SPORT REVIEW OF 2013: Huntingdonshire’s sporting year was another to be proud of

St Ives Roosters celebrate their win in the final of the East of England Sheild.

St Ives Roosters celebrate their win in the final of the East of England Sheild. - Credit: Archant

George Furbank was our first back page cover star of 2013. The former Huntingdon & District rugby star had just signed up to be part of the Northampton Saints under-18s squad.

St Ives Town striker Dubi Ogbonna with the match ball after scoring his FA Cup hat-trick.

St Ives Town striker Dubi Ogbonna with the match ball after scoring his FA Cup hat-trick. - Credit: Archant

“They are one of the biggest clubs in the country,” the 16-year-old said. “I would love a run out for the senior team.”

Jonathan Railton on his Superstock bike this season.

Jonathan Railton on his Superstock bike this season. - Credit: Archant

Meanwhile, the new year football programme was hit by the bad weather with Huntingdon Town versus St Ives Town postponed in the United Counties League, but Godmanchester Rovers drew 0-0 with Wisbech Town in the Eastern Counties League.

Tommy 'Da Gun' Martin wins again at York Hall.

Tommy 'Da Gun' Martin wins again at York Hall. - Credit: Archant

However, the following week football was back on and Huntingdon thrashed St Ives 5-1 in their Hunts FA Senior Cup semi-final at Jubilee Park.

On the back page on January 9 Olympic gymnast and winner of Strictly Come Dancing Louis Smith was hinting he would not be aiming for a place at Rio 2016.

On January 16 Huntingdon & Districts’s promotion chase began to heat up with a brilliant 23-20 win over Dunstablians in their Midlands Two East South Division. “These are the games that players remember,” said head coach Damian Whales.

Manager Iain Parr said he thought hat-trick hero Lewis Hilliard was good enough to play in the Football League after St Neots Town beat Bedworth United 3-2.

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On January 23 we featured Gary Marheineke on the back page after Huntingdon estate agents Harvey Robinson helped the single-armed goalkeeper to go Ireland for trials with the England amputee football team.

Elsewhere, snow stopped play in almost all of the weekend’s live sport but St Ives joint manager Jez Hall revealed “It’s all to play for – second place could be good enough for promotion” to the Southern League.

Police were called on to mediate between St Neots chairman Mike Kearns and former manager Dennis Greene on January 30 following a Twitter spat.

St Ives based Australian motor racer Ash Miller was looking for drives in the UK and sprinter Ryan Palmer stumbled at Lee Valley in his first outing of the year.

On February 6 St Neots boxer Tommy Martin was celebrating his second professional win in his second fight after beating Jason Nesbitt in Peterborough. The 18-year-old said: “It was the best I have ever boxed – but it’s my job now.”

Dom Lawless scored on his debut for St Ives, while Mike Hyem starred as Godmanchester fought back to beat Ely City 3-2. Huntingdon Stags 19-10 win over Biggleswade enhanced their chances of promotion.

It was 60m gold for Hunts AC sprinter Ryan Palmer at the Eastern Indoor Championships at Lee Valley on February 13, while goalkeeper Niall Conroy was on the move, leaving St Ives for St Neots.

Whales tells us Huntingdon’s swagger can win the Stags promotion. But St Ives go out of the Midlands Junior Vase at the semi-finals losing to Harbury.

On February 20 we offered readers the chance to watch Huntingdon Town versus Spalding Town for free by ripping off the back page and taking it to Jubilee Park. Huntingdon had just beaten AFC Kempston Rovers 5-1 with Ben Seymour-Shove once again starring for the club.

The paper also featured an exclusive interview with St Neots manager Iain Parr who was working hard behind the scenes at the Southern League club to improve its youth structure. “You do it because you love it,” he said.

On February 27 Eynesbury Rovers continued their UCL Division One promotion push with a 3-0 win at Wootton Blue Cross.

On the back page, friendships were going to be put to one side when St Ives welcomed St Neots in the big local derby the following Saturday...

St Ives won 31-26 with the back page of the March 6 paper given over to 14-year-old boxer Ryan Adair after he claimed an English schoolboy title with a win over Mark Jeffers. “He is a born competitor who loves to win,” said his coach from the Cambs Police club Mick Taylor.

Huntingdonshire Athletics Club were crowned Frostbite Friendly League champions for the 2012-2013 season.

As we moved into spring, St Neots Town manager Iain Parr said he was ready to give youth a chance after losing key players Dan Jacob and Ben Mackey. The chairman Mike Kearns also claimed the club had “no divine right” to hold on to players such as Stefan Moore.

The March 13 paper told us Huntingdon & District were four good wins away from promotion after they beat Oadby Wyggestonians 25-11. “It’s all about bonus points,” said the rugby club’s chairman Mark Garood.

Women from St Neots Rowing Club were taking part in the Thames Head of the River race.

On March 20 Huntingdon Town’s Craig Green and Jamie Alsop from St Ives Town were upping their training for the London Marathon. Both players were doing the run for charity and Alsop told the us: “I didn’t realise how far a mile was – until I ran it!”

On March 27, It was three wins out of three for Tommy Martin after he defeated Andy Harris in Bethnal Green – and Damian Whales was worried promotion was out of Stags’s hands, despite their massive 54-5 win over Leicester Vipers. “We need to ensure we keep winning well,” he said.

Huntingdon boss Ricky Marheineke was plotting to spoil St Ives party and dent their promotion hopes in the big Bank Holiday derby. “The pressure is all on St Ives, not us,” he said.

Lewis Hilliard continued to impress for St Neots with a hat-trick in their 4-3 win against Kettering Town – after they had gone 3-0 down. The club also announced a partnership with Norwich City of the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Dan Keatings, the Hunts gymnast, was continuing his comeback from injury and won two Masters title at the British Championships in Liverpool.

Grafham’s 22-year-old Motorcycle racer Jonathan Railton confirmed he will be racing in two support classes in the season’s British Superbike series.

“Easter shakes it all up” claimed the back page headline on April 3 after St Ives smashed Blackstones 8-3 and Huntingdon 5-0 with the UCL leaders Holbeach also beating Huntingdon 6-1. Dom Lawless scored a hat-trick for St Ives in both of their games.

Stags got “an unexpected bonus” according to chairman Garood after second placed Bugbrooke were beaten by Market Harborough.

The following week, April 10: “Stags are on the bring of glory,” screamed the back page after their 40-8 win over Northampton Old Scouts.

Jonathan Railton began April and the new motorcycle racing season by smashing records in his first races at Brands Hatch. After a troublesome run-up, he admitted: “At least I know how the bike works after an almost test-free pre-season,” on April 10.

On April 17 we reported a “blow for promotion bid” after Stags lose 42-19 to Leighton Buzzard. “I think we have to accept the inevitable now,” says Garrood, with the end-of-season play-offs looming.

St Ives are also in a race for promotion but second place will be good enough for them in the Midlands Three Four East South division. A point from a 2-2 draw at leaders Holbeach keeps the dream alive for St Ives’s football club.

Promotion comes for St Ives Bulls on April 24 with a 28-11 home win against Thorney. “The whole season has been about a squad of players working hard,” said the captain Jim Robinson. Gymnast Keatings adds another gold to his comeback trail at the European Championships in Moscow, Russia. Ramsey secure a winning start to their TuckerGardner Premier One season as cricket returns just weeks after snow had threatened a false start.

May 1 and St Ives Bulls add the Hunts & Peterborough Cup to promotion when they beat Market Deeping 34-24 – but it was a nervous week for Stags as they prepared for their big promotion play-off at home to Oakham.

Nerves were also jangling at St Ives FC after they were beaten by Huntingdon 2-1 in the last derby of the season. Second, behind champions Holbeach United, will be enough for promotion – but a loss at Shepshed Dynamo on the last day would be a disaster if Spalding.

No worries. “Promotion Saturday” was the banner headline on May 8 after both St Ives and Stags won their promotion races. A fantastic goal from David Cobb was enough for the Saints to secure second place and Step 4 football for the first time ever. “It was an exhausting afternoon,” said joint manager Jez Hall.

