Monday, 5 November 2007


Its funny how one thing can lead to another. By becoming involved with the Gypsies Green development affair, I met up with some ex South Shields Harrier friends. With an almost second site vision, the club decided it needed to compile a written history of its existence from 1875 up to its present date, the archive being a source of material should the club be forced to close.

Below is a potted history of significant events etc. A larger more detailed version exists, but to post it all as a complete text would be counter productive. I may add details as time goes on. The text is largely the work of club member Mac Stephenson, and the glory is all his for giving up his time and effort. He has also been helped by fellow members, past and present, and also by their families who have donated pictures and recollections etc. They also deserve credit. The intellectual property therefore is theirs. If you want to use any of the material please do so, but please acknowledge their title.

The club is currently looking for a publisher, so if anybody has any ideas, email them to me and I will pass them on. Likewise, if anybody has items of interest or archive items the Club could use, please let me know.

It would be a great shame if the closure of Gypsies Green led to the demise of one of the oldest athletic clubs in the world. To date, South Tyneside Council have not offered them any alternative venues, and have no plans to build a new track anywhere in the Borough.

South Shields Harriers and Athletic Club



This archive of information on the history of South Shields Harriers consists of a series of files and photos. They have been derived from club records, cuttings from papers, mainly the Shields Gazette, and individual diaries and reminiscences.

It is hoped that the archive will provide a basis for collecting further information to fill in the gaps in the club’s history, especially on the achievements of individual members. Also to chart our continuing progress over the next 100 years. A new archivist may be required…

The archive has 5 Parts. The first 3 Parts detail events, achievements and records, with reminiscences. Part 4 is an extensive collection of Harriers’ photographs, put together by Mick Frazer.
Part 5 is a draft summary of the above, which could be the outline, along with some photos, of a book. Alternatively, individual harriers could use this for creating their own personal club history, adding in their races and recollections.

Archive outline

Part 1:
1.1 Origins, pre 1900
1.2 Club development, 1900 onward
1.3 Club stories
1.4 Running: references to early history

Part 2:
2.1 Races, runners and walkers, 1900 - 1945
2.2 Races, runners and walkers, 1945 – 1980
2.3 Races and runners, 1980 – 2000
2.4 Races, runners and the club, 2000 onwards
2.5 Club races: 6 mile Open Race; Prinsky Cup & winners; and Great North Run

Part 3:
3.1 Club achievements
3.2 Individual achievements
3.3 Veterans’ achievements
3.4 Club records

Part 4:

Part 5:
Summary/ draft book/ basis for ‘Your history’

The rest of this file sets out Key Events and Achievements

Key Events and Achievements

Pre 1900

1875 Amateur Athletic Club founded

1880 Northern Amateur Athletics Club founded

1881 Amateur Athletics Association founded

1894 North East Counties XC Association formed: Paperchase League starts

1898 Initial South Shields athletic club, soon disbanded

Pre 1914

1900 South Shields Harriers and Athletics Club formed

1st 5 mile club championship for the Prinsky Cup
SG Young wins 8 mile cross country championship of Glasgow district
1902 Winners of Temperance Festival Inter-club race: 2nd in 1905 & 1907
1903 Winners of NE cross country Junior Championships, with JG McFarlane as individual winner
1904 1st Sunderland to Westoe Road race – the world’s first Harrier team race on roads

1904/5 William Haswell wins 1st of 4 successive Prinsky Cups
1905 & 1907 Second, South Shield Flower Show team race
1909/10 Tom Payne established claim to be world’s best long distance walker, with 2 world records
1910 Club became South Shields Harriers and Walking Club
1911 Winners of North Shields team race
1912 Winners of Inter- Club Walks, Manchester & South Shields
South Shields Independent Harriers disbanded: members joined club
1913 1st Ingham Infirmary Sports, organised by JG McFarlane
1914 Tyne Dock Harriers disbanded
1915–19 Club activities suspended for duration of War. 11 members die on active service

