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Fergie's final farewell

Posted: May 14, 2013

The city was unarguably red last night, after thousands of fans took to the streets to celebrate Manchester United’s latest Premier League title.

Around 100,000 supporters lined the streets for an occasion slightly more special than the rest - Fergie’s final farewell. 

 

Situated at the back of the bus, Ferguson paid tribute to his last ever game at Old Trafford on Sunday, saying: “Yesterday is a day I will never forget. It was wonderful. Thank you. It was something all my family enjoyed and the grandkids will never forget.”

 

As the bus departed from their home ground, not an inch of the route was left bare, as fans layered the pavements for a glimpse of the stars.

 

People hung out of windows, climbed-up scaffolding and mounted buildings, chanting as they awaited for the delayed bus.

 

“U N I T E D, united are the team for me, with a nick-nack paddy wack give a dog a bone, why don’t City f**k of home.”

 

The atmosphere unrivalled any other, and undoubtedly exceeded all expectations.

 

As anticipated, chaos ruptured after the bus crawled past the crowds, with fans hurdling over barriers to catch another peek of the eminent Reds.

 

Police had to call for reinforcement, with the cluster of crushed crowds leaving crying children, and concerned parents in its wake.

 

However, the momentary mayhem took nothing away from the event, as the oblivious bus continued its journey to Albert Square.

 

With 20 Premier League titles to their name, United have graced the streets of Manchester numerous times before, but with the knowledge that it was the last time Fergie would be present, there was a unique feeling to the parade.

 

The Scotsman has brought elation to the club for decades, racking up 37 trophies during his 26-year reign, but the news of his retirement inevitably saddened thousands of supporters.

 

“We love you Fergie we do, we love you Fergie we do, we love you Fergie we do, oh Fergie we love you.”

 

Admired by many, Ferguson will go down in history for his record-breaking term at United, and will most certainly never be forgotten.

 

The Scot concluded the parade in Albert Square, with another charismatic speech to the crowds: “What a turn out, absolutely fantastic. I thought that 99 could not be beaten, but you have beaten it today.

 

“All of you, thank you for your fantastic support, I’m proud of you.”

 

Fellow Scotsman, David Moyes, will take over in July, with high expectations to carry on with Fergie’s winning ways.

 

To rub salt in their wounds, it was announced late Monday night that Manchester City had sacked their manager, Roberto Mancini.

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Chris Boughey: revealed

Chris Boughey: revealed

Posted: Feb 05, 2013

 

Originally scripted for a print assignment at university.

Remembered as one of the country's top heavyweights, Chris Boughey reveals all about his martial arts progression, most memorable moments, and the ambulance journey that ended his career. Bryony Pearce delves into the life of the multiple champion.

Born and bred in Corby, the now father of two gradually worked his way through the ranks both competitively and by coaching, and has now maintained his title of Eng- land’s Chinese kickboxing coach for over a decade.

Chris began his martial arts career on his 15th birthday when he and his friends went down to their local club: “We all went down there and had a look, I loved it, so I stayed and carried on training.”

Stemming from his small local club, Chris went on to represent England nationally and internationally over 100 times, leaving him still acknowledged as one of Britain’s greatest fighters.

A move up to the North West over 15 years ago lead to the ex-fighter founding North West Chinese Kickboxing (NWCKB) clubs in 1996, where his legacy will carry on when he eventually hangs up his belts.

Chris’ status in the martial arts industry lead him to working with prestigious names such as Bill Wallace and the late Joe Lewis.

“They were fantastic to work with, but it was like the American’s were taking over! I remember taking Bill Wallace around the country for seminars and it was like an act, each seminar was an exact replica of the last one.

“That’s when I went down the road of thinking why not utilise the people we have in England, because we are one of the best martial arts countries in the world, and that’s when NWCKB began.’’

Chris launched clubs all over the North West, and they continue to grow from strength to strength producing several World Champions, and over 150 black belts taught personally by himself.

“I’m quite content with the 25-30 clubs we have. I think standard is the most important thing, and most people who grade revert can trace their roots back to me which is nice.”

