Author Archives: Chris Hood

Spanish Signing for Leopards

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards have announced their third signing of the summer with the addition of Spanish guard Ruben Saiz Colon.

The 30-year-old Barcelona-born player joins up with the Big Cats having spent all of his career except a brief spell at Oaklands Academy, in his home country, and coach Thomas Baker is delighted with his new signing: “Ruben is a great addition to the team, he’s a versatile, pass-first combo guard with a high basketball IQ” he said.

“Having seen him play over the years I know he will make players around him better. He will bring experience of playing overseas and I am confident he will fit in well with the other players. From the first time I met Ruben I had a good feeling about what he would bring to this club and I’m really looking forward to start working with him.”

The 6’1″ Spaniard can play both guard spots and started his senior career in 2005-2006 when he played for Menorca-based CB Jovent D’Alaior, and since then he has played for CB Lleida, CB Tarrega, CB Pardinyes and CB Alpicat.

The Big Cats’ newest recruit is excited about joining up with his new team: “I’m really happy to play basketball in the UK. I am excited to see what it like is playing here and I am really looking forward to working with coach Baker and Essex Leopards” he said.

“I have a great feeling about this club and I am thrilled to be joining a club with ambitions. As an experienced player I am confident I can help the club get back to Division 1. By talking to coach Baker it is clear to see what he wants to achieve with the club and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

 

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Scott Lanza Previews the ESL and EOFL Seasons

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Listen as Publicity Officer for the Essex Senior League and the Essex Olympian League, Scott Lanza looks ahead to the two football competitions starting.

Scott talks about who to watch out for in the EOFL, Ilford and the importance of volunteers at all levels of Essex non league.

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

BEN Morley struck a stunning 18 point maximum as Lakeside beat Buxton 51-38 at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

The Vortex Hammers picked up where they left off after a lengthy lay off to maintain their perfect home record.

Morley was in magnificent form throughout going through the card against a powerful Hitmen side.

There were also impressive displays from Connor Locke and Nick Laurence, whilst Paul Hurry and guest Adam Roynon claimed two race wins apiece.

Team boss Kelvin Tatum was delighted with his side after earning three more Travel Plus National League points.

Tatum said: “It wasn’t always easy for us because some of our big hitters weren’t quite at their best tonight. But it was a fantastic performance from Ben Morley, backed up superbly by Connor Locke and Nick Laurence.

“We were delighted to keep the home record going and it was a good way to shake off the rust after a bit of a break.”

The Hammers will be back in action when they host Birmingham on Friday, July 28 (8pm).

LAKESIDE 51: Ben Morley 18, Connor Locke 8+1, Nick Laurence 7+1, Adam Roynon 7, Paul Hurry 6, Jamie Couzins 5, Alfie Bowtell r/r.
BUXTON 38: Matt Williamson 13, Jake Knight 7+2, Tom Woolley 6, Jamie Halder 3+1, Lee Geary 3+1, Ben Woodhull 3+1, Ryan Kinsley 3.

National League points: Lakeside 3 Buxton 0

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Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY PREVIEW

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE team manager Kelvin Tatum believes they are well equipped as they aim to maintain their unbeaten home record in the Travel Plus National League against Buxton on Friday (8pm).

The Vortex Hammers have won all five of their league fixtures at The Arena-Essex Raceway this season and currently sit in fourth place.

And despite being without newly crowned British Under-19 Champion Zach Wajtknecht and in-form star Alfie Bowtell due to racing commitments in the higher two tiers, Tatum is confident his side can add another three league points to their tally.

“Of course the two absences are frustrating but there’s not a lot we can do about it apart from making sure the rest of the team get their heads down and get the job done,” said Tatum.

“We’ve booked Adam Roynon to guest for Zach. Adam’s confidence is growing with every meeting he does for Plymouth in the National League and he’s a top quality performer at this level.

“We feel we can match the points of Alfie with rider replacement but at the same time we know we’re going to have to work hard.

“Buxton have a got a good couple of riders who will contribute to some entertaining racing and it should be a good night of speedway that will hopefully end with another win for the Hammers.

“I think we’re in a handy position right now. We are nicely placed at the halfway stage of the season to sustain a play-off push and that’s ultimately where we want to be in September / October.”

A change in the averages sees Paul Hurry move into the No.1 racejacket for the Hammers and he’ll go head-to-head with Buxton’s Matt Williamson who is enjoying his best season to date.

LAKESIDE: Paul Hurry, Nick Laurence, Ben Morley, Alfie Bowtell R/R, Adam Roynon, Jamie Couzins, Connor Locke.
BUXTON: Matt Williamson, Jamie Halder, Tom Woolley, Ryan Kinsley, Jake Knight, Lee Geary, Ben Woodhull.

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Lakeside Speedway – LAURENCE EAGER FOR RETURN

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

NICK Laurence admits he can’t wait to get back on a bike when Lakeside host Buxton at the Arena-Essex Raceway on Friday (8pm).

The Vortex Hammers return to action for the first time in almost three weeks as they aim to continue their push up the Travel Plus National League standings.

After five wins from their last six meetings, the Purfleet outfit are full of confidence and Laurence is hoping he can play his part in another home success.

“I’m loving life at Lakeside this year to be honest,” Laurence said.

“I’m learning all the time and I feel like I’m making some steady progress.

“It will be good to get back on the bike after a few weeks off and I’m sure we can carry on where we left off.”

With newly crowned British Under-19 Champion Zach Wajtknecht on SGB Premiership duty with Swindon, the Hammers have secured the services of experienced campaigner Adam Roynon who has been in terrific third tier form since joining Plymouth.

The Hammers will operate rider replacement for Alfie Bowtell who is required by Newcastle in the SGB Championship; Ben Morley, Nick Laurence, Connor Locke and Jamie Couzins can take his rides.

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WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page Talks with Phoenix FM

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Note that the Mixcloud link may not work for those outside the UK.  In which case, the interview has been reproduced in full below.

 

Listen as WWE Hall of Famer, 3 time WCW World Heavyweight Champion and Founder of DDP Yoga, Diamond Dallas Page talks with Phoenix FM about his career.

DDP talks about running a Rock ‘n’ Roll bar, starting late in Pro Wrestling, injuries and how DDP Yoga helped him and others recover and take control of their lives.

Also hear how DDP played second fiddle to a car at Wrestlemania VI.

Find out more about DDP at www.diamonddallaspage.com.

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The King of Connecticut Holds Court

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Note: The Mixcloud link may not work for those outside the UK.  In which case the interview is reproduced in full below.

 

Listen again as The King of Connecticut, The Suntan Superman Matt Granahan chats about his life in MMA and Pro Wrestling.

From wrestling in the 7th grade, Matt went on to found the American Combat Association with UFC and ONE Championship star Kamal “Prince of Persia” Shalorus, putting on the first MMA show in South Carolina.

Matt was also instrumental in the branding for Bellator MMA as it went to Spike TV and has written books about the history of MMA and Pro Wrestling and recently how he’s Too Handsome for Hollywood.

Matt and Chris also discuss podcast The King’s Court and where The King of Connecticut comes from.

 

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE broke the 60-point barrier for the first time this season with a crushing victory over the Isle of Wight at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

The Vortex Hammers ran out 63-27 winners with a truly dominant display to maintain their perfect home record.

Their top four dropped just four points with Zach Wajtknecht, Paul Hurry and Ben Morley all going unbeaten by an opposing rider whilst Alfie Bowtell suffered just one defeat.

With Connor Locke and Nick Laurence also claiming a race win apiece it was an exceptional team display from the Purfleet side.

And co-promoter Jon Cook was delighted to see them continue their momentum with another eye-catching display against the struggling Warriors.

Said Cook: “You can only beat what’s in front of you, and I think it’s fair to say the Isle of Wight weren’t at the same level as the other teams we’ve faced so far.

“I thought we showed impressive form, all the riders were looking confident and quick, so things look encouraging for when we face tougher tests.

“It was nice to see Connor Locke get amongst the points at home, he’s done a couple of home meetings now and is getting better all the time.

“We’re pleased with how things are going at the moment, so long may it continue.”

The Hammers will be back in action away at Buxton on Sunday, July 2 (3pm) before returning to the Arena-Essex Raceway for the return fixture with the Hitmen on Friday, July 14 (8pm).

TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE
LAKESIDE 63: Paul Hurry 13+2, Alfie Bowtell 12+1, Zach Wajtknecht 12, Ben Morley 11+1, Connor Locke 6+1, Nick Laurence 6, Jamie Couzins 3.
ISLE OF WIGHT 27: James Cockle 7, Connor Coles 6, Ben Wilson 5, Alex Spooner 5, Chris Widman 3, Kelsey Dugard 1+1, Jamie Sealey 0.

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Brentwood CC Take On The England Masters

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Listen again as Paul Webb, Chairman of Brentwood Cricket Club, looks ahead to a massive week of cricket at The Old County Ground as the MCC and PCA England Masters pay a visit in July.

Paul also spoke about Brentwood’s season so far and a good season for cricket in Essex.

 

To find out more about Brentwood CC visit http://brentwoodcc.clubbuzz.co.uk/.

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JJ Birden on Seizing Life’s Opportunities

JJ Birden NFL Player, Speaker, Bestselling Author

This week I spoke with JJ Birden.  JJ was 9 years a star of the NFL and now spends his time as an opportunity trainer and author.  But it was nearly so different for the Portland-born Wide Receiver who was destined for a Track and Field career.

Listen again as we talk about JJ’s life, the lessons he learnt from Joe Montana and the day he added five to his family.

PART 1

 

PART 2

 

Find out more about JJ Birden at jjbirden.com.

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Lakeside Speedway – ZACH SET TO FLY

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

IN-FORM Lakeside No.1 Zach Wajtknecht has been flying of late – and that’s also how he’ll be getting to Sunday’s home meeting against the Isle of Wight (3pm).

The 19-year-old is competing in a longtrack and beach race meeting in Guernsey on Saturday and had been trying to find an alternative way to ensure he’d be at Purfleet in time for the clash against the Warriors.

But he has now solved that problem and will taking to the air to speed up his journey.

Wajtknecht is on a stunning run which has seen him score four maximums in his last five meetings, one for the Swindon Sprockets in the National Trophy, dropping just a single point to an opponent in the process.

“I’m loving every minute of my racing at the minute and I think that always makes a difference,” Wajtknecht said.

“That’s another reason why I was so desperate to be there for the Hammers on Sunday too.

“I’ve done this beach meeting in Guernsey for a few years now and that’s another one that’s good fun.

“But I had to make sure I could get back to Lakeside and flying was the only real option.

“They could have got a guest in but we’re riding well as a team and I didn’t want to miss it if it could be helped.

“We may have lost at Birmingham on Wednesday, but it was still a good, important point.

“We’re confident every time we race at Lakeside and we’re confident we can get another win over the Isle of Wight. But we won’t be going into it too confident; they’ve got some decent riders at the top end of their team so we’ll all need to be on it again like we have been at home all season so far.”

The Vortex Lakeside Hammers will be at full strength as they aim to continue their unbeaten home run in the third tier.

The Warriors include experienced campaigners Ben Wilson and James Cockle as well as recent recruit Connor Coles.

LAKEISDE: Zach Wajtknecht, Nick Laurence, Paul Hurry, Alfie Bowtell, Ben Morley, Jamie Couzins, Connor Locke.
ISLE OF WIGHT: Ben Wilson, Kelsey Dugard, James Cockle, Chris Widman, Connor Coles, Jamie Sealey, TBC.

 

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE No.1 Zach Wajtknecht stormed his way to another 15 point maximum as the Vortex Hammers secured a consolation National League point from their 46-44 defeat at Birmingham.

The Bristol based racer was in breathtaking form against his old club as he sealed a third unbeaten display from his last four fixtures.

While the Hammers were never able to get their noses in front, they were always within touching distance of the reigning Champions.

And even when they fell eight points behind with three races to go, the Hammers were once again able to call on Wajtknecht and club captain Ben Morley for two 5-1s to secure a last gasp point.

Said Wajtknecht: “I feel so good right now and I’m just over the moon to be scoring how I am for Lakeside.

“Me and Ben were able to pull it off again in the big heats but we pushed Birmingham all the way right from heat one.

“Birmingham is a tough place to come to so we’ve got to be happy with a point – but it could have been more.

“Paul (Hurry) slid off a couple of times, a few other things here and there didn’t go our way, so we maybe could have sneaked the win but we’ll still go home pretty happy.”

The result ended the Vortex Hammers’ run of four consecutive wins, but the league point picked up sees them close the gap on the third tier’s top two.

Racing returns to Purfleet this Sunday afternoon (3pm) when the Isle of Wight Warriors are the visitors.

BIRMINGHAM 46: Tom Bacon 12, Taylor Hampshire 9+1, Liam Carr 9, David Mason 6+1, Jack Parkinson-Blackburn 5, Layne Cupitt 3+2, Alex Spooner 1.
LAKESIDE 44: Zach Wajtknecht 15, Ben Morley 11+2, Alfie Bowtell 6+1, Connor Locke 5+1, Paul Hurry 5, Jamie Couzins 2, Nick Laurence 0.

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Lakeside Speedway – WEDNESDAY PREVIEW

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE co-promoter Jon Cook is relishing the challenge of taking on the reigning National League Champions as they head to Birmingham on Wednesday (7.30pm).

The Vortex Hammers head to Perry Barr high on confidence after a promising start to life in the third tier.

After four straight wins, Cook believes his side are beginning to hit top form as they aim to challenge for top honours.

And he hopes they will rise to the occasion of taking on one of the top sides in the Travel Plus National League to add to their points tally.

Said Cook: “Obviously it’s one of the tracks the boys will be more than familiar with, and it’s somewhere we’re used to racing at a higher level.

“It’s nice to go to the stronger venues in the National League, it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to and hopefully the boys can rise to it.

“We feel like we’re starting to kick-on a bit now, so hopefully we can be in the mix and get a good result on Wednesday.”

The Vortex Hammers will be at full strength whilst Birmingham hand a debut to former Lakeside man David Mason and have Alex Spooner and Taylor Hampshire guesting at reserve.

BIRMINGHAM: Jack Parkinson-Blackburn, Layne Cupitt, David Mason, Tom Bacon, Liam Carr, Alex Spooner, Taylor Hampshire.
LAKESIDE: Zach Wajtknecht, Nick Laurence, Paul Hurry, Alfie Bowtell, Ben Morley, Jamie Couzins, Connor Locke.

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Double American Test for Leopards

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards have announced their first two pre-season games as they start preparations for the 2017/18 National Basketball League season.

The Big Cats will host Team USA Select at Oaklands College on Friday September 1 (7.30pm) before the touring side visit the Brentwood Centre on Sunday September 3, tip-off 4pm.

There are two pre-game camps before the September 3 game at the Brentwood Centre with youngsters getting the chance to practice and play games with Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker and several of the first team. Full details on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk.

Team USA Select bring around 40 players over from the States, and Leopards will face different teams on each date. The squad consists of players who have finished their college careers in the States and are looking for pro jobs in Europe. Several have gone on to successful careers in England including former Leopards’ big man Greg Hernandez who helped the Big Cats win the National Trophy in 2013.

The Big Cats have been regular opponents for the Americans over the years, playing them at Brentwood, Capital City Academy and Crystal Palace as well as training games in east London.

The teams last met a year ago and a big crowd at the Brentwood Centre saw Leopards edged out 81-77. Sean Killmartin’s side also visited the Brentwood Centre in September 2015 as Steve Ogunjimi made a winning start to his career as Leopards’ coach with a 76-67 victory. The sides also met in a closed-door scrimmage game just before the start of that season with Leopards winning a thriller 84-83.

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE raced to their biggest win of the season with a 55-35 success over Plymouth at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

The Vortex Hammers delivered 12 race wins with a dominant display as Zach Wajtknecht and Ben Morley both went unbeaten.

With Paul Hurry and Alfie Bowtell also putting in impressive showings it was a powerful performance from the Purfleet side.

And co-promoter Jon Cook was delighted to see them step things up a notch with a professional display.

Said Cook: “It was a big win for us, and it’s great to keep our good run of home form going.
“It was quite tough early doors, and Adam Roynon in particular gave the top boys a few top races, but the top end were all superb.

“Obviously you’ve got to take into the account the absence of Steve Boxall weakened Plymouth, but you can only race what’s in front of you.

“The team has a nice flow to it, and I think there are signs that we can have a very successful season if we keep this going.”

Although their top end firepower led them to victory, Nick Laurence, Connor Locke and Jamie Couzins did chip in with a handful of useful points.

They will be back in action at Birmingham on Wednesday (7.30) before hosting Isle of Wight at the Arena-Essex Raceway next Sunday (3pm).

LAKESIDE 55: Zach Wajtknecht 15, Ben Morley 13+2, Paul Hurry 11, Alfie Bowtell 8+3, Nick Laurence 4, Connor Locke 2+1, Jamie Couzins 2.
PLYMOUTH 35: Adam Roynon 11, Richard Andrews 6+2, Callum Walker 6+2, Benji Compton 6+1, Henry Atkins 6, Rob Parker 0, Steve Boxall r/r.

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Jonathan Buffong Talks MMARAP

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I was delighted to be joined in the studio this afternoon by Jonathan Buffong, the Founder and CEO of Mixed Martial Arts for Reform and Progression (MMARAP).

MMARAP is a Community Interest Company based out of Islington which offers MMA as a way to improve the life of London’s young people, including ex-offenders and the disabled community.

Jonathan spoke at length about his journey and his involvement in MMA and you can listen again above.

If you want to find out more about MMARAP visit their website here.

 

 

 

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Lakeside Speedway – SATURDAY PREVIEW

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE No.1 Zach Wajtknecht says his side can’t take anything for granted ahead of Saturday’s home clash against Plymouth at the Arena-Essex Raceway (7.30pm).

Plymouth currently sit in 10th place in the Travel Plus National League – but secured their first three points against Stoke last weekend.

The visitors have been boosted by the recent signing of former top flight star Adam Roynon and are hopeful Steve Boxall will be fit to take his place at No.1 after receiving daily treatment on a back injury sustained last week.

For the Hammers though, Wajtknecht is aiming to continue his stunning run of form with another double figure contribution – but says he personally could be in for one of his tougher nights of the season.

“They’ve got some top heat-leaders in their side,” said Wajtknecht. “Adam coming in has made them a lot stronger and he’s won a lot of his races for them already.

“I know Steve has been struggling but if he rides, he’s also been getting some big scores this season so he’ll be another one to watch.

“They’ve got a few other capable riders too so we know we still need to be at our best.

“My confidence is pretty high right now though and it would be another great night for me if I could get double figures again.

“I can’t really ask for much more with my scores for Lakeside and these are the sorts of scores I want to be getting right through until the end of the season – but I know I’m going to have to carry on working hard.”

LAKESIDE: Zach Wajtknecht, Nick Laurence, Paul Hurry, Alfie Bowtell, Ben Morley, Jamie Couzins, Connor Locke.
PLYMOUTH: Steve Boxall, Richard Andrews, Benji Compton, Henry Atkins, Adam Roynon, Robert Parker, Callum Walker.

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Bennett Returns for Leopards

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards have announced the second member of their 2017/18 roster with the re-signing of guard Dougie Bennett.

It’s a key signing for Coach Thomas Baker as the Brentwood-based player won the club’s Most Improved Player award in 2015/16 but went one better last season as the club’s supporters voted for him as Player of the Year.

Bennett also stepped up to become Captain when Mike Martin was out injured, and Coach Baker is delighted to have him back in the squad for the forthcoming campaign:

“Re-signing Dougie was one of my main priorities for this season. Having already re-signed AJ (Roberts), Dougie adds stability and leadership that is much needed for the squad. Dougie is a great team mate and he is a great to have around, he helps us both on and off the court.

Dougie has shown time and time again the ability he has at this level, and I am confident he will help us get promotion back to Division One.

Dougie Bennett recieves Most Improved Player award from coach Stephen Ogunjimi;

“I’m looking forward to continuing to build this roster and I am glad that Dougie has agreed to re-sign for us.”

Bennett is hoping to help Leopards’ promotion push: “I’m really happy to have been re-signed by Leopards for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

“I feel coming back was the best thing for me to do following an unsuccessful season last year. Some would call it unfinished business but I prefer redemption!

“Everyone in and around the club have been so supportive of me for the last two years and I am just looking forward to being able to get back on the court and prove we belong back in Division One!”

 

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

ZACH Wajtknecht clambered off his sickbed to help Lakeside power to a 52-38 victory that left derby rivals Kent Kings as sick as a parrot.

The Hammers found themselves level after eight heats but veteran Paul Hurry completed a five-ride full maximum with fellow big-hitters Wajtknecht, still feeling the effects of a stomach bug, and Ben Morley registering double figures to take matters away from the visitors.

Kent made life tough early on with Alfie Bowtell harshly excluded in a shared Heat Three that marked Hurry’s first win of the night.

Away team-mates Jack Thomas and Nathan Stoneman collided in Heat Seven but were granted permission to take part in the re-run because the incident had followed an unsatisfactory start. Stoneman later withdrew from the meeting.

Thomas led Anders Rowe in a Kent 5-1 that restored parity but Wajtknecht and Hurry took three chequered flags out of the next four before a thrilling Heat 13 virtually guaranteed the win.

Kings number one Luke Bowen led the way but Morley passed around the outside on lap one with Wajtknecht getting by on the final circuit for a Hammers maximum.

Hurry and Morley gated on a 5-1 in Heat 15 and despite the outcome being done and dusted, captain Morley battled back to pinch second place on the line having been passed by Bowen.

“The meeting was close but we handed it over to the big guns and while I felt all of the lads played their part with crucial points, the top three were fantastic,” said promoter Jon Cook.

“Zach had been under the weather all week and the way he passed Luke Bowen and Jack Thomas was out of this world. Full credit to Paul Hurry for his full maximum and young Connor Locke performed well, he didn’t get the points his riding warranted.

“It was a derby that could compare to any other in speedway with a lot of feeling on both sides and plenty of incident. To be fair to Kent, they played their part in an exceptional meeting in which the quality defied the level.”

LAKESIDE 52: Paul Hurry 15, Ben Morley 13+1, Zach Wajtknecht 10+1, Alfie Bowtell 6+2, Nick Laurence 3+1, Jamie Couzins 3+1, Connor Locke 2.
KENT 38: Jack Thomas 12, Luke Bowen 8, Anders Rowe 7+2, Bradley Andrews 5+1, Ben Hopwood 5, Nathan Stoneman 1+1, Alex Spooner 0, Luke Clifton R/R.

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Laura Try Sets Sail

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On Wednesday I was delighted to be joined by local girl Laura Try ahead of her round Britain row which set sail today.

Over the space of 8 weeks, Laura (along with three other crew members) will row 1,800 miles on a two hour on, two hour off rotation day and night, stopping eight times to rotate crew.

Laura is one of the few crew members rowing all of the legs and talks sleep, fundraising and toilets!

If you want to follow her journey, Laura will be providing updates on Youtube and on the website of her sponsor eMoov.

The journey will be raising money for Centrepoint and you can donate to the cause here.

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Hilz Brings the Curtain Down

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Listen again to a fascinating chat with local boxer Paul Hilz as he brings the curtain down on his in-ring career.

Never shying away from a challenge, Paul competed in three different weight divisions at pro level and picked up the International Challenge Belt at Super-Middleweight in addition to lifting two Cruiserweight Titles in the unlicensed ranks.

Paul talks candidly about his final fight against unbeaten prospect Tom Stokes and the motivations behind retirement.

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Lakeside Speedway – Hammers Make New Signing

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE have swooped to sign Connor Locke to fill the gap in their side.

The Vortex Hammers were forced to make two changes when Paul Hurry’s average was increased last week and the club are grateful to Alex Spooner for standing in on a temporary basis at the weekend.

Now they have signed Locke as a replacement for George Hunter to after he became available when King’s Lynn Young Stars pulled out of the league.

Vortex Hammers co-boss Jon Cook said: “Connor’s a rider we had in our sights during the winter and we are delighted to be able to bring him to the club now.

“We’ve had a great weekend on track with wins against Stoke and Cradley and beating a couple of our play-off rivals for Connor completes an excellent few days for the Hammers.”

Locke will make his debut in the local derby against Kent which is the next Raceway fixture on Friday June 9.

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Lakeside Speedway – Hammers Make it a Weekend Double

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

STAR man Zach Wajtknecht struck a perfect 15-point maximum to lead Lakeside to a 49-41 win over Cradley at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

The Vortex Hammers prevailed in another close meeting to continue their perfect home record and leave the highly-rated Heathens heading back to the West Midlands empty handed.

Top end firepower made all the difference for the revamped Purfleet outfit, with Paul Hurry also notching a paid maximum from his four programmed rides whilst Ben Morley bagged double figures.

Perhaps the most crucial contribution, however, came from Alfie Bowtell as he claimed two race wins and eight points to give vital support to their powerhouse top three.

Although the Heathens won the lower order battle, Kelvin Tatum’s side did enough to come out on top.

