East Cheshire Harriers & Tameside AC
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Humble beginnings

In 1906 Dukinfield Harriers was formed with Tommy Holden of Stalybridge taking the role of Honorary Secretary. Little is known of these early years but the records show that in 1912, Dukinfield won the East Lancs Junior CC Championships and were runners up in the Northern Championships.

In 1922 Dukinfield joined forces with another local club, Tintwistle Harriers to form East Cheshire Harriers. Tommy Holden was appointed secretary of the new club and held this post until 1935 when he became landlord of a local pub, the Crown Inn at Stalybridge. His interest in the Club never faded and he remained a Vice-President and Life Member until his death in the late 1950's.

It was also in the 1920's that Bill Fellows joined the club. Whilst never a leading athlete, Bill was a driving force within the club throughout his life. He held various offices within the club over a period of 50 years and continued to compete until his 79th birthday. Bills unique contribution to East Cheshire was recognised when in 1979 a new club house was named "The Bill Fellows Club House"

During the 1930's the club headquarters was a small wooden hut on the Silver Springs behind Stamford Park boating lake. This was ideally located for cross country events making it possible to have a nine mile course over Hartshead Pike with virtually no major roads to cross.

It was in the early 1930's that the Gaunt brothers, Teddy and Freddy, joined the club. Teddy was the more successful of the two, winning three consecutive East Lancs Junior titles starting in 1931. Freddy in turn won the Club Senior Championship in 1937, -38 and -39. During the late 1930's a number of younger athletes began to make their mark and in 1938 the Junior team were runners up in the East Lancs CC championships. The following year the Juniors went one better when, led home by Harry Baxter in 2nd place, they took the East Lancs title beating Sale Harriers into second place.

War years, rise and decline

Within 12 months most members of that winning team were serving in the armed forces and athletics was in limbo. However the club survived thanks to the efforts of a few members who managed to keep the club together by meeting regularly despite long hours on essential war work and nights interrupted by air raids.

As the war ended old members began to return. Of the 1939 Junior Team, Arnold Shepherd, Bert Ashton, Bud Whitehead and Jim Parkinson all came back to compete again. Harry Baxter, however, whilst remaining a member never ran again and Norman Gough, whilst again retaining his membership, was unable to run having lost a leg during the war.

By 1946 the old club house on the Springs was demolished and the club moved into premises on Stalybridge Road, Cockbrook previously occupied by the Grafton Tennis Club. The wooden building needed repairs and the old tennis courts were overgrown but the place had potential. The task of realising this potential was given to a new member, Tommy Lees. Tommy had joined East Cheshire from Radcliffe Harriers and being an electrician and general handyman re-wired the building and installed a new bath and showers, aided (or handicapped) by enthusiastic support from a group of youngsters who had just joined the club and were looking for something to do during the school holidays. The new facilities enabled the club to host the Manchester & District Cross Country League and helped to raise the profile of athletics within the area.

Between 1947 and 1950 East Cheshire developed from being an average local club to being recognised as a major force at national level. The first person to make his mark was Jack Price, a boy from Hyde who joined in 1947 and went on to win the English Cross Country Youth title in 1948.

Other members who joined during this period and went on to win honours at County level included, Ivan Bradbury, Tom Smith. The Oldham brothers Eric and Neville, Gerry Haynes,Walter Brown, Nev Frost and in November 1949, Johnny Wild.

Another new member in 1949 was Fred Marsland. Fred had been an English International Cross Country runner in the late 1930's, competing for a Manchester club that failed to survive the war. By the time he joined East Cheshire his best days were behind him but he knew what it took to succeed at athletics and he became an inspirational coach. He helped obtain agreement for club members to use the track at Denton Cricket Club and for the first time training on the track throughout the year became the norm for our middle and long distance runners.

The benefits soon began to show. In the 1949-50 cross-country season East Cheshire teams won the Cheshire County title, the East Lancs.Youth and Junior titles and the English Junior title. In the following two seasons they retained the County title and the East Lancs. Junior titles, came second in the 1950-51 English Junior Championships and in 1951-52 won the Northern Junior title. In addition John Wild won the English Junior C.C. championships in 1951 and was runner-up in 1952, despite losing a few weeks training when in December 1951 he broke his foot in an accident at work.

On the road the 11 man relay team finished 4th in the 1949 Manchester to Blackpool relay, improved to 3rd the following year and were runners-up to Birchfield in 1951.

On the track the 4 man two mile team were regular winners in events all over the North of England, whilst sprinter Aidan Brennan seemed certain to win international honours until he was given a two year ban by the AAA. His offence was to have accepted a cash prize of 50p for winning the 100 yards race at a small sports meeting! How things have changed.

In the mid 1950's the Club began to decline both in numbers and in strength and team successes were few and far between. The situation worsened in the late 1950's when one of the coaches left to join another local club, taking with him all his athletes. Despite these problems individual athletes such as Colin Broom, continued to achieve success at local and County level and Barry Davies won a Junior International vest in the Steeplechase.

Move to Richmond Street

                    The present clubhouse was opened in 1979.