With a 4th degree black belt in Lau Gar Kung Fu, and a 7th degree black belt in kickboxing, Chris’ victorious fighting career was cut short by a freak accident.

“I was on the floor of the ring and had to be taken away by an ambulance. It was just an accident really, it wasn’t the fighters fault.

“We were in the corner of the ring and my head ended up underneath his arm, and because people spit water out in the ring it was very wet, so as he moved he slipped and fell on my neck and I heard it crack. I was taken away in an ambulance for my neck to be strapped up for the next three months having compressed two of my vertebrae.

“It wasn’t a choice, but sometimes you’ve got to take a look and think to yourself it’s time to move on.”

Towering over 6ft tall, looking back on his career Chris designated his most memorable moment to a fairly recent event back in October 2010.

“I was awarded my 7th degree black belt in Portugal at the World Championships, and at the World Championships all the teams are lead in a bit like the Olympics, and then the committee awarded it to me in front of everyone so that was a very proud moment.

“I haven’t really got a sad moment because I’ve never come away from anywhere feeling incredibly at a loss.”

Openly admitting his parents had very little involvement in his career, Chris’ role model as a child emerged from a coincidental clash with Jeremy Yarn.

“He moved me on with my career both mentally and physically, I suppose he was my mentor.

“He was based in Birmingham and it was very rare to even train with him because he was the head of the British Kung Fu Association. I just happened to be there one day and he invited me in for private lessons, and over many years he helped me an awful lot and all about what the Chinese arts were."

With an impressive and well accomplished career to look back on, the current England coach has left no regrets in the past.

“Should I have carried on fighting for longer? Should I have started earlier? It was a natural progression from the start. It wasn't something I thought about starting, and I finished when it was the right time for me.

“I'm happy with everything I've done, so I wouldn't go back and change anything."

Now nestled in Marple Bridge with his wife and two kids, martial art mad Chris confessed that he still loves to train in his spare time.

"I like to train for myself, not because I have to, but because I want to. It's nice to be able to do what I want without having a class oversee my every move."

Having conquered the martial arts world both in and out of the ring, Chris hopes to be remembered in both aspects when people revel in his success.

“I think you should compete because it teaches you how to channel adrenaline, aggression, and confrontation, but I love to coach too. It's great seeing people improve and come on.

"I've had students who without shadow of a doubt would have gone the wrong way, but martial arts channeled them in the right direction and they completely changed, and it's lovely to see things like that

"The best part of my job now is creating a more confident and well-rounded individual, not just a martial artist. I like to think that will then trickle down and others will then benefit from the same experience.".

With Chris’ England kickboxing squad picking up a total of 11 world championship medals in their 2012 meet, the new year will bring higher expectations and greater goals for the highly regarded coach as he gears his team towards an- other successful fighting year.

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Steve runs his way into the record books

Steve runs his way into the record books

Posted: Feb 05, 2013

 

Fresh from his fifth Northern Cross Country title, Steve Vernon spoke of what the record breaking victory meant to him, and looks forward to the Nationals in just three weeks time.

 

Vernon's impressive run earned him a place in the record books, breaking a benchmark that had been standing for over 40 years.

 

The Stockport Harrier athlete spoke: “It’s a record that had stood since the 1970’s, and to surpass Ron Hill’s record of four titles means a lot to me as he is a hero of mine!”

 

While most were left fighting through boggy underfoot at Knowsley Safari Park, treacherous conditions played in Vernon’s favour as he strode away to a four second conquest.

 

“The conditions were certainly horrific. Seven miles of ice slush and mud was really tough, but I always relish in the tougher conditions so I was confident of winning,” Vernon added.

 

With this phenomenal feat in the bag, the Stockport Harrier athlete will no doubt exuberate  confidence as he sets his sights on the National Cross Country Championships in just three weeks time.

 

“I think I have a very good chance of winning the title again. There are a number of athletes who will also think they have a chance of winning though so it will be tough.

 

“I take confidence from my training so as long as my preparation goes according to plan, then I will be prepared mentally.

