Shetland star steps in

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Ben Kerr (20), will do his best to fill the boots of injured star Dale Garland as a strong CIAC mixed team head to Bedford for a semi-final against some of the strongest clubs in the UK.

Garland, who undergoes surgery in the UK next week to treat a hernia, will probably only run in the two relays at Bedford, but Kerr, the Scottish decathlon champion and a protege of CIAC team manager Andrew Winnie from his days in Shetland, will be a very handy replacement for the Guernsey star.

‘Absolutely,’ said Winnie, when that exact suggestion was put to him.

Kerr, who is spending his summer holidays in Jersey before returning to university, is pencilled in for five individual events in Bedford.

He is particularly strong in the sprint hurdles, pole vault and triple jump.

‘He’s a Shetland boy and started with me when he was about nine,’ said Winnie.

‘He’s a very good all-round athlete.

Winnie said his acquisition was vital, especially with Garland leaving decathlon to concentrate on 400m hurdles.

The CIAC team won’t learn of their exact opposition until Sunday and only then an hour or so before the match.

However, it promises to be very tough with the two seeded clubs being Shaftesbury Barnet and the 2005 Premiership champions, Woodford Green with Essex Ladies.

CIAC will get one of those two clubs in their eight-team match along with six from the remaining 13 clubs, eight of which are of British League status.

Basingstoke, Bedford, Enfield and Haringey, Harrow, Herne Hill Harriers, Herts Phoenix, Newham and Essex Beagles and Southend are the other British League teams in the competition, but CIAC have beaten that level of club previously and believes it can be done again, even without Garland, Jo McGarry, Claire Forbes and Erica Bodman, all first-choices.

‘I’m quietly confident we can make the final,’ said Winnie.

‘It’s the quality of overall performance that counts, rather than where athletes are placed.

‘It’s a huge competition by computer whereby performances at all three semi-finals are measured and the top eight clubs go through to the final.

‘In the two non-Island Games years we’ve competed we’ve won the plate,’ said the coach who is also close to seeing his men’s squad win the Division II title to complete their climb up the Southern League ladder.

With one match remaining CIAC are top by virtue of more aggregate points scored than Chelmsford who match them for match points.

Chelmsford have a home match to finish with against weak opposition, but with an advantage of 29.5 points Winnie is confident that the title can be clinched and that with the title won it will temporarily ease the constant worry of keeping the club afloat financially.

‘I’d like to win the league; it’s good for the profile.

‘If we can put out a reasonably strong team on 5 August we will win the league,’ he added.

For that match GIAAC’s new head of throws, Alan Rowberry, hopes to make his belated CIAC debut after a season of injury.

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