Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers win final match of BAL Premiership as City of Manchester claim the overall honours
Shaftesbury won the match by a street but Sale, who went into the final round with a two league point lead, were second on the day to secure the Premiership title on Saturday.
As part of a double fixture with National Divison 2, it was a long programme that started at 10am, as Copthall’s main tenants now, Saracens Rugby club, were due to host a televised match the same evening.
The athletics was supposed to be clear of the stadium by 4pm but this was, perhaps predictably, impossible to achieve as programmes always over-run. With only the discus and high jump of the field events held inside the stadium and the two matches having to share facilities out in the country the field events were not completed until well after the final track event.
The venue is now renamed Allianz Park after Saracens’ sponsors and it could mean that the days of Copthall as an athletics stadium are numbered as it is certainly no longer suitable for a top flight matches with so much action held outside of the main arena.
Nevertheless predictions of the demise of league athletics by none less than UKA are totally wide of the mark after this fixture that saw excitement at top and bottom. Former champions Woodford were fifth and scored more match points than all but Shaftesbury and Sale but still found themselves half-a-league-point down on league safety and dropped out of the top flight.
Match: 1 Shaftesbury Barnet H 366; 2 City of Manchester (Sale H) 319; 3 City of Sheffield 308.5; 4 Newham & Essex Beagles; 5 Woodford Green with Essex Ladies 270.5; 6 Birchfield H 232; 7 Enfield & Haringey 224; 8 Herne Hill H 172
Final standings: 1 Sale 29 (1272.5); 2 Shaftesbury 28 (1341.33); 3 Sheffield 18 1056.5); 4 E&H 17.5 (1086); 5 NEB 16 (1041.33); 6 Birchfield 16 (1027.33); 7 WG&EL 15.5 (1087); 8 Herne H 4 (743)
Champions: 1 City of Manchester (Sale H)
Relegated: WG&EL, Herne H
» For full in-depth coverage from the final weekend of BAL action see the August 8 issue of Athletics Weekly