 

“The challenge physically is to not do too much training in these final few weeks and risk injury.”

 

Having already competed in two important events relatively early in the year (Northerns and the Great Edinburgh Cross County), Steve cast his thoughts to the rest of 2013.

 

“My main goal is to win the National Cross Country Championships, and to finish in the top five at the European Mountain running championships in July.”

 

With the 2012 Olympic mania still amongst the UK, Vernon believes the benefits of the event are still being reaped.

 

“I think the Olympics had a huge impact on the general public in the UK and the awareness to sport has improved massively.

 

“There is still not enough provision for people to get involved in sport though and it will take time for more coaches and proper facilities to be available to meet that demand.”

 

Leaping four years into the future, and the prospect of the 2016 Rio Olympics, he revealed: “My main disciplines are cross county and mountain running and they are not Olympic sports.

 

“Cross country will be a trial event at the next winter Olympics so I might get chance at a winter Olympics one day!”

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Swinton Hall Nursing Home back to normality.

Swinton Hall Nursing Home back to normality.

Posted: May 02, 2012

Just one week after thieves attempted to run off with steal lead lining from Swinton Hall Nursing Home, the institution is beginning to return back to normality.

The attempted theft took place on Tuesday, 17 April, and damaged two bedrooms, a kitchen, a gym, and almost seriously injured a 64-year-old lady who was sleeping in one of the rooms. Matron Shirley Lawton spoke: ''It was very lucky we got her out when we did, we didn't realise how bad it was at the time.

"She was traumatised really afterwards when she saw what could have happened, and so were the rest of the staff and patients.''

The thieves tried to lift up the tightly secured steal lead lining from several areas of the roof, but were unable to get away with any.

Since the incident last Tuesday, the nursing home, on Worsley Road, has inserted more lights up on the roof with greater intensity, and provided more security cameras.

Matron Lawton added: ''It caused us and the patients a lot of upset at the time, but I think they're reasured now; they're all very much on guard, and I think they're more relaxed now that we've taken these tighter measures. You just don't think people are going to do it to an old people's home where people are sleeping at night.''

The police told the nursing home that these kind of thefts are happening a lot lately, and have unfortunately found no leads on the thefts in this particular case.

Within a couple of days the home was able to get everything back in working order, and are now just waiting for the criminals to be brought to justice. Matron Lawton pleaded: ''We're really hoping that because this elderely lady could have been really badly physically hurt, that this could twig someone's conscience now, or help to report someone.''

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London Marathon: ''The best day of my year.''

London Marathon: ''The best day of my year.''

Posted: Apr 17, 2012

Keen Stockport Harrier distance runner Jayne Lawton, (centre of the picture) will take to the streets of London in four days time for the London Marathon, so I decided to quiz her on her past experiences, and expectations for this year.

Jayne ran her first London Marathon several years ago with club mates Rita Long and Carol Bradburn. At the time, Carol was in her final stages of her cancer, and so the threesome inspirationally ran in London, knowing that it would be Carol's last athletics event. Carol sadly past away the following year, but her legacy inspired Jayne to continue running the 26.2 mile course year on year.

When asked about the atmosphere at London, Jayne said: ''It's absolutely fabulous, it is always one of the best days of my year, I always cry reading everyone's story on their backs. The marathon is a great leveller if you ever get sucked into the fake stuff in life, it gives you a shot of reality, of what life is simply about. It' just about trying to help support each other, to try make a difference to everyone around you, and to enjoy everyday you have.''

As expected, such a gruelling event is no picnic to train for. It takes hard work, dedication and an awful lot of time. Jayne spoke of her training: ''It's very, very hard, but to be honest if it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing. Fitting in the long runs are a nightmare but you just do it. Mentally training is the key, focus on each mile, keep positive, make your mind your own best friend, not your worst enemy, and most importantly, enjoy!''

Unbeknown to a blood disorder she was suffering from, Jayne in the past felt she had been running rather poorly, but thanks to her hospital consultant keeping tabs on Jayne and her blood, she has managed to diminish her marathon personal best from four hours, right down to an incredible three hours eight minutes.

