Part 2: More memories of the 1950s

Written by Arthur Evans, 1984, in the Club Magazine Issue 2

Before moving on to the great revival, a few of the activities and characters in the old Macclesfield Harriers may interest the present members.

One of the most popular events held was the annual Christmas Handicap, which took place every Christmas Day morning from the Talbot Hotel, Chester Road [ED: demolished in the early / mid 80s to make way for a roundabout], and was two laps of the Chester Rd, Ivy Road, Ivy Lane, Oxford Rd circuit. Some very exciting races took place and the record stands at under 21 mins set by Mike Corcoran. We also had a sealed handicap race where you did not know your handicap until after you had finished, this was three laps of the same circuit, and was always the last week of the cross-country season. (I am glad to see that the Christmas event has been restarted thanks to Pete Nolan).

Some other events that have recently been revived are the Lyme Park Fell Race, we took part as a club in the first one in 1950 and 1951. Another race which is still going strong is the Liverpool Pembroke 20 miles Road race – we competed in the first one in 1954 (I dropped out), and the first Cheshire Marathon Championship which was held in conjunction with the Liverpool Marathon in 1954; Michael Lafferty was second and I was third. The first ever Cheshire Road Relay Championship was put on by the Club at Sutton Lane Ends in 1959 – and Macclesfield won it!

One or two characters come to mind; the chap who first introduced me to running and the “Harriers” was Albert Rigby, a former Stockport Harrier and founder member of the Macclesfield Club [ED: this refers to the re-founding of the Club immediately post-war]. One year he entered the Sutton 10 miles Walking race, when it was purely a local event, and won it. The following year it became an open event and he talked us into entering it. Walkers always look comical to non-walkers, but if you fancy a change just try it, it is very hard work! Albert went on to be a regular walker and became “Centurion 222”: a ‘Centurion’ is someone who can walk 100 miles in under 24 hours – which means to do this you have to keep walking all through the night.

Dennis Clayton was one of my best friends, and now lives in South Africa. Since giving up competing he has been to every Olympic Games since 1952, but the way he gets there each time takes some believing. He travelled to Tokyo via the Trans-Siberian Railway, and to Mexico he hitched all the way, sleeping rough and working his way there. Once there he jogged into the Olympic Village in his track suit and lived in the bedding store for a week, being fed by the British athletes. He pedal cycled all the way to Athens. In Munich he parked his van on a building site, which was closed for the duration of the Games. He has made friends all over the world.

Many of the present members will know Sid Hope of Crewe & Nantwich, but not many know that for a time he was a member of Macclesfield Harriers. When Crewe L.M.R. Club closed down in 1060, Sid joined us and ran for us for about two years – we used to pick him up at Wilmslow Station and various places. Sid went on to fame as a North Staffs Harrier, eventually winning the Northern Counties Marathon, as well as representing Cheshire at nearly every distance and for years. He became a leading Veteran runner in the last few years and he is also highly regarded as a Coach.

Part 3 will tell of the lean period of the Sixties with a minor revival in 1968.