In 1963 the Club was forced to find new HQ when a fire destroyed the old premises. Ashton-under-Lyne Council came to the rescue providing temporary accommodation in the Municipal Changing rooms at Richmond Street. At the same time the Council constructed a new track adjacent to the changing rooms but, due to lack of space, made it a five lap to the mile track which was of limited value.

The next few years were difficult ones but the club survived thanks to the efforts of a few old stagers who were determined to keep East Cheshire afloat. The club colours were changed from Black and White to Green and Gold and the new name of "East Cheshire Harriers and Tameside A.C" was adopted. New members began to drift in and a few of the old members returned to the fold, including Johnny Wild, Tom Smith and Muriel and Walter Brown, but things remained difficult.

The first real break through came in the early seventies when Ashton Rugby Club decided to move to a new site. Their HQ building on Richmond Street was put up for sale with potential buyers required to submit sealed bids. The main parties interested were East Cheshire Harriers and Ashton Lacrosse Club. The East Cheshire Committee debated their bid long into the night and eventually fixed on a figure of £1055, the last £5 being added on at the last minute. It was just enough. Whilst the competing bid was never revealed rumour had it that we won by just £5!
The new premises were constructed of wood and fairly basic but included two changing rooms plus a reasonable sized club room with a licensed bar. The bar provided a source of income and became a gathering point for members after training. The two changing rooms enabled the Ladies section, which had almost faded away, to find a new lease of life and led to the formation of a Ladies Hockey team. This in turn led to an annual Hockey match between the Ladies and the Gentlemen, the scars from which are still carried by most of the Gentlemen!

Membership began to grow with many young athletes joining and bringing their parents with them. Some parents became interested in coaching which in turn attracted more athletes, whilst others began to take an interest in the essential administration of the club. At the same time the "running boom" was underway and many people of all ages and both sexes who had started to jog for exercise decided to join a club and begin to compete. This led to a further increase in membership particularly at Veteran level and the Club began to be represented in Veteran Events all over the world. The most outstanding result achieved by any Veteran member was that of Muriel Brown who, in 1983, won the World Veterans 10K Championships in the over 50's age group.

In the middle seventies it became obvious that the club house was no longer adequate to house the increased membership. Tom Smith, who was by then Club President, launched a bid for Sports Council funding to build new premises on the existing site. Another member, John Allcock, drew up plans, a series of fund raising events were organised and in July 1979 a new club house was opened by Robert Sheldon, the local M.P. The club house was named after Bill Fellows, a Life Member, then approaching 80 and still competing in Vets events. Bill died in 1980 but the contribution he made to East Cheshire cannot be overstated.

The interest in athletics continued throughout the 80's and membership at East Cheshire continued to grow. Tameside Council recognised the importance of athletics in the area and in 1987 began to construct a new athletics stadium at Richmond Street. The stadium was opened on the 16th April 1988 by Robert Sheldon MP, with East Cheshire represented by Club President, Gerry Haynes. The new 400 metre track had an all-weather surface and the stadium include provision for all field events. Flood lighting was provided enabling year round use of the facilities.
During the the 10 years that followed Club members and teams won titles and honours in the world of athletics at both local and national level. The following list is not all-inclusive but indicates some of the major successes:
• Under 13's girls: 1st Team in Northern Road Relays 1992
• Under 13's girls: 2nd Team in National Road Relays 1992
• Junior Men: Silver Medals in Northern XC Championships 1992
• Junior Men: Bronze Medals in National XC Championships 1992
• Under 17's boys: Silver medals in Northern XC Championships 1994

• Under 13's girls: 2nd Team in National XC Relays 2005
• Under 13's girls: 1st Team in Northern XC Championships 2006
• Under 13's girls: 1st Team in English National Cross Country Championships 2007
• Under 15 girls: 1st Team in Northern Cross Country and 2nd in National Cross Country 2009.
• Under 17 women: 1st Team in Northern Cross Country Relays and Northern Road Relays 2010.
• Under 17 women: 1st Team in Northern Cross Country and 3rd in National Cross Country 2011.
• Paul Roden, representing England, was 6th Junior Man at the World XC Championships 1984 (England won team silver)
• Paul Roden represented England in World XC Championships 1991 and 1992
• Paul Green broke National 10 mile road race record for 20-year-olds 1992
• Heather Carson represented England in Under 20's XC team 1994
• Chris Fish represented Great Britain at Catholic Schools' Championships 1995
• Simon Horsfield won the Under 15's Boys English National Cross Country Championship 2005
• Simon Horsfield won 3000m in English Schools' Track & Field Championships 2005
Simon Horsfield won Inter Boys' Gold Medal at the English Schools' Cross Country Championships 2006
•Kirsten McAslan won the North of England Cross Country Championships 2007
•Simon Horsfield was the Adidas London Mini Marathon Champion 2007
•Simon Horsfield finished 7th in World Youth Championships in the 1500m, 2007.
•Simon Horsfield represented Great Britain & NI in World XC Championships 2008 finishing 81st.