“It was a good win,” Tatum said. “Cradley pushed us hard and we probably made hard work of it at times because we were pretty much reliant on four riders.

“Fair play to Cradley, they came here and gave a good account of themselves but we just about had enough.

“That’s two good wins in two days for us which is very pleasing, and if we can get the lower order firing then hopefully we still have more to come.”

LAKESIDE 49: Zach Wajtknecht 15, Paul Hurry 11+1, Ben Morley 11, Alfie Bowtell 8, Jamie Couzins 2, Nick Laurence 2, Alex Spooner 0.
CRADLEY 41: Tom Perry 10, Conor Dwyer 8+2, Dan Greenwood 7, Danny Ayres 6, Joe Lawlor 5+3, Luke Harris 4+2, Ryan Burton 1+1.

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT AND SUNDAY PREVIEW

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE pulled off an impressive 46-42 away win against Stoke at Loomer Road on Saturday night.

The Vortex Hammers prevailed in a tight meeting thanks to a determined display from their new-look septet.

Their top three led them to victory, as Zach Wajtknecht, Ben Morley and new signing Paul Hurry all bagged double figures.

It was an excellent debut for Hurry as he notched 10+1 – and he was delighted with their success in his first competitive appearance.

Said Hurry: “We got off to a bit of a slow start, because the track was a bit different to what the boys are used to at Lakeside.

“But once everyone got dialled in we performed well, and it was a really good result.
“It was a great effort from anyone, any away win is a good result and we’re pleased to come away with three points.”

Although their top order delivered vital race wins, reserve Nick Laurence also chipped in with a pivotal 8+1 point haul at reserve.

Jamie Couzins also contributed a hard-fought paid four, and although Alfie Bowtell and guest Alex Spooner struggled the visitors came out on top.

STOKE 42: Luke Priest 9+1, Mitchell Davey 9, Ryan Terry-Daley 7+1, Shaun Tedham 7, Ben Woodhull 6+1, Tony Atkin 4+2, David Speight 0.
LAKESIDE 46: Zach Wajtknecht 13, Ben Morley 11+1, Paul Hurry 10, Nick Laurence 8+1, Jamie Couzins 3+1, Alfie Bowtell 1+1, Alex Spooner 0.

Lakeside are gearing up for another tough test on home shale as they host Cradley at the Arena-Essex Raceway on Sunday (3pm).

They will now aim to continue their perfect home record against the historic Heathens.

Experienced performer Paul Hurry is hopeful they can pick up where they left off – but he knows they must work hard to defeat their talented opposition.

“We should be feeling confident after the win at Stoke, so we’ll be looking for another home win,” said Hurry.

“It will be a tough test, but if the young lads are happy then they should ride well and get results at home.”

Lakeside will be at full strength, with Alex Spooner again stepping in as a guest to accommodate the inclusion of Hurry.

Meanwhile, Cradley include big names Danny Ayres and Tom Perry in their star-studded side.

LAKESIDE: Zach Wajtknecht, Alex Spooner (Guest), Paul Hurry, Alfie Bowtell, Ben Morley, Jamie Couzins, Nick Laurence.
CRADLEY: Danny Ayres, Ryan Burton, Dan Greenwood, Luke Harris, Tom Perry, Conor Dwyer, Joe Lawlor.

 

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Phoenix FM talks with Royce Gracie

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On Wednesday 24th May I was delighted to attend an amazing evening with UFC Hall of Famer and Bellator MMA Brand Ambassador Royce Gracie.

Royce was in Southend at TSGMMA’s gym to deliver a seminar to a packed audience of fighters young and not-so-young.

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TSGMMA was founded by one of Royce Gracie’s first Black Belts Daniel Burzotta who passes on his vast knowledge to the next generation of fighters and is also co-founder of promotion UWC – Ultimate Warrior Challenge.

It was an inspiring evening seeing the fighters in awe of Royce Gracie and also hearing about the great work that the gym does in the local community.

We later decamped to Il Pescatore, the Burzotta family restaurant where we were able to grab a quick chat with the MMA legend.

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Lakeside Speedway – Hammers Defiant over Hurry

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The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE will go ahead and include Paul Hurry in their team this weekend – despite objections from rival National League clubs.

Hurry’s average was established at 7.44 by league officials but this is set to rise in a dramatic twist to the saga.

But Vortex Hammers co-promoter Jon Cook insists the club will stick by their plan and include Hurry for Saturday’s trip to Stoke and the crunch home clash with Cradley on Sunday (3pm).

“Despite the best efforts of the rest of the league, Paul Hurry will be included in our team this weekend,” he said.

“I find it entirely regrettable and very disappointing that his average will now be adjusted after we established his figure with league officials even before the season started when we considered him for inclusion.”

Hurry will take his place as planned with Alex Spooner coming in as a replacement for injury victim George Hunter.

“We are confident Paul will do a good job for the team,” said Cook.

“Naturally we would love to get something on the road at Stoke but Sunday is huge for us.

“We are looking to beat Cradley, but equally as important will be the response at the turnstiles.

“It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and we have a Sunday afternoon fixture at the Raceway. It’s all set up perfectly.”

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Lakeside Speedway – Hammers in a Hurry

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The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

PAUL Hurry is on the comeback trail – after joining Lakeside.

The former Great Britain world cup racer, 42, will make his National League bow in the trip to Stoke on Saturday before Sunday’s home meeting with Cradley Heath.

He replaces David Mason in the Vortex Hammers side after impressing in the early-season challenge match with Kent when he notched 11+1.

It’s a remarkable return for Hurry who has had several seasons on the sidelines with a catalogue of injuries which appeared to have ended his career.

Now he will form a powerful triple spearhead with Ben Morley and Zach Wajtknecht in the Vortex Hammers side.

He said: “It’s been a tough start to the season for David and they just wanted even more strength at the top end of the team.

“I felt good in the challenge meeting I did so I’m sure it won’t take me too long at all to get back into the groove.

“I need to get my equipment back up to scratch and once I’ve done that I’m confident I can score some points for the team because I’ll be going out there and enjoying myself but I’m also looking forward to helping a few of the lads progress on and off the track as well.”

Lakeside Hammers would like to welcome Paul into the side and offer sincere thanks to David for his efforts this season and wish him well for the future.

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Lakeside Speedway – MEETING POSTPONED

Arena Essex

An update from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office

LAKESIDE have pulled the plug on tonight’s league clash with Mildenhall at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

Heavy rain has already left the track waterlogged and further heavy downpours are expected throughout the day.

Vortex Hammers co-boss Jon Cook said: “This is an early decision in the best interests of all parties concerned.

“It minimises inconvenience for fans, riders and officials although we are naturally always disappointed when having to make a call like this.”

The next home meeting is now on Sunday week, May 28, when Cradley Heath visit in more Travel Plus National League action.

“That’s a big meeting for us,” said Cook. “We are trying Sunday racing at the Raceway and the response from supporters in terms of numbers will be important.

“We look forward to welcoming everyone for what promises to be a super meeting with some of the top riders in the league doing battle.”

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Hilz Hangs Up his Gloves

Paul Hilz International Challenge Belt

Tim Rickson reports…

  • Basildon boxer calls time on a remarkable pro career
  • Competed in three different weight divisions, dropping down each time
  • Took an eight-rounder in just his third pro fight
  • International Challenge Belt winner at Super-Middleweight
  • Three title fights in six contests

When a 28-year-old Paul Hilz walked into Southend Boxing Club, he wouldn’t have guessed that seven years later he would be retiring from a remarkable professional boxing career.

He also wouldn’t have believed that he would experience 14 unlicensed fights, losing just one, and lifting two Cruiserweight titles before going on to signing a professional contract and competing in three title fights.

It was after a second-round stoppage defeat to Birmingham’s unbeaten Middleweight prospect Tom Stokes on May 12th that prompted the decision to close the curtains on an unbelievable career.

The father of four from Romford travelled to Birmingham on May 12th to fight in the away corner against top prospect Stokes (9-0).

It was Hilz’s first bout at middleweight and first fight away from home, up against the youngest and best fighter he had ever faced. Ultimately, it resulted in the first stoppage loss in his career, also.

Post-fight, Hilz called time on an extraordinary boxing career that saw him have 20 fights in total, winning 15 bouts and collecting three belts along the way.

What’s most astonishing of all is that Hilz first stepped foot in a boxing gym when he was eight-years-old and a bloody nose put him off for life. It ended up not quite being for life as, 20 years later, he went back again and the rest is history.

After a successful stint in the thriving Essex unlicensed boxing scene, Hilz signed pro contracts with promoter Carl Greaves and, when first up in front of the British Boxing Board of Control, he was initially refused a boxing license but wouldn’t give up and finally made his long-awaited debut in November 2014.

30 months on, Hilz explained his reasons for walking away, “These boys coming up are always younger so I’m going against the grain and the pro game is all about levels, it really is, it’s all being well having plenty of fight in there but when someone comes at you throwing shots that are a third quicker and sharper than yours.

“Stokes was the youngest boy I ever fought and I felt it. It’s all being well trying to catch them with that one big shot but he’s quick with good reactions and he’s not gonna want to get caught.

“There’s nothing else I can do in my career, I’ve already exceeded my expectations. I can’t better myself in any way so anything I do will only be a backwards step; I’ve pretty much done all I can do.

“I couldn’t go out as an away fighter and just stay safe, it’s not me, I’ve got too much pride and I just couldn’t do it.

“I know I can’t cut it with these rising prospects and I’m not going to be a stepping stone for these young lads.

“I’d be living the life but not living the dream.”

Hilz could easily return to the Grays Civic Hall – a fortress to his army of boxing fans – where he had five of his six professional fights but that’s something that he also doesn’t wish to do anymore.

He enlightened, “My manager Carl Greaves could have got me a half-decent opponent to fight against at home but I never wanted to be a boxer that takes people’s money to pump up my ego.

“I’m gutted, devastated, could sob my heart out for days but it’s not worth risking my health. It’s not right. I’ve only got one brain, one set of eyes.”

The reaction to Hilz’s defeat and subsequent departure has caused a flood of incoming messages from family, friends and fans.

“Lots of people have messaged me and said I’m an inspiration to them and it’s been overwhelming,” he said. “To think they look at me and get some form of inspiration is something else.”

Looking back on a career that spanned four years in the unlicensed and two-and-a-half years in the pros, Hilz listed his personal highlights, “I know it sounds silly but when I look back at my boxing career, my highlight would be the experience that I just had – fighting away in Birmingham.

“Obviously, there’s the things that look good on paper like winning the International Challenge belt but that experience was great, the whole set up was just something else – massive changing room, headlining the show and treated like a star, and it just felt big and professional.

“The weigh-in was at the Barclaycard Arena along with the Sky Sports show and the headliner Kal Yafai comes up and gives me a big man-hug with his world title on his shoulder and wished me luck.

“It just felt crazy weighing in at Barclaycard Arena with World champions and Sky Sports there.”

Hilz may be retiring from competing in professional boxing but he has no immediate plans to walk away from the sport that he loves.

“Because I’ve got a gym, nutrition and recovery all backing me, I’m keeping them all on as sponsors and going to set up a programme where I can train fighters. I’m gonna get my seconds license as well so I can help Kev in the corner whenever he needs it.

“I’ve come down from 18st 4lbs and fought in three different weight divisions. I can teach people how to get conditioned. I’m very headstrong and believe in mind over matter so I think I can help with the mental side of things as well.”

Hilz came into boxing at an advanced age but still manage to achieve the impossible during the short time he had and, fortunately, his inspiration will continue to live on from the other side of the ropes.

 

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Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY PREVIEW

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE boss Kelvin Tatum hopes a return to home comforts can help them get back to winning ways against Mildenhall on Friday (8pm).

The Vortex Hammers will be back in action at the Arena-Essex Raceway looking to bounce back from two straight away defeats.

They claimed a hard-fought win over Belle Vue in their last Purfleet outing and will be on the lookout for three more Travel Plus National League points.

Talented teenager Tom Brennan has been booked to guest for Zach Wajtknecht, who is in top flight action for Swindon.

But with David Mason back from his lay-off, Tatum is backing them to overcome the Fen Tigers.
Said Tatum: “Last week was a tough week, but we’re unbeaten at home and desperately want to keep that going against Mildenhall on Friday.

“We know how important it is to keep winning our home meetings, and although we’re without Zach Wajtknecht we’re looking for three more points.

“We’ve got David Mason back, he says he’s raring to go, and Tom Brennan is flying at the moment and comes in as a guest.”

Mildenhall have drafted in Alex Spooner to cover for Jordan Jenkins, who is missing due to school exams.

There will be three heats of junior racing taking place at 7.30pm before the main meeting gets underway.

LAKESIDE: Tom Brennan, George Hunter, David Mason, Alfie Bowtell, Ben Morley, Jamie Couzins, Nick Laurence.
MILDENHALL: Connor Mountain, Luke Ruddick, Jon Armstrong, Danno Verge, Dan Halsey, Sam Woods, Alex Spooner.

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Stokes Proves Too Much for Hilz

Hilz v Stokes right hand

Tim Rickson reports…

West Bromwich’s Middleweight prospect Tom Stokes (9-0) overwhelmed Basildon’s Paul Hilz (3-3) with a second-round stoppage win on May 12th in Birmingham to lift the British Challenge belt.

It was the first knockout recorded for the 22-year-old after notching up eight points victories since 2013.

The tattooed Hilz ducked and dived and looked to target the body with long-reaching punches. The younger fighter deployed a good variety of punches and backed his opponent up, who swung out with hooks whenever possible in an attempt to catch the prospect out with one big shot.

In the second round, a right hook to the head put Hilz on the seat of his pants. Sensing blood, Stokes went in for the kill and a barrage of unanswered shots saw referee Shaun Messer jump in to stop the contest with 17 seconds of the round remaining.

Stokes moves on to bigger honours whereas 35-year-old Hilz has hung up his gloves.

The former Wednesbury ABC fighter said, “I was the fittest I’ve ever been and getting the stoppage was the best thing I could have hoped for.

“Full credit to my opponent, he came to have a fight but don’t know if it was the age or what but I was just sharper on the night.

“I’m looking at the Midlands title next, it’s vacant at the moment and been mentioned for September.”

It was always going to be an uphill task for Hilz in his first fight at Middleweight away from home against the best opponent he had ever faced.

The underdog reflected on the fight, “Stokes was the youngest boy I ever fought and I felt it.

“It’s all being well trying to catch them with that one big shot but he’s quick with good reactions and he’s not looking to get caught.

“I got up too quick from my knockdown and Kevin [Lilley] was screaming at me from the corner to take a knee. I was dazed on my feet and another shot brought me back round again so I started to throw back but the ref stopped it.

“Everyone said I was stopped too early but I said I weren’t and if you was all standing around my hospital bed right now you’d be saying it was stopped too late!

I’ve gone home safe to my babies so the referee was right and done his job.”

Hilz has since called time on his remarkable career that he saw him involved in three Challenge belt contests.

He commented on his decision to walk away, “There’s nothing else I can do in my career, I’ve already exceeded my expectations. I can’t better myself in any way so anything I do from here will only be a backwards step; I’ve pretty much done all I can do.

“I couldn’t go out as an away fighter and just stay safe, it’s not me, I’ve got too much pride and I just couldn’t do it and I’m not going to be a stepping stone for these young prospects.”

Hilz walked into Southend Boxing Club aged 28 and went on to win 12 of 14 unlicensed fights and claimed the International Challenge belt as a pro.

Tom-Stokes-v-Paul-Hilz

‘The Next Step’

Errol Johnson’s show, billed as ‘The Next Step’, saw wins for all three Black Country Boxing Promotions boxers – brothers Tom and Josh Stokes of West Bromwich and Leon Gower of Burton-on-Trent.

The headliner’s brother Josh secured a 40-36 points victory over Middleton’s Curtis Gargano whilst Leon Gower stopped Jack Summers in the fifth-round of their scheduled eight-round contest for the British Challenge Featherweight Belt.

The event included an auction and after dinner guest speaker – former IBF World Cruiserweight Champion – Glenn McCrory.

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Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY COUNTDOWN

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE are back at the Arena-Essex Raceway on Friday in a vital Travel Plus National League clash with Mildenhall.

And the headline team news is the addition of teenage sensation Tom Brennan as a guest replacement for the unavailable Zach Wajtknecht.

Wajtknecht is riding for Premiership club Swindon at Belle Vue and the Vortex Hammers have moved to book the Eastbourne racer.

TEAMS:

Lakeside
1. Ben MORLEY C 7.40
2. George HUNTER 3.53
3. David MASON 6.54
4. Alfie BOWTELL 6.00
5. Tom BRENNAN G 8.59
6. Jamie COUZINS 3.00
7. Nick LAURENCE 3.00
Manager: Kelvin TATUM

Mildenhall
1. Connor MOUNTAIN 8.73
2. Luke RUDDICK 3.10
3. Jon ARMSTRONG C 7.82
4. Danno VERGE 4.43
5. Dan HALSEY 8.64
6. Sam WOODS 3.00
7. Alex SPOONER 3.00
Manager: Rob HENRY

 

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Linton Vassell Talks Bellator 179

 

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Listen again as MMA star Linton “The Swarm” Vassell joins me on Phoenix Sport to discuss starting out, Bellator 179 and Pro Wrestling.

Linton Vassell co-headlines Bellator 179 at Wembley Arena on 19 May as he takes on fellow Englishman Liam McGeary, with the winner becoming No 1 contender for Phil Davis’ Lightheavyweight Title.

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Press Office…

LAKESIDE suffered last-gasp heartache as they were beaten 49-41 at the Isle of Wight on Thursday night.

The Vortex Hammers were denied a consolation point in a heat 15 decider as Ben Morley fell whilst looking to split Warriors’ duo Liam Carr and James Cockle.

It meant the visitors left Smallbrook empty handed – and team boss Kelvin Tatum admitted they were frustrated not to earn any Travel Plus National League points to show for their efforts.

Said Tatum: “To go down to the last race four points down and end up not getting anything is quite frustrating.

“Unfortunately there was a big advantage on gates one and three because of the track being slippery, and as hard as our two boys tried in the last race it was very hard to overtake. It was always going to be about the start and their two riders made it out of the gate.

“We put up a brave fight and there were plenty of positives, but it’s a shame we couldn’t come away with at least a point.”

Zach Wajtknecht top scored for the Hammers with a 14-point haul, whilst Alfie Bowtell also impressed to notch double figures.

No.2 George Hunter put in a strong showing, whilst Morley and reserve duo Nick Laurence and Jamie Couzins fought hard to contribute useful points.

But they eventually fell just short of a point in the absence of David Mason, who was ruled out once again with a head injury suffered last month.

The Vortex Hammers will be back in action on home shale when they welcome Mildenhall to the Arena-Essex Raceway next Friday, May 19 (8pm).

ISLE OF WIGHT 49: Liam Carr 14, James Cockle 13+1, Ben Wilson 9, Jamie Sealey 6+2, Chris Widman 6+1, Alex Spooner 1, Tyler Govier r/r.
LAKESIDE 41: Zach Wajtknecht 14, Alfie Bowtell 10+1, George Hunter 7+2, Ben Morley 5+1, Jamie Couzins 3+1, Nick Laurence 2, David Mason r/r.

National League points: Isle of Wight 3 Lakeside 0

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT & PREVIEW

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Press Office…

BELLE VUE 60 HAMMERS 30
LAKESIDE boss Kelvin Tatum admitted they were simply beaten by a better team after going down 60-30 at Belle Vue on Wednesday.

An impressive display from Zach Wajtknecht was not enough to prevent the Vortex Hammers from suffering a heavy defeat at the National Speedway Stadium.

The visitors managed just four race wins and ran 14 last places against the table-topping Colts.
Ben Morley and George Hunter delivered a race win apiece whilst Alfie Bowtell was in the thick of the action throughout.

But reserve duo Nick Laurence and Jamie Couzins struggled to make an impact against the powerhouse Colts.

Said Tatum: “It was always going to be a tough meeting, and so it proved unfortunately.
“They’re a strong side who are all dialled in around there, and they just had too much for us in the end.

“They were a better team, although we never threw in the towel and we kept battling until the end which was encouraging.”

BELLE VUE 60: Dan Bewley 14, Kyle Bickley 11+2, Lee Payne 10, Rob Shuttleworth 8, Jack Smith 7+3, Luke Woodhull 5+2, Andy Mellish 5+1.
LAKESIDE 30: Zach Wajtknecht 14, George Hunter 6, Alfie Bowtell 5, Ben Morley 4, Jamie Couzins 1, Nick Laurence 0, David Mason R/R.

Boss Kelvin Tatum is looking for an instant response from his side as they travel to the Isle of Wight on Thursday (7pm).

Said Tatum: “In some ways it’s ideal to have another meeting straight away after the tough night at Belle Vue.

“We’ve got a chance to put that one behind us and get back on track at the Isle of Wight, and I certainly think we’re capable of doing that.

“We’ll be looking to come back with something and put in a good performance, so hopefully it turns out to be an improved evening.”

The Hammers will be at full strength as they head to the Island, with David Mason set to return from his head injury in the engine room of the side.

Meanwhile, the Warriors will utilise rider replacement to cover for the injured Tyler Govier at No.2 whilst Liam Carr has been booked to guest at No.5 after Nathan Greaves left the club to join Ipswich.

ISLE OF WIGHT: Ben Wilson, Tyler Govier R/R, James Cockle, Chris Widman, Liam Carr, Jamie Sealey, Alex Spooner, Jamie Bursill (No.8).
LAKESIDE: Ben Morley, George Hunter, David Mason, Alfie Bowtell, Zach Wajtknecht, Jamie Couzins, Nick Laurence.

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

STAR man Ben Morley struck a stunning 15-point maximum as Lakeside edged a 49-41 victory over Belle Vue at the Arena Essex Raceway.

Morley went unbeaten from five rides and played the last heat hero as the Vortex Hammers battled to a hard-fought triumph.

It was a night to remember for the Purfleet outfit in their first home meeting in the Travel Plus National League.

And team boss Kelvin Tatum was delighted with the performance of his side.
Said Tatum: “We were under no illusions that they’d be a good side and that proved to be the case.

“Fortunately we managed to come out on top in a last heat decider, and that was a great result for us.

“It was a tough meeting but we managed to get the job done, and we’ll look forward to our next meeting now.”

Heat leader Zach Wajtknecht suffered just one defeat for the hosts as their top two powered them to victory.

David Mason and Alfie Bowtell delivered solid scores in the engine room of the side, whilst Nick Laurence also provided a race win.

And although George Hunter and Jamie Couzins struggled to make a major impact, they contributed a couple of points apiece to see their side over the line in a tight encounter.

LAKESIDE 49: Ben Morley 15, Zach Wajtknecht 12+1, Alfie Bowtell 7, David Mason 6+2, Nick Laurence 5, George Hunter 2, Jamie Couzins 2.
BELLE VUE 41: Kyle Bickley 12+1, Ben Hopwood 11, Dan Bewley 6, Jack Smith 4+3, Andy Mellish 4+1, Lee Payne 4+1, Luke Woodhull 0.

National League points: Lakeside 3 Belle Vue 0

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Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY NIGHT PREVIEW

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE entertain Belle Vue Colts at the Arena-Essex Raceway on Friday in a mouthwatering SGB National League clash (8pm).

The Vortex Hammers secured a consolation point in their league opener at Cradley on Monday and are looking to build on that in front of home fans.

However, they face a stern test against an in-form Colts side who have won both of their fixtures so far.

Hammers team boss Kelvin Tatum said: “We hope we can make our home advantage count on Friday – but it won’t be easy!

“Belle Vue have got off to a flyer this season and with the likes of Dan Bewley, Jack Smith, Lee Payne, Kyle Bickley and co they’ve got one of the strongest teams in the league.

“This could well be one of the meetings of the season at the Raceway and the fans should be in for a thrilling night of Speedway!”

The Hammers welcome back Zach Wajtknecht who missed Monday’s meeting due to SGB Premiership commitments.

Prior to the National League fixture, six junior races will also be taking place from approximately 7.30pm.

LAKESIDE: Ben Morley, George Hunter, David Mason, Alfie Bowtell, Zach Wajtknecht, Jamie Couzins, Nick Laurence.
BELLE VUE: Dan Bewley, Andy Mellish, Ben Hopwood (guest), Jack Smith, Lee Payne, Kyle Bickley, Luke Woodhull.

 

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Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE picked up a fully deserved consolation league point from their 48-42 defeat at Cradley on Monday.

The Vortex Hammers kept it relatively close throughout at Monmore Green before falling ten points behind with just four races to spare.

However, two crucial heat advantages from club No.1 Ben Morley and guest Nathan Greaves in those final four races saw the Hammers leave the Midlands with something to show for their efforts.

Team manager Kelvin Tatum said: “The riders should be very proud of their efforts tonight and it’s yet another encouraging sign from the team.

“After keeping them very honest in the first half of the meeting, they began to pull away from us a bit.

“But we gathered round, got things back on track and I think we really piled the pressure on them towards the end.

