This season Medway & Maidstone’s YDL UAG (Under 17s and Under 20s) team worked very hard, winning their league with maximum league points, with nearly twice as many match points as the second place. With this outcome I am sure that we all expected the team to be promoted from Division 2 to Division 1. However, whereas normally the winner of a league would gain automatic promotion, the rules of this league are that the top 2 teams of each of the three Division 2 leagues (2A, 2B and 2C) go into what is known as a ‘paper match’. The top 3 teams of these 6 are promoted. Unfortunately Medway & Maidstone A C with 332.5, missed out by just 6 points. The promoted teams were Portsmouth/Winchester 442, Bournemouth/New Forest/Salisbury 380 (both Division 2B) and Croydon 338.5 (Division 2A). No team from 2C was, therefore, promoted.
Paper matches are scored by assessing each event and taking the best results from the competing teams in these events and then comparing these with other club’s best results. Although our team scored very highly in relation to other clubs in our league, we didn’t fare so well when compared, event to event, with teams from the other 2 leagues. This was mainly down to events where we did not have representation at all in any of the 4 meetings through the season. For these events we would not have scored any points in the paper match at all. Across the 4 age group/gender teams within the UAG category (Under 20 men, Under 20 women, Under 17 men and Under 17 women) there were over 30 events where we didn’t have any competitors throughout the season.
Whilst it is obviously very disappointing to win the league so conclusively, but not get promoted, we must take a lesson from this situation. First, we need to get as many athletes competing as possible and secondly we need to look at event coverage to ensure that as many are covered as possible throughout the season. As an example, in one age group we had an athlete competing in the 800 m at all 4 meetings, but not one in any of the four 1500 m races. In this case the best 800 m result would be considered for points, but nothing awarded for the 1500 m event. In some cases we need more athletes to cover more events; in other cases we need athletes that can cover more specialist events. We often struggle to cover some of these more specialist events, such as pole-vault, hurdles and steeplechase and I know coaches are constantly looking to improve club involvement in these and other events. I know that you will see this as a temporary set-back and you will be raring to go in 2020 to ensure that next season we get the promotion we deserve.