2011 REVIEW: A year that sporting success came to the fore in Fenland

2011 has been a year to remember for sport in Fenland and we’ve been there every step of the way.

Our reporters Gavin Caney and Rob Setchell have provided heavyweight coverage throughout the last 12 months bringing you a host of exclusives from across the district.

Here, Gavin reviews the highs, lows, thrills and the spills from a stunning year.

JANUARY

CHATTERIS snooker ace Joe Perry spoke of his excitement about appearing at the first World Snooker Shoot-Out competition. He was knocked out of the revolutionary one-frame tournament by Ken Doherty in the second round.

It was an even tougher start to the year for Wisbech Rugby Club who faced up to a London North-East Division Three relegation scrap after being hit with a 13-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player.

The league’s committee imposed the punishment after Ben Hoyles appeared in the club’s 20-8 win over Newmarket last year.

Most Read

Friendship was temporarily put to one side when March Amateur Boxing Club youngsters Cole Stevens and Harry Rody traded blows at the Mid-Anglia Schoolboy finals. Stevens won on points.

In athletics, talented teenage runner Nicholas Stone, from March, won the men’s under-17s crown at the Cambridgeshire Cross Country Championships.

Elsewhere, Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock, from Doddington, ran a personal best to finish sixth in the final of the World Championships in New Zealand.

On a track of a different kind, Tydd St Giles schoolboy karting star George Russell clinched a dream deal to race for Italian team Intrepid Kart International as he continued to speed his way towards motorsport fame.

FEBRUARY

NEW beginnings dawned for Manea gymnast Stevie Harrow, Wisbech Rugby Club and March footballing duo Luke Bradshaw and Aidan Payne during a month of firsts.

Teenage gymnast Harrow’s fledgling career reached new heights – even though she withdrew early through injury - when she appeared at her first international event in the USA.

Bradshaw and Payne made their debuts for hometown club March Town United’s reserve team after being spotted playing for their school by secretary Ray Bennett.

Ben McCall became the new coach of Wisbech Rugby Club while former captain Luke Feaviour made an emotional return to the game more than three years after surgeons told him he would never play again.

Feaviour, who suffered a broken leg in a car crash in 2008, pulled on a Wisbech shirt again to help the club’s II beat Norwich 22-15.

There were similar joyous scenes at Wisbech Town, as Steve Appleby celebrated his first year in charge of the Fenmen, and at March ABC as Vicky Larham became the first female boxer in their 62-year history.

Finally we, in conjunction with Fenland District Council, began the search for the next generation of talent by launching the Fenland Sports Stars of the Future campaign.

MARCH

MARCH Town Hockey Club’s Brian Fox apologised to his team-mates after he was banned for almost a year for lashing out at an opponent during March III’s 5-4 derby victory over Wisbech II.

It was also a tough month for March’s football boss Jamie Weston who not only lost his brother Adam to neighbours Wisbech Town but was forced to play his first game in four years due to his side’s deepening injury crisis.

There was better news for the town’s rugby club, March Bears, whose remarkable renaissance under Richard Horne and Carl Moore continued with a 75-14 hammering of Shelford V.

The town’s hockey team enjoyed an even better month with the first team making history by winning Division One – meaning the club would play at their highest-ever level the following season.

Paralympic idol Jody Cundy claimed his 10th world title and there was more glory for sporting youngsters across Fenland.

Promising schoolgirl footballer Alana Sugden, from March, was one of just 32 players in her age group to be selected for England trials.

Wisbech St Mary Girls Under-16s and AFC Whittlesey Under-14s tasted county cup success while March Marlins swimmer Adam Lifshack won four medals at the county championships.

APRIL

WISBECH teenage swimming sensation Liam Knight was named the first Fenland Sports Stars of the Future winner in a mixed month for the Capital of the Fens.

The champagne finally flowed at the town’s hockey club as the invincible ladies’ first team – and Division One North champions - completed a phenomenal unbeaten season by thumping Watton 6-2.

And pool player Darren McCarthy was picked to make his England A-team debut after 12 years of playing for his country’s B-team.

But Wisbech Rugby Club’s epic fight for survival ended in heartbreak when a last-day 46-17 defeat to Lowestoft & Yarmouth consigned them to relegation.

Two eras came to an end when March Town United boss Jamie Weston resigned after two years in charge of the first team.

And after 30 years of incredible service Mandy Fisher, the driving force behind ladies’ snooker, shocked the sport by resigning as chairman.

Tributes poured in from across the snooker world as Wisbech-based Fisher – who rescued the women’s game in 1981 – insisted it was time for someone else to take control of the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Association.

Elsewhere, Doddington’s Edward Elmore followed in older brother Robert’s footsteps by becoming a national junior bowls champion.