“Who knows, if it hadn’t been for a few falls or a few little errors, it could have been even more, but we’d have certainly taken a point before the meeting so we’ve got to be happy.”

Morley and Greaves sealed five race wins between them while David Mason scored seven points, despite a nasty looking fall in heat ten.

Jamie Couzins impressed once again at reserve while Alfie Bowtell produced a steady showing.

Nick Laurence plugged away in his three rides while George Hunter endured a night to forget against the Heathens.

The Hammers are back in action this Friday (May 5) when they host an in-form Belle Vue Colts side at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

CRADLEY 48: Danny Ayres 11, Tom Perry 9, Ryan Burton 8+2, Luke Harris 7+2, Dan Greenwood 7, Conor Dwyer 5, Joe Lawlor 1.
LAKESIDE 42: Ben Morley 13, Nathan Greaves 9+1, David Mason 7, Jamie Couzins 6+1, Alfie Bowtell 5+1, Nick Laurence 2+1, George Hunter 0.

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Lakeside Speedway – BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY PREVIEW

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

BUOYANT captain Ben Morley reckons Lakeside’s pre-season challenges on smaller tracks will help to hit Cradley hard at Monmore Green on Monday (approx 7.45pm).

The Hammers kick off their National League season against a side that has had mixed fortunes so far, thrashing King’s Lynn Young Stars and beating double champions Birmingham before disappointments against Mildenhall and at Eastbourne.

And Morley believes going for the jugular is the best option as the skipper looks to inspire a winning start.

“You have to look to hit them hard early,” said Morley. “We have a few meetings under our belts now and I feel we have been in good form.

“We have done a fair bit on smaller tracks, at places like Eastbourne and at home, so the preparation has been ideal. Hopefully, we can dial in straight away.

“If we can keep performing like we have in the past few meetings, there is every reason to think we can come away with a win.

“It has been good so far. Whenever anyone has had a duff ride someone has been there to pull one out of the bag, Alfie (Bowtell) has stepped up a few times.

“People are generally scoring points all the way through and it gives you confidence when you know that’s the case.”

Lakeside have secured the services of Nathan Greaves for the meeting.

It means the Vortex Hammers will now have a full 1-7 with Greaves standing in for Zach Wajtknecht who is on SGB Premiership duty with Swindon.

Greaves won the National League title with the Heathens in 2013 and 2014 and also rides for Wolverhampton in this year’s top flight.

Cradley are at full strength for a meeting that follows Wolverhampton’s Premiership clash with King’s Lynn (6pm).

Fans can take advantage of one fixed admission price for the double header. Supporters who only want to watch the Heathens meeting can enter through a separate turnstile, which opens at around 7.15pm, where normal Cradley admission prices apply.

Wolverhampton and Cradley will be selling their own programmes containing racecards for both meetings.

CRADLEY: Tom Perry, Conor Dwyer, Dan Greenwood, Luke Harris, Danny Ayres, Ryan Burton, Joe Lawlor.
LAKESIDE: Ben Morley, George Hunter, David Mason, Alfie Bowtell, Nathan Greaves, Jamie Couzins, Nick Laurence.

WOLVERHAMPTON admission prices to include both meetings
Adults – £18
Concessions* – £13
*Students/Senior Citizens (over 60)/Registered Disabled
Junior (age 13 to 18 incl) – £7
Child (age 6 to 12 incl) – £1
Children 5 and under admitted – FREE

HEATHENS admission prices from 7.15 approx:
Adults – £12
Concessions/Students – £10*
Juniors 13-18 – £5
Children – £2
*Start aged 60 and also include the disabled.

 

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Lakeside Speedway – HAMMERS TAKE TROPHY

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE rounded off their challenge fixtures as they beat Kent 47-43 at The Arena Essex Raceway.

It wrapped up a 93-86 aggregate triumph against the Kings as the Vortex Hammers sealed the Tunnel Trophy.

It means Lakeside have won three out of their four matches and Team Manager Kelvin Tatum has described the meetings as “very beneficial” ahead of their National League opener away to Cradley at Wolves on Bank Holiday Monday (May 1).

Said Tatum: “Tonight was another good meeting for us and it certainly had everyone in the stadium on tenterhooks for its duration. Kent kept us very honest and kept us on our toes but the 4-2 in Heat 14 from Alfie Bowtell and Jamie Couzins was very timely indeed.”

“It’s three wins out of four altogether and two out of two on home shale so we couldn’t ask for much more overall! These four challenge fixtures have been very useful for everyone involved with the club this year.

You always learn the true facts about individuals when they’re in a true racing scenario and a competitive environment. Everyone will learn with every ride and every meeting they do and that’s part of the excitement in this league. There are plenty of positives to take from these four meetings – now bring on the Heathens at Monmore Green at the start of next month!”

Hammers No.1 Ben Morley continued his super early season form while club favourite Paul Hurry performed like he’s never been away, scoring double figures and recording two race wins on his first appearance in the claret and blue for seven years.

David Mason contributed four, solid second places while Alfie Bowtell and George Hunter both put in improved, encouraging displays.

Jamie Couzins again did his job at reserve while it was another night of learning for Nick Laurence.

TUNNEL TROPHY, 2nd leg
LAKESIDE 47 (Paul Hurry 11+1, Ben Morley 11+1, David Mason 8, Alfie Bowtell 6+3, George Hunter 6+2, Jamie Couzins 4, Nick Laurence 1+1
KENT 43:   Luke Bowen 15, Ben Hopwood 10, Alex Spooner 7, Jack Thomas 4+2, Bradley Andrews 4+1, Nathan Stoneman 3, Luke Clifton 0

Lakeside win 93-86 on aggregate

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Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY PREVIEW

Arena Essex

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

FANS favourite Paul Hurry will be back in Hammers colours on Friday – seven years after he last rode for the club (8pm).
Lakeside host Kent at The Arena Essex Raceway in the second leg of the Tunnel Trophy – in which they hold a 46-43 aggregate lead after Monday’s victory at Central Park.

With Zach Wajtknecht on SGB Premiership duty with Swindon, the Vortex Lakeside Hammers have opted to use 42-year-old Hurry in the No.5 position.

He said: “It’s going to be a great occasion and I really cannot wait! I’ve been through a hell of a lot but I’ve always stayed pretty close to the sport. I’m definitely no stranger to the raceway and I’ve been getting a few laps in.”
“Kent are a pretty solid side so it should be a great meeting for the fans to come and watch. I’m just going to enjoy the night – but of course I’d love to get a good score and help the team win as well!”
The Hammers look set to welcome back George Hunter after sitting out of Monday’s first leg.

They will also hand Jamie Couzins another opportunity to impress at reserve after a solid showing in the away fixture earlier this week.

Kent include experienced campaigners Luke Bowen and Ben Hopwood as well as 2017 British Under-21 finalist Nathan Stoneman.

There will also be six junior races prior to the start of the main event, with the youngsters expected to take to the track around 7.30.

LAKESIDE: Ben Morley, George Hunter, David Mason, Alfie Bowtell, Paul Hurry, Jamie Couzins, Nick Laurence.
KENT: Luke Bowen, Luke Clifton, Ben Hopwood, Jack Thomas, Nathan Stoneman, Bradley Andrews, Alex Spooner.

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Lakeside Speedway – Hammers Win Tunnel Trophy First Leg

Arena Essex

Latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE co-promoter Jon Cook heaped praise on his side after they edged a 46-43 away win at Kent on Monday.
The Vortex Hammers continued their encouraging start to life at National League level with a hard-fought victory over the Kings in the first leg of their Tunnel Trophy tie.

Top two Ben Morley and Zach Wajtknecht both starred but it was a superb all-around team effort from the Purfleet outfit.

They will now carry a narrow lead into the second leg at the Arena-Essex Raceway on Friday (8pm) – and Cook has been delighted with a positive start to their new era.

Said Cook: “It was lovely to get an away win so early in the season, and it was a great effort from the team.

“It was a real team effort from the six riders, and it’ll hopefully be a feature of the season that Ben Morley and Zach Wajtknecht can get the job done in the big heats at the end.

“Alfie Bowtell in particular has been impressive and a bit of an unsung hero in our first three fixtures, but I think we’ve got off to a really positive start.

“Obviously Kent will come to our place wanting to turn us over on Friday, but we’re looking forward to an exciting match.

“In the meantime we can bask in the glory of a great away win and hopefully take that momentum into the second leg.”

KENT 43: Luke Bowen 15, Ben Hopwood 9+1, Luke Clifton 6+1, Jack Thomas 6+1, Alex Spooner 3+1, Bradley Andrews 3, Nathan Stoneman 1.
LAKESIDE 46: Zach Wajtknecht 12, Ben Morley 10+2, Alfie Bowtell 8+1, David Mason 8, Jamie Couzins 6+3, Nick Laurence 2, George Hunter r/r.

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Essex Senior League Kick It Out

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Scott Lanza reports…

The Essex Senior League has partnered with Kick It Out to hold a Kick It Out of football anti- racism and discrimination day at each of the following games on Saturday 22nd April 2017:-

Basildon United v FC Romania

Southend Manor v Barking

Clapton v Burnham Ramblers

A number of local children have been invited along to have mini training sessions before the matches and enjoy the games.  At half time the kids will have a mini football match in front of the crowds. The players will greet the children and they will be treated like ‘little mascots’ for the day!

A league representative will be present at each venue to oversee the smooth running of the event. The event is being held to encourage the local communities to come together against all forms of discrimination and to have ‘FUN in and with FOOTBALL’ locally.

The children will receive a small goodie bag as a thank you for taking part. It’s hoped that they all have such a good time that they will want to come and be part of the home club’s setup by either playing for them, getting involved with their local team or by supporting them in the future.

Each home club has devised special reduced entrance rates for adults attending with a participating child.

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Lakeside Speedway – HAMMERS DUO SHINE IN TROPHY DEFEAT

Friday’s meeting was in memory of one of the club’s all-time great riders, Lee Richardson, who also raced for Eastbourn. The fifth anniversary of his passing following a crash in Poland is fast approaching.

Friday’s meeting was in memory of one of the club’s all-time great riders, Lee Richardson, who also raced for Eastbourne. The fifth anniversary of his passing following a crash in Poland is fast approaching.

The latest news from Lakeside Speedway…

Brilliant British youngster Zach Wajtknecht has already formed a formidable partnership with Ben Morley at Lakeside.

Bristol-based Wajtknecht, who is also racing for Premiership side Swindon this season, dropped just one point to an opposing rider over two meetings with Eastbourne on Good Friday.

Sadly for the Vortex Hammers, they didn’t have enough strength in depth to win the Lee Richardson Memorial Trophy despite a home win in the opening meeting of the season at the Arena-Essex Raceway which pulled in a bumper crowd.

The leading duo piled up a total of 58-points over the two meetings but Hammers missed out to a stronger lower Eagles order.

Said Wajtknecht: “For me to drop only one point over two meetings is very, very pleasing.

“Ben was brilliant too, we scored a lot of points between us for the team and it’s a great way for me to start the National League season.

“I’m fairly happy with my start to the season overall, now I have to keep it going.”

Hammers go to Kent in more challenge action on Monday (3pm) before the return at Arena-Essex next Friday at 8pm.

LEE RICHARDSON MEMORIAL TROPHY, 1st leg
LAKESIDE 48: Ben Morley 15, Zach Wajtknecht 13+2, David Mason 11, Nick Laurence 3, Ryan MacDonald 2+1, Alfie Bowtell 2+1, George Hunter 2.
EASTBOURNE 42: Tom Brennan 9+2, Matt Bates 9, Georgie Wood 8, Mark Baseby 7, Connor Coles 4+4, Charley Powell 3+1, Kelsey Dugard 2+1.

LEE RICHARDSON MEMORIAL TROPHY, 2nd leg
EASTBOURNE 51: Tom Brennan 10+1, Georgie Wood 9, Connor Coles 8+2, Mark Baseby 7, Charley Powell 6+3, Matt Bates 6+1, Kelsey Dugard 5+2.
LAKESIDE 39: Zach Wajtknecht 14, Ben Morley 12+2, Alfie Bowtell 7, George Hunter 2+1, David Mason 2+1, Nick Laurence 2, Ryan MacDonald 0.

Eastbourne win 93-87 on aggregate

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Lakeside Speedway – Friday Preview

A bumper crowd is expected for Friday’s meeting in memory of one of the club’s all-time great riders. Lee Richardson also raced for Eastbourne and the fifth anniversary of his passing following a crash in Poland is fast approaching.

A bumper crowd is expected for Friday’s meeting in memory of one of the club’s all-time great riders. Lee Richardson also raced for Eastbourne and the fifth anniversary of his passing following a crash in Poland is fast approaching.

The latest news courtesy of Lakeside Speedway…

Lakeside boss Kelvin Tatum admits they have been counting down the days to their blockbuster season-opener against Eastbourne on Good Friday.
The Vortex Hammers will renew their old rivalry with the Eagles as they do battle twice over the course of the day.

The two sides will meet at the Arena-Essex Raceway at 1pm before heading down to Arlington for the second leg at 7.30.

With the Lee Richardson Memorial Trophy up for grabs, supporters are set to be in for some exciting action.

And Tatum says they can’t wait to finally get a new era for the club underway on a busy day of action.

“We’ve been looking forward to this weekend for some time,” Tatum said. “It’s a great way to kick-off the season, against the old enemy, and it’s looking like being a fantastic day.

“We don’t have any real idea of where we stand at the moment, so we should come out of Friday with a better idea of how we stack up in the scheme of things.

“The weather forecast is looking clear, and with both teams battling for the Lee Richardson Memorial Trophy I’m sure we’ll get two very entertaining meetings.”

Meanwhile, the Hammers will hand Ryan MacDonald their No.7 race jacket after the Scottish youngster impressed at their press and practice day on Thursday.

Tatum commented: “Ryan showed good pace, and he improved with every lap at a tricky circuit which was new to him.

“His pace was very encouraging, and the fact he’s made the effort to come all the way from Glasgow shows how much he wants to ride for the club.

“We’ll give him the No.7 race jacket for this weekend against Eastbourne, and then we’ll take things from there.”

LAKESIDE: Ben Morley, George Hunter, David Mason, Alfie Bowtell, Zach Wajtknecht, Nick Laurence, Ryan MacDonald.

EASTBOURNE: Mark Baseby, Kelsey Dugard, Connor Coles, Mattie Bates, Georgie Wood, Charley Powell, Tom Brennan.

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Bennett Wins Leopards Award

Dougie Bennett receives the 2016/17 MVP award from Paul Levett;

Dougie Bennett receives the 2016/17 MVP award from Paul Levett;

Dave Ryan reports…

Dougie Bennett collected an award for the second successive season as he was voted Levett Essex Leopards Most Valuable player for the 2016/17 season.

The Brentwood-based guard won the club’s Most Improved Player award in 2015/16 but went one better this season as the club’s supporters voted for him as player of the year.

Despite missing most of the second half of the season, veteran forward Mike Martin finished second with American guard AJ Roberts finishing third.

General manager Dave Ryan had praise for Bennett: “Dougie’s really improved over the last two years, and with Mike out injured he stepped up and took on the responsibility of being captain. I’m really pleased that our fans have recognised that.”

Forward Jamie Hayes collected the Most Improved Player trophy – which was decided by former coach Steve Ogunjimi and assistant Roger Malpass – after a season that saw him gain a regular spot in the starting line-up.

Bennett obviously has the taste for silverware as he picked up the Levett Challenge Cup following Sunday’s 81-60 victory against Oaklands Wolves at the Brentwood Centre.

Led by game MVP Shaq Lewis, the Big Cats never trailed in the game but the young Oaklands players – several of whom are likely to be in contention for a place on Leopards’ bench next season – never gave up and provided an entertaining game for another big crowd at Brentwood.

 

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Church Lands British Challenge Belt Fight

DC

Tim Rickson reports…

June 10th at London’s York Hall will see Essex light-heavyweight prospect ‘Dazzling’ Darrel Church (4-1-1) in a bid to win his first professional title – the British Challenge light-heavyweight belt.

The eight-round contest will take place on the undercard of the eagerly-awaited Southern Area title clash between promising lightweights Jamie Arlain and Adam Dingsdale at the renowned East End venue.

A father of one and a business owner, Church previously struggled to balance training with work and withdrew from fights due to illnesses and injuries brought on by exhaustion.

He slipped to a loss against Angelo Crowe (2-6) in 2015 after initially kicking off his pro career with two straight wins when previously signed to Carl Greaves Promotions.

Inactive spells spanning over 10 months were at blame for the defeat and a subsequent draw on his peppered record but Church has recently reeled off two wins in under four months since being signed to Goodwin Promotions.

The 27-year-old from Witham was desperate to stay active following the lengthy spells of inactivity and unexpected blemishes upon his record, and, with the help of full-time sponsors MB Surfacing, has now managed to secure his third fight in six months.

Back to back wins in December and April have helped to set up his first fight with a belt on the line on the 23rd weekend of the year.

Church, trained by Mark Massow, commented on the forthcoming opportunity, “I’m over the moon to finally fight for a title in the professional ranks!

“I’ve put so much into the game, I’ve made so many sacrifices and it’s now come down to this, to get my hands on a belt.

“I’m going to be in with a very tough opponent and it’s going to be an absolute cracker!”

Colossus

The packed show, aptly titled ‘Colossus’, features 11 unbeaten prospects, the final of The Fight Cup between cruiserweights Danny Couzens (8-10-2) and Ossie Jervier (4-2), and will be headlined by the mouth-watering, eagerly-awaited Southern Area title fight between promising prospect Jamie Arlain (5-0) and former Area champion Adam Dingsdale (16-3).

For tickets to the show contact Team Church on 07938 878 962

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Middleweights Stokes and Hilz to Clash for British Challenge Belt

The Next Step

Tim Rickson reports…

Middleweights Tom Stokes (8-0) and Paul Hilz (3-2) will face off on May 12th for the British Challenge belt at the Holiday Inn, Birmingham.

The pair will meet at 160lbs over eight three-minute rounds on the Black Country Boxing Promotions event titled, ‘The Next Step’.

Both fighters have won different versions of the Challenge belt already – Essex boxer Hilz triumphed over Lewis van Poetsch (4-46) on points to claim the International Challenge belt at super-middleweight last September and West Bromwich’s Stokes defeated Cristian Hoskin-Gomez (5-20-3), also on points, at the Holiday Inn in December.

The aforementioned Lewis Van Poetsch represents a shared opponent – Stokes won all four rounds in his points victory over the journeyman last July at Walsall Town Hall.

This will provide Hilz, 35-years-old from Basildon, with his first fight at middleweight having started his career at light-heavyweight, then competing for the last few years at super-middle.

Tom-Stokes v Kieron-Gray (1)

Stokes, 22-years-old, is used to mixing it with heavier fighters, having experienced many rounds of sparring with super-middleweight Lennox Clarke from nearby Halesowen.

A former Wednesbury ABC fighter, young Stokes has been relatively pleased with the start he has made in the paid ranks but is looking to push on in the coming months, he said, “I was hoping for the Midlands Area title fight next but it wasn’t to be so I’ll be looking for that later this year.

“I just want to get that Midlands Area title round my waist to get my name out there then hopefully jump on one of these big shows around Birmingham soon.”

Paul Hilz International Challenge Belt

Hilz joined boxing late but took to the sport quickly, enjoying a successful stint in the thriving unlicensed boxing scene in Essex, winning 12 of his 14 fights and collecting the IBA British and European cruiserweight titles along the way.

The 35-year-old father of four is trained by Kevin Lilley and managed by Carl Greaves.

He commented on the forthcoming fight, “My team have had a few phone calls with offers so I’ve been staying ready for the right opportunity.

“Basically, I chose this fight because it’s for another title and I believe I’ll be the winner.

“On paper, Tommy looks a better boxer than me but I’m confident and I’m coming to win with the best mind-set.

“My fitness is always great as I’d hate to be in there asking for it. In all my years in boxing I’ve learnt that if you’ve got nothing there but your fitness then the battle is half won.”

Hilz has the advantage of living close by to the Matchroom Gym in Hainault and benefits from top level sparring there.

“This week I’ve sparred with English title contender Joe Mullender and his workrate and tank is something else!” he confirmed. “I’ve already sparred with the likes of John Ryder and Craig Richards and I’ll actually be going away for a mini-camp to hit the roads and really get my head down.”

The Next Step will showcase a crop of unbeaten prospects in Josh Stokes (1-0); Leon Gower (3-0); and Lauren ‘Black Widow’ Johnson (1-0).

Former IBF World cruiserweight champion Glen McCrory will be in attendance as a guest speaker at the show.
For tickets to the next show please call 07956 723 636

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Darrel Church Improves Record with Points Win

DC 6th pro fight

Tim Rickson reports…

Light-heavyweight prospect ‘Dazzling’ Darrel Church (4-1-1) recorded his fourth win from six professional bouts with a points victory over larger opponent Josef Obeslo (6-33-3) at the Skylark Hotel in Southend on April 1st.

The 27-year-old from Witham improved his record and further increased his ranking in the competitive 175-pound division on the Warrior Boxing Promotions event.

Obeslo, 28-years-old from Hradec Kralove, weighed in over six-pounds above the agreed limit, giving the European a big advantage on the night.

Church was disappointed at the weight difference but had no intention of withdrawing from the fight despite his heftier opponent recording four first-round knockouts during his six-year-long career and his last win taking just 35 seconds to deliver.

He said, “He weighed in over six pounds heavier than me, which is almost half a stone, and I was angry about it at first, but I’d fight anyone so I accepted it like a professional and moved on.

“Full credit to my opponent as he was right up for it and desperately wanted to win.”

Church out-jabbed his opponent and couldn’t fail to land his counter left hook all night, although Obeslo made it a hard fight by constantly pressing forward and throwing punches.

The victor commented on his performance, “I’ve had nothing but good feedback from every person I’ve spoken to.  Most said that it was the best they’ve seen me fight.

“It was a very small ring, not the size that I am used to but everything went right for me in there on the night. I had to do a bit of everything – I boxed, went toe to toe when I had to and stuck it on him a bit.

“I got the job done, my record has improved and my ranking has increased higher, so it’s onwards and upwards.”

DC and Josef Obeslo

Church, trained by respected coach Mark Massow, now looks ahead to June 10th for his next fight on the undercard of the eagerly-awaited Southern Area title clash between promising lightweights Jamie Arlain and Adam Dingsdale at the famed York Hall.

“My next fight is June 10th back at York Hall again,” Church confirmed. “It’ll be my last four rounder before I move up to bigger fights.

“I’ve had this week off from training but I’m back in the gym next week which gives me a nine-week training camp.”

A father of one and a business owner, Church previously struggled to balance training with work and slipped to a loss against Angelo Crowe (2-6) in 2015 after initially kicking off his pro career with two straight wins when previously signed to Carl Greaves Promotions.

Inactive spells spanning over 10 months were to blame for the defeat and subsequent draw on his peppered record but has recently reeled off two wins in under four months since being signed to Goodwin Promotions.

“I’ve got a meeting with my manager Steve Goodwin coming up and we’ll be looking at a few options that are available to me at the moment, so it’s an exciting time.

“The British Challenge belt fight could be on the cards soon; I set myself the goal of fighting for that belt at the start of the year and I’ve already received an offer, so I’m exceeding expectations already.”

For tickets to the show contact Team Church on 07938 878 962

 

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Main Objective to Make Presence Felt in Division 1

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Local media descended on The Cloudfm County Ground today as Essex CCC launched their County season, ahead of Friday’s opening game against Lancashire.

The team were promoted to Division 1 last season and face a tough challenge to stay up, but Head Coach Chris Silverwood is simply looking to make the team’s presence felt.

 

Club Captain Ryan ten Doeschate wouldn’t be drawn on survival either, and equally remained coy on who would take the wicketkeeper’s gloves.

 

England’s Alastair Cook is available for the beginning of the County Summer, but unfortunately will be missing Friday’s fixture through injury.

 

There are also a number of new faces around the team this season, including New Zealand seamer Neil Wagner, who could face his former County on Friday.

 

Essex kick off the season in County Championship action on Friday, as they play host to Lancashire at Chelmsford.  Play starts at 11am on all 4 days.

 

 

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Baker Confirmed as Leopards’ Coach

Essex Leopards v Leicester Warriors 12 Mar 2017; Leopards new coach Tom Baker;

Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards are delighted to announce that Thomas Baker will remain as the club’s coach for the 2017/18 season.

The 27-year-old play-caller was thrown in at the deep end when he took over the job with four games remaining, and although three heart-wrenching defeats in four games – along with a thrilling double overtime win at Worthing – saw the Big Cats suffer relegation, Leopards’ board of directors had no hesitation in handing him the job for next season:

“We’ve been really impressed with how Tom handled a difficult situation” said general manager Dave Ryan.

“To come in with four games to go when we were a terrible losing streak and make such a positive difference left us in no doubt that he was the right man for the job.

“He commanded respect from the players but also gave them a chance to express themselves. The team spirit in those last few games was greatly improved and they showed a lot of guts to get the win at Worthing after the heartbreak of relegation in Lancashire.

