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BELFAST HISTORY 26.2
ON TOUR

 

The year 2008 approaches and with it the promise of some exciting athletics encompassing a wide variety of disciplines. The year will get underway in ‘traditional’ fashion with a madcap run up and down the Glens of Antrim to the sound of the lone piper perched high on the hill top often enshrouded in mist. An experience which fast induces sobriety  after the excesses of the festivities of the previous evening.

Close on the heels of this opener is the Stormont International Cross Country followed by the Irish Indoor Championships at the magnificent Odyssey Arena and Age Group Championships at the new indoor venues at Jordanstown and Magherafelt.  To these add the mass starts of the Titanic 10k, the Queen’ s University 5k and the Belfast Marathon and you have a cornucopia of delights to appeal to those with Olympic aspirations and those with the more modest hopes of getting to the finish.

Life for the modern day athlete, and in particular those of an endurance persuasion, is packed full of opportunity. Indeed there is rarely a week goes by without a competition somewhere in the Province and some weeks you could be racing every night if the spirt so moved you. However it was not always so!  The sport which we call athletics has in the words of W B Yeats ‘changed utterly’ although whether a terrible beauty has been born is open to discussion.

Certainly the athletes of Northern Ireland who prepared for the arrival of 1958, half a century ago,  did  so in a quite different environment.   There were no fell  or trail races;  no indoor championships unless you went to England ; no all weather tracks and perhaps most surprising very few individual road races.  It was due to the latter that Duncairn Nomads introduced in 1958 a 15 mile road race from their club house at Twaddell Avenueacross the Ballysillan, up the Antrim Road and back again. The feature of this, sadly long lost event,   race was the beautiful hand inscribed certificates awarded to all finishers which were highly coveted. The first winner was F Walker of Clonliffe (79:08) ahead of Jimmy Todd (East Antrim 80:56) and Rab Crossan (Duncairn Harriers  81:14).

Athletics of course does not exist in a vacuum and those of a wider sporting interest might like to reflect on what was going on in 1958 the more minor  arenas.  It was of course the  year of the Munich disaster and many a Manchester United fan, myself included, can mark the 6 th February 1958 as the day they began to support the ‘Red Devils’.  The soccer leagues of the year would appear  strange to soccer aficionados of 2008 as Wolverhampton Wanderers, Hearts and Ards were League Champions of England,Scotland and Northern  Ireland . The FA Cup was won by Bolton Wanderers thanks to Nat Lofthouse and the fact that Manchester United were playing with the remnants of Busby’s Babes.  The big controversy of the year was the decision of the Football League to raise the wages of top flight players by £3.00 to £20 per week  although this was reduced to £17 per week in the off season.

My sporting heroes at the time were sadly not athletes but Trevor Thompson of Glentoran and A.C.D. Ingelby-Mackenzie of Hampshire and the MCC .  The latter was not only a great cricket but an avid horse racing fan and he kept in touch with events of the turf by way of bookmakers semaphore signals from the pavilion.

But back to the serious business. The season got underway with the Miskimmin Cup at Ballyclare on the 4 th February another event which has gone by the wayside in recent years.  The winner was Jim Douglas , a visitor from the Avondale club in Dublin and team honours went to the promoters East Antrim Harriers. As with most races in those days the Ireland Saturday Night carried a full report of the event including photographs.  In fact the coverage of athletics in the ‘ISN’, or ‘The Pink’ as it was known, was very comprehensive.  A weekly column by

 A weekly column by Tom Ferguson or Spiked Shoe  previewed events and reported on news from the local clubs. On weeks when there was no competition  the paper carried reports of the Saturday training run of most of the clubs and on occasions listed the teams which had been selected for forthcoming races.

The Northern Ireland Junior took place a fortnight later on a course at Dundonald which is now the site of a factory. It was situated on the left hand side of what is now the dual carriage-way to Newtownards  just past Dundonald High School . It was a cracking cross country course which included a river splash, a steep hill and two foot high ditches accessing single runner gaps and was the regular venue for all championship races including at All Ireland level.  The 1958 race was historical in that it provided Lisnagarvey (now City of Lisburn ) with their first and only Junior title. The individual title went to F Spence of Duncairn Harriers.

