at the start of the Olympic season with a clutch of medals, including gold for the new-look men’s four and the women’s double scull.

The first world cup regatta of the season earned the GB team a dozen medals, including four golds, six silver and two bronze in the Olympic boat classes.

Among the winning crews Olympic champions Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase held off a spirited Greek challenge to take gold, while reigning world champions Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger were also first across the line in the women’s double sculls.

A third gold was added by the men’s four of Alex Gregory, Tom James, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge, who dominated their race from halfway, and won two seconds clear of Greece.

Later in the month 11 Leander athletes won medals at the second world cup regatta in Lucerne.

The men’s four, women’s double scull and women’s pair all won gold, with the four taking advantage of a tail wind in their heat to establish a new world best time for their event.

The GB lightweight men’s four led early but had to settle for bronze after failing to hold off China and South Africa while the GB men’s eight took another silver medal behind the German world champions.

But the other British crews at the second world cup regatta of the year failed to finish on the podium, with world and Olympic champions Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase trailing in sixth position.

The women’s double final featured another tussle between Leander’s Anna Watkins and her Marlow partner Katherine Grainger, and the Germans who took second place in Belgrade three weeks ago.

Yet again it was the GB double who triumphed over Britta Oppelt and Annekatrin Thiele, but this time Poland squeezed through to deny the Germans second place.

The men’s fours final featured another classic showdown between Great Britain and Australia. Leander’s Peter Reed and Alex Gregory, with Molesey’s Andy Triggs Hodge and Tom James, were led by the Australians, whose line-up included three-times Olympic champion, Drew Ginn, and by 500 metres they had a half-length advantage.

But with a good display of strength and power the GB quartet upped their game and overhauled the Australians in the final 20 strokes to take the win from Australia with Greece third.

Great Britain’s hopes of qualifying crews for all 14 boat classes at this year’s London 2012 Olympic regatta were quashed after Leander’s Rachel Gamble-Flint failed to qualify in the single scull in Switzerland.

Henley Cricket Club held on to escape with a draw in their opening Home Counties Premier League match of the season at High Wycombe.

The following week Michael Roberts hit 125 to help his side pick up maximum points from their home win over Potters Bar. Henley finished the month with defeat at Welwyn Garden City in a match that saw David Barnes finish on 137 not out for the visitors.

Kidmore End had a mixed start to their Thames Valley League Division 2B campaign with a win, draw and defeat in their opening three matches.

Peppard all-rounder Andy Watts became only the fifth player to reach 10,000 runs in the Berkshire League during his side’s draw with Stoke Row.

Whitchurch opening batsman Nick Hill hit an undefeated innings of 176 not out to help his side defeat Checkendon.

In football, the acquisition of 51 per cent of newly promoted Reading by Thames Sports Investment, owned by Anton Zingarevich, was finally completed.

Four additional directors have been added to the Reading board chaired by Sir John Madejski, namely Zingarevich, Christopher Samuelson, Andrew Obolensky and chief executive Nigel Howe. Ian Wood-Smith also remains a director.

Hambleden made it a league and cup double as they beat Lane End 6-1 to lift the Tom Hooker Cup.

Meanwhile Goring United’s Saturday side lifted the Intermediate Cup with a 2-1 victory over Westwood Reserves in one of three finals the club was contesting. In the other two finals Goring United Reserves lost 2-1 to Hurst Reserves in the Junior Cup final while Goring United Reserves’ Sunday side went down 3-2 to Basildon Barbarians in the Treasurer’s Cup.

Berkshire Trophy Centre Senior Cup holders Woodcote/Stoke Row went down to a 5-1 defeat to South Reading in the final of this year’s competition at Madejski Stadium in front of a crowd of 650.





June

UPPER THAMES recorded back-to-back wins at the Henley Women’s Regatta which took place in difficult conditions.

The club’s senior coxed four continued its unbeaten run off the back of wins in the senior and elite events at the Metropolitan and Reading regattas earlier this month.

Three members of the crew, Nikki Brown, Elise Cope and Rhona O’Leary, had won the intermediate club coxed four last year. This time around the trio were joined by Katie Pollard and cox Di Yarrow.

Henley Rowing Club won the Bea Langridge Trophy. The crew, comprising Pippa Birch at stroke, Jo Unsworth, Alice White and Maddy Wynn-Jones beat Cranford School in the final.

The Great Britain team, with 25 Leander athletes on board, once again finished top of the medal table at the world cup regatta in Munich with a tally of five gold medals, a silver and five bronze.

Meanwhile it was confirmed that Leander will have 24 athletes competing for Great Britain at next month’s Olympic regatta.

An international hockey player from Henley was chosen to represent Great Britain at the Olympics.

Sarah Thomas, who lives in Upton Close, says it will be an “absolutely incredible feeling” to be part of London 2012.

“It is even more special that it’s a home games and very few athletes get to experience this,” she said.

A record Home Counties Premier League Division 1 ninth wicket stand between Tahir Afridi and Todd Ferguson helped Henley to their second win of the season at Oxford.

Henley scored 295—8 in their 66 overs. This total looked unlikely at lunch with the score on 117—5 and later at 171—8 before Afridi joined Ferguson to see the visitors post a challenging total with a 124-run partnership. Oxford were skittled out for just 58 runs with Afridi taking 6—31.

Afridi was in fine form again in Henley’s next match where he took 6—24 to leave the visitors all out on 102. However, a batting collapse by Henley saw the Brakspear Ground side all out for just 94.

Elsewhere in the month Henley drew with Harpenden, Tring Park and Bishop’s Stortford to end the month in seventh spot in the table.

Kidmore End finished the month in seventh place in Thames Valley League Division 2B having picked up just two wins in eight matches played.

Henley Golf Club had new club champions this year after both James Brockington and Justine Voss were unable to defend their titles.

In the men’s championship, nine-times winner Guy Phillips, who last won the championship in 2001, took the honours while 2009 ladies’ captain Jane Atkin won the ladies’ championship.

Meanwhile at Badgemore Park Golf Club, 15-year-old Oliver Carder was crowned their new club champion.

A football team from Henley has folded after 20 years. Associated Asphalt, which played in the Reading and District Sunday League Premier Division, has quit after it struggled to field a team on several occasions last season.

The club, which played its home games in Highlands Lane, had to forfeit three league and two cup games because it could not find 11 players.

Club secretary Gary Kingston, 46, said: “Myself and manager Marc Horton became more and more disillusioned with the lack of availability and commitment of the players and we couldn’t see it getting any better next season.

“It’s been a problem for the last few seasons even though we’ve had more than 30 players signed on.

“Also, the landlord at our ground couldn’t give any guarantees the pitch would be available all season so this really forced our decision. It’s quite sad, really, because the last four years have been really good and enjoyable mostly.”

Published 31/12/12


 
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