The last match in the Avon Track and Field League always comes as an omen of autumn. And this year even more so as we don't have a Sprints and Hurdles meeting to finish things off. It was good this year to have the matches spread around the region so that competitors could get used to different tracks. But yesterday's match at Kip Keino stadium, Stoke Gifford, merely demonstrated how lucky we are with the facilities at Yate.
I have to pay tribute to the Bristol and West people who did their best to make everyone welcome. Keith Brackstone, Hilary Nash and John Robbins (who isn't, I'm sure he would want me to point out, attached to any club at all) pulled out all the stops to lay on a good meeting. But they were fighting against the odds. It is perfectly plain that this is a football pitch which barely tolerates the existence of a running track round the outside. Nor was it helped by the changing architecture of the buildings around it, meaning that they were bombarded all day long by people wanting to know where the toilets were, where was the cafe (which, incidentally, stayed open for even fewer hours than the catering at Yate), where were the results being processed.
We seem to be back where we started with officials at these meetings. As long as there are no penalties for not providing track judges and timekeepers, clubs will shirk their responsibilities. And this isn't good enough. There always seem to be plenty of parents shouting for athletes belonging to clubs who haven't done their bit. Maybe they should be made aware of how easy it is to measure a long jump, operate a stopwatch or say which athletes finished in which places. (Actually, that last isn't so easy. There are still issues over the numbering system in this league. How much longer must we put up with it before the committee decide to change it?)
We were all made very welcome at Kip Keino and last time at Gloucester, but bearing in mind the needs of spectators and team managers, it's very clear that nowhere locally comes close to offering the facilities of Yate. And with fairly major repairs starting next week, we should be able to welcome everyone back there next season.
So how did Yate athletes do? Pretty well on the whole. Jacob Spence looked powerful over the 400m hurdles. "Never again," he told his coach later in the afternoon. But then qualified it by adding, "Well maybe once, next season." So stand by, folks - you heard it here first.....
There were good looking performances from Tom Pallot and Mark Pratt in the sprints and from Harry Weston in the triple jump. Hannah Hobbs held her own in the 800m. No results were made available on the day, so information about them is a bit thin on the ground.
(What is it that athletics does for young people that makes them look and behave so mature? It's sometimes hard to believe how young some of them still are).