Thursday 16 August 2018

Chairman's blog August 2018

I just wanted to mention and thank two of our most senior volunteers who are stepping down from important positions. Elyzabeth Shitta-Bey has decided to hand the baton of Membership Secretary on after very, very many years of huge effort on her part. I am not quite sure if she started when her daughter Doja who is now a solicitor started to sprint for the club. But she has carried on ever since and manages to find the time to coordinate the Jack Petchey Foundation awards scheme, manage the YDL Upper Age Group team (the composite team with Basildon AC) and the club’s website and media relations as well. Obviously we are indebted to Elyzabeth for all her efforts on our behalf and wish Barbara Wilson, who has volunteered to replace Elyzabeth, all the best with the membership role.

Cheryl Brown, the Club Treasurer, will also be standing down in her case following the AGM. Cheryl has had a change in living plans since she took on the job and it is no longer practical for her. This is a shame as she has much needed skills (for us) in finance and understands the needs of volunteering. Thanks for your efforts over the last couple of years, Cheryl. If anyone knows of any potential club treasurers…let me or Nina know.

I have been on holiday in the North East USA for the last fortnight. I was delighted to hear that our Men’s British League team had won the last match of the season with a season-best (for any team) of 356 points which took us into 4th place for the season. Our chances of winning were effectively over when the British League decided to hold the season-opener on the same day as the British Universities Championships. Most teams rely heavily on student athletes and the decision by UKA to “permit” these fixtures against each other showed an absence of understanding of athlete development opportunities below those athletes financed by UK Sport.

But at least by winning Rowan Griffiths prevented Birmingham club Birchfield from winning all the matches for two consecutive seasons – only ever achieved by the Beagles in the history of the British League (I think – well it sounds good anyway).

The Summer teams have generally done well. The main Women’s team managed by Tim Mundle finished a great third in Div 2 of the UK Women’s League while the Youth Development League (YDL) Upper Age Group team managed by ES-B finished 2nd in South Div 1B giving winners Havering a real run for their money over the first half of the season. The Lower Age Group team found it tougher going and Sarah Alexander will now start to re-build next year.

The YDL teams demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of our various events. In short we do not have enough locally produced/developed distance runners and technical event (especially throws) athletes. The biggest reason for this is the low level of coaching available in these areas. Our head of coaching, George Choat, has started a distance group at the London Marathon Community Track. But this is going to take a while to produce results.  

So we are now getting ready for the Winter season again. Our aim is to make progress in the areas we have not really been present in past years – namely age group and women’s teams.

To close I was disappointed to hear that former UKA Chair Ed Warner thinks that the sport receives too much money from UK Sport and should be more self-sufficient in funding its athlete development programme. He does not see why athletics needs 76 athletes funded to varying degrees on the UKA World Class programme and says that all funded sports should raise 25% of their athlete funding programmes themselves from external sources. This would free up money for UK Sport to support other sports which currently receive no funding.

In theory his arguments probably appeal to sports politicians. In practice, however, the financial record of UKA while he was Chair (2007-17) point to the difficulty the sport has had in raising revenues at all, let alone to compensate for a loss of grant funding.

The UKA Accounts show that total revenue in the year to March 2007 was £22m of which £6.6m (30%) came from UK Sport and Sport England. By the latest published year to March 2017 this had risen to £24.7m of which £8.8m (36%) came from those two bodies and a further £2.1m was money received from the bodies promoting the 2017 World Championships. For reference the Rugby Football Union had revenues of £185m in the year to June 2017.

So UKA’s revenues in total grew by 12% in the 10 years Mr Warner was the Chair or just under 1% annually, virtually all of which came from increased grants. So it seems very unhelpful in my opinion to now argue that it should receive less money from UK Sport.

In my next Blog I will pay tribute to as many of our great athletes who have achieved competitive distinction this Summer as I can.

Sunday 3 June 2018

Chaiman's blog June 2018

What a weekend! Saturday morning 5.30 am and the alarm goes for the tip to Cardiff to catch the second round of the British League. First time I have been to Wales and it has not rained. Cardiff are celebrating their 50th Anniversary and they put on a great afternoon starting with parachutists landing in the centre of the arena.
Beagles managed the complete opposite of the first round when we failed dismally in the field events because all of our guys were competing in the British Universities. I know there is a lot on at the beginning of the season but that was a ridiculous clash which helped no-one.