MAY

CALLUM Reed’s penalty ended 16 years of waiting for Wisbech Town’s loyal supporters when the Fenmen beat Wroxham 1-0 to win the Ridgeons League Challenge Cup.

The club’s reserve team won the Cambs William Coad Cup while March Town United’s second string, managed by chairman Phil White, enjoyed glory of their own by bagging the Cambs Junior Challenge Cup.

Upwell teenager Charlie Stevens ended March ABC’s 54-year wait for a Junior Amateur Boxing Association champion while swimmer Liam Knight bagged eight gold medals at the East Region Youth Championships.

The managerial merry-go-round swung into action with Chatteris Town’s most successful boss in decades, Jimmy Unwin, resigning to take up a full-time role at Norwich City.

Brett Whaley returned to March Town United’s vacant managerial position – two years after resigning as first team boss.

March all-rounder Rob Woolley, playing for Cambridge MCCU, claimed the biggest wicket of his career by bowling England superstar Kevin Pietersen.

Brave Ash Howlett, whose rugby career was ended when his face was shattered in a tackle, returned to the area to set up the district’s first rugby league team – the Fenland Foxes. James Napier scored their first-ever try in a 38-16 win against West Norfolk Wildcats.

JUNE

TEENAGE cricketer Josh Fox bowled his way into the record books by taking two hat-tricks in a single innings.

Fox, from Chatteris, completed the haul for March Under-13s, achieved by only a handful of players – without conceding a run. Hugh Chevallier, from Wisden – cricket’s bible of statistics – hailed it as an “amazing achievement”.

Elsewhere, the club’s first team star Matt Wilcox took three catches, three wickets and smashed his highest-ever score (136) as March beat Nassington by 53 runs.

History-maker Vicky Larham continued her incredible rise to boxing stardom by winning a national title just eight months after stepping into the ring.

Wisbech’s mixed hockey team (national mixed plate) and cricket club (Twenty20 Jaidka Cup) suffered cup final defeats but it was a better month for March Bears who gained promotion to the Greene King Super Premiere Merit League on appeal.

Steve Taylor became Chatteris Town manager again – 11 years after leaving West Street – and Liam Knight’s remarkable year continued when he swam against his idol, 50m world backstroke world-record holder Liam Tancock, at the ASA Championships.

Knight, who smashed four personal bests at the Sheffield event, finished just over two seconds behind his Olympic idol.

JULY

YOUNG talents continued to shine brightly across Fenland with Whittlesey’s teenage swimmer Nick Ilsley winning the second Fenland Sports Starts of the Future award.

Boxing sensation Charlie Stevens completed a phenomenal season by becoming Great Britian Junior Champion and swimmer Liam Knight picked up his first British title by winning the 200m backstroke at the GB youth championships.

Karting star George Russell went one step further by producing the drive of his life to lift a European crown at the age of 13. The Tydd St Giles youngster won the CIK-FIA European Championship.

Promising athlete Mollie Allen tore up Wisbech Grammar School’s record books with a sensational display at the lower school’s athletics championships.

Allen, from Wimblington, set records in the 1,500m (five minutes 34 seconds), triple jump (8.63m) and long jump (4.12m).

Emily Stephenson, above, from March tasted international success when she was called up the first England Women’s dodgeball team. She helped her country beat Ireland 5-1 and 9-0.

Commonwealth heptathlon champion Louise Hazel set a personal best points haul of 6,186 to finish seventh in a meet in Germany.

Christchurch Bowls Club pair Malcolm Hicks and Roly Frost also reached the last 16 of the national championships.

AUGUST

OPENER Kurt Cunningham hit his fourth Saturday century to help Chatteris first team secure promotion to Cambs Senior Division Two with a 165-run win over Cambridge Granta III.

As the cricket season came to a close captain Chris Ringham urged his team-mates to keep their calm as March Town Cricket Club’s Tucker Gardner Premier Division title challenge hit the skids.

March’s lead, which once stood at 28 points, was cut to just a point with a 10-run defeat to Nassington and a six-wicket drubbing by Wisbech.

There was some better news for March IV who clinched the Cambs Junior Division 5A title and Leverington who won the Cambs Junior 2A title.

Football returned but March Town United vice-captain Marc Welcher revealed he’d decided to swap football for rugby – swapping the Hares for the Bears. However, Welcher was back playing football for March within a few months.

Callum Reed completed a shock U-turn and rejoined Wisbech Town, just months after signing for fierce rivals King’s Lynn Town.

In athletics, Louise Hazel finished 15th in the heptathlon at the World Athletics Championship and Jonnie Peacock smashed his personal best to run 11.47s in the T44 100m – around 0.6s off Oscar Pistorius’ world record.

