Part 7: 1979-86

Written by Arthur Evans, in the Club Magazine Issue 11? c.1986

1979 and 1980 were the most successful years for Track running. At that time there was a system of Team Managers, each age group and each sex had a separate Team Manager who looked after and chased up athletes for matches. In 1980 there were 100 competitors in our own club championships. Michael Malkin’s club record of 1-59.5 was set in 1978 and still stands today [ED: I can’t reconcile this with the club record for 800m of 1.51.9 set in 1983 by Trevor Binyon, though Mike Malkin still holds the club record for U17 and Senior 400m]. 1979 saw a Boys team break the Cheshire 4 × 800m record with 9-11.6. Many of the club records were set in this period, with names like Linda McGeady, Rebecca Reeves, Emily Palmer, Jackie Norris. It is difficult to mention everybody, but Jackie Norris was the Cheshire Shot Put Champion for 4 years. 4 Golds were won in the Cheshire Ladies in 1980, Helen Perry High Jump, Jackie Norris Shot, Linda McGeady 800m and Amanda Wayne Hurdles.

In March 1980, the cross-country side of the club held a training weekend in conjunction with Crewe & Nantwich AC in the Lake District. This turned out an adventure, as we got up on the Saturday morning to find ourselves completely snowed in, the main road near the camp-site was blocked till late Saturday. It was a good endurance weekend.

At the end of the track season the Young Athletes Meeting at the Wolverhamptin & Bilston used to be the ‘finale’ and that year we came home with 7 medals instead of the usual one or two.

In 1980 Tom Parker became a Veteran and celebrated two weeks later by finishing 38th in the World Veterans 10km in Glasgow. Andy Heathcote set a personal record, in the exact two years from his first race, he competed in 117 races!

The 1980 presentation evening held at Tytherington School had Gordon Gluyas as guest of honour. Andy Heathcote took over the Road Runners Trophy from Tom Parker, and continued to do so for four years.

The day after the prizes evening, Linda McGeady won the Cheshire Cross Country at Frodsham, and was picked for Cheshire as well as Anne Stentiford and Julie Horrox.

We had resigned from the Manchester Cross Country League in 1979 and joined the North Staffs C.C. League, but it was so poorly supported, especially by the Seniors, with the exception of John Whalley, that we came out of it. We did manage to fulfil the Cheshire C.C> League finishing fourth overall.

It was in January 1981 that the headlines “No Running Track for Macc” appeared in the local papers. The Macclesfield Borough Council had postponed indefinitely the provision of a Running Track at the Leisure Centre.

It was at about the same time that another blow to sportsmen occurred, all Road Running and Cycle races were stopped in the Town, a ban that lasted for about 2 ½ years.

January 1981 saw Paul Beech win the Llandudno Junior Race, Nick McGaw and Andy Street competed at Cosford Indoors. A training weekend in Blackpool to which 40 athletes and parents went, took place in March.

By 1981 the Road Running side was growing and many runners were planning to run the first London Marathon. Paul McNeilly ran raising a large sum for charity, and became a member just after. Peter Yates ran 2-27-0 and Steve Walker then a Sale Harrier ran 2-29. Andy Heathcote, Con Jones and the ICI runners all competed.

Anne Stentiford set the still standing Ladies Marathon time of 3-26 in the Birmingham Marathon [ED: Not sure if this record still stands, but Anne Stentiford went on to hold the Everest Marathon record from 1997 to 2007, the Bob Graham women’s record, the Paddy Buckley record and the Ladies 24 Hour Lakeland Record from 1994 to 2011. She also still holds the Macc Harriers U20 women’s high jump club record!].

Nick McGaw placed 2nd in the Northern Long Jump for Under 17s and went on to place 6th in the AAA Championships at Brighton when he jumped 6.59m. Andrew Street won the Northern High Jump awards both indoors and out.

Catherine Ogden, Sara Burton and Anne Stentiford win the Cheshire 3 × 800m in 7-49.3.

In November 1981, four girls were picked for the Cheshire Cross Country Team. Alison Galt, Sally McRae, Anne Stentiford and the Jane Cottam.

The Macc Express summed up 1981 as the “Year of the Marathon”, and cited Peter Yates in the London, Brian Morris in the Piccadilly and John Whalley in the Barnsley.

We are pleased that Mr A.E. (Ted) Hefford has joined the club, at nearly 60 years of age he will be competing in the Macclesfield marathon, which will be his 100th.

Ted’s photograph and results used to appear regularly in the Athletics Weekly in the early 1950s, running for Woodford Green AC, he was one of the pioneers of the London to Brighton road race. There was a splendid article about him in one of the magazines at the time, as he was one of the first long distance runners to use “weight training” as part of his programme. It doesn’t seem to [1 sentence missing – illegible].

In 1982 the Macclesfield Sports Council restarted the Twin Town exchanges between Macclesfield and Eckerford in west Germany. The exchanges had lapsed fir 12 years, and for a new start 1982 was made a Sports Exchange. At first eight people form each local sports club were invited. But as other sports withdrew, Macclesfield Harriers and their supporters took up their places. John McGaw was the chief fund raiser. All the active athletes were kitted out with a Macclesfield Harriers track suit, and blue vests and shorts [ED: The current club colours of maroon with a silver diagonal had not yet been adopted]. A big age range took part.

The journey was bus, bus and ferry, but the bus that turned up was not a luxury coach, it was more of an old banger, and to make matters worse the luggage boo was not big enough, so cases were stacked everywhere in the bus.

We arrived at Eckenford on a Saturday night, after a 29 hour bus journey, and got off the bus looking more like refugees than athletes on holiday. The Eckenford people were our hosts, and each person was accommodated with a local family. Eckenford is a clean seaside town. After a good night’s sleep, we all assembled on the sea front for a version of ‘It’s a Knock Out’, which led by Colin Goodwin we easily won. The afternoon was spent with our hosts, most of whom had their own boats. Throughout the week we were taken on cycle outings, swimming excursions, trips to historical places, discos, dances and bar-b-qs. When it came to the athletic match, we had 26 athletes taking part, we completely overwhelmed Eckenford and Bernstein Athletics Clubs. With Andrew Street, Paul Beech, Linda McGeady, Rachel McKernan, Nick McGaw, to name but a few, they didn’t know what had hit them.

The town which had a population of less than half that of Macclesfield, had five Red Shale running tracks, two big swimming baths and a naval Olympic size pool. Each different sport had its own clubhouse, which was like a mini leisure centre, squash, tennis, athletics.

Most of the people who went had a thoroughly good time, and a holiday they will never forget.

When we left they gave us a pewter Eckenford Plate and a Pendant, for our Club House (which we still haven’t got).