“We now have a long summer ahead of us to build a team that will bounce straight back and bring silverware to the Leopards.

“Tom’s appointment strengthens our links with Oaklands Academy and shows the benefits of the two organisations working together.”

Baker played basketball at East Durham College before moving into coaching in 2009, and joined Oaklands Basketball Academy as Performance Analyst/Academy Coach in 2012. He graduated from University of Hertfordshire in 2012 and was Performance Analyst of England under-18 women’s team between 2012-2015. He has also been regional East under-15 and under-17 Head Coach since 2013.
Michael Ball, Oaklands’ Director of Basketball, is delighted that Baker will coach the Leopards during 2017/18: “I could see that Thomas truly enjoyed the last four games of this season and that the players and fans responded positively to his approach. I know that he is going to be looking at an exciting mix of young talent together with some experienced players.

“It is really positive that a young English coach is getting this opportunity and that more of our performance players at Oaklands College basketball academy are going to get the chance to be part of the future of the Leopards.”

tomandroger

Baker is raring to go in his new job: “It’s a great feeling for me right now,” he said “I thoroughly enjoyed the four games I had at the end of this season with Leopards, and I felt like even though we didn’t get the results we needed that we are still capable of competing at the Division One level.

“It was a great experience to see what basketball is like in Division One and having been involved in national teams previously I was no stranger to scouting and the detail that must go into preparation before these games. The feeling at the end of the season was we all wanted more games together so to know that I will be coming back next year is great.
“Preparation for next season starts now. It is important we are all aware of the task ahead and whilst I feel we can get promoted straight away back to Division One, no one is going to come out and roll over next season, so we must have a good off-season and hit the ground running in pre-season and be ready to come together and compete in every single game.

“Players must be ready to be held accountable to the decisions they make and also we must all work together collectively to continue to improve each and every game.
“The team behind the scenes at Leopards have done an outstanding job building a fantastic team and matchday environment over a number of years now and being a highly ambitious coach I can’t wait to carry on that work. it is going to be a pleasure to lead the team during next year in Division Two and I am confident we will be back where we belong in no time.

“I want to help the club bring back performances that will excite the fans and continue to raise the profile of what is already a well established club in the British game.”

There’s one more chance to watch Leopards under their new coach when Oaklands Wolves are the visitors to the Brentwood  Centre on Sunday April 9. There are still a few places left on the pre-game coaching clinic (2.00-3.30pm), so book today!

 

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Phoenix FM 10th birthday: Laura Try

You can hear the interview again here:


Atlantic-rower-in-training Laura Try came down to Phoenix FM’s 10th birthday broadcast at the Holiday Inn in Brentwood to talk about her amazing plans to complete not one but two rowing marathons this year!

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Laura explained how she felt her life was too stressful and materialistic and started a series of events which will be taking her on two challenges:

  • To row 1,800 miles around the coast of Great Britain with Rannoch Adventure in June 2017
  • To row across the Atlantic ocean in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December 2017

You can sponsor Laura and keep an eye on her progress at her official website.

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Laura’s also all over social media and you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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Darrel Church’s Next Opponent Confirmed as Josef Obeslo

Chuch v Obeslo

Tim Rickson reports…

Essex light-heavyweight prospect Darrel Church’s (3-1-1) next opponent has been confirmed as Czech boxer Josef Obeslo (6-32-3).

The 175-pounder from Witham will face the European puncher on April 1st in Southend on a Warrior Boxing Promotions event.

Despite his losing record, the 28-year-old from Hradec Kralove has four first-round knockouts on his ledger, taking the unbeaten record of one of his victims in Denmark in 2013, and his last win in February 2015 took just 35 seconds to deliver.

Church’s teammate Sam Stokes defeated Obeslo on his pro debut back in July 2014 at the Camden Centre in Kings Cross, so is on hand to offer any advice.

“My teammate Sam Stokes fought him on his debut and he said to me that he always comes to win,” said Church. “That’s exactly what I want in an opponent, someone to come looking for a win, who’s confident and throwing shots at me.”

Church was due to face Richard Harrison (2-13) at London’s York Hall on March 11th but fell ill in the days preceding the event titled ‘Knuckle 2 Knuckle’ that saw underdog Chris Hobbs (6-1-1) defeat favourite Jordan Joseph (6-1-1) on points to win the Southern Area light-heavyweight title.

The 27-year-old Essex boxer was initially devastated at his situation after an eight-week training camp but manager Steve Goodwin came up trumps immediately by landing his light-heavyweight charge with a new fight date just three week’s later at the local show in Southend.

“I’m going away to Portugal this week to train hard in the heat to finish off my training camp,” Church confirmed. “It’s been a long camp, having had my fight moved from March to April, but I couldn’t be happier with how it’s all gone.

“It’s nice and local for everyone to get to at The Skylark Hotel in Southend so, hopefully, everyone will get behind me and I’ll get another win on my record and push on to bigger and better fights next.

“I’m looking finish the year with a British Challenge belt.”

It’ll be Church’s sixth fight in his two-and-a-half year-long professional career, back in his home county of Essex where he originally began his prize-fighting journey following an unbeaten stint in the unlicensed scene.

The Witham resident, trained by Mark Massow, first debuted back in 2014 at the Grays Civic Hall when signed to Carl Greaves Promotions and ended his inaugural year undefeated with two wins on his ledger.

Those bouts were just four months apart but, since then, he has endured inactive spells spanning over 10 months and only managed to fight once during 2015, suffering a shock defeat to Angelo Crowe (2-6).

A long-awaited reappearance came in April 2016 at the York Hall against Mitch Mitchell (7-54-3), ending in a hard-fought draw.

The Essex boxer, who counts Anthony Yarde as a sparring partner, then got back to winning ways against Croatian Toni Bilic (1-6) on December 3rd at the same East End venue.

Church plans to move up to six-rounds after his April 1st fight before aiming for a British Challenge belt towards the end of the year.

April 1st

The five-fight card promoted by Warrior Boxing Promotions will also feature highly-rated unbeaten welterweight prospect Kian Thomas (7-0) in a six-round contest.

The 25-year-old from Kentish Town will complete his second year in the pro ranks on April 1st with his eighth paid contest and looks set to challenge for silverware in 2017.

Super-welterweight Davis Pagan (3-1) is back in his fifth pro fight after avenging his sole career loss in his last outing.

The 26-year-old from Basildon defeated his former conqueror Sonny Whiting on points in February to right the wrong on his record. This will be his first fight away from the York Hall in London.

Debutant Sam Mason makes his pro bow in a four-round super-lightweight contest.

For tickets to the show contact Team Church on 07938 878 962

 

 

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Ryan: “We’ll Bounce Straight Back”

tomandroger

Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards general manager Dave Ryan has vowed that the Big Cats will immediately bounce back after a heart-breaking weekend saw them relegated from NBL Division One.

Saturday saw Leopards lead for 39 of the 40 minutes in regulation time at London Lituanica before losing 88-83 in double overtime before a buzzer beater saw them go down 83-82 at Lancashire Spinners.

The Big Cats now face their first season in Division Two in their 13 year history, but Ryan is determined that his side will make a swift return to the top flight:

“It’s absolutely shattering” he admitted. “I can’t fault the players for their effort in the last three games since we had to change coach, they gave everything but we came up just short both times.

“The atmosphere in the locker room afterwards was unbelievable, it’s easy to exaggerate things but it was like someone died. To see the ball go through the hoop with nothing left on the clock was heart-breaking. I’ve been a supporter of football and basketball since I was a kid – and I’ve certainly cried before –  but nothing has ever felt that bad.

“But we have no right to stay up, we have no right to win games. What we have to do now is regroup, get better and make sure we bounce back immediately – no excuses, we just have to come straight back.

“We’d already spent a lot of time building for next season, making changes we felt were necessary and trying to improve things on the court.

Essex Leopards v Leicester Warriors 12 Mar 2017; Leopards new coach Tom Baker;

“It’s not arrogant to say we have had the best game-day experience in Division One this season, all the work a lot of people have put in has paid off in that respect with the biggest crowds in the league and reaching the point we had to turn kids away from the pre-game coaching because there was too many of them to fit on the court.

“Now we have to make sure that not only do we have the best club in Division Two but we also have the best team and come straight back with silverware to show for our efforts.

“AJ [Roberts – Leopards’ American guard] said after the game ‘I’m not going out like that, I’m coming back to get us back where we belong’ – that’s the attitude we have to have.”

Ryan had praise for new coach Thomas Baker who stepped in after Leopards and Steve Ogunjimi agreed to part company a fortnight ago: “Tom’s been great. Talk about being chucked in the deep end without armbands, but he’s been up to the challenge.

“Ultimately three season-ending injuries to players who would’ve been starting killed us.

“We’ll sit down and talk with Oaklands about next season, our partnership with them is vital to our club and will only make us better, but I hope he’s going to continue to be part of Leopards next season.”

The Big Cats wrap up their season with a trip to Worthing on Saturday.

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Massive Weekend for Leopards

Essex Leopards v Leicester Warriors 12 Mar 2017; Dougie Bennett;

Dave Ryan reports…

It’s now or never for Levett Essex Leopards as they face a pair of games on the road over the weekend.

The Big Cats travel to UEL Sports Dock on Saturday (5pm) to face London Lituanica before moving on to Lancashire Spinners on Sunday afternoon (3pm).

Following Sunday’s 68-66 home defeat against Leicester Warriors, the Big Cats are staring relegation in the face and go into their final three games – all away from home – knowing that they may need to win them all to avoid the drop.

The Lithuanians have struggled with player availability, taking only five players  to Solent last weekend, but they managed to bring a full team to Harlow Leisurezone in December and they finished strongly to win 74-70. The sides also met in the National Trophy group stage, with the Big Cats winning a thriller 68-67.

History may be on Leopards’ side as they will look to continue a run of games between the clubs that has seen the visiting team take the victory in the eight match-ups between them.

Essex Leopards v Leicester Warriors 12 Mar 2017; Shaq Lewis drives

Sunday’s game is absolutely crucial as Leopards face a team who are two places above them in 11th place having won six of their 22 games.

The Big Cats had another one-point win against Spinners when they met at Brentwood just before Christmas, and a win at Myerscough College would give them the head-to-head tiebreaker if they finished level with the Lancashire side.

Essex Leopards v Leicester Warriors 12 Mar 2017; Caleb Tabenar

While they’ve won their share of close games, Sunday’s loss against Leicester proved to be a heartbreaker as a key call with 41 seconds remaining on the clock saw AJ Roberts foul out on an offensive call, and the visitors held on for the win.

In front of another big crowd at Brentwood, the home side trailed 16-14 at the first break, and although a  Roberts trey put his side up by one at the start of the second period, the visitors reeled off 11 straight points to take a commanding 29-17 lead

But a trey from Caleb Tabiner launched a 14-1 run and seven straight points from Roberts sent his side into the locker room with a 31-30 half-time lead.

Justin Hitchman opened the second half scoring before a four minute drought saw Warriors score 12 unanswered points to open a nine point lead.

Perry Lawson ended the run with a trey, and with Dougie Bennett scoring five points and Roberts also scoring from long range, Leopards closed out the period on a 15-7 run to only trail by one at the final break.

A Shaq Lewis free-throw saw Leopards regain the lead early in the fourth period and Hitchman again take a one point lead going into the last minute before Warriors finished strongly, and with Roberts fouling out, Lawson’s late trey was too late to prevent an 11th straight loss.

Roberts led his side with 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, while Lewis had 12 points and four boards in probably his best performance of the season.

Bennett added 11 points while Hayes finished with ten points and seven rebounds.

 

 

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Darrel Church Fight Date Switched to April 1

DC v AC1 (1)

Tim Rickson reports…

A last-minute withdrawal has seen light-heavyweight prospect Darrel Church’s (3-1-1) next fight switched to April 1st in Southend.

‘Dazzling’ was due to face Richard Harrison (2-13) at London’s York Hall on March 11th but fell ill in the days preceding the event titled ‘Knuckle 2 Knuckle’ that saw underdog Chris Hobbs (6-1-1) defeat favourite Jordan Joseph (6-1-1) on points to win the Southern Area light-heavyweight title.

The 27-year-old Essex boxer was initially devastated at his situation after an eight-week training camp but manager Steve Goodwin came up trumps by landing his light-heavyweight charge with a new fight date just three week’s later at a local show in Southend.

The 175-pounder from Witham will now fight on a Warrior Boxing Promotions show at the Skylark Hotel in Southend on April Fool’s Day.

He said, “It’s all turned out alright in the end! I woke up last Friday in a terrible state, I felt horrendous and I just couldn’t believe it but I was too ill to do anything.

“All over the weekend I felt terrible but, luckily, it couldn’t have worked out any better, in the end. I’m now fighting on a local Essex show on April 1st instead, so I’m actually quite happy after all.

“My manager Steve Goodwin jumped straight on it for me so I was really happy with how quick he responded.”

It’ll be Church’s sixth fight in his two-and-a-half year-long professional career, back in his home county of Essex where he originally began his prize-fighting journey following an unbeaten stint in the unlicensed scene.

The Witham resident first debuted back in 2014 at the Grays Civic Hall when signed to Carl Greaves and ended his inaugural year undefeated with two wins on his ledger.

Those bouts were just four months apart but, since then, he has endured inactive spells spanning over 10 months and only managed to fight once during 2015, suffering a shock defeat to Angelo Crowe (2-6).

A long-awaited reappearance came in April 2016 at the York Hall against Mitch Mitchell (7-54-3), the pair sharing the honours in a hard-fought draw.

The Essex boxer then got back to winning ways to secure his third win in his fifth pro bout against Croatian Toni Bilic (1-6) on December 3rd at the same East End venue.

“People say that things happen for a reason and, on this occasion, I actually think that’s right,” he continued to say. “It’s not the famous York Hall but it’s local and I’m really looking forward to it!

“My opponent will be different to Richard Harrison, who I was previously due to face, so my team are looking for another at the moment, but I’m not fussed who it is – I’ll fight anyone.”

The former unlicensed star benefits from top sparring at a nearby army barracks in Colchester due to trainer Mark Massow’s connections as an ex-Paratrooper. He also frequents the Peacock Gym to spar with Frank Warren’s undefeated prospect Anthony Yarde.

Church plans to move up to six-rounds after his April 1st fight before aiming for a British Challenge belt towards the end of the year.

April 1st

The five-fight card promoted by Warrior Boxing Promotions will also feature highly-rated unbeaten welterweight prospect Kian Thomas (7-0) in a six-round contest.

The 25-year-old from Kentish Town will complete his second year in the pro ranks on April 1st with his eighth paid contest.

In his last outing, he knocked out Central Area contender Ryan Hardy in the sixth and final round with that powerful right hand of his.

Rocketing up the rankings with a few six-rounders under his belt, Thomas looks set to challenge for silverware in 2017.

Super-welterweight Davis Pagan (3-1) is back in his fifth pro fight after avenging his sole career loss in his last outing.

The 26-year-old from Basildon defeated his former conqueror Sonny Whiting on points in February to right the wrong on his record. This will be his first fight away from the York Hall in London.

Debutant Sam Mason makes his pro bow in a four-round super-lightweight contest.

For tickets to the show contact Team Church on 07938 878 962

 

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Leopards Look for Home Comforts

Essex Leopards v Hemel Storm 05 Mar 2017; Mike Martin;

Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards will look to round off their home campaign with a win when they host Leicester Warriors at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday, tip-off 4pm.

The Big Cats are desperately in need of a win after another disappointing weekend and with four games remaining know that a victory is crucial if they are to avoid relegation for the first time in their history.

They are now second-from-bottom in Division One and one win behind fellow strugglers Worthing Thunder and Lancashire Spinners, both of whom they travel to in their final two games of the season.

Leicester will arrive at Brentwood on the back of a 90-87 victory against high-flying Solent Kestrels which secured them a place in Division One next season and are tenth in the table with an 8-14 record. Among those eight wins was an 85-71 victory against the Big Cats in November in a game that saw point guard Perry Lawson ejected.

Warriors’ National Cup hopes were ended at the last 16 stage by eventual winners Team Northumbria while in the National Trophy a win against Loughborough wasn’t enough as they were eliminated at the group stage by old rivals Derby Trailblazers.

dougie v hemel

Leopards’ relegation worried intensified over the weekend as they went down 85-78 at Bradford Dragons on Saturday before the following afternoon saw a humiliating 89-63 home loss against Hemel Storm at a packed Brentwood Centre.

A strong second half at Bradford wasn’t enough for a Leopards’ side who trailed 49-34 at half-time. A basket from Dougie Bennett capped an 8-0 run from the visitors and made it a three point game with 22 seconds remaining, but the home side wrapped up the win from the foul line.

Bennett led the way for the Big Cats with three three-pointers in his 19 points, while AJ Roberts added 18 points. Jamie Hayes finished with 14 points and six rebounds, with Justin Hitchman adding 12 points and eight boards.

After than encouraging second half performance and with captain Mike Martin returning from injury, the large crowd at Brentwood could have expected a strong performance against Storm, but a terrible second period saw Leopards crash to a tenth straight league loss.

They matched the visitors in the opening period, trailing only 20-18 at the first break but the offence completely dried up in the second quarter as they were outscored 24-6 to effectively end the game as a contest.

Martin marked his return with a game-high 20 points and three rebounds while Bennett completed a good personal weekend with 14 points, but the Big Cats converting just five of their 26 three-points proved to be their Achilles heel.

 

 

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Leopards Look to Quieten Storm

justin v ww

Dave Ryan reports…

It’s crunch time for Levett Essex Leopards as they prepare to host Hemel Storm at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday (4pm).

The Big Cats’ relegation fears intensified over the weekend as a pitiful display saw them lose 64-58 against basement side Westminster Warriors on Saturday, and although they produced a much improved performance – at least for the first three quarters – they went down 82-65 at Solent Kestrels.

Steve Ogunjimi’s team are now joint 12th with Worthing Thunder, and as they face a weekend which also sees a trip to Bradford Dragons, they desperately need to end a run of eight straight league losses.

Hemel will arrive at Brentwood on a four game winning streak which has seen them move up to eighth spot with a 9-11 record with the signing of American forward Khapri Alston proving key for the Herts team.

Leopards and Hemel have met twice this season, with both games going down to the wire. The early season National Trophy meeting at Brentwood saw Storm score a last second trey to take the win – although both side subsequently exited the competition at the group stage – while it was only three weeks ago that Storm prevailed in overtime in a game which will be remembered for a season-ending injury to new signing Alex Scotland-Williamson.

Saturday’s trip to Bradford will see Leopards face a Dragons’ side who are seventh in the table with an 11-10 record. Having gone out of the Trophy at the group stage, they reached the National Cup quarter-final before losing to eventual winners Team Northumbria.

Darrell Bethune led the way with 21 points when the sides met at Brentwood in November as the Big Cats won a thriller 83-79.

Essex Leopards v Westminster Warriors 25 Feb 2017; AJ Roberts

Ogunjimi will certainly be looking for a better performance than the dismal display at Harlow on Saturday as they lost to a Westminster side who had gone into the game with an 0-17 record.

A tight game had seen the hosts lead 25-19 at half-time and took their lead out to 11 points at the midway stage of the third period before Warriors closed the quarter on a 14-2 run to lead 41-40 at the final break.

The game was tied heading into the final 35 seconds but AJ Roberts saw a shot rim out and Jon Johnson hit a dagger trey before Bethune missed a triple and the visitors wrapped up the win at the foul line.

Bethune and Justin Hitchman each finished with 13 points, adding eight and five rebounds respectively, while Roberts finished with ten points.

The following day’s trip to Solent saw a much better display before fatigue set in during the final period and the visitors managed just three points.

A knee injury to Bethune clearly hampered the Big Cats and he looks to be a doubt for the rest of the season.

The Big Cats started well with a Bethune trey capping a 10-2 opening run, and they went into the first break with a 23-21 lead. Although the hosts led by as many as six in the second quarter, Jamie Hayes scored from downtown to cut the deficit to 47-44 at half-time.

Dougie Better hit a triple to put his side up by two four minutes into the second half and Tosin Oyelese scored a tip-in to keep his side ahead going into the last minute of the third period before Solent hit seven unanswered points to set up what proved to be a dominant final quarter.

Roberts led the way with 21 points, eight boards and three assists with Perry Lawson adding nine points, six assists and as many rebounds.

 

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Big Fights Coming Up for the McCarthy Brothers

Kyle (left) and Matt (right) fight on 11th and 17th March respectively

Kyle (left) and Matt (right) fight on 11th and 17th March respectively

Listen again as local boxers Matt and Kyle McCarthy talk with Chris Hood about their upcoming fights.

Kyle’s debut bout is on March 11 at York Hall, while Matt fights at The Brentwood Centre on March 17th, tickets are still available by contacting both fighters on social media.

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Leopards Host Warriors at Harlow

darrell v drag

Dave Ryan reports…

After a weekend off, Levett Essex Leopards return to action with two key fixtures in under 24 hours as they look to secure their place in Division One.

The Big Cats host Westminster Warriors at Harlow Leisurezone on Saturday (7.30pm) before travelling to Eastleigh the following afternoon to face Solent Kestrels.

With eight league games remaining, Steve Ogunjimi’s side probably need four wins to ensure a 14th consecutive season of top flight Division One basketball but as they face all the teams in the bottom half of the table during that run, they have their destiny in their own hands.

Westminster will arrive for the final game at Harlow this season still looking for their first victory of the campaign, sitting bottom of the table with an 0-17 record.

Among those 17 losses was a 90-57 hammering by the Big Cats at Capital City Academy in November where a 25-10 third period proved key, but the early season meeting between the teams in the National Trophy was much closer as Leopards escaped with a 69-64 victory.

Tickets for the game are available on the door or can be booked at www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk.

There’s no respite for Big Cats as they then move on to Solent on Sunday for a 2.30pm tip-off.

The South Coast side have made a good start to life in Division One, currently sitting sixth with an 11-7 record, and also reached the National Cup final.

When the teams met at Harlow in November the fans were treated to a thriller as the Big Cats won 98-93 in overtime thanks partly to a 34 point performance from Mike Martin.

Leopards are still hopeful that Martin will return from a heal injury before the season ends but it seems unlikely that the former England international will be fit in time for this weekend’s games,

The Big Cats return to the Brentwood Centre with a pair of home games on Sunday March 5th and 12th before completing the season with four straight away games.

 

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Gloom for Leopards

justin v derby

Dave Ryan reports…

Any lingering play-off hopes Levett Leopards held were ended by a 74-61 defeat by Derby Trailblazers at Harlow Leisurezone on Saturday, and the Big Cats now find themselves in a full-blown relegation battle.

For the second successive Saturday Steve Ogunjimi’s side produced an abject first half performance – scoring just 22 points on 19 percent shooting – and although they pulled within five points in the second half, once again they found the hole they had dug themselves too deep to get out of.

For all their injury problems, and without guard Dougie Bennett due to work commitments, the home side were architects of their own downfall against a Derby side who also struggled to find the basket in the first and third periods.

Having suffered a shoulder injury during Friday’s practice session, Darrell Bethune came off the bench to finish with 28 points and three rebounds. But Justin Hitchman was the only other Big Cat in double figures with ten points , adding six rebounds.

darrell v drag

Derby won the tip and opened up a 6-0 lead in the first four minutes before Hitchman finally put the hosts on the scoreboard with 5:15 on the clock.

A Jamie Hayes free-throw made it a one point game but that proved to be as close as Leopards came as M Ward-Hibbert converted a three-point play, and the lead grew to 16-7 before Shaq Lewis cut the deficit to 16-9 at the first break.

That proved to be only a brief respite for the home side as Derby opened the second period with a 10-0 run to lead 26-9 before Hayes drained from downtown to end the drought, and although Bethune scored from the Land of Plenty to help Leopards match the visitors during the rest of the half, they went into the locker room trailing 40-22.

That deficit grew to 22 after two second half minutes before Bethune finally sparked the Big Cats into life with ten points – including a pair of triples – in a 13-2 run, and six straight Hitchman points followed by a Bethune score saw the gap closed to 52-45 at the final break with Leopards having outscored the visitors 23-12 in the period.

B Amabilino-Perez hit a trey to make it a ten point game with the opening score of the fourth quarter but scores from AJ Roberts, Tosin Oyelese and Perry Lawson kept Leopards in touch and a four point play from Bethune made it 60-55 with four minutes remaining.

A Roberts ley-up kept the deficit at six heading into the final three minutes but back-to-back turnovers from the hosts followed by a Maxwell Morrison dunk effectively ended the game as a contest.

With no game this coming weekend Leopards will look for a good weekend in practice before Westminster Warriors are the visitors to Harlow on February 25 for a must-win game.

 

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Ogunjimi Looks for Continued Improvement

alex@hemel

Dave Ryan reports…

Despite a pair of heart-breaking defeats Levett Essex Leopards’ coach Steve Ogunjimi is looking for his side to continue the form they showed for the majority of the weekend  when they host Derby Trailblazers at Harlow Leisurezone on Saturday (7.30pm).