SEPTEMBER

ALMOST 2,000 football fans watched March Town United and Wisbech Town battle it out for glory in Fenland’s biggest FA Cup derbies for 30 years.

The Fenmen triumphed 3-2 in the preliminary round replay after the sides drew 1-1 in front of a phenomenal crowd of 1,100 at the GER.

Wisbech were thumped 4-1 by Wroxham in the next round and assistant Chris Dear resigned just days later.

The Fenmen quickly suffered their heaviest defeat in four years as three players were sent off during a 9-0 drubbing at Mildenhall Town. But they bounced back immediately by beating league leaders Dereham Town 2-1 in their next game.

March’s Tucker Gardner Premier Division hopes went up in smoke after a four-wicket loss against St Ives, but the club’s II clinched the Ernie Wool Trophy by thumping Wisbech III by seven wickets.

Wisbech Rugby Club started their Greene King Eastern Counties Division One promotion push by beating West Norfolk 42-19 but suffered a blow as injury-plagued captain Tom Long broke his thumb.

Wisbech’s four-time world jet ski champion James Bushell landed a fifth European title while Leverington open water swimmer Ellen Williams was crowned the third Fenland Sports starts of the Future winner.

OCTOBER

MARCH Town Hockey Club’s men’s first team picked up their first Division One win with a 6-2 thrashing of Broxbourne. Chairman Neil Liversedge hailed it as the club’s best performance for 15 years.

Inspirational Paralympian Jody Cundy broke his own record for the flying 200m clocking 10.805s - beating his previous best of 10.970s.

Steve Appleby’s Fenmen begun their FA Vase dream with a 3-0 after-extra-time first round win over Walsham-le-Willows.

Former Fenmen ‘keeper Lea Jordan quit March just months after joining them.

Teenage badminton star Beth Parrish, from March, won her first international tournament in Belgium while the town’s dodgeball star, Emily Stephenson, helped England win the European Championships in Sweden.

March and District Squash Club celebrated its 30th anniversary with a tournament which was won by Harry Taylor.

Wisbech St Mary’s John ‘The One’ Maguire became the first mixed martial artist in East Anglia to land a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Jet-skier James Bushell continued his dominant form by becoming the first British competitor to win two world titles at the same championships.

Liam Knight smashed Cambridgeshire’s 100m backstroke and breaststroke records for his age group with another sensational performance at the National County Team Championships.

NOVEMBER

CHATTERIS ABC’s talented teenager Jordan Gill agreed a deal to turn professional next summer with Sheffield’s legendary Ingle boxing.

There was more glory in the ring, this time for John ‘The One’ Maguire, who beat Justin Edwards to enjoy a winning debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. March’s Alex Hodge became a British kickboxing champion – at the age of just five.

Last season’s invincibles, Wisbech Town Hockey Club’s ladies first’ team, ended their miserable start to life in the Premier League by recording their first win – 3-1 against Colchester.

Wisbech Town’s dream of retaining league cup was ended by a 1-0 second round defeat at Norwich United. Steve Appleby’s side did progress in the FA Vase by beating Racing Club Warwick 1-0.

The town’s rugby club enjoyed their own Vase glory by beating Old Brentwoods 37-10 before annihilating Thetford 66-12 to keep alive their dream of playing at Twickenham. Wisbech host Billericay in the fourth round on January 21.

Wisbech Town Cricket Club chairman Gavin Plume resigned as chairman after turning the club around during an incredible eight-year spell.

March Town United also celebrated its 125th anniversary with a showcase friendly against Cambridge United – but lost 4-0.

DECEMBER

BEN Hoyles scored two tries on his return to Wisbech Rugby Club – a year after his ineligible appearance condemned the side to relegation.

Hoyles starred in a 79-10 win over Crusaders before the side lost their first league game of the season, 12-6 at title rivals Cantabrigians.

March said goodbye to three stars as Bears coach Richard Horne and assistant Carl Moore quit the club as the side continued to struggle in the Greene King Super Premiere Merit Table.

March ABC’s Charlie Stevens also said an emotional goodbye to Fenland as he joined West Ham Boys ABC to chase his Olympic dream.

But Brett Whaley’s managerial light continued to shine brightly as his March Town United side ended table-topping Thetford Town’s 100 per cent Ridgeons First Division record. The Hares go into the New Year poised for a promotion push.

Two darts world champions, Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams and Trina Gulliver, took to the oche in March but Adams couldn’t prevent Cambridgeshire from losing 25-14 to Warwickshire.

Wisbech beat Witham Town 2-1 after extra time to reach the fourth round of the FA Vase. Steve Appleby’s Ridgeons Premier Division title challengers host Dunston UTS on January 21 as their dream of reaching Wembley continues.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter