We are the champions!

NEWHAM & ESSEX BEAGLES created history on Saturday as their senior men captured the English Cross Country Championship title for the first time in over 100 years, writes MATT DINER. The battling Beagles, were without star man Mo Farah, who was busy in the

NEWHAM & ESSEX BEAGLES created history on Saturday as their senior men captured the English Cross Country Championship title for the first time in over 100 years, writes MATT DINER.

The battling Beagles, were without star man Mo Farah, who was busy in the warmth of Birmingham breaking British indoor records, won the title for the first time since way back in 1901, leaving team manager Bob Smith ecstatic.

"It really is a fabulous result for us and I am immensely proud of them," he beamed.

"It takes some doing to win this title and alt-hough I thought we could get a medal, to win is just lovely."


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Future star Keith Gerrard also struggled to hide his delight at the team's performance at Parliament Hill in Central London.

"We had the athletes on paper to do well and win it and to achieve what we have as a group is really pleasing and it's about time!" he said emphatically.

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"It puts us once more towards the top of the list of clubs around the country and it is where we belong."

In a tight race, the Newham club were always under pressure from others around them with both Bedford and Leeds breathing down their necks, but an excellent team performance meant the Beagles held on to win by a narrow 10-point margin.

"It was so close all the way through and I was running round the course, taking down scores a lot," Smith smiled, anxious to follow his top six runners, who would contribute to his side's final score.

"It was a quagmire out there and I knew both Leeds and Bedford would be strong."

Moumin Geele was the first Beagle home in fifth (38.44) closely followed by new signing Lee Merrien in 13th (39.50) and Gerrard, who struggled to 24th in a time of 40.34.

"I was disappointed with my performance as I was in the top six and feeling strong, but then these acute stomach cramps hit me and I had to stop, and then jog round the last three or four kilometers," Gerrard moaned.

Dave Mitchinson finished in 38th with a time of 41.11 with Kairn Stone finishing 47th in 41.22

Sam Farah and Stuart Major battled it out for the final scoring position with the latter taking it in 42.25 - six seconds ahead of his rival in 87th.

Scott Sterling was not too far behind in 92nd (42.38) with Andy Barber finishing in 143rd in 44.10 and John Pike in 272nd (46.37) out of almost 1,500 competitors.

"Moumin ran superbly to finish in the top five," smiled Smith.

"Keith had an uncomfortable run, but it was vital for him to finish the race.

"We lost Olly Laws halfway through as he picked up an injury and in the form he has been in, that was a huge blow.

"Dave Mitchinson put in a stellar performance and I was really happy to see Kairn Stone come through. It was just a great team performance from everyone.

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