Stags didn’t have such a tough day – they beat Oakham 30-17 at the Racecourse.

In the final of the Hunts FA Senior Cup at Yaxley, Adrian Sear broke Huntingdon hearts by scoring the winning penalty for St Neots following 120 minutes of goalless football. “We deserved to nick it today,” said Saints manager Iain Parr.

On May 15 St Ives’s cricket club began their TuckerGardner season with a win at Caistor & Ailsworth. “We’re quite happy with the way the season is progressing,” said the captain Bevis Moynan.

On May 22 St Neots chairman Mike Kearns reflected on a first season in the Premier Division of the Southern League – and their mid-table finish – with the first of a series of three exclusive interview on the website.

Ramsey and Godmanchester were in third and fourth in the TuckerGardner Premier League – but Goddy lost to March in what was an “early season battle for the title”.

Ryan Palmer and three other Huntingdonshire Athletics Club athletes – Yann Yao, Fred Williams and Tom Johnson – beat the club’s 20-year-old 4x100m record.

Brampton’s 16-year-old Arsenal ladies star Carla Humphrey is a big hit after scoring a hat-trick at Milton Keynes for the Gunners’ under-17s in their 3-1 defeat of Blackburn Rovers in the final of their FA Cup competition.

“The new Saints are not the old Saints” is the claim on May 29 as St Neots Town Youth & Saints are given a place in Division One of the UCL. “They are not a St Neots Town reserve team,” insists Kearns.

Motorcycle speedster Railton leads the Ducati Challenge by 28 points and St Ives’s 15-year-old boxer Shona Whitwell gets a shot a Team GB selection.

June 6 sees Steve Kuhne named the manager of the new St Neots team – he was formerly an assistant to Parr at the ‘old’ Saints. In cricket, Ramsey are up to second in TuckerGardner Premier League.

Godmanchester Rovers say they will fight the FA after they are moved from the Eastern Counties to the United Counties. St Ives are placed in Division One Central of the Southern League and are happy.

Switching football for cycling, on June 15 Craig Green tells us he is aiming for a place in the GB Paralympic squad for Rio 2016.

Green was born with Poland Syndrome and a deformity in his right hand. “It’s a challenge I am embracing,” he said.

St Neots manager Parr is “excited” by a spate of new signings and is optimistic about the coming season on June 26.

“Things are taking shape nicely,” he said after adding Ola Sogbanmu, Dan Crowie, Joe Benjamin and Paul Rodgers to his squad.

The second half of 2013 began with a story about the 18-year-old Brampton Park golfer Megan Taylor who was off to America on a four-year scholarship at Wingate University in North Carolina.

“You’re the one I blame for getting me into this annoying sport,” Taylor told her mother Lynda Hall in our exclusive interview.

Also in the July 3 edition we exclusively revealed Godmanchester Rovers’ influential midfielder Mike Hyem had joined Huntingdon Town. “Ricky Marheineke sold the club the best out of all the managers I was talking to,” said the 23-year-old. Huntingdon also made another new signing, appointing Seb Hayes as Marheineke’s assistant. It was to turn to out to be important appointment.

Cricketer Craig Leigh scored a magnificent 126 for Huntingdon in the Hunts County Bats League, while St Ives continued to struggle in Division One of the TuckerGardner Premier League.

St Neots Town began their pre-season with a 2-1 win over Kettering Town on July 10.

In cricket, Eaton Socon were targeting a second successive promotion after climbing to the top of Division Two of the TuckerGardner League in their first season back in the Premier. Captain Terry Day said: “The bowlers have been performing in every game and it’s up to the batsman to make sure we stay at the top.”

Once again, Huntingdon were aiming for the top spot in the Hunts County Bats League after missing out on the last day for the previous two seasons.

Motorcycle racer Jonathan Railton was 28 points ahead in the Ducati Challenge and Huntingdonshire Athletics Club’s Jonathan Edwards successfully defended his hammer throw title at the Eastern Counties Championships in Cambridge.

