Coach’s pride after Harriers storm to promotion
Croydon Harriers senior coach Mike Fleet is a proud man after the men won promotion to Division One of the Surrey Cross-Country League for the first time in more than 10 years.
A third place finish in Saturday’s final league meeting at Lloyd Park was enough to clinch second place overall, just 45 points behind winners Reigate Priory AC, but 88 points clear of Wimbledon Windmilers in third.
Brendan Murphy led the 10-to-score team home over the 5.6-mile course on Saturday, clocking 29 minutes 52 seconds to take second spot.
David White (fourth, 30:32) and a returning Peter Chambers (fifth, 30:42) also bagged top five finishes, while David Brown (23rd, 32:56) edged inside the top 25.
Solid packing then ensued with Patrick Lucas (42nd, 33:44), Alex Penfold (50th, 34:13), David Chambers (51st, 34:14) and Jake English (54th, 34:26) all finishing in close proximity.
Neil Aikman (75th, 35:39) and Mark Maginn (78th, 36:04) completed the scoring 10 to ensure Croydon’s promotion for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
Fleet said: “The whole club is very proud of the team’s achievements.
“It was a great team effort, not just from the scoring 10, but those behind them as well.
“They have to put in a performance in case one of the top 10 drop out.”
He added: “They have run consistently well all season and they really produced the goods on Saturday in very difficult conditions.”
The senior coach is under no illusions of the task facing the team to stay in Division One next season, but he is confident it can be done.
“It will be very tough, you cannot escape that,” he said.
“But we should have some very talented runners returning from injury, such as Mark Plackett.
“And guys like Patrick [Lucas] and David [Brown] are improving all the time.
“This season’s success is down to the development of the young athletes, and having runners of the quality of Peter [Chambers] is encouragement to the younger runners.”