Inter War Years
1919 Club re-forms

1922 & 25 Second, Sunderland to Shields road race

1923 Youth section formed

1923/4/5 Second, Gateshead Congers 7 mile walk

1924 Winners, 2 mile junior team race, Smiths Dock sports

1926 H Young winner of Newcastle Exchange walk
1927 1st Yacht Handicaps – “an event which is capable of interesting development”
1927 Second, South Shields Cancer walk
1928 Ladies section formed – the 1st in the North East
R Mein winner of South Shields Carnival walk
CF Hakanson selected for England Walking team in Njmegen, Holland
1929 Hakanson becomes a Centurion by walking from London to Brighton and back
1930 Syd Hitcham wins Inter County Paperchase

1932/33/35/36/37 Winners of North East Road Walking Championships

1935 WR Loader, winner of AAA 100 yards Junior Championship

1938 Winners of Northumberland & Durham 1 mile relay

1940-45 Club suspended activities, but met informally for duration of War

1940s & 50s

1945 Club resumes activities

1946 Jack Russell becomes secretary, until 1979

1954 Second, N&D Harrier League Sherman Cup, junior team
Last Ingham Infirmary Sports
R Sheraton wins N & D senior paperchase 6 mile race

1955 Death of JG McFarlane, after 56 years of service to Club & Ingham Infirmary Sports

1958 Norman Biggs wins Youth’s title at Scottish National Cross Country Championships

1960s & 70s

Gypsies Green becomes club headquarters

1964-78 Sports Week, with Invitational & Inter-club athletic meetings

1966 Death of Tom Payne, aged 84

1967 Diana Cotterill, 1st indoor 1.5 mile walk, AAA championships. 1st in Northern 1.5 miles championships in 19666/67/68

1974 Winners N & D Harrier League, seniors

1974 Girls win outstanding club award at N & D championships

1975 1st team in South Shields 51st Open Road Race (First such title for club)

1976 First Sydney Hitcham Mile race

1977 Mike Kearns* runs British record for 1500 metres: 3.36.8

1978 Jack Russell dies

1979 Major split in club

1980s & 90s

1980 Brian Kirkley becomes secretary, until 1998?

1981 First Great North Run: Mike Kearns* 3rd; Karen Goldhawk* 1st Woman
Alan Richardson wins Blaydon Race: Shields 1st Team
1982 1st Veterans’ team, Northern Counties Marathon Championships, Middlesbrough

1990 Maurice Robertson shatters 3 national age group records for over 60s in 12 hour race

1991 Dave Beris part of Puma North East team which set World record for longest distance run in 24 hours.
1994 Peter Kelly* wins first of 4 Northern Ireland Xcountry vests
1994/5 U/15 boys winners of Wilson Shield, N & D cross country Harrier League

1997/8 Winners of 1st Division, N & D cross country Harrier League
Peter Kelly* ranked No.1 0/50 runner in Great Britain by Athletics Weekly
2002 Jared Deacon* wins Gold as member of 4x400 relay team, European Championships & Commonwealth Games

2003/4 Winners of Division 2, N & D cross country Harrier League

2004 UK Veterans cross country Championships: 3rd 0/60 team

2005 Emma Morris wins Gold in High Jump at New Zealand Championships

2006 Emma Morris becomes AAA High Jump Champion ??

2007 Allendale 8ml: 1st Senior team
Michael Page Memorial Race: 1st Senior team

*Runners who developed at the Harriers, but changed clubs because of work, education commitments etc elsewhere
NB Would like to note all international achievements/vests. Need details on L Nicholson, Ron Bell, P Kelly, and ?
Also, Ladies’ team results, in 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.May need to go back to Gazette for these…indeed for all 70s & 80s ?
Also winners of individual races eg Alan Richardson, Blaydon, Keith Mackey, Thanet marathon?, Geoff Rippon, John Dryden etc

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