The Northern Ireland Boy’s title went to  Methodist College and the following month at the same venue they took the All Ireland Youth title having lost out to Ballydrain for local honours. The leading athlete for the Malone Road outfit at the time was Harry Simpson who eight years later running for 9th Old Boys took the Northern Senior Championship and led his club to their 9 th Senior club title.

The star of the Cross Country season was probably Bob McCullough of East Antrim Harriers.  His titles during the season included the All Rounder Cross Country which was based on accumulated points, the All Ireland Senior, the Northern Ireland Territorial Army Championship and the Northern Irleand Senior in which he led his club to an amazing 24 th Senior Championship. McCullough was rewarded with international honours as he along with Davy Harrison (9 th Old Boys) and Adam Brown (Ballydrain)represented Ireland in the European Cross Country Championships in Cardiff .

Lest I be accused of being a misogynist or sexist for ignoring the ladies and their performances over the country I have an excuse. Quite simply there is nothing to report. Women did not run cross country or road or indeed anything that involved going more than once around a track. It was in fact in the summer of 1958 that the Women’s Association, itself only eight years old, introduced an 800 yards into their championships. The inaugural winner wasPamela Martin of Short’ and Harlands AC in a time of 3mins 14.8 secs!!

1958 was in fact a big year for Track and Field in that it was the year of the 6th Empire Games now known now as the Commonwealth Games. The venue for the Games was Cardiff and there was to be a massive increase in the size of the Northern Ireland representation compared to previous Games.   The first appearance had been at the second Games in London in 1934 with four competitiors , all men.  Four years later three men took the long boat journey to Sydney, Australia and it was another 20 years before the Province was again represented in Vancouver when the sole female of the five athlete team Thelma Hopkinspicked up the first medals with Gold in the High Jump and Silver in the Long Jump.

The representation in Cardiff was no less than fourteen men and four women, a total which has never and is never likely to be exceeded. The consideration standards make interesting reading.

 

 

 

EVENT

MEN

WOMEN

100 yards

10.0

11.3

220 yards

22.2

25.4

440 yards

49.0

No event

880 yards

1:54.0

No event

Mile

4:12

No event

3 Mile

14:10

No event

6 Mile

30:15

No event

Marathon

2 hrs 50 mins

No event

120 / 80 yards Hurdles

15.2

11.5

440 yards hurdles

56.0

No event

High Jump

6 ‘ 1”  (1.85)

5’ 2”   (1.57)

Long Jump

23’ 0”  (7.00)

17’6”  (5.34)

Hop Step and Jump

46’ 6”  (14.18)

No event

Shot Putt

45’ 0”  (13.70)

36’  (10.94)

Discus

140’    (42.70)

112’  (34.14)

Hammer

170’   (51.82)

No event

Javelin

200’  (61.00)

112’  (34.14)

 

 

The fixture list published in the ISN showed little in the way of competition before the Empire Games Trials to be held on the 28 th May and the 4 th June. The season was to start with the Ballymena Sports organised by the one and only Sean Kyle and featuring the first races in the country to run over metric distances.  This meeting was to clash with the Lisnagarvey 6 mile road race but the latter had eventually to be cancelled due to lack of entries! What  are the chances of that happening in 2008?  At Ballymena Maeve (Kyle obviously) won the 100 and 200 metres presumably setting new NI and All Comers Records and Billy McCue had the same distinction in the 5000 metres winning in 15 mins 46 secs.

The Northern Ireland Women’s Chanmpionships took place at Cherryvale Playing Fields on the Ravenhill Road on 14 th May which unfortunately for them clashed with the Stranmillis College Sports which of course was primarily male athletics and thus merited much greater press coverage.  Thelma Hopkins won three titles, Mary Peters two and Maeve two so their selection forCardiff was pretty well obvious. Thankfully, as it turned out, Bridget Robinson also impressed in the javelin and she too was duly selected. Thus the only two champions not to get the nod were the aforementioned Pamela Martin and the 440 yards Champion Judith Bottle (68.0) neither of whom’s event wereon the Games programme.   The Women’s Association also responded to the appeal for funds made by the Empire Games Council and a Cake and Daffodil Sale was the preferred method of fund raising. Time for our female athletes to get into the kitchen and garden in readiness for India 2010!