•Simon Horsfield was U20 European Bronze Medalist in the 1500m in 2009.
•Katie Reynolds won the North of England Cross Country Championships 2009
•Georgia Taylor-Brown won the North of England Cross Country Championships 2010.
•Bethany Donnelly won the North of England Cross Country Championships and finished 2nd in the National Cross Country Championships 2010. 
•Jack Crabtree finished 2nd in the North of England Championships, 2nd in the National Cross Country Championships and 4th in the Inter Counties 2010.
• Andrew Owen won Tameside coach of the year for 2010.
• Bethany Donnelly won the UK Cross Country Challenge Series 2010/11.

East Cheshire is a club with a long and distinguished history but it is also a club looking to the future. We have improved and extended the facilities offered to our members further so that more people than ever can enjoy taking part in athletics at club level. This website is just one way in which we aim to attract new members and raise the profile of athletics in Tameside.

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Ashton-under-Lyne Harriers

By Neil Shuttleworth, the Co-author of Manchester Marathons 1908-2002.

In the late 1800's there was a club called Ashton-under-Lyne Harriers. Its history might have been short-lived but, during its four years of existence, the club achieved quite a lot.

Ashton-under-Lyne Harriers were twice runners-up to Salford Harriers in the Northern CC Championships (1891/92). They had some very good runners including FE Bacon who won several AAA titles before turning professional. FE Bacon was winner of three AAA mile titles in the 1890's (and two others, plus Northern CC too.)

On consulting Phil Thomas’ Centenary History of the Northern Cross-country Association, I quote:

"The Ashton club was a much shorter lived entity, surviving for four years during which it attracted a number of high class runners including two individual Northern Champions, Souch (1892) and Bacon (1893), but never had the depth to upset Salford."

Referring to Bob Phillips’ fine portrait study of Bill Roberts (The Iron in his Soul, Parrs Woods Press, 2002), it will be recalled that this area had quite a number of tracks at which betting predominated. The Snipe comes to mind, and professionals raced all over the Manchester area during the sports hey day of the late nineteenth century.

On page 52 Phillips gives a sketch of Fred Bacon. Born near Colchester, Essex he bought himself out of the Army on discovering his running talent. He competed for Ashton-under-Lyne Harriers during which time he set a World amateur mile record of 4:17.0 when winning the AAA title in 1895. His lap times were: 60.0, 2:05.0 and 3:13.8. Also winner of the 1894 AAA four miles and 1895 AAA 10 miles title, he was suspended from amateur competition.

Undeterred, he turned professional and raced incessantly winning many races and much money. One that Bob Phillips notes did not get much attention was a three quarter mile race won in 3:02.4. Assuming its accuracy, Bob says that it showed then that the sub-four minute mile was possible.

The first East Lancashire Cross-country Championship in 1911 saw an Ashton United Harriers club enter the junior race but they were unplaced. And did not appear in 1912.

Phil Thomas’ Centenary History of the Northern Cross-country Association (1982). I quote from page 8:

"If the Liverpool era had ended, however, the Salford era had begun. Some thought the introduction of the residence rule in 1887, whereby all competitors in the Northern Championship must have residence within a radius of 15 miles of the headquarters of the club, had been specifically aimed at E W Parry, the flying Welshman from Welshpool, but it was noted that he had already taken up residence in the area and indeed was soon to go into the trade as a publican, as was W H Morton when he joined the Salford club. The rule was a sound one although it did not prevent Ashton Harriers from moving their headquarters to Opens haw in order to include their best runner, who had taken a job in Leigh, within the 15 mile radius, while Hallamshire were to be accused of a similar policy in the 1930s."

He now refers to Parry's success: in 1888 Parry won no less than seven titles. He was a star of that era and won the Northern in 1888, 1889 and 1891 with wins in the National too as well as AAA titles at 4 and 10 miles. Morton took the Northern title in 1890, so these two were extremely good. Salford had eleven Northern team wins from 1887 to 1900. Of the three they did not win Manchester Harriers had two wins and Leeds Harehills one. But most pertinent here is the fact that the short-lived Ashton-under-Lyne Harriers in 1891 and 1892  was runner-up to Salford. The points scores are:

Year   Salf.  A-u-L H    Third
1891    34     109   N Lonsdale 146 1892    38       79   L-poolGym. 159

On page 10 Thomas writes of the 1891 race:
"An even closer finish came when the two Salford runners contested the 1891 Northern with Parry regaining his title by a fifth of a second as Salford romped away with the championship ahead of the Ashton club who counted the future Salford stalwart Charley Souch  (formerly of Worcester) and F E Bacon amongst the ranks . . ."

Thomas then quotes a vivid description of the race that concludes: "a better race could not have been witnessed." But Ashton did not share that view and lodged an objection (which was overruled) that one of the Salford runners had been given refreshment during the race.

Three paragraphs on Thomas says "The Ashton club was a short lived entity."

Whilst I have not been to the original sources as we did with the Manchester Marathon book, it is noted that Thomas' main source (apart from minute books) was Athletic News. This is available on microfilm at the Central Reference Library in Manchester. What Ashton-under-Lyne Reference Library or the newly located Tameside archives have I cannot guess.