Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Is this Thurrock’s Olympic legacy?

ALL THIS week, YT reporters have been travelling the length and breadth of the borough interviewing members of sporting clubs. Our pieces are very much concentrated on how you would join up and not burdening the club with legacy, legacy, legacy.

On Tuesday, we started out at a meeting at the Pegasus Club in Herd Lane, Corringham where a whole host of sports were being played. We then went to the Spartans boxing club up the road, where aspiring pros like Wayne Hibbert and Matt McCarthy plyed their trade with young kids new to the sport.

We then drove to Blackshots to interview Dave Staines at Thurrock Harriers. During our journey, we saw cyclists in Stanford and Orsett, joggers as well as sunday football teams in training. Lots going on.

But as we approached Blackshots or attention was drawn to the Olympic rings that were ‘planted” in 2009. On closer inspection, there appeared to only four rings, weeds growing and it just looks unkempt.

We spoke to a council officer who mumbled something about foxes and a wet summer. Just as well the borough didn’t host any events then.

“Sorry Mo, 10,000 metres is cancelled. Lane One is waterlogged and Fred’s not back until Wednesday….”

Next month, you will see councillors return to the full council and bandy about the word legacy. Both sides are seen by many as bad as each other. Pompous Tory, Shane Hebb has been bandying about the word “legacy” for a while now and has been given the title of “Opposition spokesperson for Olympics”.

However, there is no evidence that he has done anything. Needless to say, Hebb declined to be interviewed. Indeed, it is somewhat pointed that he slams Labour whilst he sits next to the councillor who was the portfolio holder for sport for many many years, cllr Joy Redsell. That is the councillor for Blackshots. Blackshots, where the Olympic rings sign sits.

As for Labour. Well, we have already interviewed leader John Kent, who is keen to see a legacy and has appointed (we believe) Tilbury councillor, Steve Liddiard to work on it.

Some may have hoped that he would have gone on the B of the Bang and made sure there was some involvement in the Join In project this weekend ( There are over 6000 events in the UK. The only event we can find in Thurrock is the fun run in Stanford organised by Stanford-L-H cricket club.

We ended the week at Thurrock Judo Club. Hidden away on North Road, Purfleet, it is run by John and Sharon Cottis, who have an international reputation. Indeed, Sharon was an official at the Olympics.The club is a hidden treasure and has coached some top athletes over the years (our film will appear on Monday). Yet, they don’t even have a changing room to use. It is Thurrock’s disgrace.

Many towns have annual sports awards. There you go, cllr Liddiard. Get it organised for December. It can be easily done. We have seen how it is done in other boroughs. Need any pointers, you have our number.

We have spoken to former dep.head of William Edwards, Ralph Henderson MBE about the future legacy. Ralph has now retired from education but he was the man who got former Olympians such as Daley Thompson, Natasha Danvers and John Regis into the schools. However, we got the distinct impression, that at some schools it was a struggle. We hope that Ralph and his connections can get some of the Olympic medallists into the schools over the next year.

For many of the Olympians and future Olympians, there main concern is to continue to get lottery funding. But locally, the priority it is important that people know the nearest club or venue for rowing or shooting or equestrian or hockey.

Indeed, if Thurrock taxpayers are still shelling out close to £200,000 a year for Lea Valley Park, what arrangements are being made for our young people to use the olympic facilities there?

We will let you know. We have films planned with Gateway Cycling, Thurrock Hockey and a few more. If you know of a club that needs a boost, then let us know.


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