Well 2021 didn’t really turn out to be our year did it? After the Coronavirus’ exploits in 2020 we all thought this was nailed down to be our bounce back year. Well, it [Covid] and the UK government, leaning on sports governing bodies, had other ideas.
We spent the best part of three whole months in total lockdown and by the time we were released, the months had ebbed away on us and the winter sporting season.
Rugby – cancelled; Hockey – cancelled; Non-league Football – cancelled; Swimming – cancelled. It was only the Sevenoaks & District Football League who tried to play out their season rather than supporting the Points Per Game method so many others were using, but even then it was a struggle, but they did complete their season, just.
Cricket was the only real winner in team sports. The country was back open again – so to speak, bars were allowed to fuel their customers, albeit at a slight distance and you could once again enjoy a round of golf with three friends. Wow, didn’t we feel spoilt!
This review is by no means undermining the tragic loss we have felt of so many people near to us and worldwide. It is to record what we went through and what we have achieved since coming out the other side. It serves merely as a record of celebration for all our young and old sports people across the Sevenoaks district, who are putting their lives back together and enjoying the sports that they love so much!
In June, we had an interview with Dave Smith, head of Invicta Cricket, and of course cricket was already in full flow with Sevenoaks Vine recording two wins out of three to start the season. Holmesdale were not so lucky however and found themselves at the foot of the Kent Premier table with three losses. However there was soon to be a new sheriff in town and he would come pre-loaded with 100 balls!
Sevenoaks Hockey Club Juniors played their first competitive matches since October 2020 whilst England Hockey announced the U16 and U18 boys and girls who have been selected as part of the England Age Group Programme. In total, six youngsters had been selected from local clubs, four from Sevenoaks Hockey Club and two from HC Knole Park.
Representing Sevenoaks were Lewis Wilcher (U18), Venetia Barker (U18), Ryana MacDonald-Gay (U18) and Tilly Strand-Ford (U16), whilst HC Knole Park had both Lottie Bingham and Anna Faulstich representing the U16 girls squad.
Meanwhile, Tom Bosworth was hitting his best form for 18 months with a season’s best time in Czechia just ahead of the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
July saw the sheriff take his hat off, and what a hat it was! Sevenoaks Vine Cricket Club had scrapped the waning Clark Trophy and reinvented it as The Sevenoaks Smash, a new hundred ball format game, which had attracted 32 teams to enter blindly. Considering the previous ‘trophy’ was failing to court anywhere near that number, it was already a success in our eyes.
The competition had been thought out rather well, with all 32 teams playing at least four matches. The latter being the knockout rounds in the Cup and Plate. There was definitely more to come from this in August and September, a tournament that lasts the summer.
Meanwhile, Adam McAvoy, Sevenoaks Town FC’s Powerchair manager was in receipt of a BEM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. He told us: “I’m a bit taken aback to be honest, it was a big surprise. I feel very grateful and undeserving.“
Knole Academy student Daisy Snell broke Blackheath & Bromley Harriers’ 21-year record when she achieved 3,183 points in the Heptathlon, breaking the previous record by a whopping 293 points.
Tom [Bosworth] and relatively unknown Pentathlon athlete Joseph Choong from Sevenoaks, were finalising their training schedule ahead of flying to Japan to meet up with the rest of Team GB.
Sevenoaks Swimming Club star Eva Okaro returned home from the Junior European Championship in Rome with no less than three medals, beating fellow competitors who were two years older than her.
Football returned to the pitch and Sevenoaks Town launched a three-year strategy for the women and girls section. Ide Hill FC announced they had taken over Sundridge Recreation Ground and that they had formed a new women’s team for the first time in the club’s history.
The Sevenoaks Smash was continuing to prove a big hit as the competition moved to the semi-final stages. Dartford, Holmesdale, Plaxtol and Tunbridge Wells had all made it in the Cup whilst Meopham, Shoreham & Otford, Sevenoaks Prep and St. Michaels had made it through in the Plate semis.
In August we also launched a local appeal to record all the known defibrillators in the District. When Christian Eriksen had suddenly collapsed on the pitch in Copenhagen during the 2020 European Championships, Sevenoaks Sport & Wellbeing decided to find the lost defibrillators of the Sevenoaks District. Initially there were only 11 registered with the relevant authorities, after our research we had found a total of 91 and the total is now well over 100.