In regards to her London marathon aims for 2012, Jayne said: ''Training has gone well; my indicators are around 3.05 this year so that is what I am going for. It will be tough, but it can be done. What ever the race I will enjoy it, cry, high five the crowd, smile, chat and focus, focus, focus!''

Whether taking part, standing in the streets of London or just watching it on television at home, the London marathon has to be one of the most moving races there is. The amount of people that take part and raise money is just phenomenal.

Along with everybody else, I would like to wish everyone who is taking part a massive good luck!

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Northern Athletic 6 & 12 Stage Relay (31.03.2012)

Northern Athletic 6 & 12 Stage Relay (31.03.2012)

Posted: Mar 31, 2012

Earlier today Stockport Harriers A.C came out in full force, and displayed two strong performances at the Northern Road Relays, at Sefton Park, Liverpool.

The men's 12 stage relay consisted of alternate short and long laps (each lap 3,900m). Stockport's Jack Martin got the team off to a flying start, and after his two lap leg brought the team back in a superb second position, with an impressive time of 22minutes 26seconds. Youngster of the team Jack Nixon took over in good form, and handed over to team mate Andrew Nixon in a respectable fourth place. Andrew ran a brilliant third leg, and notably powered the Harriers up into first position, giving team mate Dean Matkin a healthy advantage going into his one lap leg. Matkin ran a strong leg, and did the team proud dropping just two places throughout his run. Next up was Steve Vernon, left with quite a gap between himself and first position going into his leg, Vernon ran an excellent race, and picked off the athlete ahead of him, and considerably closed down on leaders at the time, Salford Harrier A.C. Paul Payne ran a gutsy sixth leg, and left the squad in fourteenth position at the half way point.

Patrick Martin breezed his run, and overtook a noteworthy eleven athletes with a striking time of 22minutes and 23seconds, which ended up being the sixth fastest time of the day. James Scott-Buccleuch continued Martins dominant run and held onto third position well, leaving the last four runners in medal contention. Just two places were dropped during Michael Sawreys ninth leg run. Following a further three strong performances from Harriers; Jamie Loxam, Jack Morris, and Michael Cook, no more places were dropped, and the twelve man squad finished the race in a highly regarded fifth position.

As well as the men, Stockport Harriers women's team put out a bold performance, starting with Louise Rudd, who set the team up in a well fought seventh position. Elle Baker took over from Rudd and ran a phenomenal leg. Baker flew past all of the athletes ahead of her and created a substantial lead, and by doing so captured herself the fastest leg of the day, in 12minutes and 25seconds. With a healthy lead, the pressure was on Carmen Byrne, she ran a courageous third leg, but unfortunately just lost the teams gold medal position in the final stages of the leg, but still brought the team back in a respectable third place. Before long the team were back in gold position, after a strong run from Jessica Coulson saw her track down the two athletes ahead of her, in another good time of 13minutes and 10seconds. Lyndsay Clarke followed on from Coulson and did a good job; she lost just one place, setting final leg runner Maureen Wilkins up in good placement. Maureen ran with pure determination, and brought the team home in a brave seventh position.

Overall Stockport Harriers had a very successful day, with both teams finishing in the top ten, and several athletes getting individual top ten times as well. Well done!

Stockport Harriers Women:
Louise Rudd: 13.42
Elle Baker: 12.25
Carmen Byrne: 14.25
Jessica Coulson: 13.10
Lyndsay Clarke: 14.45
Maureen Wilkins: 16.47

For full women's results see here.

Stockport Harriers Men:
Jack Martin: 22.26
Jack Nixon: 11.54
Andrew Nixon: 22.52
Dean Matkin: 12.41
Steve Vernon: 22.48
Paul Payne: 12.50
Patrick Martin: 22.23
James Scott-Buccleuch: 12.12
Michael Sawrey: 24.09
Jamie Loxam: 12.42
Jack Morris: 24.07
Michael Cooke: 11.38

For full men's results see here.

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