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94th Annual Mob Match v Orion Harriers

In his poem, ‘The Ballad of East and West’, Rudyard Kipling stated, ‘Oh East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.’ This might have been so in his eyes, but East did come together to meet with West this Saturday, and what an epic meeting it was.

First held in November 1920, the annual mob match between Orion Harriers (East) and Ranelagh Harriers (West) saw a coachload of Orions descend upon Richmond Park, proving that the M25 can work as a means of connecting one end of our great city to the other.

Given that it was a home match, expectations were high for a tsunami of Ranelaghs to show our visitors what we were made of, yet somehow the anticipated wave slowly turned into a trickle. In the end, a total of 72 runners toed the start line – 37 for Ranelagh and 35 for Orion; making it 32 to score.

After rousing club cheers from both teams; the runners set off down the traditional mob match route. Two laps across Richmond Park; a distance of approximately 12.2km.

At the end of the first lap, the front runners formed a distinctive pattern of white, blue, white, then blue – where there was the white of Orion, it was closely followed by the blue of Ranelagh. Clearly the teams were closely matched, and with the numbers being what they were; it was definitely a case of every runner making that difference.

As the cry RUNNER came up by the end of the second lap, all eyes looked across to see who would be first coming up the deceptively exhausting rise. Sprinting strongly, and taking his first ever mob match win, was our own Marc Leyshon (44:05), followed closely by Jonny Smith (44:08), to make it a Ranelagh one-two.

Orion responded to this with a three-four-five, as their Richard Smith (44:12), Brian Jenkins (44:58) and Mick McTernan (45:14) crossed the line not long after. Our steadfast club president Ted Mockett (45:52) finished next in 6th, but his gain was negated by Shay Joyce (46:12), placing 7th for Orion.

Philip Collins (46:18), Mark Herbert (46:43) and Dave Lawley (46:57) kept Ranelagh’s hopes alive by taking 8th, 9th & 10th respectively but once again, Orion responded firmly when their athletes Dasos Gonella (46:58), Jason Wray (47:44) and Neil McGoun (47:55) crossed in 11th, 12th & 13th. It was still nail-bitingly too close to call.

Tom Cameron (48:08) and Ed Forbes (49:12) finished strongly for Ranelagh next but Orion’s Scott Reid (48:18) split that benefit cleanly down the middle. The next 5 athletes across the line were all in Orion white, and despite a belated response by our Peter Haarer (51:14), Cecily Day (51:50) and Sam Roberts (52:02), it was clear that Orion were not taking any prisoners.

As everyone crossed the line, it was still too close to call a definitive result. Hopes were high that somehow, just somehow, Ranelagh had done enough to take back the Harold Lee Cup and spare it the 2 hour coach ride back to deepest darkest Epping Forest.

But sadly, it was not to be. Orion proved too strong and claimed victory with 1021 points to Ranelagh’s 1063. Well done Orion – a fabulous effort from all your amazing runners!

Thank you to all the competitors, and especially to our visitors for making the long trip over. Shout out to our dear Carol for a much appreciated tea at the clubhouse, but the biggest thank you must go to our wonderful volunteers; it was a cold day of marshalling, but your support and smiles made it a warm and fantastic event for all.

💛 Results (PDF): >
💙 Official times: (PDF): >

may, 2024

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Surrey cross country league standings

LeagueTeam PositionFull details
Ladies Div 17/15league table
Men Div 18/9league table
Ladies Div U159/16league table
Men Div U15/U1716/18league table