Anyway this time we won the field events getting nearly three times the points. The star was Michael Puplampu back from injury who managed a win in a high quality Triple Jump with 16.03m and a massive improvement in his long jump best to 7.52m. We struggled on the track and ended up 5th one point behind 4th place. So half way through the season we are behind where we expected but we should finish mid table. Manager Rowan Griffiths did a great job on Saturday juggling the management with looking after his two young children.
What was really good from our point of view was the new talent we fielded all of whom were highly encouraging. Archie McNeilis (PV), Jack Roach (LJ, HJ), Jake Lindacher (110H), Lewis Davey (400, 4x400) all performed to a high standard and Ben Snaith’s 46.96 sec 400 was another highlight. My personal favourite was Newham trained High Jumper Jerome Henry an U17 who not only improved his pb to 1.88m but then informed us how gutted he was not to jump 2.00m. That’s what we like.
Not quite such an early start on Sunday but down to the London Marathon Community Track (LMCT) for the Beagles Academy. This is working well for the younger age group Y1-5 and my job was long jump coaching. Massive enthusiasm all round, one or two tearful moments but by the end we were all managing to take off one foot, land on two and get up in the air a bit – job done. Someone wanted to learn the hitchkick – obviously a bit above my pay-grade. But who knows if I have started a future GB long jumper out on the long road to success.
A quick dash to Basildon to see my youngest son run at the Eastern Young Athletes League. I talked to a couple of Basildon coaching greats – Martin Brown, James Shane’s coach and Steve Surety. Martin’s group really wants to have a few sessions at the LMCT at Stratford which is good for our middle distance guys as well.
Overall a tiring weekend. But even when the Men’s team was having a wobble in the British League I felt that what is so encouraging is that there is still talent coming through. You just never know when a potential big talent is going to walk in through the gate.
On a sadder note I attended on behalf of the club the funeral of Woodford’s legendary throws coach Ron Bowden this week. Our thoughts and condolences go to his family and Woodford.
Lastly just some news on the track. The throws cages/areas have now been costed up. So hopefully we will have some progress there soon. The entrance to the clubhouse has been re-worked although how this will affect you be more obvious when the car park opens at the end of the Summer.
June and July will see us having to work with two more sets of concerts in the main arena – Jay-Z/Beyonce and Foo Fighters – and UKA’s two promotions in July. Watch the website – we will post the weekly schedule and let you know if/when we are at McMillan.

Saturday 21 April 2018

Chair's blog - 2018 April II

Into the New Track
We are now fully up and running at the London Marathon Community Track (LMCT) at Stratford for our training sessions. So far everything seems to have gone well and athletes seem to like the facility. There is a feedback e-mail ( which anyone can use to tell us of any problems and areas where we can improve. In September the new school will open next to the track – the Bobby Moore Academy named after England’s World Cup winning captain from 1966. We look forward to working with the pupils and staff when that happens.
One practical effect of the school opening will be the track’s own car park will become available for us to use at that time.
Just to mention a couple of upcoming events. First we are promoting an outdoor 100m event at Terence McMillan Stadium on Sunday 6th May. Competitors get 2 races and we will be setting therace direction to have wind-behind if that is possible. So fast track, electronic times and no headwind – get signed up – here is the link (
Coral Nourrice will be promoting another Open Meeting at McMillan on 24th June – details to follow.
We are also re-starting the Beagles Academy for younger athletes. Final details are being worked out. But it too will start around the beginning of May. We will post details on the website and our social media hopefully in the next week.
The club needs to build up its own base of Officials. We had hoped to run another Open Meeting in May but there are not enough Officials and Volunteers available. We will pay for members to get qualified as Officials and Coaches. The latest list of courses I shown here ( Let us know if you wish to sign up.
West Ham Looking Good
So pleased to see that West Ham United are pulling away from the Premiership relegation zone. This has been a really tough season for them and their manager David Moyes as they have had to deal with pressures on and off the field. We deal with the WHU Foundation which does lots of good work in the community through its MD Joe Lyons and the local Activator Darryl Gheerawo who is also running the Newham Network to which we both and some other local sports bodies belong. On a practical note they are up for an award for a Walking Football project. This is the link to the voting page ( If you want to support our Network partner have a look at this and vote for them.
The main stadium is staging three sets of concerts in the coming few months. There will be some days when we will move training to the McMillan Stadium because they will need the LMCT to house back-up equipment for the concerts. We will let you know these in good time. The concerts are as follows:
Rolling Stones 22 and 25 May
Jay-Z and Beyonce 15 and 16 June
Foo Fighters 22 and 23 June