The Big Cats trailed by as many as 19 before losing in overtime at Hemel Storm on Saturday before going down 91-90 in a thriller at reigning champions Manchester Magic the following afternoon.

“If we play like we did in the second half at Hemel and throughout the Manchester game, we’ll be okay” said Ogunjimi. “We just can’t play as poorly as we did in the first half against Storm. We can’t have 25 point halves and expect to dig our way out of trouble.

“We showed on Sunday that we are more than capable of competing with anyone in this league despite our injury problems, and I was so disappointed for the guys that we didn’t get the win we deserved.”

Derby will arrive at Leisurezone occupying fourth place in Division One with ten wins from 15 games but the loss of a couple of key players has seen them lose three straight league games as well as losing at Manchester in the National Trophy semi-final. They also reached the semi-final of the National Cup but were unable to match Leopards’ BBL Trophy giant-killing with a 33-point home loss against Newcastle Eagles.

Leopards’ suffered an 83-70 loss when they travelled to the Midlands in November, but both of last season’s meetings proved to be thrillers that went down to the final play before the home team won on each occasion.

alexroger@hemel

With captain Mike Martin still out of action with a foot injury, Leopards’ suffered another crushing blow during an 88-83 overtime loss at Hemel as Alex Scotland-Williamson suffered a season-ending injury, tearing his quad muscle and damaging his knee as he fell badly while collecting a pass from AJ Roberts.

With the score tied at 77, the game looked likely to be abandoned as the English big man waited from an ambulance on the basket, but he managed to slide off the court allowing the game to continue.

The long delay clearly disrupted a Leopards side who had dominated after the half-time break and Storm were able to close out a key win.

A terrible first half saw Scotland-Williamson, playing only his second game after joining last week, open the scoring before the home side set the tone with a 13-2 run.

Things didn’t get any better during the rest of the period as they went into the first break 21-8 down and they went scoreless during the first two minutes of the second period to trail 27-8 before Dougie Bennett finally got the visitors going, but they were unable to make much impression on the deficit. Despite Bennett’s shot late in the half, they went into the locker room 40-25 behind.

Scores from Roberts and Darrell Bethune saw Leopards open the second half strongly, and they slowly whittled the deficit down before Roberts’ free-throw sent them into the fourth period trailing only 57-51.

A Bennett and-one halved that deficit with the opening play of the final quarter and a similar play from Roberts tied the game with two minutes gone before Justin Hitchman gave them the lead with 6:54 on the clock.

The rest of the period was nip and tuck, and Hemel went into the final minute 77-75 ahead but Roberts hit a jump shot to tie the game with 43 seconds remaining, and during a frantic last few seconds the American guard had two chances to snatch the win before the buzzer went to send the game into overtime.

With the loss of Scotland-Williamson early in the extra period, the Big Cats fell behind shortly after the injury, allowing the hosts to open a five point lead and despite a big trey from Roberts, Storm held on for the victory.

Roberts finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and six assists, with Bennett and Bethune adding 12 points apiece and Scott-Williamson pulling down eight rebounds before his premature exit from the game,

Hemel Storm v Levett Essex Leopards 04 Feb 2017; AJ Roberts;

The following day at Manchester saw a depleted and clearly tired Leopards team match their high-flying opponents throughout the game and had a chance to take the win in the dying seconds with Hitchman’s shot rimming out and Roberts attempted tip-in being blocked.

Ultimately the Big Cats were beaten by an incredible performance from Magic guard Stefan Gill who hit six threes on the way to a 24-point game and proved to be unguardable at time before scoring the winning basket with 21 seconds on the clock.

Jamie Hayes opened the scoring with a dunk, and Leopards led throughout the first period before Caleb Tabiner sent them into the first break with a 25-18 lead.

A pair of Tabiner baskets saw that lead grow to nine early in the second period and Leopards’ lead peaked at ten with 81 seconds of the half remaining on a Shaq Lewis lay-up.

Magic finished the half strongly to cut Leopards’ to 48-43 and the hosts continued that run as they hit the first five points of the second half to tie the game and there was little to choose between the sides as they went into the final break tied at 62.

Bethune opened the fourth period with a long jump shot, but the lead continued to repeatedly change hands before a three-point play from Hayes put his side 85-83 ahead going into the final 100 seconds.

But a massive trey from Gill put his side ahead, only to see Hitchman hit a pair at foul line and Roberts put them 89-86 ahead with 50 seconds remaining.

But it was clearly Gill’s night as he hit a seemingly impossible three off the dribble, and although Roberts put his side ahead by one with a free-throw with 30 seconds remaining only to see Gill drive from the left to hit the game winner.

Bethune finished with 19 points, with Roberts hitting 14 points and added seven assists and six rebounds. Hitchman recorded a season-high 13 points, with Bennett adding ten points and Perry Lawson eight as all nine Leopards’ players got on the scoresheet.

 

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Anthony Upton Back in the Ring on March 3rd in Belfast

Anto Upton English title (3)

Tim Rickson reports…

Former English super-lightweight champion Anthony Upton (13-1) is back in the ring on March 3rd at the Devenish Complex in Belfast on an MTK Promotions show.

Anto will take part in a six three-minute rounds contest at the 140lbs weight limit with an opponent yet to be confirmed.

The 25-year-old will be the first of the Upton Clan, which includes brothers Sonny and Pauly, to fight this year, although it’ll be almost eight months since his last bout when he steps back through those ropes on the first weekend in March.

He said, “It’s been a while since I’ve been out, my last fight was in July for the English title.

“The show is just around the corner from my house in the Devenish Complex, so I can’t wait to get back in there.”

All three brothers have a strong connection to the Emerald Isle having lived and fought there throughout most of their amateur careers. Anto won over a dozen Irish amateur titles and older brother Pauly is the current Irish super-welterweight champion.

Anto won the English super-lightweight title in his last fight over six months ago with a stunning ninth-round knockout over Luke Paddock (15-2) in Cannock, shortly before splitting with former trainer Ricky Hatton and relocating back to Romford with his brothers.

“I’ve had a good bit of time off over Christmas after the split with Ricky Hatton, but I’m ready to get back in there again,” said Upton.

Since leaving Hatton’s Gym in Manchester, the brothers are now settled with their new team consisting of Barry Smith, Harry Andrews and former English champion Tommy Martin in their West Ham Gym.

Anto, a father of one, plans to shake off the ring rust in the next fight with the aim to get used to his new outfit in the corner, he confirmed, “Just a six-rounder next just so I can get used to my new trainers in the corner. It should be the first time for Tommy Martin being in a corner.”

The West Ham Gym is thriving under Barry Smith and attracting the attention of many talented boxers from around the capital.

“You can’t beat good sparring,” the 140-pounder declared. “Got Philip Bowes here, Bradley Smith, Larry Ekundayo… its world class sparring in your own gym so don’t have to go anywhere else looking for it.”

Anto vacated his English championship when Joe Hughes was presented as his mandatory challenger in December last year, publicly stating that he wouldn’t defend the title without experiencing a couple of warm up fights with his new team first.

Upton’s solitary career loss was at the hands of Hughes in December 2015 on his first crack at the English crown. He has openly stated his ambition to fight his one and only conqueror at some point down the line in their respective careers, ideally for a bigger title.

Hughes regained his English championship with a points win over Andy Keates (12-5) last December, after previously vacating to fight Jack Catterall for the WBO Inter-Continental super-lightweight belt (Hughes lost on points), and next challenges Tyrone Nurse on April 22nd for his British belt.

Like Hughes, Anto is also keen to experience bigger title fights.

“I spoke with my managers and had a good chat,” said the 25-year-old from Essex. “The plan for this year is all good; first to get this six-rounder out the way, then to push on for titles.

“I’m 25 now so I want to be in the mix soon. I want titles this year, at least one, if not, two.”

Anto is managed by Spanish-based promotional outfit MTK, formerly known as MGM, headed by two-time World title challenger Matt Macklin and partner Daniel Kinahan.

The March 3rd show will be co-promoted by MTK and Mark Ginley, a former professional boxer from Belfast.

“It’s the first show for Mark Ginley,” confirmed Anto. “He used to be a pro so fair play to him for getting involved in promoting and starting from the bottom, and best of luck to him. It’ll be mostly MTK fighters on the show.”

The rest of the card is yet to be announced.

For tickets to the show, please contact 07951 318 081

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Big Weekend for Leopards

NGCsports.com

NGCsports.com

Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards head into a weekend on the road knowing that they need to start picking up some wins to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle.

The Big Cats travel to Hemel Storm on Saturday evening before moving on to Manchester Magic on Sunday, and the first game is a must-win for Steve Ogunjimi’s side.

While Westminster Warriors look certain to go down with 14 straight losses to open the league season, Leopards and Storm are in a five team pack who are desperate to avoid the second relegation spot.

Both sides have five wins, with Leopards sitting in tenth place with ten defeats, and Hemel in 11th with a 5-11 record. It will be the first league meeting of the campaign between the rivals, with the return at the Brentwood Centre in March, but Storm did win the National Trophy match-up between the sides as a last second three-pointer sealed a 69-68 victory.

That was the Storm’s fourth straight win against Leopards after the Big Cats had recorded an incredible 22-game winning streak against the club who started life as West Herts Warriors.

Sunday’s trip to Manchester will see Leopards face a team who continue to dominate Division One.

Although they lost their grip on the National Cup Magic again reached the Trophy final with an 84-69 win against Derby Trailblazers on Sunday, and are joint second in the table with an 11-3 record and two games in hand over leaders Team Northumbria.

The meeting between the teams at the Brentwood Centre in October saw Leopards fail to recover from a terrible first period as they went down 80-60.

NGCsports.com

NGCsports.com

Sunday’s trip to high-flying Reading started well for the Big Cats, but with captain Mike Martin missing with a leg injury they were unable to build on that good beginning and allowed the Rockets to record a tenth straight league win with an 89-74 victory.

AJ Roberts opened the scoring with a three-pointer, and that set the tone for a good day for the American guard who finished with 29 points, six rebounds and four assists.

A Jamie Hayes jump shot off Roberts’ assist put Leopards 11-7 up at the mid-stage of the first period and although the hosts briefly took a 16-15 lead, a score from new signing Alex Scotland-Williamson sent the Big Cats into opening break with a 21-17 lead,

Perry Lawson drained a trey to open the second period and make it a five point game but an 11-2 run from the hosts saw them regain the lead and despite a massive dunk from Scotland-Williamson to wrap up the half, it was Rockets who took a 42-35 lead.

Scores from Roberts and Darrell Bethune saw the Big Cats open the second half strongly but as the foul count continued to grow they were unable to get any closer than four points and it took a buzzer-beating lay-up from Bethune to cut the deficit to 65-55 at the final break.

A Justin Hitchman and-one made it an eight point game with six minutes remaining but when Scotland-Williamson reacted angrily to a foul call and fouled out on a technical the game was effectively over for the Big Cats as they slipped to a third straight league loss.

 

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Leopards Look to Get Back on Track

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Dave Ryan reports…

After back-to-back league defeats, Levett Essex Leopards will look to get their league season back on track when they travel to old rivals Reading Rockets, on Sunday.

The Rockets are the only club to have played the Big Cats in all 13 of their Division One seasons with many close games, including two four-point wins for Steve Ogunjimi’s side last season.

After going out of the National Cup in the quarter-finals and failing to progress past the Trophy group stage, Rockets have reeled off nine straight wins to move up to third place with a 10-3 record.

The first of those victories came at the Brentwood Centre where a dominant fourth period against a short-handed Leopards team who were also without coach Steve  Ogunjimi saw them win 90-73.

With only four of Leopards’ remaining 12 games at home and sitting in tenth spot with a 5-9 record, the Big Cats badly need to start picking up some victories if they are going to qualify for the end-of-the-season play-offs, while the log-jam at the bottom half of the table means that they could also be sucked into a relegation battle.

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Leopards’ hopes of a second BBL Trophy giant-killing were ended by an impressive Plymouth Raiders side at a packed Brentwood Centre on Sunday as the West Country side recorded a 93-64 victory.

The loss of Mike Martin with an Achilles injury in the second quarter proved crucial as the Big Cats had matched the visitors until that point but the home side still put on a decent display, with AJ Roberts leading the way for them.

The American guard had a couple of huge dunks as he won the game MVP trophy presented by Brentwood Leisure Trust CEO Roger Davinson, finishing with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Jamie Hayes opened the scoring with a lay-up off Roberts’ assist and treys for Darrell Bethune and Roberts saw the hosts lead 10-6 after four minutes.

That proved to be as good as it got for the hosts despite Bethune putting them 15-14 ahead with three minutes on the clock, and it took a Martin basket to cut the deficit to 20-19 at the first break.

Roberts kept his side in touch with a tip-in early in the second period and Hayes tied the score at 24 as he converted a triple but the visitors answered with a 12-0 run as Leopards were held scoreless for more than six minutes.

Bethune broke the run from downtown and Hayes hit a jump shot to cut the deficit to 39-29 at half-time.

With Martin out of action the second half proved to be a long one for the home side as Peter Hooley took control of the game, hitting three triples in a 17-4 to open the third period, effectively killing off the game, and despite treys from Bethune and Hayes the visitors had the game effectively sewn up at 77-50 going into the final break.

Hooley hit his eighth trey of the game to open the fourth period but coach Ogunjimi was able to give some valuable court time to youngster Dom Scott-Robinson and Shaq Lewis while Justin Hitchman hit four points as he continued his comeback from injury.

Bethune finished with 14 points and five boards, with Hayes adding 12 points and nine rebounds. Hooley had a season-high 33 points for Raiders.

Essex Leopards v Plymouth Raiders 22 Jan 2017; Darrell Bethune;

The previous day saw a disappointing 63-53 loss at Loughborough Riders. With the Big Cats again short-handed, captain Martin and Tosin Oyelese both missing, it was another poor result for the Essex side.

Roberts led the way again with a massive 18 point, 15 rebound double-double, adding five rebounds, but Dougie Bennett – captaining the side for the first time – was the only other visiting player in double figures with 11 points and three assists.

A painful start to the game saw only Bethune score a field goal as the Big Cats trailed 15-4 going into the final minute of the opening period before Hayes and Bennett hit free-throws to cut the deficit to 15-7 at the first break.

Bennett converted from downtown to open what proved to be a good second period for the Big Cats, and a 10-3 run launched by Hitchman saw them tie the score at 22 midway through the quarter.

Bennett gave the Big Cats their first lead of the game with a pair of free-throws but the offensive woes returned as Riders closed out the half on a 5-0 run to lead 27-24 at half-time.

Roberts opened the third period scoring for Leopards but they trailed by at least four points throughout the stanza and despite the American converting a lay-up, the visitors trailed 45-34 at the final break.

The home side extended that lead to 17 after four fourth period minutes but the visitors showed they wouldn’t go down quietly as Roberts and Bethune chipped away at the deficit.

Roberts made it a ten point game heading into the final two minutes but an offence that lasted 35 seconds and saw three shots didn’t produce any points, and Riders closed out the win.

 

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Leopards Look to Make History

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards will look to make history when the host Plymouth Raiders in the BBL Trophy quarter final at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday (4pm).

Having become only the fourth EBL side to defeat a BBL club in the 29-year history of the competition when they won a thriller against Manchester Giants, Steve Ogunjimi’s team will aim to repeat the trick and become the first Division One side to reach the semi-final.

It will be a massive test for the Big Cats as they face a side sitting sixth in the fully professional British League having won nine of their first 15 games and with a roster stacked with talent.

“It’s a big game for us” said coach Ogunjimi. “We showed in the last round we can compete with a BBL side and we’ll look to repeat that, but to be honest I’m more concerned about getting our league campaign back on track at Loughborough on Saturday.”

The sides met in the first round of the competition last season with Raiders blowing Leopards out by 40 points in a bad-tempered game while the only other meeting between the clubs saw the original Leopards travel to Plymouth and win by 33.

The Big Cats are expecting a big crowd for the game, which is sponsored by Brentwood Leisure Trust, with tickets available on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk.

Places are also available for the pre-game coaching session run by Leopards’ players Tosin Oyelese and AJ Roberts, details available online.

Essex Leopards v Team Northumbria, 15 Jan 2017; Dougie Bennett;

Leopards are also in action on Saturday as they travel to the midlands to face Loughborough Riders where they will look for revenge for October’s 59-52 loss at Harlow LeisureZone.

The Riders sit three places ahead of the Big Cats in seventh spot with a 7-7 record having recovered from a poor start to life in Division One which saw them finish bottom of their National Trophy group and exit the National Cup at the hands of Derby Trailblazers.

A depleted Leopards side saw their play-off hopes take a hit on Sunday as they went down 80-72 against league leaders Team Northumbria, at the Brentwood Centre.

With Ogunjimi suspended following his ejection in the pre-Christmas win against Lancashire, Roger Malpass took over as coach, and his side were missing starting point guard Perry Lawson and back-up forward Caleb Tabanar.

The Big Cats started well as AJ Roberts hit a triple to launch a 9-2 start but that was as good as it got for Malpass’ team and despite Jamie Hayes also scoring from downtown, they trailed 20-18 at the first break.

Dougie Bennett and Darrell Bethune both hit a pair of threes in the second period as they kept in touch before a pair of free-throws from Blaine Freckleton sent the visitors into the locker room with a 39-36 lead.

Essex Leopards v Team Northumbria, 15 Jan 2017; AJ Roberts

The visitors opened the second half with a 7-2 run but three points apiece from Hayes and Mike Martin in an 8-0 run saw Leopards tie the game at 46 and Bennett sunk a trey to put the home side 49-48 ahead with three third period minutes remaining.

But the visitors replied with a 13-6 run to take a 61-55 lead into the final break and M Smith made it an eight point game before Martin kept his side in the game with six straight points.

Bennett hit his fourth treble of the game to cut the deficit to 68-64 with just under five minutes remaining but that was as close as it got as the visitors showed why they’re top of the league as they comfortably closed out the win.

Martin again led the Big Cats with a 21 point, 11 rebound double-double, with Bennett adding 16 points. Roberts, who in Lawson’s absence played all 40 minutes, finished 13 points, ten assists and seven rebounds. Smith led the visitors with a 20 point, 11 rebound double as the North-East side dominated on the boards.

 

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Opponent Announced for Darrel Church’s Next Fight on March 11

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Richard Harrison (1-12) has been announced this week as the opponent to face Steve Goodwin’s light-heavyweight prospect ‘Dazzling’ Darrel Church (3-1-1) at London’s York Hall on March 11th.

The 175-pounders will meet over four three-minute rounds on the Kevin Campion promoted show titled ‘Knuckle 2 Knuckle’.

31-years-old from Chessington, Harrison is a busy journeyman that can move well, has a good technique, and can throw a variety of shots in numbers.

Harrison debuted back in December 2015 and crammed in all 13 of his pro fights in his first year punching for pay. Of his 12 losses he has only been stopped twice, and the approaching fight with Church will be his fifth appearance at the York Hall.

Both fighters will be looking to kick off 2017 with a win.

27-year-old Church said of his forthcoming foe, “I’ve watched quite a few fights of his and he has a decent technique and throws good combinations. He comes forward to fight and to have a go, and he lets his hands go well.”

Darrel debuted back in July 2014 at Grays Civic Hall when originally signed to Carl Greaves Promotions and ended the inaugural year undefeated with two wins on his fledgling record.

In 2015, he suffered a shock defeat to Angelo Crowe (2-6), which, as a result of injuries and illnesses, turned out to be his only fight of the year.

Church returned to the ring in April 2016 at the York Hall against Mitch Mitchell (7-54-3), sharing the honours in a hard-fought draw.

The Essex boxer then secured his third win in his fifth pro bout against Croatian Toni Bilic (1-6) on December 3rd at the same East End venue to finally get back to winning ways.

Church is now backed by a full-time sponsor in MB Surfacing, allowing him to train around the clock.

“I’ll be fighting Harrison at 12st 12lbs,” explained Church. “I know he has fought up and down the weights but I’ll concentrate on me and my training, and just carry on doing what I’m doing.

“I haven’t put on much weight since my last fight so haven’t got a lot to lose. It makes everything far more easier, in fact, I’ve never been this low in weight at this stage of a camp ever before!”

After just five fights in two-and-a-half years, the six-footer plans to have four fights this year with ambitions to finish 2017 with a title, “I’d like to start doing six-rounders next and end 2017 with a Challenge Belt,” he explained. “I want a big fight by the end of the year because I want to push on now in my career, I want to be in the mix for big titles soon.”

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Knuckle 2 Knuckle

Topping the bill is the Southern Area light-heavyweight title clash between Jordan Joseph (6-0-1) and Chris Hobbs (5-1-1) – an evenly-matched bout, each fighter with just a single loss in seven fights.

Someone’s ‘O’ has got to go in the exciting match-up between unbeaten lightweights Jimmy Cooper (4-0-1) and Jamie Arlain (5-0). Both lightweights are admirably putting their winning records on the line so early on in their career.

Two Fight Cup semi-finals take place on the show with Ossie Jervier (3-2) and hard-hitting Jose Lopes (7-0) in the first; and current champion Ryan Crawford (2-2-1) against Portsmouth’s Danny Couzens (8-10-2) in the other.

Derby’s Arfan Iqbal (11-0); Aylesbury’s Adi Burden (2-0); Essex’s Adrian Martin (3-0); Mitcham’s Jumanne Canero; and Peterborough’s Sam Barron (4-0) all look to continue their respective unbeaten runs.

For tickets to the show contact Team Church on 07938 878 962

 

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Leopards Look to Build on Perfect Start

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Leopards will look to build on a perfect start to the New Year when they host Division One leaders Team Northumbria at the Brentwood Centre, on Sunday (4pm).

Having opened 2017 with a victory against Wales, the Big Cats sensationally knocked Manchester Giants out of the BBL Trophy on Friday before defeating Worthing Thunder on Sunday to maintain their play-off push.

Northumbria suffered only their second loss of the league campaign on Sunday when they lost 84-74 at Derby Trailblazers, and will arrive at Brentwood with a 12-2 record. However 11 of their remaining 12 fixtures are away from home, so Mark Steutal’s side look to have a tough challenge to win the title for the first time.

The two sides opened the league season with a meeting at Sport Central and the home side set the bar for the season with an 81-67 victory. They have also reached the National Cup final, starting their campaign with an 86 point(!) win against neighbours Tees Valley Mohawks before defeating Division One rivals Leicester Warriors, Bradford Dragons and Derby , and they will now face Team Solent Kestrels in Sheffield in the title game. Last season saw the teams split their two league meetings, but in a tight finish to the season Northumbria edged Leopards into sixth place as four teams finished tied on 16-10 records.

Leopards are offering their normal pre-game coaching session for young players, full details on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk

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The Big Cats will certainly go into the game on a high as Giants were beaten 86-84 at the Brentwood Centre. The win was the first in the BBL Trophy for the new Big Cats and they became only the fourth EBL side in the competition’s 29-year history to beat a side from Britain’s top league.

Steve Ogunjimi’s team will now host Plymouth Raiders in the quarter-finals with the game provisionally arranged for Sunday January 22 at the Brentwood Centre.

Darrell Bethune led the home side with five three pointers in his 32-point haul, adding five rebounds and three assists for the Big Cats in his best performance since signing in early November.

But it was veteran Mike Martin who stole the show as he played through the pain barrier to lead his side to victory. The former England international looked to be out of the game when he was carried off early in the second half with a knee injury, but as his side looked to have lost the momentum midway through the fourth period he dosed himself up with pain killers, ripped off the strapping and limped back onto the court to steady the ship and help secure a famous win – finishing with 20 points and seven boards.

American guard AJ Roberts continued his good run of form with 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, while Dougie Bennett added ten points and three rebounds.

After an even start, a 17-0 run wrapped around the first break put Leopards in charge and they went into the locker room with a 49-38 lead.

But Giants steadily chipped away at the lead following Martin’s injury and closed the gap to 65-62 at the final break before taking the lead early in the fourth period.

Bethune again found the basket from the Land of Plenty to put Leopards up by one and it was nip and tuck down the stretch as the hosts went into the final minute trailing 84-82.

It was Bethune who hit the go-ahead trey, converting off Roberts’ assist with 44 seconds on the clock before grabbing the rebound from Creppy’s miss 18 seconds later.

With six second remaining Bethune was harshly adjudged to have fouled Callum Jones, giving him the chance the put his side back ahead. But the pressure showed on the English guard as he rimmed both shots, leaving Perry Lawson to grab the rebound.

Lawson was fouled, but he too missed both free-throws only for Martin to grab the rebound and pass to Roberts, who was predictably fouled. The American guard missed the first shot before sinking the second and the Big Cats played some good defence in the remaining 2.5 seconds to seal a famous win.

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Sunday’s 86-71 win against Thunder proved to be more straightforward, with the Big Cats never trailing after Shaq Lewis’ basket sent them into the first break with a 14-13 lead.

A pair of Bethune treys helped that lead grow to 41-33 at half-time, and Tosin Oyelese extended that lead to 63-52 at the final break.

Bethune hit another triple to open the fourth period, and an 11-4 run midway through the quarter wrapped things up, allowing Ogunjimi to give his younger players some court time down the stretch.

Martin finished with a game-high 26 points, six assists and as many rebounds, while Bethune adding 24 points and seven boards. Roberts had nine rebounds and seven assists to go with his 17 points.

Thunder had arrived on the back of a win against Hemel Storm thanks to 40 points from Division One’s leading scorer Lyonell Gaines, but he was held to a season-low 19 points on nine-from-23 shooting.

 

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Leopards Hammer Wales

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Levett Leopards opened the New Year in style with a 97-62 victory against the Welsh national team on Monday.

A capacity crowd at Oaklands College in St Albans saw the Big Cats dominate against a Wales team who were using the game as part of their preparations for the Commonwealth Games qualifying tournament.

Coach Steve Ogunjimi was able to give all 11 players in his squad at least 14 minutes of playing time in an extended, NBA length, game, with ten of them getting on the scoresheet.

Essex Leopards v Welsh National Team 02 Jan 2017; Mike Martin

Darrell Bethune led the way for Leopards with 21 points and six assists, while Mike Martin finished with a 17 point, 12 rebound double-double. Dougie Bennett added 16 points against a Welsh side he had played against for Scotland before, while AJ Roberts was two assists shy of a second successive triple double with ten points and as many boards, and Tosin Oyelese had eight points to go with his 14 rebounds.

Having seen their 25-16 first period lead shaved to 46-38 at half-time as Wales finished the half strongly, the hosts blew the visitors away in the second half with a 25-6 third period before outscoring them 26-18 in the fourth period as Leopards comfortably wrapped up the win.

Essex Leopards v Welsh National Team 02 Jan 2017; Shaq Lewis;

The game was won on the boards as Leopards out-rebounded the visitors 81-47 ,with the discrepancy allowing them to take an incredible 104 field goal attempts.

Asa Wait led the 14-deep Welsh side with 12 points, with Daniel Welsh adding 11 and Jamie Rodwell recording a 12 rebound, ten point double-double.

 

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Leopards Look for Giant Killing

Essex Leopards v Manchester Magic, 23 Oct 2016; Team tactics

Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards’ coach Steve Ogunjimi is looking for his side to start the New Year strongly as they face a pair of home games at the Brentwood Centre this weekend.

The Big Cats host Manchester Giants in the BBL Trophy on Friday evening (8pm) before Worthing Thunder are the visitors for a Division One game on Sunday (4pm).

“It’s an important weekend for us” said Ogunjimi. “The Giants’ game gives us the chance to test ourselves against BBL opposition, and it’s a game we’re capable of winning if we play to the best of our ability.

“The visit of Thunder is the key game, though, we need to start moving up the table.

They’ve got some good players, but there can be no excuses, it’s time to start consistently winning in the league.”

Leopards have regularly been invited into the BBL Trophy, which is the knockout competition of the fully professional British League, and the Big Cats are still looking for their first victory in it.

Giants will arrive at Brentwood looking to snap a six game losing streak that has seen them drop to the bottom of the BBL table with a 3-12record.

After losing their first six league games, Yorick Williams’ team looked to have turned the corner with three straight wins but despite going agonisingly close to upsetting high-flying Newcastle Eagles at the weekend they’ve remained winless since.

Williams was a key player in the original Leopards’ final season in the BBL, playing alongside Ogunjimi, and the Big Cats’ play-caller is looking forward to coaching against his former team-mate:

“It’s be good to see Yorick again” he said. “We’re both in our second year coaching and it’s a steep learning curve but it should be fun to coach against him.”

Sunday’s opponents Thunder are also struggling, and head into the New Year in 13th place a 3-9 record but have reached the National Trophy semi-final where they will meet London Lituanica.

Despite a disappointing start to their league campaign, the south coast club have Division One’s leading scorer, with American forward Lyonell Gaines capable of scoring 30 plus on any given night.

Leopards won both league meetings between the teams last season, hammering their hosts 89-57 in the opening Division One game of the campaign before beating them 75-62 at Brentwood in the return.

Leopards are offering pre-game coaching for under-16s on Sunday as well as a special weekend ticket for fans who attend both games. Details on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk

 

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‘Dazzling’ Darrel Church scheduled for March return

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Tim Rickson reports…

March 11th can’t come soon enough for light-heavyweight prospect ‘Dazzling’ Darrel Church (3-1-1) as he returns to the ring for his sixth pro fight at London’s York Hall.

The 27-year-old from Witham got his third win in his fifth pro bout on December 3rd at the same East End venue and plans to fight four times in 2017 after receiving the backing of a full-time sponsor.

“March 11th date is perfect for me,” Church said. “It was originally meant to be April but I didn’t want to wait that long, I just wanted get back in there as soon as possible.”

The six-footer also has ambitions to cap off the year with a title, “I’d like to start doing six-rounders soon and end 2017 with a Challenge Belt,” he explained. “I want a big fight by the end of the year because I want to push on now in my career, I want to be in the mix for big titles soon.”

Darrel debuted back in July 2014 at Grays Civic Hall when originally signed to Carl Greaves Promotions and ended the inaugural year undefeated with two wins on his fledgling record.

Then, in 2015, he suffered a shock defeat to Angelo Crowe (2-6), which, as a result of injuries and illnesses, turned out to be his only fight of the year.

Church picked himself back up and returned to the ring in April this year at the York Hall against Mitch Mitchell, sharing the honours in a hard-fought draw.

“I was just glad to shake off the ring rust and get out again, to be honest,” he reported. “But it was hard because I didn’t end up fighting until midnight, in the end, so I was exhausted!”

Trained by Mark Massow, Church then signed with Goodwin Boxing and got his first win in 24 months against Croatian Toni Bilic (1-6) in his fifth pro fight in December after receiving a boost from sponsors MB Surfacing, allowing the former unlicensed star to train around the clock.

It was a confident and assured display from the Essex boxer and proved his potential to progress on in a talent-laden light-heavyweight division.

“It’s just tickets really, you have to sell enough to keep fighting,” he said. “I want to fight four times this year, I’d even fight five or more if it wasn’t for ticket sales.

“I’d even be happy to go away as an opponent on a big TV show as it’s worth taking the risk in boxing.”

The March show in Bethnal Green will be promoted by Good Boxing – the card yet to be announced.

For tickets to the show contact Team Church on 07938 878 962

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Leopards Win Thriller

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards head into the Christmas break on a high after a thrilling 87-86 victory against Lancashire Spinners, on Sunday.

The Brentwood crowd went through the full range of emotions as their depleted line-up trailed by 12 at half-time before a stunning second half comeback saw them lead by seven with just over two minutes remaining. But the visitors replied with an 8-0 run and appeared to have won the game as they had a one-point lead with 3.2 seconds on the clock only for Tosin Oyelese to hit a buzzer-beating jump shot to spark some wild celebrations.

The odds were certainly stacked against the Big Cats as they went into the game with only seven fit players, a squad that included coach Steve Ogunjimi who played his first number of meaningful minutes for two years.

However Ogunjimi’s appearance only last 12 minutes of court time as he was controversially ejected midway through the second period for what appeared to be nothing more than talking to the referee.

With Justin Hitchman and Dougie Bennett injured, Caleb Tabanar and Dominic Scott-Robinson unavailable, and Perry Lawson suspended following his ejection at Leicester, the remaining Leopards were forced to step up and they were led by a triple-double from American guard AJ Roberts who finished with a 24 point, 12 rebound and 12 assist triple-double.

Darrell Bethune added 25 points, four assists and four boards while Mike Martin had 18 points, nine rebounds and three assists in a full 40-minute performance, and Jamie Hayes added 11 points.

The Big Cats had overcome a slow start to cut an early ten-point deficit to trail only 24-21 at the first break but the ejection of Ogunjimi clearly disrupted the home side and they were 50-38 down at half-time.

The visitors made it a 15-point game with the opening score of the second half and there was little sign of the comeback that was to follow until three minutes before the end of the third period when Roberts launched a 10-2 run, and a Bethune lay-up cut the deficit to 67-65 at the final break.

Bethune drained a three to open the final stanza as they took their first lead of the game, and Martin put the hosts 75-69 ahead with 6:31 on the clock.

The lead grew to eight with four minutes remaining as Martin converted a Bethune assist, and Roberts made it 82-75 with 2:19 remaining.

As the Big Cats struggled at the foul line, Spinners chipped away at the lead and Mark Rangely cut the lead to 85-84 with 23 seconds left and a poorly executed play saw the ball turned over as Rangeley put his team ahead by one going into the final play.

A timeout from stand-in coach Roger Malpass saw Roberts inbound the ball to Martin who found Oyelese just inside the foul line and he sunk his shot to seal the win.

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Leopards will open 2017 with an intriguing friendly against the Welsh national team on Monday January 2, tip-off 3.30pm at Oaklands Academy in St Albans.

The Welsh side will use the game as part of their build-up for the 2018 Commonwealth Games qualifiers, while for the Big Cats it will be a chance to get the Christmas break out of their system before a big weekend which sees them at Brentwood against Manchester Giants in the BBL Trophy on Friday January 6 and Worthing Thunder two days later.

Wales finished seventh in this summer’s FIBA Europe Small Nations Championship in Moldova, beating Gibraltar 67-40 in their final game to avoid the wooden spoon. Since then they have undergone a change of coach, with Kings Lynn Fury play-caller James Bamfield taking over, and Leopards were pleased to help their former Division One rival.

“It should be a great game for us and a chance to get rid of the Christmas cobwebs” said general manage Dave Ryan. “It’s a fantastic venue at Oaklands, and they’ve staged junior international games and camps before.

“We’re hoping for a big crowd as it’s the end of a long break, and it’s the chance to see something a bit different.”

The game will be played with NBA length quarters of 12 – rather than the normal ten — minutes in each period.

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Leopards Back at Brentwood

 

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards will look to wrap up 2016 with a victory when they host Lancashire Spinners at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday December 18, tip-off 4pm.

Spinners will arrive at Brentwood sitting three places above Leopards in eighth with four wins from ten games. That is a considerable improvement after a disappointing Trophy campaign saw them lose all three games, while in the National Cup they annihilated Liverpool 119-50 in the third round before losing 114-109 in an overtime thriller at Bradford Dragons.

The two teams were certainly evenly-matched last season with both games resulting in 12-point wins for the hosts, and we finished level with 16-10 records as Leopards edged Spinners into seventh place due to over-all points difference.

Essex Leopards v London Lituanica 10 Dec 2016; Shaq Lewis

The Big Cats will be aiming to bounce back after their depleted line-up went down 74-70 against London Lituanica in another Harlow Leisurezone thriller.

With both Mike Martin and Dominic Scott-Robinson unwell and Justin Hitchman still suffering from a foot injury, the Big Cats had just eight fit players forcing coach Steve Ogunjimi to kit up, although he didn’t get on the court.

The Big Cats led for most of the second half, but eventually came up short as the Lithuanians scored seven of the final eight points to gain revenge for Leopards’ early-season Trophy victory.

Darrell Bethune led the way for the Leopards with 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while AJ Roberts added 14 points and Jamie Hayes 12 points and nine rebounds. Tosin Oyelese had his best game for a while, finishing with nine points and as many rebounds as all eight Leopards got on the scoreboard.

Bethune opened the scoring with a trey but the visiting side led for most of the first period before triples from Perry Lawson and Hayes cut the deficit to 24-22 at the first break.

Lituanica were 34-28 ahead midway through the second period before a Hayes put-back launched a 13-3 run to close out the half. Roberts, Bethune and Shaq Lewis all added to the score before baskets from Lewis and Bethune sent them into the locker room with a 43-37 lead.

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A foul-strewn third period saw the Big Cats called for nine infringements while the physical Lithuanians committed just three foul as they went to the charity stripe 14 times  but with Roberts hitting a pair of threes in his ten point haul in the quarter, the hosts maintained their six-point lead at 58-52 going into the final break.

Oyelese opened the fourth quarter scoring, but a pair of threes from the visitors saw them take the lead at 64-61 only for Leopards to respond with six straight points to lead by three heading into the final two minutes.

Inevitably the game was decided at the foul line as the home side were called four times down the stretch with the visitors scoring six of their eight free-throws, and despite Hayes keeping them ahead in the final minute, a Guzys jump shot with 15 seconds on the clock sealed the win for Lituanica.

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Lithuanian Test for Leopards

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards will look to bounce back from their loss at Leicester Warriors when they host London Lituanica at Harlow Leisurezone, on Saturday.

The action starts at 7.30pm and will see the Big Cats face a side they have already beaten 68-61 on the road in the National Trophy.

If the game is as good as the last time Steve Ogunjimi’s side were in action at Harlow, the fans are in for a treat as Solent Kestrels were beaten 96-93 in overtime.  

Lituanica will arrive at Leisurezone with a 3-4 record, but have had one win deducted after they conceded their game at Manchester Magic, and sit just above the relegation zone in 12th place.

Leopards will look to end a run of three  games between the clubs that has seen the visiting team take the victory.

Last season saw Leopards become the first team in Lituanica’s four-year history – during which time they moved up the NBL – to win on their east London court with an 89-68 victory but produced a lacklustre performance in the return at Brentwood with a 51-48 loss. There was also a three-point margin when the sides met at Brentwood in the Trophy last season, with the Big Cats winning 71-68.

That Trophy loss against Leopards didn’t prevent Lituanica reaching the Trophy semi-final where they will meet Worthing, but like Leopards they went out of the National Cup at the hands of second division Kent Crusaders, with their 52-point loss the biggest margin of defeat for a top flight team against lower division opposition in over 30 years.

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After three straight wins with their new-look line-up, Leopards were brought back to earth on Saturday as they went down 85-71 in the midlands.

To complete a miserable day for the Big Cats, they had former GB guard Perry Lawson ejected for throwing the ball at Warriors’ Carl Pearson.

The visitors never recovered from a disappointing start as they trailed 15-6 after six minutes – Darrell Bethune having scored four of those points against his old team – and they went into the first break trailing 24-13.

That deficit grew to as many as 18 early in the second period before  Mike Martin sparked a comeback to reduce the margin to 40-32 before Warriors finished the half strongly to lead 48-37 at half-time.

The visitors failed to trouble the scorers in the first six minutes of the second half as Warriors effectively wrapped the game up at 56-37 before AJ Roberts broke the drought, but Leopards trailed 62-45 at the final break and never looked likely to stage a comeback in the fourth period.

Martin led the way for the visitors with another massive double-double, finishing with 16 points and as many rebounds, while Roberts finished with 16 points. Dougie Bennett came off the bench to hit four of his seven three point attempts on the way to a 15-point game, with Bethune adding 11 points.

“We lacked intensity” admitted coach Ogunjimi. “We had it in spurts, but you can’t let a team like Leicester start well, and not following the game-plan we worked on in practice really hurt us.”

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Double Success for Leopards

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards will travel to Leicester Warriors on Saturday looking for a fourth straight victory following two thrilling home wins over the weekend.

Solent Kestrels were beaten 98-93 in an overtime epic at Harlow Leisurezone on Saturday evening, and just over 18 hours later the Big Cat collected their first win of the campaign at the Brentwood Centre as Bradford Dragons were beaten 83-79.

The changes the Big Cats made to their roster in early November seem to have paid dividends and they are now up to eighth in the Division One table as they continue to look for a top four finish and home court advantage in the play-offs.

Steve Ogunjimi’s side will face a Warriors team who are 12th in the table with a 2-7 record but with a pair of American import players they have showed that they can match any team on their day with wins against Solent and Westminster as well as an early-season Trophy victory against high-flying Loughborough.

The Big Cats had narrow victories in both games against Karl Brown’s team last season although it took overtime at the Brentwood Centre before they wrapped up a 78-74 victory.

Following Saturday’s trip to the midlands Leopards wrap up 2017 with the visits of London Lituanica to Harlow on Saturday December 10 and Lancashire Spinners to Brentwood on Sunday December 18.

Essex Leopards v Bradford Dragons, 27 Nov 2016; Mike Martin with the slam

On Saturday, former England international Mike Martin rolled back the years with a massive 34 point, ten rebound double-double as Ogunjimi’s team picked up a league victory from an excellent advert for Division One basketball.

The new-look Big Cats allowed a seven point lead with three minutes of regulation time slip away but took control in the extra period for their first home league win of the campaign.

Darrell Bethune marked his home debut with 21 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while AJ Roberts added 16 points, five boards and five assists. Dougie Bennett finished with 12 points while another home debutant, Perry Lawson, had seven assists.

The Big Cats overcame a slow start before five straight Bethune points tied the game at 22 going into the first break and they looked likely to only trail by one at half-time before R Williams hit a triple on the buzzer to give Solent a 50-46 lead going into the locker room.

The game remained tight in the third period but a trey from Bethune and a three point play by Martin helped the home side go into the fourth period with a 69-62 lead.

Leopards never trailed in the fourth quarter and Martin’s basket with three minutes left looked to have sealed it, only for Solent to reply with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 82 to force an extra period.

Tosin Oyelese opened the overtime period with a lay-up off Bethune’s assist and Leopards led throughout with three-pointers from Martin and Roberts helping them take control and wrap up the win.

Essex Leopards v Bradford Dragons, 27 Nov 2016; AJ Roberts;

It wasn’t any less nerve-shredding at Brentwood the following day as Dragons were eventually slain in another tense game. The Big Cats never trailed after the mid-stage of the opening period but Bradford produced a fighting performance to take the game to the wire.

Bethune and Martin again led the way with 21 and 19 points respectively and collecting nine assists apiece, with Martin also chipping in with four assists. Roberts finished with his best numbers of the season with a 16 point, ten rebound double-double, adding five assists, with Oyelese adding nine points and Hayes eight.

After the previous night’s exertions, Leopards predictably started slowly despite a Roberts triple, but a Bethune trey launched a 9-0 run open a 14-8 lead with seven minutes gone, and the hosts never trailed again.

Bradford replied with five points but the home side closed out the period with six unanswered points to lead 20-13 at the first break.

That lead evaporated as Dragons opened the second period with a 9-2 run to tie the game only to see Bethune hit seven straight points and Oyelese five as Leopards replied with a 12-2 tear, and they went into the locker room with a 38-33 lead.

Six straight Hayes points kept the Big Cats ahead early in the second half and with Lawson draining from long range the home side went into the final break with a 63-58 lead.

Only Martin’s four points troubled the scorers for Leopards in the opening five minutes of the fourth period and Matt Gooding hit three straight triples to tie the game at 67.

Bethune broke the drought with a pair of lay-ups, and Dragons never got closer than two points again before Roberts wrapped up the win at the foul line.

 

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Meet The Manager

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There will be a Meet the Manager evening with Andy Edwards and Danny Webb on Monday 12th December at 6.45pm (doors 6.30pm) at Leyton Orient Supporters Club.

Priority for this popular event goes to Leyton Orient Supporters Club members by email from today or in person at the home match against Accrington Stanley on Saturday 10th December until 6.00pm. Thereafter any remaining tickets will be allocated on first come first served basis via email to loscinfo@aol.com.

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Leopards Look for Home Double

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Dave Ryan reports…

Having collected their first league win of the season, Levett Leopards will be looking to move up the Division One table with a pair of home games this weekend.

Newly promoted Solent Kestrels are the visitors to Harlow Leisurezone on Saturday (7.30pm) while Bradford Dragons are the visitors to the Brentwood Centre the following afternoon (4pm) and both sides should provide tough tests for Steve Ogunjimi’s side.

After losing their two National Trophy games, Kestrels have strengthened their side and are currently joint sixth in the table with a 3-3 record having won their last two games. They have also reached the National Cup semi-final.

Meanwhile Bradford are fifth in the table with five wins from eight games and will be looking to bounce back after a National Cup exit at the hands of league leaders Team Northumbria.

While Leopards have never met Solent – although their predecessors Solent Stars were regular opponents when the Big Cats reformed in 2004 – Dragons have been regular opponents over the last few years and last season’s games saw both sides make the long trip home with a victory under their belts.

Leopards are offering a cheap ticket deal for fans who want to watch them in action at both their home venues this weekend as well as their popular pre-game training session for children. Details are on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk

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The Big Cats chalked up their first league win of the campaign with an emphatic 90-57 victory at Westminster Warriors, on Saturday evening.

The Big Cats led from tip-to-buzzer as they snapped a five game losing streak in Division One to move up to 11th place.

Darrell Bethune marked his debut with 19 points, five assists and four rebounds (and a technical foul) but it was a good all-round team effort with six players scoring in double figures and all nine available players logging at least 13 minutes of action.

Jamie Hayes finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and another bang on the head, with Dougie Bennett and Shaq Lewis adding 14 points apiece.Roberts chipped in with ten points, six rebounds and four assists, while Mike Martin was a rebound short of a double-double with ten points and four assists.

A Leopards side who were without Justin Hitchman (foot injury) and Dominic Scott-Robinson (ill) dominated on the board, out-rebounding the hosts 44-33 and built on good starts to both halves as they won at Capital City Academy for the second time this season.

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Bethune hit a trey to open the scoring and a pair of jump-shots from Hayes saw Leopards rush into an 8-0 lead and a score on the break from debutant Perry Lawson saw the Big Cats go into the first break 18-12 ahead.

Lewis converted a lay-up off Martin’s third assist of the game to open the second period, and both Martin and Bethune took the lead out to nine points as the visitors remained in control.

Bethune made it a 12-point game with 44 seconds remaining in the first half before Johnson cut the lead to 37-27 going into the locker room.

While that was a comfortable first half lead, it was the start to the third period which effectively wrapped up the win.

A massive alley-oop by Martin off Hayes’ assist opened the half before Bennett sunk a trey before a pair of Martin scores and another Bennett basket made it 48-29.

Bethune and Oyelese wrapped up the 15-2 run to make it a 23-point game before Bethune drained from the Land of Plenty to send his side into the final break with a 62-37 lead having outscored hosts 25-10 in the period.

Bethune opened the final quarter with another triple before Bennett made it a 30 point game on the break and the lead never dipped below 26 before Lewis wrapped things up with a dunk on the break to send Leopards home happy.

 

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New Look Leopards Look for First Win

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Dave Ryan reports…

The new-look Levett Essex Leopards will be aiming to chalk up their first league win of the campaign when they make the short trip to Westminster Warriors, on Saturday evening.

Following an indifferent start to the campaign, the Big Cats made sweeping changes, releasing guard/forward Ladi Brown and forward David Ajumobi, while guard Brian Nguru recently left the club due to work commitments.

In addition, point guard Bode Adeluola is unlikely to play against before Christmas as he continues to struggle with a knee injury picked up in the summer.

“We’d like to thank David. Ladi and Brian for their efforts this season” said general manager Dave Ryan.

“Unfortunately the season hasn’t started as we would have liked, and after a lot of consideration we have decided that we need to make changes now.

“We proved in 2011/12 that it’s possible to overcome a slow start, but with a 26-game season it’s important that we start to pick up some victories before Christmas. We hope that Bode will be back in the team after the Christmas break, and we’ll be already moving up the table by then.”

While the Big Cats are continuing to look for additions to their roster, they have moved quickly with the addition of experienced point guard Perry Lawson and they are in the process of signing forward Darrell Bethune for Leicester Warriors.

Former Great Britain and England international Lawson brings a wealth of experience to Steve Ogunjimi’s team.

The 34-year-old point guard played NCAA Division One basketball at South Georgia Tech and was a key part of the Newcastle Eagles 2006 team that won the clean sweep of BBL Championship, BBL Play-offs, BBL Cup and BBL Trophy. He was also part of the Mersey Tigers side who went agonisingly close to emulating Eagles in 2011, missing out in the Cup final, as well as playing alongside Mike Martin at Surrey Heat and more recently playing for London Lions.

Essex Leopards v Reading Rockets 11 Nov 2016; AJ Roberts;

27-year-old Bethune is a former Great Britain under-20 international and has BBL experience with the now defunct Everton Tigers and Leeds Carnegie. Having come through the Hackney Community College system , where Lawson also started his career, the Londoner has also played in Division One for Westminster.

After playing in a pre-season game for the Big Cats, he has top scored for Leicester Warriors this season, and Leopards are hoping that his transfer will be cleared in time for the trip to Westminster.

Both sides will be looking to collect their first league victory of the campaign, with Warriors currently bottom of the table with an 0-6 record. The sides have already met at Capital City Academy with Leopards finishing the National Trophy tie strongly to win 69-64.

An excellent performance from a depleted Leopards’ team wasn’t enough as Reading Rockets finished strongly to win 90-73, on Friday.

With Lawson and Bethune unavailable, a Big Cats’ side who were without Steve Ogunjimi who was serving a one-game suspension following his ejection at Kent Crusaders suffered further problems in the warm-up.

Essex Leopards v Reading Rockets 11 Nov 2016;

Forward Justin Hitchman aggravated a foot injury and played no part in the game, while Jamie Hayes suffered a cut to the head but did play in the game. And by the end of the third period the home side were down to seven fit players as Dominic Scott-Robinson suffered a broken nose.

