The ASA National Age Group Finals this weekend in Manchester was dedicated to “Ron Winn”, who sadly passed away last week.
Lancaster City and the wider water polo community have been mourning the loss of one of the sport’s true greats – John “Ron” Winn, who died suddenly on 23 April, aged 68.
Ron was a long-serving coach at Lancaster and successfully guided the club to more than 20 national senior and junior titles. Ever-present on poolside across the country, Ron dedicated his life to the sport he loved and inspired hundreds of water polo players, including Great Britain Olympians and past and present members of the national teams.
At Manchester this weekend, “Ron” was at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts; he had helped take the under 19’s boys team through preliminaries and qualifiers earlier in the year at Watford.
Before the game, all four semi-finalist teams took to the poolside, along with all the Officials and spectators in the stands, whilst Ian Elliott, Director of Water Polo spoke about what “Ron” meant to the game and the people who knew him, this was followed by a one minute applause. Black arm bands were worn by Lancaster players throughout the weekend, whether playing for Lancaster, North East’s’ Sedgefield or Liverpool girls, along with team mates, coaches, team managers and other North West teams, to show their respect.
Lancaster’s’ opponents in the semi-finals on Saturday were City of Manchester who took the lead with two goals in the first quarter and by half time no more goals were scored. The two goalkeepers Owain Llewellyn in the Lancaster goal and Dylan Green in City of Manchester goal played a big part in keeping the goals down with some top class saves.
Lancaster captain’ Zak Lamb opened up the scoring in the third quarter but Manchester steamed ahead and put five more goals away. The final quarter was much closer with Ben Turnbull and Stefano Cossutti scoring a goal each but Manchester hit back three more times. The final score was 10 – 3 to City of Manchester.
Lancaster coach Zak Sly said “The City of Manchester side were a strong side, they would have always won the game, but emotionally the past couple of days for the Lancaster team was just too much for them to give their best performance.”
On Sunday, Lancaster played against Exeter for the bronze medal. Exeter, who came third last year and this year boosting three players who represented Great Britain in the under 19 European Games, were no match for Lancaster who attacked them hard and scored six goals in the first quarter; two from both Adam Courtly and Zak Lamb, and one a piece from Joel Leighton and Jordan Titley. Owain Llewellyn was only beaten once in the first quarter.
Lancaster kept the lead all the way through to the end of the game with Exeter pushing the Lancaster team hard, causing the lads to lose their concentration part way through the game. Exeter were just one goal away at times. But Lancaster held onto their victory, Adam added three more goals to his tally, Jordan and Joel another goal each and James Pratt added two and Ben one. The final score was 13 – 12.
The lancaster team: Owain Llwellyn, Zak Lamb, Dean Akister, Stef Cossutti, Jordan Titley, Joel Leighton, Adam Courtley, Ben Turnbull, James Pratt, Aaron Mason, Alex Armstrong and Mike Kelly.
The coaching staff, Zak Sly, Trevor Peach and Paul Mason.
In the Other age groups; Aaron Maosn, Daniel Armstrong, mike Kelly and Mattie Alderson represented Lancaster Sister club Sedgefeild in the under 17s boys and came out Champions after beating Exeter in the semi final before the final game against City of Manchester.
In the under 17’s girls Ellie Muncaster, Sam Murby and Katie Tuer helped City of Liverpool to third place. The Liverpool girls under 19’s which Eve Simpson and Ellie Muncaster represented also picked up bronze place.