Monday 2 April 2018

Chair's blog April 2018

This week we will be moving training to the London Marathon Community Track at Stratford starting on Wednesday. This is a move we agreed to back in 2010 and over the eight years since then a lot has happened. Most obviously the main London Stadium has hosted the 2012 Olympic and
Paralympic Games and the 2017 World and IPC Championships. The other most significant event has
been the move of West Ham United to occupy the main stadium.

The track we are moving into is not the original warm-up track for 2012. That was removed because
it was located on land that is scheduled for use by Cross-Rail. This track was put in place as a warm-
up track for the 2017 Games and to act as warm-up when the main stadium is used for staging
events like the Muller Games in coming years.

More important the way the whole stadium including the LMCT is managed has changed and this
has given rise to some problems with our move across. The complex is owned by a company called
E20 which was originally a partnership between the London Borough of Newham and the London
Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) a company run by the Greater London Authority (GLA).

But it is managed for E20 by a separate company called LS185 which is part of a global French
corporation. Around the end of last year Newham decided to pull out of the ownership company. So
the complex is now owned effectively by the GLA.

From our point of view we have always dealt with London Borough of Newham through Active
Newham over many years. We are now having to deal with them for our operations at the McMillan
Stadium and with LS185 at the new track LMCT.

This has made the situation very difficult to manage especially as we are a volunteer-based
organisation and do not always have time and resources to devote to what is actually a difficult
negotiation. As I write we are still trying to finalise the terms of our occupation of the LMCT. We are
also still to agree terms for the continuing use of the Indoor facilities at McMillan Stadium during
winter months.

The management at LMCT has been helpful but there are still areas of work to be completed. The
track itself is open and has been used by training groups and for development work over the winter.
But the club Executive Management Committee (EMC) decided around November to delay full scale
transfer of training because equipment like hurdles had not been delivered and because we felt that
the stadium just was not ready enough.

There is now enough equipment present for training on the track and jumps. The throwing cage and
shot putt area are still to be installed. The EMC has taken into account how many people actually
train at McMillan in these events and feel that this is not enough of an issue to stop us moving. We
are working with LS185 to get throwing facilities in place and hopefully this will not take too long.
The LMCT is an attractive facility in a location that is going to help the club increase its profile
generally. It has 6 lanes on the bends and eight in each straight. There is a clubhouse facility and a
200 seater covered stand. I expect it to end up being used for regional leagues and schools meetings
as well as our training.

The EMC hopes that members are happy at the LMCT. But we know that there are likely to be issues
as everyone gets used to new routines. Before complaining please feel free to volunteer to help the
EMC which is trying to act in your best interests.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Beagles Stuff

I thought you might like to hear what has been happening at the club. We are currently based at
two tracks – the McMillan Stadium and the London Marathon Community Track. We formally
moved into the LMCT in October 2017 but there is still a lot of work going on and there is
currently no access to the indoor training area at the LMCT. So we decided to keep the main
training groups at McMillan. There are Beagles groups training at LMCT on Monday and
Wednesday evenings and in particular Coach Natalya Hector has been running a Foundation
Group for new athletes there on Monday evenings 6-7pm and Coach George Choat has
started a middle distance group there.