But for all of that, led by veteran Mike Martin who finished with 26 points and eight rebounds the hosts battled throughout before running out of steam going down the stretch.

Hayes and Dougie Bennett each added 13 points while AJ Roberts was two rebounds short of the triple-double with ten points and 11 boards.

Richards opened the Leopards’ scoring with a triple and the Big Cats dominated the first period to lead 28-16 at the opening break as Hayes drained a pair of threes.

That lead quickly evaporated as Ponder opened the second period with ten straight points in the first two minutes before his one-man scoring spree was ended by a pair of Martin free-throws before the new Leopards’ captain added a jump shot off Scott-Robinson’s assist.

But Ponder continued to keep his side in the game with another five points to give them their first lead since the early stages, 33-32 with 5:57 on the clock and the rest of the half proved to be nip-and-tuck before Scott Robinson hit a trey to send Leopards into the locker room with a 43-42 lead.

Hooper and Martin exchanged baskets to open the third period, and the quarter proved to be a tight one, with Roberts’ lay-up giving his side a 53-50 lead at the mid-point and the American guard put his side up by five with three minutes left before a strong finish to the stanza saw Rocket go into the final break leading 64-58 as Ponder beat the buzzer with a long three.

Martin scored his side’s first six points of the fourth period to keep them within three points but that was as good as it got for the Big Cats, and their tired legs showed as Rockets wrapped up the victory.

The Big Cats return home on Saturday November 26 when Solent Kestrels are the visitors to Harlow Leisurezone while the following day they host Bradford Dragons at the Brentwood Centre.

 

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The Orient Hour – show 17

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The show all about the guys and gals of E10.

This week’s show ws guest-hosted by Steve Robertson and features reaction from yesterday’s 3-0 win at Colchester and another chance to find out how to help Boots2Africa who are hoping to take a million football boots to Africa.

Chris Hood will be back next Sunday at 6pm.

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The Orient Hour – show 16

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The show all about the guys and gals of E10.

This week’s show features FA Cup reaction, the latest club news, Boots2Africa urge you to raid your garage and promotion hero Craig Easton talks survival in 2006/07 and how to prepare the perfect roast dinner on a team bus.

Join us every Sunday at 6pm on Phoenix FM.

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Leopards Look To Bounce Back

Kent Crusaders v Essex Leopards, 30 Oct 2016; Mike Martin

Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards will look to put a dismal National Cup exit behind them when they travel to high-flying Derby Trailblazers, on Saturday.

The Big Cats went down 94-67 at second division Kent Crusaders on Sunday as their hopes of winning the oldest piece of silverware in British basketball were ended, and they will face an even tougher test this week.

Derby have won all their nine games this season to sit top of Division One as well as progressing to the Cup quarter-final stage and the semi-finals of the National Trophy.

All three meetings between the sides last season were thrillers with the Big Cats going down 75-71 in the midlands a week after an 81-71 loss against them in the Cup quarter-final before gaining revenge with a 74-71 win at Harlow Leisurezone.

Leopards’ coach Steve Ogunjimi knows that his team needs significant and immediate improvement if they are to move up the Division One table and into a play-off position:

“Sunday wasn’t acceptable” he said. “We need more energy and more pride in our performance. If that doesn’t happen quickly there are going to have to be changes.”

Kent Crusaders v Essex Leopards, 30 Oct 2016; Jamie Hayes with the jump-shot

It was a Halloween horror show for the Big Cats on a cramped court in Gillingham, with Ogunjimi ejected midway through the third period for arguing with the referee in an erratically officiated game.

But the visiting side could have few complaints about the final result as they were outgunned by a young Kent side who chalked up their ninth successive win and took their second top flight scalp of the competition.

Leopards won the tip but that was as good as it got for the away side as they missed their first three shots, with Tosin Oyelese going scoreless at the foul line before AJ Robert finally got them off the mark to make it 4-2 in the hosts’ favour.

Ogunjimi called a timeout at the mid-point of the first period with his side trailing 18-10 but the break made little difference despite a Ladi Brown triple, and despite Kent missing a layup on the buzzer Crusaders went into the first break with a 32-16 lead.

Justin Hitchman opened the second period scoring with a pair of free-throws and Brown sunk another trey but the margin was still 16 halfway through the stanza and Kent pulled away to lead 54-33 at half-time.

Mike Martin  – who led the visitors with 14 points – opened the second half scoring with a long two-pointer but despite the Big Cats getting a rash of calls in their favour after Ogunjimi’s ejection the margin grew to 76-51 at the final break before they were outscored 18-16 in the fourth period.

Brown finished with 12 points while David Ajumobi added 11.

Leopards return to the Brentwood Centre on Friday November 11 when Reading Rockets are the visitors, tip-off 8pm.

 

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Leopards Look To Avoid Upset

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Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards will look to avoid a National Cup banana skin when they travel to Kent Crusaders for a fourth round tie, on Sunday.

While the Big Cats have made a stuttering start to the campaign, Crusaders have come flying out of the blocks with three straight wins in Division Two as well as reaching the second tier Patron’s Cup semi-final.

But it was their 105-52 demolition of Division One side London Lituanica in the Cup third round that caused the biggest shock as the biggest defeat suffered by a top flight side against lower division opposition since the competition was revamped in 2003.

Coached by former Leopard Lloyd Gardner, the Kent side comprises players from the Barking Abbey Basketball Academy that worked with Leopards during their 2012 treble winning season.

They won the 2015 play-off title, beating the league-winning Leopards in the semi-final, but an entirely different roster struggled last season and they were relegated.

With a year’s extra experience under their belts, Crusaders look set for a quick return to Division One and they are a side Leopards won’t be taking lightly as they look to set up a home quarter-final against Hemel Storm or Reading at Leisurezone.

A disastrous first period for the Big Cats paved the way for an 80-60 defeat against Manchester Magic at the Brentwood Centre, on Sunday.

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A big crowd at the Brentwood Centre were left stunned as Steve Ogunjimi’s team went more than six minutes without a score as reigning champions Magic poured in 18 unanswered points.

The 24-4 first period deficit proved to be insurmountable for the home side, and was Leopards’ lowest scoring period for over ten years since being outscored 4-2 in a brutal fourth period at Reading.

Injuries played a big part in Leopards’ woes with the Big Cats struggling at the guard positions due to injuries to Bode Adebuola and Brian Nguru, with Ogunjimi making a brief first appearance for the first time since returning to the club. Justin Hitchman and Caleb Taberner was also missing, but the home side were able to give guard AJ Roberts his debut, with the American having a quiet seven points and two rebounds.

Only Mike Martin troubled the scorers in the first period as the Big Cats struggled offensively but they finally clicked in the second period as Dougie  Bennett started and finished a 15-4 run to cut the lead to 30-19 but Magic answered with an 8-2 run before Roberts hit a foul shot to send Leopards into the locker room trailing 40-24.

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Martin opened the second half scoring and a Bennett and-one kept his side in touch before Dave Ajumobi hit five points in a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 51-44 at the final break.

Having finally given the crowd something to cheer about, that proved to be as good as it got for the home side as Jack Minister and Ryan Lewis hit treys to open the fourth period and although Roberts hit five straight points to cut the deficit to 11, Magic finished strongly to continue their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Ajumobi finished with 15, with Martin adding a 13 point, 11 rebound double-double. In the absence of Adebuola to add ten points, Simon Anumba led all scorers with a 30 point haul, with Lewis finishing with a 14 point, 13 rebound double-double.

The Big Cats return to the Brentwood Centre on Friday November 11 when Reading Rockets are the visitors, tip-off 8pm.

 

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The Orient Hour – show 14

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The show all about the guys and gals of E10.

This week’s show features Hartlepool reaction, the latest club news and a chat with former O Adam Tann.  Tann was a key feature in 2005/06 and the subsequent season and talks about his career and a serious health scare while at the O’s.

Live on Phoenix FM every Sunday at 6pm.

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Anthony Upton Vacates the English Super-Lightweight Title

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Tim Rickson reports…

Anthony Upton (13-1) has vacated his English super-lightweight title ahead of his proposed mandatory defence against former conqueror Joe Hughes (14-2).

The British Boxing Board of Control had ordered the defence to take place in December after promoter Stuart Davies won the purse bids last month, but Upton’s recent relocation back to Essex and subsequent change in team meant there was not enough time to prepare for the championship contest.

“I was told I had to defend my title by December,” said the 24-year-old. “It was either defend it or vacate it but I want to have a least two warm-up fights with my new trainer Barry Smith in the corner first.

“My manager advised me to have two fights with Barry in the corner and to vacate the title and to aim for something bigger next year.”

Anto, along with brothers Sonny, 27, and Pauly, 28, recently moved back to Essex after breaking ties with former trainer Ricky Hatton.

The trio have since settled in at the West Ham Gym under the tutelage of new trainer Barry Smith, who guided Tommy Martin into the boxing history books as the youngest ever English champion.

Their inauguration as a team will start on Fireworks Night at York Hall in a six-rounder with opponent yet to be confirmed.

The 140-pounder said, “This will be a warm up fight on November 5th as it’s the first one with Barry in my corner.

“Everything’s going well and we are gelling as a team. I am working with a new nutritionist called Liam Price, who also does my strength and conditioning, so it’s all new people to get used to but it’s going well and I’m settled with my new team.”

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The three siblings collectively known as The Upton Clan are all managed by Spanish-based management team MGM.

“MGM are my managers, so it’s pointless having them there if I didn’t listen to them. The same advice also came from Barry, too.

“I went to MGM after my first loss and now I’m English champion, so I trust them with my life. This is my livelihood, so you have to have that trust that they make the right decisions for you.

“I know I’m in good hands, I’m happy with my team; I’ve got a small circle and that’s how I like to keep it.”

Anto won the English Championship on his second attempt, having previously lost out on points to the former titleholder Joe Hughes in December last year.

Former conqueror Hughes then vacated the English honours to challenge Jack Catterall for his WBO Inter-Continental super-lightweight title last May, losing out on points.

Second time around, Anto defeated West Midland’s Luke Paddock (14-2) with a stunning one-punch KO finish in the penultimate round at Chase Leisure Centre in Cannock in July.

“Obviously fighting Joe Hughes is something that I want to do to even the score but, at the same time, I’ve got to think about what’s sensible,” explained Anto.

“No disrespect to Joe because he’s a great fighter and the better man won that night but I know I can beat him.”

Three months on from the victory and the English titlist has boldly decided to vacate the honours to allow others to contest for the championship, he said, “Yeah it is disappointing to have to give the title back because I worked so hard to get it. If I had more time to prepare then I would have defended it but I want to get these two fights out of the way then go for something bigger and if it’s against Joe Hughes down the line, then great!”

Anto is slated to fight next on November 5th at York Hall in Bethnal Green on a Hellraiser Promotions show titled ‘East End Explosion’.

“Right now I’m fully focused on the next fight on November 5th, this will be a six-rounder, then I’ll have an eight-rounder in December, then I plan to hit it hard next year.”

For tickets to the show, please contact 07951 318 081

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Leopards Hoping for Magic at Brentwood Centre

The Leopards will be hoping to unveil AJ Roberts

The Leopards will be hoping to unveil AJ Roberts

Dave Ryan reports…
Levett Essex Leopards will be hoping to unveil new American guard AJ Roberts when they host Manchester Magic at the Brentwood Centre, on Sunday (4pm).
The 6’5″  Californian can play both guard spots and is expected to fly into the country this week the Big Cats aiming to get international clearance in time for Magic’s visit.
The 24-year-old graduated from Union College in the States and played professionally for Buffalo 716ers in the Pro Basketball League in his home country
Roberts transferred to Union from Niagra County Community College in New York where he played two seasons of basketball. He was named third team all-region as a freshman and first team all-region as a sophomore in junior college. The new Leopard earned the team MVP award in both his seasons. In junior college, he averaged 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks per game.
Prior to that Roberts prepped at Niagara Catholic (N.Y.) High School where he played basketball and football. He led his basketball team to the 2005 and 2007 MMCC Title, along with a Catholic State runner-up in 2007. In high school basketball, Roberts earned first team all-Catholic, defensive MVP, team MVP twice, and team captain three times.
Leopards’ coach Steve Ogunjimi is delighted to have Roberts on board: “AJ was in the country during the summer, he’s played with our guys and I think he’ll be a really good fit for us” he said.
“We lack depth at the guard positions, especially with Bode’s [Adeloula] knee still causing him problems, and I believe AJ can push us on to the next level and help us win some silverware.”
Roberts will be one of the Leopards’ players .taking part in the Big Cats’ pre-game coaching session for junior players on Sunday. Places can be booked on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk.
The Big Cats will face a tough test against a Magic side who won all four pieces of EBL silverware last season. Despite the loss of league MVP Ellis Cooper, they have continued where they left off with six straight victories to open the campaign and are already through the National Trophy semi-final.
Levett Essex Leopards v Loughborough Riders, 15 Oct 2016; Bode Adeluola;
Meanwhile, Leopards general manger Dave Ryan has criticised Ipswich after the Suffolk club pulled out of Sunday’s National Cup game at Harlow with under six hours’ notice:
“It’s really disappointing, and makes the whole sport look amateurish” said Ryan. “We were called at 9.40 on Sunday morning to be told that they couldn’t raise a team, and it’s really not acceptable. They managed to put a team out for a home game on Saturday evening, but obviously it was too much effort to get on a mini bus the following day.
“We’d put a lot of time and effort into promoting the game and, as I don’t hold out much hope of getting proper compensation, we stand to lose  a lot of money we can’t afford.
“We spent a lot of time on Sunday morning trying to ensure everyone knew the game was off, but people still turned up at Leisurezone on Sunday afternoon and if they think the whole sport is Micky Mouse and don’t bother coming again it’s hard to blame them.
“We’re through to the next round, but that isn’t much consolation, we wanted to see our team play but instead we all wasted our time.”
Levett Essex Leopards v Loughborough Riders, 15 Oct 2016; David Ajumobi;
The Big Cats will travel to Kent Crusaders in the last 16 after the Division Two side hammered an understrength London Lituanica team by 51 points on Sunday. The game is scheduled for Sunday October 30.
The no-show by Ipswich completed a miserable weekend for the Big Cats as they went down 59-52 against Loughborough Riders at Leisurezone, on Saturday evening.
The home side looked to have recovered from a lacklustre display as Adeloula sent them into the final period 44-41 ahead, but the visitors went on a 10-0 run to grab a lead they would never lose.
Two-from-four foul shooting from Ladi Brown made it a one point game heading into the final 90 seconds, but the hosts didn’t trouble the scorers again, and Riders wrapped things up from the free-throw line.
Foul shooting proved to Leopards’ Achilles heal as they converted just five of their 16 attempts at the charity stripe.
David Ajumobi led a Leopards’ side who were without the injured Mike Martin, finishing with 15 points and eight rebounds. Brown added 12 boards and eight points.
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Harlow Double for Leopards

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Dave Ryan reports…
There’s a double dose of action at Harlow Leisurezone this weekend with Levett Leopards facing tough tests in both NBL Division One and the National Cup.
Newly promoted Loughborough Riders are the visitors in Saturday’s league action (tip-off 7.30pm) before Ipswich visit for a National Cup third round tie on Sunday (3.30pm).
It will be the first time the Big Cats have met either team, with Loughborough having won promotion as Division Two champions last season. The midlands side lost both their National Trophy games by narrow margins but bounced back to open their league programme with a comfortable win against a Solet Kestrels side who were promoted with them last season.
Sunday sees Steve Ogunjimi’s side look to move a step closer to winning the National Cup for a fourth time as they host Division Two side Ipswich.  The Suffolk side, who include former Leopards’ big man Leigh Greenan in their line-up, have been one of the top teams in Division Two for several seasons. They split their two games in the Division Two cup competition before reaching the third round of the Cup with an 83-53 win against Chelmsford Lions.  With the National Cup having been revamped this season in an attempt to avoid top flight sides blowing out lower division opponents, the Big Cats will look to take advantage and seal a trip to either Kent Crusaders or London Lituanica in the last 16.
With two home games at Harlow in under 24 hours, the Big Cats are offering cut priced tickets for fans who attend both ties, details on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk.
Essex Leopards v London Lituanica 6th Mar 2016; Justin Hitchman;
The Big Cats will be looking for improved performances over the weekend as they made a disappointing start to the NBL Division One season as they went down 81-67 at Team Northumbria, on Sunday.
Trips to the North East haven’t been kind to the Big Cats in recent years, but a lacklustre third period proved key as their league campaign started with a defeat.  Steve Ogunjimi’s side matched the home side in the first half, going into the first break tied at 18 and led 36-34 following a Ladi Brown trey heading into the final minute of the second period before Northumbria hit the final four points to lead going into the locker room.
That set the tone for the second half as they were outscored 19-12 in the third period to trail 57-48 at the final break and they were down by as many as 20 before a rally by the bench players saw a Brian Nguru and a Justin Hitchin layup cut the lead down the stretch.
Hitchman came off the bench to lead the visitors’ scoring with 13 points, with Brown adding 13, Mike Martin nine and Dougie Bennett – making a rare start – eight.
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Anthony Upton Teams Up with Tommy Martin

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Tim Rickson reports…

English super-lightweight champion Anthony Upton (13-1) has teamed up with close friend and fellow 140-pounder Tommy Martin in his West Ham Gym under the tutelage of new trainer Barry Smith.

The 24-year-old is the current English super-lightweight titleholder, which is the same belt that Tommy Martin made history with back in January 2015 when he became the youngest ever English champion.

The pair were friends back in 2012 when Martin, aged 18 at the time, first turned pro and trained at the same Canning Town gym.

Anto commented on the new partnership, “We first started training alongside each other at the TKO Gym when Tommy had first turned pro.

“We used to spar a lot, we done a lot of rounds together.

“He was with Barry Smith and I was with Mo Hussein at the time.

“He was still young and new to London so we used to hang out together outside of training.”

Anto, along with brothers Pauly and Sonny, were all part of Ricky Hatton’s Manchester gym until collectively they decided to part ways and head back down south to Essex.

“When I left Ricky, I had a nice break and went on holiday with my Mrs and kid, which was well overdue,” said Upton.

“I spoke with my manager about finding a new trainer and gym and he put out a few names and the one that stood out was Barry Smith; I had him in mind anyway.

“He’s a good up-and-coming trainer and I’ve seen him training Tommy and when it was offered, he took it with both hands.”

Whist under Ricky Hatton’s management, Anto won the English Championship on his second attempt last July, having previously lost out on points to the former titleholder Joe Hughes (13-1) in December last year.

He defeated West Midland’s Luke Paddock (14-2) with a stunning one-punch KO finish in the penultimate round at Chase Leisure Centre in Cannock last July to lift the English title, while Martin defeated Ricky Boylan on points at the O2 Arena to lift the same belt 18-months prior.

The trio of skilled siblings ensured that their move was as a collective, Anto explained, “Its good being together, we’ve done it all our lives.

“Turning pro at first, Pauly and me was in Essex and Sonny was with Ricky in Manchester and it didn’t feel right.

“It’s good to have them with me, I was sparring my brother Paul in the gym today.”

English super-lightweight champ Anto, Irish light middle champ Pauly, and upcoming English super-welterweight title challenger Sonny are all managed by Spanish-based management team MGM.

Anto is eyeing his next fight in a month’s time on the Belfast BoxNation TV show at the Titanic Exhibition Centre on November 5th, headlined by Jamie Conlan in a defense of his Commonwealth super-flyweight title.

He confirmed, “I’m hoping for the 5th November in Belfast. I’m looking to have two warm up fights before the end of the year, then to have a break over Christmas and look for something big next year in March.”

For tickets to the show, please contact 07951 318 081

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‘Dazzling’ Darrel Church Set for Comeback Fight on December 3rd

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Tim Rickson reports…

Light-heavyweight prospect ‘Dazzling’ Darrel Church (2-1-1) will make his ring return on December 3rd at London’s York Hall on a Kevin Campion promoted show titled, ‘Christmas Cracker’.

The festive event will provide Church, 27-years-old from Essex, with just his second fight this year due to setbacks with injuries and illnesses.

“My next fight is on December 3rd at York Hall, called ‘Christmas Cracker’, confirmed Church. “I’ll have the best training camp I can ever have and it will be the best performance I can ever give.”

The 175-pounder has had a stuttering start to his professional career plagued with setbacks including injuries, sickness and cancellations since debuting back in July 2014 at the Grays Civic Hall in Essex.

Just four fights in over two years has left Church feeling somewhat deflated but was recently rejuvenated after signing contracts with promoter Steve Goodwin.

He was due to make his debut appearance under the Goodwin Boxing banner on July 16th at the York Hall but suffered from an illness in the weeks preceding the show.

The Witham resident, trained by Mark Massow, thought he had hit rock bottom following yet another withdrawal but received a boost from sponsors MB Surfacing that will now allow him to train around the clock.

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Business owner Church previously struggled to balance the two professions together, he said, “Trying to run a business at the same time as training is too hard, but luckily my sponsors have helped and it’s worked out alright.”

Church, first turned pro with a win over Curtis Gargano (0-1-1) in July 2014, followed up four months later with a second victory over debutant Haidar Sadik – both bouts at Grays Civic Hall in Essex under the Carl Greaves Promotions banner.

Then, Church suffered a defeat at the hands of Angelo Crowe (2-6) after an extended absence from the ring in June last year due to injury, which led to an even longer hiatus after that, which resulted in a stalemate with Mitch Mitchell (6-46-2) in his comeback fight almost 12 months later.

Then, just days ahead of his next scheduled fight in July this year, Church was struck down with a bug again, he explained, “I was due to fight last July but in the week before the fight, I got ill again.

“I know now that it’s down to cutting weight and running myself into the ground with working and training at the same time.

“I got just couldn’t do anything at all. I couldn’t train, couldn’t eat, and couldn’t get out of bed.

“Afterwards, I felt like it was a bit of a joke as it keeps happening all the time and I couldn’t see a way around it. I actually said to a few people afterwards that I was thinking of quitting boxing.

“I went away on holiday to clear my head and just last weekend I met with MB Surfacing who have agreed to sponsor me enough to allow me to train fulltime.”

The father of one went on to say, “I’ve got freedom to train all day now, I can move around gyms to get the best sparring, I’ve got a nutritionist on board, great team around me and top sponsors supporting me fulltime.

“I want to fight four or five times next year, it’s got to happen now as I’ve been a professional for a long time but only fought four times.

“However, I’m still only 27 so I’ve still got plenty of time. I’ll have this next one as a four-rounder, then maybe a six-rounder next March.”

For tickets to the show contact Team Church on 07938 878 962

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Paul Hilz Collects International Challenge Super-Middleweight Belt

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Tim Rickson reports….

It was a successful night for Basildon’s Paul Hilz (3-2) on September 23rd as he got back to a winning record and claimed the International Challenge super-middleweight belt with a points win over Lewis van Poetsch (4-46).

The home fighter kept the Grays Civic Hall fans on the edge of their seats throughout the eight-round contest and had their hearts thumping nervously as he hit the deck in the final round.

Despite the late knockdown, Hilz took the decision 77-75 on points to claim his first belt in the paid ranks.

“He hit me on the back of head in the eighth and had me down on all fours,” said Hilz. “I got a count for it which is just one of those things, and I don’t think the ref could see where the punch had landed from where he was.

“The scores were 77-75 but without that knockdown, it would have been just right, even the ref said the scores didn’t do the fight justice.”

Travelling fighter van Poetsch, 25-years-old from Gloucestershire, was the far more experienced of the two going into the contest with twice as many wins on his ledger.

Although the journeyman ‘Poochi’ marked his 50th professional fight with yet another defeat, the veteran had previously triumphed over unbeaten prospects and shared the ring with English, British and Commonwealth champions in his four-year long career.

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“That boy didn’t let me do much because he knows just what to do in there,” said Hilz. “I caught him early on and he didn’t want to get tagged again.

“I couldn’t get nothing solid on him and he was moving away so much, I just couldn’t pin him down.

“My trainer Kevin Lilley said to me that you’re not going to pinpoint him so use your clean jabs, he knew what he had to say to me and it worked, so it was all good and we was victorious.”

Hilz joined boxing late and enjoyed a successful stint in the thriving unlicensed boxing scene in Essex, winning 12 of his 14 fights and collecting the IBA British and European cruiserweight titles.

Aged 32, he turned professional under Carl Greaves’ management back in 2014. It was his second crack at a Challenge belt, previously falling short in his last challenge for the British version to Scott Douglas (2-3-2) in December 2015.

The newly-formed Challenge belts were developed in place of the now defunct Masters titles.

“It’s one of the only titles that I could win as a professional and I done it,” beamed the father of four. “The only thing that’s left for me to do would be to fight on a big stage, so the phone is there and if I get the call, I’ll pick it up.”

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The four-fight card in Grays hosted by Carl Greaves Promotions also showcased exciting young middleweight prospect Tey Lynn Jones, who moved up to 5-0 on his record.