St Ives Roosters won the East of England Rugby League Shield for the second successive season with a 38-16 win over Milton Keynes. “The win is a testament to all the hard work that is being done,” said captain Paul Ashbridge, who added: “I can’t grumble,” on July 17.

Ryan Palmer, the Hunts AC sprinter, got his first call-up to run for England at under-20s level, while 17-year-old Riverside Runners Chris Wright won The Hunts Post sponsored St Neots 10k.

Teenagers Emily Fuller, Tayla Mounter and Nadine El Rafee represented Hunts County Squash Club and England in Germany. On July 24, the back page featured an interview with Sawtry’s Allen Cooper who races Robin Reliants in stock car races. “We spend all week building them and painting them and then we go away and smash them up,” he said. “It’s really good fun.”

Ramsey drew with Wisbech Town in the big TuckerGardner Premier Division One derby with Taylor West taking six wickets. Chris Goodsall won the Ashman Trophy on the 75th anniversary of the St Neots Cycling Club competition.

Railton crashed out of his latest race but ended the week as Hunts Post Sports Personality of the Year. Swimmer Andy Weatheritt won the award for outstanding achievement for over-18s, while there were also awards for Luke Claxton (fundraising), Shona Whitwell (boxing), John Burling (First Strokes Godmanchester swimming coach), Priory Junior School, Jim Bremner (Huntingdonshire FA) and Lauren Steadman (Paralympic swimmer and triathlete). There were three awards for Huntingdon & District Rugby Club with the first team and the under-9s named the teams of the year.

Tommy Martin won pro fight number four on July 31 defeating Kristian Laight in Bethnal Green. “I am feeling great – and I am ready to step up to the next level,” said the St Neots boxer.

On August 7, Colin Parker, the chairman of brand new United Counties League Division One team St Neots Town Youth & Saints, said: “It’s looking really good,” as they approached their first game. Huntingdon Town were preparing for a title push with manager Marheineke saying he was unable to read too much into the team’s pre-season ahead of their first game against Desborough Town, who were beaten by St Neots in their final pre-season friendly.

St Neots Town manager Iain Parr claimed his team were ready for the challenge of the new season on August 14 – with Huntingdon Town drawing and Godmanchester Rovers losing their first games of their league seasons.

Eynesbury began with a win, while St Neots Town Youth & Saints’ first ever game ended in a 1-1 draw at Raunds Town, Chae Simons scoring the historical goal.

The following Saturday, St Neots were beaten 2-0 by Weymouth and on August 21 Parr said he still had confidence in his squad. “I want this squad to see the season through,” he said. St Ives Town began life in the Southern League with a 2-1 win over Chertsey Town. “I had proper nerves,” said joint manager Jez Hall. In the FA Cup, Huntingdon got off to a flier with a 4-1 win over Fakenham Town.

On August 28 Parr was again explaining a defeat, this time to Cambridge City, while Huntingdon pulled off a massive 4-0 win at Wisbech Town in the UCL.

Kira Reuter, 12, from Hemingford Grey, defended her title at the Aegon British Junior National Tennis Championships on September 4. St Ives Town and Huntingdon both progressed in the FA Cup but Godmanchester Rovers went out to Sleaford Town.

In rugby union, Huntingdon & District began their Midlands One East season with a defeat to Old Northamptonians and coach Damian Whales said on September 11: “We must address the issues from today.”

Huntingdon went top of the UCL with another win against Wisbech, while Ramsey faced an end of season tussle with Wisbech in cricket’s TuckerGardner Premier League.

Sport made the front page on September 18 when a ‘mass brawl’ at Sleaford Town in Huntingdon’s FA Cup tie sees the referee abandon the game. The story even makes the national news with Robbie Savage, the Radio 5 Live presenter, following the game on his 606 show. The question is, will Huntingdon get kicked out of the competition? Definitely in the next round were St Ives who beat Dereham Town 4-1 with Dubi Ogbonna scoring a hat-trick. Also through wereSt Neots Town who beat Wroxham 3-1.

Warboys were celebrating after sneaking promotion to Division One of cricket’s TuckerGardner Premier League. “It was really a game of mathematics but we won promotion,” said official John Wright.

