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Harriers eye date with destiny as they target first league title

12:30 07 February 2013

Highgate Harriers

Highgate Harriers' Ben Pochee

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Highgate Harriers’ men are on the brink of history this week as they gear up for their climactic final fixture in the Metropolitan League – and a shot at their first ever title.

Harriers are in the top division out of the three tiers of the Metropolitan League, which was established in 1966, and the Parliament Hill-based club have never won the crown – but that could change on Saturday.

Highgate go into the fifth and final fixture at Northwood in top spot ahead of Woodford Green with Essex Ladies, who have taken the title for the last three years – and men’s team manager Ben Pochee says victory this weekend would be an achievement to savour.

“What makes the Metropolitan League such a tough prospect is that it requires 12 men to score for each team,” he told Ham&High Sport.

“National and regional championships only require six men to score, so the Met League is far more reflective of teams that have strength in depth.

“If we can win the title it will be, in many ways, the most significant trophy we have won as it demonstrates that we are building real momentum as a club with growing membership.

“In the past few races we have had over 30 men running for Highgate Harriers, and it would be wonderful if we can make the most of that terrific turnout and win this trophy.

“It won’t be easy and we’re taking nothing for granted – I hear that Woodford Green are going to throw the kitchen sink at us in a bid to retain ‘their’ title!”

The Harriers will be without their star man Shaun Dixon, who will be in action for England in Spain, and they will also be missing David Bruce and possibly Henry Dodwell, who is suffering from an Achilles injury.

“The battle for this title is really going down to the wire as we have now lost key people,” said Pochee.

“After nearly 50 years of hurt, it would be cruel if we were to stumble at the final hurdle and lose the title at the last event of the season – but that is the beauty of sport and fair play to Woodford Green if they can claw back their 141 -point deficit.”

Despite Highgate’s absences, Pochee is still expecting to field a strong line-up including the former GB international Ben Noad, marathon international Richard Scott, Ryan McKinlay, Tim Gardner, Peter Downie – and himself.

The Harriers’ decisive Metropolitan League clash will then be followed by their defence of the South of England Championships at Parliament Hill the following weekend.

Meanwhile, Highgate had three team victories in the fourth Young Athletes League meeting at Finsbury Park on Saturday, with the Under-11 boys and girls winning their races, as well as the Under-17 men.

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