Backed by the famous TV nightclub Sugar Hut and roared on by an army of fans, ‘Teystey’ rewarded them all with a stunning second-round stoppage victory over 21-year-old Derbyshire boxer Tommy Carter (1-3).

The upset of the night was the maiden loss for home fighter Idris Hill (5-1), his trainer rightfully throwing in the towel in the eighth-round after sustaining a bad jaw injury.

The victor, Danny Parsons (5-3), is a product of the successful Queensberry Boxing League in Surrey, securing his second professional belt – the British Challenge super-lightweight belt – in consecutive fights, both by stoppages in the final round.

Chadwell Heath’s Ben Hall (9-0-1) defeated William Warburton (20-99-8) on points in his 10th professional bout.

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The Orient Hour – show 10

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The show all about the guys and gals of E10.

On this week’s show we have reaction to the loss to Notts County plus the latest transfer news and the second part of our interview with Sandy Risley. We also have the first part of our chat with striker Scott McGleish who was with the O’s in three spells across three decades.

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The Orient Hour – show 9

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The show all about the guys and gals of E10.

On this week’s show we have reaction to the loss to Yeovil alongside Shona Duthie from The Guardian group of East London newspapers, plus we talk with a cult figure at the O’s Sandy Risley. Sandy was at times Fitness Coach, Masseur, Kit Man, mentor to some players and confidant to others.

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Boots2Africa Need Your Help

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Oscar and Iain join Chris in the studio

We were delighted to be joined in the studio by Iain and Oscar Finch from Boots2Africa who let us know all about their amazing initiative to get 1 million boots out to Africa by 2030 to help kids with no shoes live a better life.

Listen again below.

 
For more info visit www.boots2africa.co.uk

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Paul Hilz Gets A Second Shot At The British Challenge Super Middleweight Belt

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Delighted to be joined in the studio today by Paul Hilz a pro-boxer from Basildon as he gets a second shot at the British Challenge Super Middleweight Belt on September 23 at Grays Civic Hall.

Listen again to the interview below…

[audio:http://www.phoenixfm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Paul-Hilz-17-Sep-2016.mp3]

Tickets are available by calling 07956 723 636 and you can also follow Paul on Facebook.

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The Orient Hour – show 8

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The show all about the boys and girls of E10.

On this week’s show we have reaction to Orient’s 2-2 draw with Carlisle, plus part 2 of our Matt Lockwood interview and the final part of our chat with Steve Jenkins talking about the WWI history of Clapton Orient.

We’re back on Sunday at 6pm.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 39 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

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In this episode, Ronnie answers listener questions, tells us whether we need to seal a fence and we talk Olympics, while Scott W gives us his non-league roundup.

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The Orient Hour – show 6

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A new show all about the boys and girls of E10.

On this week’s show we have reaction to the defeat at home to Mansfield and also speak to some of the people behind The Greater Game, a play all about the Clapton Orient boys of WWI.
Plus we hear more about the heroes of WWI with club historian Steve Jenkins.
All that plus your usual dose of club news.
Back on Sunday at 6pm.
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The Orient Hour – show 5

Peter Kitchen

A new show all about the boys and girls of E10.

On this week’s show, we have reaction from Orient’s victory at Blundell Park plus we are joined in the studio by the legendary Peter Kitchen.
We talk about Peter’s career which took in two spells with the O’s, scoring 63 goals in 127 matches including a number as Orient went all the way to the FA Cup semi final in 1977/78.
We’ll be back next Sunday from 6pm with another episode of The Orient Hour.
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The Orient Hour – show 4

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A new show all about the boys and girls of E10.

This week’s show features reaction from Orient’s 1-0 loss to Newport in their opening home league game, plus we chat with Martin Strong about his new book on the Os.

Also, we have part 2 of our sit down with Orient legend Martin Ling to talk about his life, from its beginnings in Forest Gate through to his successful playing career, moving into coaching and management, right up to the present.  In 13 years at Orient, the man did it all, from player to youth coach, assistant manager and manager. Part two picks up with Martin returning to Orient as a youth coach

Back on Sunday at 6pm.

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The Orient Hour – show 3

Martin Ling for website

A new show all about the boys and girls of E10.

This week’s show features reaction from Orient’s 1-1 draw with Cheltenham in the season’s opening weekend and a track from Barry Galvin and Kenny Toal marking those who gave their lives in The Somme.

Also, we have part 1 of our sit down with Orient legend Martin Ling to talk about his life, from its beginnings in Forest Gate through to his successful playing career, moving into coaching and management, right up to the present.  In 13 years at Orient, the man did it all, from player to youth coach, assistant manager and manager.

Back on Sunday at 6pm.

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Kids Join Classmate in Special Blind Football Session

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Special session put on by Basildon Soccability to enable boys to play football with visually impaired friend.

Last Saturday (30th July, 2016) saw a very special football training session take place in Basildon.

A group of players from Billericay youth football team FC Redwing were able to join their visually impaired friend and experience what it is like to play soccer in his world.

The idea stemmed from a conversation between visually impaired Kieran Webster’s mother and Katherine Gordon the wife of one of the managers of FC Redwing’s U8 teams.

Mark Gordon, Manager of the FC Redwing U8s “Hawks” explains “We have a lot of classmates of Kieran’s playing for our club so when we heard that they would like to play football with each other we decided to see what could be done.  Thanks to a call out on Twitter we made contact with Basildon Soccability who offered to put a special session on for the boys.”

During the session the boys were required to don special blindfolds and perform tasks with a modified ball filled with ball-bearings.  The highlights of the session was a blind penalty shootout and a match at the end.

Basildon Soccability’s Chairman John Smith continues “As we have just started a free weekly session for those who are visually impaired the timing was perfect when we saw FC Redwing’s tweet.  It was great to see the boys really take to this kind of football and be able to play with their friend.  There was a lot of smiling faces out there but perhaps more importantly they got to appreciate how hard it is for Kieran.”

If you have a child who is interested in taking part in Basildon Soccability’s visually impaired football sessions then please contact John Smith on 07814 2227 304 or at smithjohn111rough@googlemail.com.

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The Orient Hour – show 1

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The first of a new show all about the boys and girls of E10.

First up, an in depth chat with former Orient centre back, captain, youth coach and assistant manager Dean Smith who now spends his time in charge of Brentford.

Back next Sunday at 6pm as Martin Ling talks to The Orient Hour.

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BLT SportsFest 2016: Day 3 The Tournaments

Sunday 3rd July saw the final day of BLT SportsFest 2016 at The Brentwood Centre as the tournaments took centre stage.

I spoke with Tom from Now Strike Archery to explain his event.

[audio:http://www.phoenixfm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Now-Strike-Archery.mp3]

See pictures from the day below.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 37 with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Alan Bentley and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

Chris, Alan and Ronnie are joined by Paralympian Shot Putter Jonathan Adams who also serves as a Director and Ambassador for World Disability Billiards and Snooker.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 36 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

Chris and Ronnie chat with Ilford FC manager Allan Fenn and Ronnie O’Sullivan Jr about all things sport.

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We’ll be back next week with more Midweek Matchzone.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 35 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

Chris and Ronnie chat with Billericay Town FC boss Craig Edwards about his career to date and the world of non-league.

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Our thanks go to former guest Emma Murphy who helped us with our research into Craig’s career.

We’ll be back soon with more Midweek Matchzone.

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Wembley Wonders: Billericay Town in the FA Vase

On 21 May Phoenix FM presented a special show celebrating the 40th anniversary of Billericay Town Football Club winning the FA Vase in 1976.

Not only that but the club went on to win again in 1977 and 1979, and the teams from those special days came together at New Lodge on 9 April to share old memories and make new ones.

In the show we catch up with some of the key men from the triumphs and also play a few of the hits from the victory years.

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Former Skipper Arthur Coughlan

Former Skipper Arthur Coughlan

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Arthur Coughlan and 79 Hat Trick Hero Doug Young

Arthur Coughlan and ’79 Hat Trick Hero Doug Young

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Midweek Matchzone – show 34 with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Alan Bentley and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and Alan Bentley as Chris’s co-hosts.

Chris, Alan and Ronnie are joined in the studio by Wayne Banks from Fitness In Mind UK and karting champ Lochlan Bearman. Plus talk on snooker, football and F1.

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We’ll be back soon with more Midweek Matchzone.

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The Essex Past of Stuart Bingham and Ali Carter

Who's this with Stuart Bingham back in 2011?

Who’s this with Stuart Bingham back in 2011?

Today on the show we heard my chat with Sarah Ensor from Essex Record Office about the Essex past of snooker players Stuart Bingham and Ali Carter.

[audio:http://www.phoenixfm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Sarah-Ensor.mp3]

More information on the research is available on the Essex Record Office blog.

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GIG REVIEW: The Iron Maidens (O2 Academy Islington 14 April 2016)

The world’s only all-female Iron Maiden tribute band, The Iron Maidens, rocked a packed O2 Academy Islington on Thursday night in their debut UK gig, their stop in London a one-off for their current run.

They were ably supported by Billericay’s Forever Never, who entertained the crowd with their rap/metal set – think Linkin Park and A.  Renny Carroll’s vocal was on point and he was a great entertainer, but you can’t help but feel a 9 song set was perhaps a stretch too far for a support act.

Billericay's own Forever Never

Billericay’s own Forever Never

But, on to the main event, and The Iron Maidens, who totally lived up to their hype.  From the moment that Churchill’s speech came out over the speakers, the crowd was hooked by virtuoso musicianship from Nikki Stringfield and Courtney Cox on guitar (with some face-meltingly good solos), the pocket rocket Wanda Ortiz on bass, powerhouse Linda McDonald on the drums and awesome vocals of Kirsten Rosenberg.  The ladies looked genuinely pleased to be in the UK and had a great rapport with the audience, especially during Fear of the Dark and The Phantom of the Opera (with the traditional audience sing-alongs). The set list was a refreshing mix of classics and a couple of left-field numbers, and had you wondering what they would come up with next.

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Overall, a fantastic night, and a band that HAVE TO come back to these shores soon.

SET LIST

(Intro) Doctor Doctor
Aces High
Revelations
Wasted Years
22 Acacia Avenue
The Trooper
The Duellists
Killers
The Prisoner
Still Life
Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Number of the Beast
The Phantom of the Opera
Fear of the Dark
 
ENCORE
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills
(Outro) Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

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Brentwood Town 1-2 Dulwich Hamlet (Ryman Premier)

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BRENTWOOD TOWN 1-2 DULWICH HAMLET

Both teams came into this game at the Arena on Tuesday night on the lookout for three points, but for very different reasons. Dulwich hoped to move closer to a playoff place, while Brentwood were hoping to keep their slim hopes of survival alive.

However, the match couldn’t have started much worse for the hosts as, a minute into the match, Dulwich earned a corner which Brentwood captain Martyn Stokes put past Ollie Bowles to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Brentwood Town 0-1 Dulwich Hamlet

Brentwood had seemingly still not left the dressing room as Dulwich looked dangerous early on. In fact, Brentwood took until 10 minutes in to kick into gear, as Petrit Elbi weaved his way through the midfield.  But, it was clear who was the superior of the two sides as Dulwich showed off their technical prowess; Rhys Murrell-Williamson wowing the assembled crowd with an overhead kick, before failing to connect with a much easier shot when looking certain to score.

Alex Teniola was making a nuisance of himself up front, twisting and turning to earn a corner, the resulting header glanced wide.

Dulwich Hamlet nearly became their own worst enemies 22 minutes in, as Brentwood pressure caused a pass back, which was picked up by the Dulwich keeper Preston Edwards, conceding an indirect free kick.  However, the free kick was blazed over, wasting a great opportunity to equalise.

Mitchell Nelson was next to have a chance for the visitors, his header going over the crossbar, before Connor Witherspoon found some joy in midfield, but that ultimately came to nought.

Murrell-Williamson was still the danger man for Dulwich, but shot tamely at Bowles after a great run 36 minutes in.

Despite all the Dulwich pressure, Brentwood nearly went in level at half-time, a scramble in the area unable to be converted.  So, Dulwich went in a goal to the good, but Brentwood had improved after a slow start.

HALF-TIME: BRENTWOOD TOWN 0-1 DULWICH HAMLET

The second half started much like the first, Brentwood again slow out of the blocks, and again Dulwich took advantage.  A free kick on the by-line was punched by Bowles but only to Ethan Pinnock who tapped in as the ball fell at his feet.

Brentwood Town 0-2 Dulwich Hamlet

Brentwood were still fighting and Teniola held the ball up well without there being any options, eventually slicing well over.

On 58 minutes, a lifeline.  Sam Cross stepped up to a dangerously placed free kick, slotting in expertly past Edwards.

Brentwood Town 1-2 Dulwich Hamlet

This gave Brentwood a new lease on life, as a foul allowed Marcus Milner to whip the ball into the Dulwich box, which was well held by the keeper.  Teniola then went for the spectacular as he attempted an overhead kick, but there was no goal despite excellent execution.

The remainder of the game was broken up by a number of substitutions for both sides, with the only meaningful chance coming from Lawrence Yiga for the visitors who chipped nonchalantly over Bowles, but also over the bar.

Brentwood huffed and puffed, but couldn’t break Dulwich down and slipped to another defeat.

FULL-TIME: BRENTWOOD TOWN 1-2 DULWICH HAMLET

Brentwood now sit 9 points from safety with 3 games remaining and face the Met Police at home on Saturday.  Dulwich face Lewes at home on Saturday, their penultimate game of the season.

VIEW FROM THE ANALYST: SCOTT W

Brentwood Town knew they needed a win from this match and they started nervously. Dulwich taking the lead after just a minute only added to the jitters and the Blues’ had their hands full keeping the arrears to just one goal for the rest of the first half, defending manfully.
However, Dulwich started the second half as they did the first by getting a second goal, it took a beautiful curling free-kick by Sam Cross to really get the Blues motoring against their more assured opponents. Whilst the Blues’ created more chances in the more evenly-contested second period, Dulwich were still dangerous and full of running on the counter-attack and ultimately were the better side throughout.

Brentwood Town Line-up: 21 Ollie Bowles, 2 Marcus Milner, 3 Sam Cross, 4 Martyn Stokes (c), 5 Ryan O’Rawe, 20 Simon Glover, 7 Robbie Rees (15 Jack Suters 90’), 8 Connor Witherspoon (12 Mitch Hahn 74’), 9 Petrit Elbi (14 Shad Ngandu 73’), 10 Alex Teniola, 11 Andrew Freeman

Unused Sub: 17 James Alborough

Dulwich Hamlet Line-up: 1 Preston Edwards, 2 Mitchell Nelson, 3 Jordan Brown, 4 Jack Dixon, 5 Matt Drage, 6 Ethan Pinnock, 7 Nyren Clunis, 8 Ashley Carew, 9 Damian Scannell (16 Lawrence Yiga 83’), 10 Roman Michael-Percil (12 Ryan Moss 68’), 11 Rhys Murrell-Williamson (15 Jordan Hibbert 68’)

Unused Subs: 14 Kevin James, 17 Danny Waldren
 

  

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Ilford 2-0 Bowers & Pitsea (Essex Senior League)

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ILFORD 2 – 0 BOWERS & PITSEA

Ilford avenged last week’s defeat to Bowers & Pitsea, convincingly overcoming them 2-0 on a cold Wednesday night at Cricklefields.

Bowers, fresh from beating Tower Hamlets 7-1 over the weekend were strangely blunt going forward as Ilford took all the points, putting a slight dent in the visitors title ambitions, albeit still with plenty of games in hand.

The game itself simmered along nicely from the start, with both teams playing with good tempo, an Ilford corner causing a scramble in the area and Bowers’ Chid Anokwai showing a great bit of skill to almost put him through one-on-one with Chris Clark in the Ilford goal.

Ilford got their first shot on target through Dan Jones after great work by Edas Valionis, but Bowers grew into the game as the half wore on and were causing problems down the Ilford right. Vinny Durrant put in a good cross, but was wayward with a shot as the ball came back out to him.  Lewis Manor was also getting joy on the wing and Chid Anokwai almost capitalised on a mistake by Ajay Ashnike, who was struggling early on, before becoming imperious at the back as the game wore on.

With half an hour gone, the pendulum swung back in Ilford’s direction, Luke Thomas finding space on the Bowers’ left, helping to earn a couple of corners.  But back came Bowers with Anokwai earning a dangerous free kick and Scott Pethers’ long throws causing numerous problems at the back.

Then, in the last 5 minutes of the half, came the breakthrough.  Glen Warwick, breaking free on the left wing slotted the ball past a despairing Martyn Guest.  It didn’t look to be the cleanest of contacts and Guest may be left wondering if he could have done more, but a goal it was. Ilford 1-0 Bowers & Pitsea.

Bowers nearly got back on level terms before the end of the half as, despite looking offside Vinny Durrant broke clear on the wing and squared, but the resulting shot from Bowers was tame.

HALF TIME:  ILFORD 1-0 BOWERS & PITSEA

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Bowers came out fighting in the second half, with a succession of Scott Pethers long throws bearing down on the Ilford box, but despite causing some headaches for the home side, they ultimately came to naught. 

The game then became a little tense as the referee booked first Karolis Atutis (despite some unnecessary gymnastics by Billy Sendall) and then a Bowers body quickly afterwards.

Luke Thomas was causing all kinds of problems down the Bowers left, but the next couple of chances fell to the away side as Anokwai put in Lewis Manor before he sliced horribly over the bar and Jamie Salmon skewed a shot wide.

Bowers made a couple of changes to try to get back into the game, putting Jack Gardner and recent signing Charlie Portway on, but the second goal of the game came for the hosts on 68 minutes as Luke Thomas crossed from the Ilford right, bypassing Guest and allowing Wale Odedoyin to tap over the line.  Ilford 2-0 Bowers & Pitsea

The remaining 20 minutes of the game became frantic as Bowers threw the kitchen sink at Ilford, trying to get something out of the game, but had Guest to thank after he pulled off a great save to deny the hosts on 77.

Ultimately though, neither side had a clear cut chance thereafter and, as some Bowers fans slipped away, the referee blew the full time whistle.

ILFORD 2-0 BOWERS & PITSEA

VIEW FROM THE ANALYST: SCOTT W

A resolute & organised Ilford side took on the challenge of a promotion-chasing Bowers & Pitsea side at Cricklefields this evening in the Essex Senior League. Bowers & Pitsea huffed & puffed but lacked any real cohesion or consistent goal threat, particularly in the second half. Bowers’ hotshot striker Lewis Manor cut a frustrated figure up front.
Ilford took advantage as the game went on, putting in a good shift in at the back and tested the Bowers’ defence fairly regularly. The Foxes’ Warwick & Thomas were industrious down the flanks & livewire Wale Odedoyin up front gave the Bowers’ backline a difficult game.

Ilford will look to try to build on this good performance tonight whilst Bowers & Pitsea will look to improve on the road against Sawbridgeworth Town on Saturday.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 33 with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Alan Bentley and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and Alan Bentley as Chris’s co-hosts.

Chris, Alan and Ronnie talk World Grand Prix snooker, Chelsea, Stan Kroenke, Charlton, PDC Premier League darts and more.

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We’ll be back soon with more Midweek Matchzone.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 32 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

 

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

Ronnie, Chris and Alan Bentley discuss the latest snooker news, the evening’s Europa League games, Sharapova, F1 qualifying, away ticket prices and more.

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A Journey in Prog with Chris Hood

 

Chris Hood plays the best of prog, art and space rock.

Playlist:

  1. The Musical Box – Genesis
  1. Master of the Universe – Hawkwind
  1. Heart of the Sunrise – Yes
  1. Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Pt 2 – King Crimson
  1. 2112 – Rush
  1. Disolution – Ozric Tentacles
  1. Child in Time – Deep Purple
  1. Broadsword – Jethro Tull
  1. Echoes – Pink Floyd
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Midweek Matchzone – show 31 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

 

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

Chris, Ronnie and Alan Bentley talk all things snooker, football and loads more.
Plus Alan speaks with Arsenal legend Perry Groves.

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Essex Cricket Kit Launch

Wednesday saw the launch of Essex County Cricket Club’s kits for the 2016 season.  With domestic cricket on the horizon, I spoke with Head Coach Chris Silverwood and batsman Dan Lawrence about their Winter and the upcoming season.

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The Iron Maidens Are Coming!!!

Nikki Stringfield (left) and the rest of The Iron Maidens

Nikki Stringfield (left) and the rest of The Iron Maidens

An amazing tribute band are coming to the UK in April.  The Iron Maidens, the world’s only all-female Iron Maiden tribute, will be playing their debut UK show on 14 April at the O2 Islington Academy.

On Monday I spoke with Nikki Stringfield, one of the band’s two guitarists, to get her thoughts about the historic gig.

[audio:http://www.phoenixfm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Nikki-Stringfield-The-Iron-Maidens.mp3]

 

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Midweek Matchzone – show 30 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

 

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

Chris and Ronnie are joined in the studio by Jamaica’s no 1 lawn bowler Andrew Newell and Alan Bentley who talks FA Cup with West Ham legend Tony Gale.

Andrew Newell

We’ll be back soon with more Midweek Matchzone.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 29 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

Ronnie and Chris talk Masters snooker, The Rack Pack and more, plus Chris chats with Olympian swimmer Roberto Pavoni.

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We’ll be back with more Midweek Matchzone next Thursday.

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Graham Napier Talks Retirement

We heard the news this week that Essex CCC’s Graham Napier will be retiring from the professional game at the end of the 2016 County season.

On Tuesday, I spoke with Graham about his memories of his time at Essex and what the future holds.

Listen again below.

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[audio:http://www.phoenixfm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Graham-Napier-12-Jan-2016-Edited.mp3]
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Midweek Matchzone – show 28 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

 

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

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Featuring BDO and PDC darts chat, gymnast Brinn Bevan, the new Brentwood Health Run and odds with Betway’s Alan Alger.

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We’ll be back on 21 January with more Midweek Matchzone.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 27 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

 

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

 

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Ronnie and Chris are joined in the studio by Ronnie Jr as they discuss SPOTY, the PDC World Darts Championships, Euro 2016 and the Champions League.
Plus Alan Alger of Betway with the weekend Premier League odds.

We’ll be back in the new year with more Midweek Matchzone.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 26 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

 

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We talk the latest snooker plus SPOTY.

Featuring Alan Alger of Betway with the latest Premier League odds.

We’ll be back at 6pm next Thursday with more Midweek Matchzone.

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Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Event

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Today I spoke with Andrew Thorpe-Apps, Chair of the Chelmsford Branch of Amnesty International.

He spoke about the local group, national organisation and the annual ‘Write for Rights’ event coming up on 8 December.

Listen below:

[audio:http://www.phoenixfm.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Andrew-Thorpe-Apps.mp3]

 

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Midweek Matchzone – show 25 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

 

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Ronnie and Chris discuss Eastern Europe exploits, Andy Murray’s contribution to tennis, Real Madrid and B teams.
Plus Betway’s Alan Alger talks weekend Premier League odds.

We’ll be back at 6pm next Thursday with more Midweek Matchzone.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 24 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

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We chat with football sticker expert and author of ‘Stuck on You’ Greg Lansdowne.  Plus we talk boxing, Jamie Vardy and hear the latest Premier League odds with Betway’s Alan Alger.

We’ll be back at 6pm next Thursday with more Midweek Matchzone.

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COMPETITION – UK Championship Final Tickets

Thanks to all those that entered the competition.

The winner was ROO SARWAR from HUDDERSFIELD

Tickets were provided courtesy of tournament sponsor Betway. Betway are an online sports betting operator, offering more than 30,000 markets, available live and in-play across a huge range of sports.

And don’t forget you can hear Betway’s Alan Alger every Thursday with the latest betting news on Midweek Matchzone with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood, only here on Phoenix FM.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 23 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

 

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

 

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Ronnie talks candidly about his relationship with snooker, plus a catch up with Paralympian Jonathan Adams, Champion of Champions and UK Championship snooker, tennis and weekend Premier League odds with Betway’s Alan Alger.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 22 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

 

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Talking International Championship, Bulgaria Open, Champion of Champions, F1, I’m A Celebrity and a football rant.

Featuring Alan Alger of Betway with the weekend odds.

We’ll be back at 6pm next Thursday with more Midweek Matchzone.

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Essex Leopards Competition!!!

Leopards

Thanks to the kind folks at Essex Leopards basketball we have two family tickets to give away for upcoming fixtures at the Brentwood Centre or Harlow Leisurezone.

The tickets admit two adults and up to three children, and all you have to do to get your hands on them is send an email to radio@phoenixfm.com with the subject “I Want Free Essex Leopards Tickets” before the competition closes at 6pm on 20 November 2015.

We will then contact the winner after announcing them on Phoenix Sport from 3-6pm on Saturday 21 November.

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Midweek Matchzone – show 21 with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood

Click below to listen to the show again:

 

Tonight’s show was the latest featuring five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as Chris’s co-host.

 

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Talking Haining Open, Winter football, the future of sports broadcasting, FIFA reform and the latest Premier League weekend.

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