Shepherd loves it in field as Woodford Green wade in the National Championships mud
PUBLISHED: 14:00 28 February 2020
To misquote Nottingham legend Brian Clough, the National Cross-Country Championship course at Wollaton Park did not include the worst mud Woodford Green’s senior men’s team had ever run through – but they could all agree it was in the top one!
Still, their 10-strong team all fought courageously through the gloopy mires and, after the collective shellshock of the toughness of the course and strong winds had died down, they could congratulate themselves on 18th position overall.
This replicated the team position at last month's Southern Championships and they were first Essex club home to boot, beating serious Newham and Havering outfits.
This marked improvement was heralded by the return to the race-day squad of Ed Shepherd.
Being unsure of his cross-country fitness, he had planned to adopt the conservative strategy that took him to his historic bronze at the 2019 Southern Championships and he delivered a very solid 35th place to lead the team home.
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A Gothic scene presented itself at the start line, with a murder of crows pecking at the first water feature not 50 metres ahead.
The line of trees ahead looked black against a darkening sky but silence very much did not fall, as the absence of allocated pens led to much argy-bargy in the inevitable free-for-all.
Second home for Woodford was Angus Holford, holding a fairly steady position, before pushing on a little once through the final quagmire at the end of the penultimate 'long' lap to finish 152nd.
He was followed by James Stockings in 190th place, with Tom Beedell gaining an impressive 40 places on the last lap to be 210th at the finish.
Harold Wyber was next in at 421st, closely followed by Dan Steel in 427th closing the six-man team on 1435 points.
There was high-quality back-up close behind in Simon Beedell (506th) and Kevin Murphy (518th), while Paul Stockings closed the nine-to-score team in 1492nd, giving Green the same solid 18th position as in the main competition.
Alistair Holford, in 1,556th completed the Woodford squad.