Part 6: Summary, and 1977/79

Written by Arthur Evans, c.1985, in the Club Magazine Issue 8

Our Editor has asked me to continue the history of the club, as he points out, there have been several editions of the Magazine, since Part 5, and also there has been an influx of new members who have not read the previous Parts. So this edition is a brief summary of what has gone before.

Macclesfield Harriers club was formed in 1945-46 with its headquarters at the Talbot Hotel, Chester Rd [ED: demolished in the early / mid 80s to make way for a roundabout]. They promoted the Macclesfield “10” Road Race from 1947 to 1955 with the winners being stars from the past including Jack Holden (Tipton H), Billy McMinnie (Sutton H) and Joe Lancaster (Manchester AC). Early local stars were Frank Gratton, winner of several marathons, and 4th in the 1948 Olympic trial, and 46th again in 1949. He ran for Cheshire several times, and cold turn it out at any distance from Half Mile to Marathons. Next star to arise in the 1950s early 1960s was Mike Corcoran, East Lancs Cross Country Championship five years in succession, Cheshire Champion twice, also Cheshire Steeplechase and 3 miles Champion. British Army Steeplechase Champion 1958. Ran twice for England at cross-country. Frank Wheeldon Cheshire Boys Champion. Tom Shufflebotham, Cheshire Youths Champion. Northern Counties Youths team and National runners up in 1954. Cheshire Senior team champions in 1960 and 61. The first Cheshire Road Relay Championships was held at Sutton Lane Ends and won by Macclesfield in 1961. Sid Hope from Crewe joined us in 1960. But the end of this era and club was in early 1962.

In 1965, 66 and 67, Macclesfield Rugby Club put on a 10 Miles Road Race with our help, and it was won on each occasion by Roy Fowler (North Staffs).

An attempt to restart an Athletic Club in Macclesfield was made in 1969-69 but it only lasted for about six months.

The great revival came in 1974, when the present club was formed and named Macclesfield Harriers and Athletic Club. Competitions started in 1975 but at first the club was mainly youngsters and totally track and field. Inter-club matches became frequent, and a Cheshire Track League was entered, Warrington Knock Out competition held annually, we twice reached the finals, also the Finals of the Pilkington’s Competition. The girls Under 15 team won the Cheshire 4 × 100m Relay, three years on the trot, and three local girls won the 3 × 800m Relay in what was then a National record of 7-50. Cross country [ED: for girls] was gradually introduced and by 1977 we had an under 13 girls team which won the Cheshire cross-country championships and four girls ran for Cheshire. During 1977-78 we had the services of Alan Buckley (Holmfirth Harriers) who was living locally at the time. Indoor athletics was started in 1978 and the club won the first Cheshire Indoor Championships and went on to represent Cheshire at the Ron Pickering Sports Centre in London, where Cheshire won. In 1978 we purchased our High Jump equipment, thanks to the Macclesfield Forest Round Table and sponsored runs by our own athletes. We entered and completed a Senior team on the 1978 National at Leeds. Early stars were Christine James who dead-heated with Kim Hagger for the Under 17 National Long Jump title; Andrew Street at cross-country and track and later high jump; Paul Beech, Michael Malkin and Emily Palmer.

This is a brief skim-through summary of what has been written in previous issues. The road running scene started to come to the fore in 1979, and the next Chapter [following the 1977/79 article below] will be the events from 1979 onwards.

1977/79

As this edition of the Magazine is covering Marathon running, a brief look at the activities in this direction in the late 1970s may be of interest. In Oct. 1977, a jogger named Con Jones arrived at our Sunday morning training session, he had been jogging on his own for six months. Con quickly became one of our training group, because he was a ‘site’ runner at I.C.I. he was ‘Conned’ into entering the 1977 Barnsley Marathon. The Sunday before the race he tried to run to Leek and back, which he almost managed, but was picked up in Mill Street by the then Chairman of pour Club, with bleeding feet and absolutely “knackered”. Nothing daunted he ran the Barnsley, which is either always foggy or frosty or snowing, and he managed to finish in 3hr54.0 or thereabouts. The other runners being Brain Morris, John Wellwood and Paul Carrol. Brian Morris’ time of under 2hr48 qualified him along with Brian Kemp for the AAA Championships held at Sandbach in 1878,

In 1978, Brian Morris was injured and could not compete in the Sandbach, but Brian Kemp ran, returning 3hr 07, not one of his best times, but he also ran the Athens Marathon over the original Olympic Course, the Cornwall Marathon and the 36 miles Two Bridges race in Scotland (Brian’s best time I believe is the 2hr 32 in the 1973 ‘Maxol’). In 1978 Andy Heathcote came along, and later in the summer Tom Parker. Andy’s first race was the Lynotype ‘5’ at Altrincham, there was a mix up in the transport arrangements, and Andy got left behind, but so keen was he to run that he followed us in a taxi! The 1978 Barnsley again attracted the I.C.I. mob, with Brian Morris leading them this time a bit slower in 2hr 54, John Wellwood beat the 3 hour barrier, Mike Smith ran 3hr 3.59, Con improved to 3hr 15, and Jon Bethel, a cyclist turned runner, ran 3hr 44.

Tom Parker made his debut for the Club in the 1979 January Cheshire Cross-Country Championships at Warrington and was first of our runners in 64th place. In March 1979, the Marple marathon (the forerunner of the “Daffodil”) saw Andy Heathcote’s first attempt at this distance when he ran 3hr 13, Con Jones and myself finished in 3hr 15.44  [ED: Arthur Evans must have been about 50 at this time!]. The 1979 Sandbach included the first ever Women’s AAA Championships, and we were all well beaten by the likes of Joyce Smith, Kath Binns and Julie Barleycorn, but Brian Morris and Con managed to beat Leslie Watson. Andy finished suffering from heat exhaustion and I bit the dust at 18 miles. John Whalley’s first race for the Club was the June 1979 Manchester YMCA 12 ½ miles race.

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