Ramsey felt hard done by. They finished second to Wisbech after their final game was cancelled because of a waterlogged pitch.

Two wins from two games and St Neots were aiming for promotion from the Midlands Four East South division. The rugby union side’s coach Tim Russell said, on September 25: “Things are very positive right now.”

Suffering were Huntingdon Town on October 2 after they and Sleaford were both chucked out of the FA Cup. Meanwhile, St Neots drew with Canvey Island and would face a replay (which they would lose) and St Ives Town lost to Concord Rangers (also in Canvey Island).

St Neots Dragon Boat team are named the most improved at the sport’s ‘FA Cup’ event.

On October 9, there is drama at Jubilee Park when Godmanchester visit Huntingdon in quarter-finals of the Hunts FA Senior Cup. The game went to extra time and then penalties and in the end Mike Hyem was forced to take the winning spot kick against his former team.

Teenager Adelaide Walkling is one of 10 young cricketers invited to take part in Essex’s emerging players programme. “It’s really exciting,” said the St Neots 13-year-old on October 16.

“Some people have said I am mad because how do you follow Ricky?” said new Huntingdon manager Seb Hayes after replacing Ricky Marheineke, who left for the assistant manager’s job at Histon. “I have had unbelievable support at the club – but it was a job I just couldn’t turn down,” said Marheineke.

Guy Jolly, the Sawtry V8 Hotstox racer, took part in the sport’s World Championship final in Coventry, while Jonathan Railton’s season ended in disappointment with a second place in the Ducati Championship and a mid-table finish in the Superstock series. A knee injury had hampered the second half of his racing year.

On October 23 angler Andy Leathers won a £25,000 top prize in a Cornish competition. The St Neots postman said: “One tiny carp was the difference.”

Tommy Martin made it five out of five with the boxer beating Ibrar Riyaz in London.

On October 30, Iain Parr, the St Neots manager, said he was aiming for “stability by Christmas”. On November 6 Parr had stepped down to concentrate on youth development at the club.

There was lots of boxing news in the paper that week with Martin, Bradley Smith and Ryan Adair all featuring, while Andy Weatheritt, the 22-year-old St Ives swimmer, was our exclusive interviewee on November 13. He said he was aiming for the Commonwealth Games – and then the Olympics.

Gary King and Zema Abbey were the new managers of St Neots and they started with a brilliant 4-1 win over Hemel Hempstead Town. Lewis Hilliard scored a hat-trick. St Ives hit the beginning of a sticky streak with a 3-0 home defeat to Slough Town.

On November 20, jockey Alfie Warwick was celebrating his first win, which came on the flat at WolverhamptoOrange Grove. The 19-year-old said: “I gave the fist pump and all that.”

“Losing is hard to accept,” said St Ives joint manager Jez Hall after another defeat, while Huntingdon will have another go at their FA Vase second round tie against AFC Mansfield after a 1-1 draw. Dave Morgan won the St Neots Half Marathon.

On November 27 we reported that Huntingdon were off to Congleton Town in the last 64 of the FA Vase following their defeat of AFC Mansfield. They would lose in Cheshire. St Neots Town Saints thrashed Woodford United 8-0 in what was turning out to be a brilliant first season for the new club. Godmanchester are up to second in the Eastern Counties Premier Division. St Neots remain in the race for promotion in Midlands Four East South after beating Thorney 3-1-17. Smith was beaten in the semi-finals of boxing’s NABC Championships. On December 4, Martin makes it six wins out of six fights, this time in Stevenage.

The back page featured a frank and exclusive interview with Mike Hyem (captain of Huntingdon Town) and his brother Chris (captain of Godmanchester). Mike Hyem admits promotion for Huntingdon is almost impossible. “I can’t see anyone getting past Spalding this year,” he said. Godmanchester were looking good for Step 4 football, however, and on December 11 general manager Karly Hurst said: “It’s all systems to go.”

St Neots manager King isn’t worried about the number of players used by his new team this season (42) – and if they need to, he and joint manager Abbey will continue to add new faces.

Meanwhile, on December 18, all three rugby union sides win their final league games of the year to end 2013 on a high.