Sporting review of 2011 - part 1

Photo by Steve Hunnisett

Photo by Steve Hunnisett

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With the sun about to set on 2011, Observer Sport is looking back on the year that was.

We begin our review of the sporting happenings over the last 12 months by taking a look at what unfolded in 1066 Country between January and June.

JANUARY

* Jason Hopkinson begins his reign as Hastings United manager with a 2-0 defeat away to Cray Wanderers on New Year’s Day.

* Badminton talent Cathy Bargh wins the over-45 women’s singles and doubles at the 2011 Yonex International Veterans Championships in Scotland, beating a three-time former Olympian in the singles.

* Rye United book their place in the last 16 of the FA Vase courtesy of a 3-0 victory away to Chesterfield-based Staveley Miners Welfare.

* Teenage table tennis talent Yolanda King, from Hastings, makes her England senior debut at the 66th English Open in Sheffield.

FEBRUARY

* After seven successive defeats, Hopkinson picks up his first point with a 2-2 draw at home to Folkestone Invicta. Two games later, he gets his first win with a 3-2 success at home to Tooting & Mitcham United.

* Lee Richardson, from St Leonards, announces his retirement from international speedway after a very successful 10 years of riding for Great Britain against the world’s best.

* Rye United make it seven away wins in the FA Vase by coming from behind to win 2-1 against Leverstock Green, from Hemel Hempstead.

* Former Hastings United striker Ade Olorunda makes a match-winning return to The Pilot Field with Tonbridge Angels amid claims he was the target of racial abuse from a spectator.

* Frances Candy scooped a silver medal playing for the Great Britain women’s over-55 tennis team in the ITF Seniors World Team Championships, as well as experiencing the New Zealand earthquake which claimed 181 lives.

MARCH

* Rye United’s magnificent FA Vase run comes to an end as they lose 3-1 after extra-time away to King’s Lynn Town in the quarter-finals. Despite having two players sent-off, Rye came close to winning in normal time.

* Kenyan athlete Gordon Mugi, pictured, wins the 27th Hastings Half Marathon in a time of 1:08:00. His compatriot Rebby Koech clinches the women’s title in 1:15:13 and record crowds lined the streets to cheer on the runners.

* Bexhill snooker star Jimmy Robertson books his place in the World Championship by winning seven frames on the bounce to defeat former winner Ken Doherty 10-6 in the final round of the qualifiers.

* Former Battle and Hastings Priory cricketer Michael Yardy flies home early from the ICC World Cup in India suffering with depression.

APRIL

* Sedlescombe-based Cathy Bargh defeats both of last year’s European Championship finalists to retain the over-45 women’s singles at the 95th All England Seniors Open Badminton Championships.

* South Saxons suffer a 3-0 defeat to Tunbridge Wells in a South Hockey League promotion play-off and are then surprisingly beaten by lower grade Hailsham in a stormy Sussex Plate semi-final.

* Jimmy Robertson’s big moment at The Crucible ends in disappointment as he succumbs 10-1 at the hands of Mark Selby despite winning the opening frame. Selby would become world no.1 later in the year.

* Rye United are beaten 2-1 by Three Bridges in the John O’Hara League Cup final at a sun-soaked Sussex County Ground in Lancing on Good Friday.

* Hastings United escape relegation from the Ryman League Premier Division on goal difference despite losing 3-2 at home to fellow strugglers Aveley on the final day and winning just one of their last eight games.

* Hastings Priory begin the Sussex Cricket League season with a 93-run victory away to Chichester Priory Park, Matt Machan scoring 151 not out on his league debut. Priory, in fact, would go on to win their first four matches.

MAY

* Northiam shooting star George Digweed lands his 19th World Championship triumph by coming out on top at the World English Sporting Championships in San Antonio, Texas.

* Rye United secure a runners-up finish in the Sussex County Football League on the back of a 3-0 final day victory away to champions Crawley Down.

* Bexhill cricketer Jamie Bristow-Diamond and first team manager Hamish Russell help save the life of Lewes Priory player David Tungate, who had collapsed after being struck by the ball.

JUNE

* Darrol Parris and Jamie Podmore are appointed joint managers of Sussex County Football League Division Two club Bexhill United following Robin Powell’s arrival as chairman.

* Leo Fernandez becomes the second player from O’Sullivan’s Snooker Club in Bexhill to be crowned English Amateur Champion in three years after Jimmy Robertson’s success in 2009.

* Staplecross-based golf professional Ben Evans finishes tied eighth in the Scottish Hydro Challenge on the European Challenge Tour.

* Hastings United attacking talent Sam Adams joins Rye United, with then Hastings manager Jason Hopkinson claiming the club couldn’t match what Rye were offering.