September saw the culmination of the Sevenoaks Smash competition with a wonderfully organised ‘Finals Day’ on the Vine. It was the absolute pinnacle of the new format tournament after 32 teams had slogged it out over 94 matches played in just 78 days.
Holmesdale Stallions defeated Hesketh Heat (Dartford Cricket Club) on the day by four wickets after the losing finalists had posted a very respectable total of 104 runs for nine wickets. In the Plate Final, played just before Holmesdale’s win, St Michaels Scorchers found themselves triumphant beating Darenth Valiants (Shoreham & Otford) by just one run on the very last ball.
We congratulated Tom on becoming a double Olympian, despite the disappointing result he faced in Japan. Former Sevenoaks resident Joe Choong’s performance to win Olympic Gold in the Modern Pentathlon was a huge achievement and we promised to follow his future progress with a keen eye. We welcomed Rugby back to the sporting world and also introduced to you a new look Swanley RFC, whilst amateur boxing made a welcome return to the ring at West Kingsdown.
In October our front cover portrayed Sevenoaks Rugby Club player Ben Adams (right), after he helped the club to complete a three match winning streak to set them up nicely in the England Rugby London & SE Premier Division. Meanwhile, just up the M25, Swanley RFC grabbed their first win in the Shepherd Neame Kent 2, which was well deserved after being promoted during the summer.
Sevenoaks Swimming Club celebrated Head Coach Keiron Piper winning a Mental Health & Wellbeing award, whilst junior club member, Gabriela Trigueirinho, used her swimming talent to raise money for the Alice’s Arc charity by swimming half a mile in the Serpentine.
Former F1 Champion Jenson Button then joined us on a mountain top, thanks to our close friend Frank Baldwin who is the publisher at Skier & Snowboarder magazine. You will see more articles from Frank during the winter months going forward, check out page 10 for a lovely report on cows in the French Alps!
Local hockey clubs, Edenbridge, Knole Park and Sevenoaks got back to playing in competitive matches once again too, with a myriad of results. Knole Park and Sevenoaks’ Ladies 1st XI teams though started just fine and should see themselves pushing for promotion come the end of the season if they can keep up their early results.
Sevenoaks Swimming Club’s Eva Okaro made the headlines once again after she was chosen by British Swimming for their Podium Pathway Programme. Eva has been on the path to greatness for a few years now and we’re very proud to have been with her every step of the way, with Paris 2024 being something that is very achievable for this young athlete.
Elsewhere we reported on Sevenoaks Rugby Club’s fantastic run of seven consecutive victories, placing them near the top of the table in the London & South East Premier. And with the top two destined for National 2 status next season, we wished the club and their Head Coach Adam Bowman great success in the coming months.
Elsewhere, Sevenoaks Hockey Club turned the town Pink in October raising a significant amount of money for cancer charity Charity Angels. We had a special report from the club which included Michele’s story – an account of her own struggles with the disease. Please do check it out online at www.sevenoakssports.co.uk.
We also touched on the Swanley skatepark project who received a welcome gift of £150,000 from The National Lottery’s Community Fund. The much needed funding came after the community interest company, Concrete Wave, started fundraising to give Swanley skatepark a radical makeover. Concrete Wave’s Chairman, JD O’Brien was on hand to accept the cheque with MP Laura Trott, Cllr. Lesley Dyball, Cllr. Roddy Hogarth and Swanley Town Council’s CEO Ryan Hayman.
Closing out the year in style, we had a special report on the ladies from Ide Hill & Sundridge FC and Sevenoaks Town FC, both of whom have made so much progression over the past few months. As the only two women’s football sides in the whole district we are hoping that they get some much needed support in 2022.
We reported from local schools and clubs on their recent success stories, including the Mighty Oaks’ now infamous win over league leaders Dorking in November and Knole Park’s triumph at the South East Tier 1 Championships too!
Both of our top footballing sides, Corinthian and Sevenoaks Town, have continued to struggle this season, but we are unsure as to why. Perhaps pop down and give them the support they need to push them through until the end of the season.
• Well that’s 2021 done and dusted. I can’t say that we were overly optimistic at the start of the year, but the success of our community sports clubs continues to grow, and grow they will! As long as we remember to nurture them, give them love and lots of water, then we can enjoy their successes alongside them.