Friday, 19 August 2022

Marlow accepts challenge of inter-town sports contest

AN Olympics-style competition between Henley and Marlow has moved another step closer.

Provisional talks have taken place between the neighbouring town councils, which would organise it in partnership with their respective sports clubs.

It’s hoped that the inaugural event could be held on the second May bank holiday next year.

Many fixtures would be held over that weekend while others would take place when the weather is more suitable.

Teams from Marlow and Henley would face each other in a range of sports with the highlight being a tug of war contest across the River Thames.

The competition could climax with an awards ceremony at Henley town hall.

It would then be held every year with the venues being shared between the two towns. The idea was put forward in March by Councillor Sam Evans, chairwoman of Henley Town Council’s recreation and amenities committee, to celebrate and promote fitness in the community.

Marlow Town Council has agreed to liaise with its sports clubs to gauge their interest while Henley Deputy Mayor Will Hamilton will do the same in Henley.

Councillor Hamilton said Marlow Deputy Mayor Jocelyn Towns was “very keen” on the idea.

He said it was hoped to include at least 10 sports, including rugby, hockey, cricket, tennis, rowing, canoeing, swimming, cycling and a half marathon as well as shorter runs.

Henley Hockey Club, Henley Town Football Club, AFC Henley, Henley Rugby Club, Henley Cricket Club and Henley and Upper Thames rowing clubs have all expressed an interest in taking part.

The winning town in each discipline would receive one point with the overall winner being the one with most points.

Cllr Hamilton said: “It’s only a suggestive list and it’s possible that some of those sports might fall away but I think that’s a good start.

“It won’t happen all at once because it isn’t the right season for certain sports, for example, you can’t swim in the river in May.

“It will be important to get the sports clubs to run this rather than landing it on our town clerks’ desks.”

Henley Mayor Julian Brookes said squash was another possibility and suggested that a “winter Olympics” could also be organised as the event grew.

Councillor Evans said: “It’s great news that we’ve made some more progress on this because I love the idea of everyone across the town being involved, regardless of age or ability.

“It’s very important to include some sports for children or those who aren’t so fit, whether that’s bowls, marbles or even tiddlywinks.

“We need as diverse and inclusive a range as possible and have already had some great responses from our own clubs who just love the idea.”

She said the clubs would be invited to join a working group to plan the next steps, together with a joint working group with Marlow Town Council.

Cllr Evans said: “It will be very important to identify sports that everybody can take part in.

“We have some fabulous elite sportsmen and women in Henley but this will not be exclusively about them — all levels of competition will be catered for.”

Anyone interested in getting involved should email enquiries@

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