From Phil Steer, Salford.
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15th March NORTH OF ENGLAND HEAD March 23rd will see the 56th North of England Head on the River Dee at Chester, so it seems to be an appropriate moment to look at some of the crews coming to this event to see who is doing what and who to look out for at the Head of the River a week later. Agecroft RC have won this event for the last six years with their 2nd VIII taking 2nd place for the last two. Their first VIII has had a major revamp, changing 5 of last year's crew. On paper it is very fast with a German World Student Games Sculler in the stroke seat and 2 Henley winners at 5 and 6. The results from Head of the Trent however revealed some serious local challengers with Newcastle University beating them by 2 seconds and Durham University only 3 seconds behind. Newcastle have always done well in the Temple Challenge Cup but this year with some new blood from IC on board they may be set to go further and are well worth watching in the coming year. Agecroft however have settled their crew since Trent and are looking very slick in training. Another local challenge is likely to come from schoolboys King's School Chester. This year's crew is the result of three years hard work under coach Neville Orme with nearly all of the previous year's 1st VIII available. They were only 10 seconds behind Newcastle Univ. at Trent and have a habit of picking up speed very quickly at the end of the head season. This is their strongest year worth watching at the schoolboy top three events (Schools Head, National Schools, PE at Henley) King's School have also had two old boys picked for this year's Cambridge Blue boat, with James Ball, (stroked King's School's winning Visitors Four in 1993, Goldie & World Student Games last year) at stroke and Kevin Whyman in the cox's seat. Other schoolboy interest is in the form of Shrewsbury School who do not appear to be as fast from the Trent Results but normally perform well. Other serious challenges may come from further afield as both Nottingham BC and Imperial College have been rumoured to be entering this event. The Nottingham BC crew is controversial as there is a distinctly County flavour to the makeup of the crew. This is an extension of NCRA crews entering Henley under NBC colours last year. This gives them the advantage of being able to complete in club class events such as the Jackson Trophy at the Head and the Thames and the Wyfolds at Henley. Imperial College's entry at Head of the River appears to be in doubt at the time of writing so who knows what will happen. For the women, Grosvenor RC's Open crew is currently the fastest crew in the North West, combining their 3rd & 4th placed Open coxed fours from the fours head. They could be hard pressed if Nottingham University's S1 crew make the trip as they defeated Grosvenor by 21 sec at Trent. Home water advantage has moved to Grosvenor however on what can be a difficult course. Newcastle Univ. in S2 and Durham Univ. in S3 look likely candidates for their status if not the headship, both finishing 9 seconds behind Grosvenor at Trent. Looking to the Head of the River Agecroft are looking to take back the Jackson Trophy that they won in 1994. The main opposition at the moment looking to be the Notts BC crew that beat them at Trent. Notts & Union also look to be strong and the Cambridge crews of Rob Roy, City of Cambridge and Cambridge '99 have yet to show but may pool their resources to produce a fast VIII. Phil Steer Agecroft RC