We have access to the Indoor Centre at McMillan until the end of March. After that we intend
to operate only at LMCT. But we will keep you posted on the exact plans next month. It is our
current intention to have use of the Indoor Centre at McMillan over every winter Sept-March
unless the LMCT provides acceptable access to the indoor straight at the London Stadium (
this is about 100m from the LMCT but inside the main stadium).
The other big event of the winter has been the Newham Indoor sprint series. We got onto the
case here later than usual and the first meeting was slightly low on numbers – although we still
had 85 competitors on the night. Our own Ashia Phillip recorded the fastest time by a UK
woman 7.18 sec (she has since improved to 7.12). The second meeting was very well attended
with 125 competitors. CJ Ujah of Enfield & Haringey matched Ashia’s feat by recording the
fastest UK Men’s time of 6.53 in an excellent “final”.
This was the first time that the club itself has organised the series – previously it was done by
the Newham Network. I would like to thank the club volunteers who registered entrants,
provided catering and helped on the track. Club Secretary Nina Hepburn made sure it all
happened. Luke Smallwood of Justiming actually runs the timekeeping system at the meeting
and makes it very easy for everyone else and it was great to see Sharon Herbert of Woodford
helping us out as a senior official.
One feature of the last match in the 2018 series on 28th Feb will be that this is the birthday of
starter Spencer Walker. So hopefully we will get another big turn-out, more top performances
and some cake.
In the run-up to Christmas we also participated in some projects run alongside the Mayor’s
Inspiration Fund for the 2017 World and IPC Championships. The LMCT has been built using
funds provided by the London Marathon Trust. We attended the official opening of the LMCT on
18th October and were able to welcome the family of London Marathon co-founder John
We have also competed in the Metropolitan Cross-Country League again this winter.
I think it is fair to say that we should have done a lot better here. The men had a big win in
the second of five matches but it was all downhill from there. We were reasonable in the third
match at Hillingdon but let down by late cry-offs in the fourth. The last match turn-out was
pathetic and the only saving grace was that Peter Huck actually won it beating Richard
Goodman of SBH who had won the previous four races convincingly.
The Met League highlights our weaknesses. We do not really have any number of locally based
middle or long-distance runners at all. This is especially the case in the younger age groups.
In other clubs there seem to be masses of young distance runners but not at the Beagles. We
obviously need to do something about this. Our young local sprinters and hurdlers are among
the best in the country. The starting point is going to be setting up training groups and qualifying
coaches to manage them.
On coaches I am pleased to report that Jackie Simpson, Sarah Cairns, Sonia Allman and
Jonathan Bell have all recently qualified at Coaching Assistants.

Other things

I have just qualified as an Athletics Coach specialising in Endurance. I thought it might be
helpful to describe my experience just in case you are put off by the thoughts that the courses
are too hard or take up too much time. I don’t think either is now the case.
I am actually more of a Hurdles Coach. But I wanted to witness the course on Endurance as I
have long felt that This is an area where the Coach Education does not really produce good
coaches if they want to specialise in track related endurance.
UKA has now changed the format of this course as part of a longer process. So the
time-consuming production of a training diary has now gone and the course is held over three
days (two days together then one separate all at weekends) with a fourth day when you are
assessed (there is also an online knowledge test).
The idea appears to be to continue to give a wide education of most of the main events with
one day of specialisation in your chosen event.
It is pretty apparent that the course is really about how to coach more than what to coach. I
came away knowing a lot more about mechanics of various elements of movement,
conditioning and exerting power and how to observe these in athletes. But I did not really think
I knew a lot more about endurance.
I found the analysis of how to coach probably the most useful area. As a paid-up Grumpy Old
Man it was actually good to have my coaching style analysed and be given guidance on a more
collaborative way of doing things. On the cold wet nights when everyone just wants to get on
with it maybe I will end up coaching somewhere in between Full Grump and Lets Have a
Technique Discussion.
Overall I enjoyed doing the course and now I am qualified. It is so much better being a Coach
after a long period of being a Coaching Assistant and I would encourage other people to do it.
It was an effort but if you turned up and listened it was straightforward to get through. Like I
say they need to improve the content on your specialist area in my opinion but they are moving
in the right direction.
What was also good was the attitude of the tutors from England Athletics who could not have
been more supportive and the range of people who turned up to do the course. It was not just
older men.

Chairman's blog August 2018

I just wanted to mention and thank two of our most senior volunteers who are stepping down from important positions. Elyzabeth Shitta-Bey h...