When the team was announced  nine of the male champions were left out, two because they were Ghanaian  students at Queen’s University and therefore not eligible.  Joe Riverson  took the first of three consecutive 100 yards titles while bwon his first 440 yards hurdles  Gold Medal an achievement which he repeated in 1960. Of the others W. E. Jebb (Mile) Harry Goodman (HJ) J McGrath (PV) Dave Davison, father of rugby star Jeremy, (Shot) Albert Lucas (Discus) Gilmore Andrews (javelin) and Jim Lally (Hammer) were all disappointed.

In the Northern Ireland Marathon the race for selection was intense and five runners broke the 2:50 qualifying standard. The selectors chose three namely the winner Jimmy Todd (2:37.42) and the runner up Jack Dawson (2:40.15) as well as the fourth place man John Henning (2:48.38) by far the most experienced runner and the fourth oldest man ever to compete in a Commonwealth Games athletics event. The other two qualifers were Alex Hall in the bronze medal position and Eddie Wilson in fifth place. Fifty years on Eddie Wilson is still on the scene turning out week after week summer and winter with his trusty stopwatches.  He also at the time was in a most interesting position as he was a member of the Games selection panel! Interstingly the fastest time of the year was set by Duncairn Harrier Rab Crossan who chose to run the All Ireland Marathon finishing second in 2:35.23.

The full team and their performances:

 

Paddy Toner

100 yards

3h10 10.1       5QF3 10.5

 

220 yards

6h6 22.55       6QF6 22.62

Peter Street

100 yards

5h7 10.3

 

220 yards

4h4 23.31      6QF3 22.94

Ronnie Chambers

100 yards

5h12  10.2 

 

220 yards

3h2 22.21      4QF2  22.39

Billy Dundas

440 yards

4h4  51.0

Colin Shillington

880 yards

4h4  1:57.06

 

 Mile

7h2  ntr

Billy McCue

3 miles

17  ntr

Des Price

120 yards hurdles

4h4  15.11

Mark Cumming

440 yards hurdles

3h3  55.4   5SF2 59.38

N Gordon Hamilton

Long Jump

20th  6.89

 

100 yards

5h3  10.4

Tom Cairns

Hop Step and Jump

16th  14.13

Jack  Dawson

Marathon

Dnf

Richard (Dick) Millar

Javelin

4th  66.96

John Henning

Marathon

20 th   3:07.51

Jimmy Todd

Marathon

19 th 3:01.28

Maeve Kyle

100 yards

4h6  11.58

 

220 yards

4h2  25.86

Mary Peters

Shot Putt

8 th     11.21

 

High Jump

10 th =   1.47

Thelma Hopkins

High Jump

8 th    1.57

 

Long Jump

7 th   5.55

Bridget Robinson

Javelin

8 th   36.67

Mens 4x100

Toner, Hamilton, Street, Chambers

5h1  42.97

Womens 4 x 100

Hopkins, Robinson, Peters, Kyle

3h1  50.12   6 th Final  50.43

 

 

There was in fact another Northern Ireland competitor at the Games namely three times Javelin Champion Kevin Flannaganwho had competed for Northern Ireland in 1954 when a member of the RUC but had emigrated to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and represented his new country in Cardiff finishing 11 th behind the excellent performance of Dick Millar.

Perhaps the story of the Games as far as Northern Ireland is concerned was the performance of the Women’s relay team finishing 6 th in the final. The team comprised the only women selected namely a sprinter, a high jumper, a shot putter and a javelin thrower.  Together they ran 50.12 an astonishing performance!

The fact that the Games were held so close had several spins off as far as the local public was concerned as local events were graced by several overseas athletes before and after the Games.Josephine Cooke from England broke the British Shot Putt Record (13.94) at the annual Londonderry Trophy meeting which saw the emergence of 15 year old Methody schoolgirl Joan Atkinson who was to go on to win nine Senior sprint titles and a Silver medal at the World Student Games. Later as Joan Stewart she became one of our leading timekeepers.

In June the Nigerian team turned out in full at the RUC Sports held at the Showgrounds, Balmoral and in July Paisley Park on theWest Circular Road played host to the Australian team, unfortunately without the much anticipated Herb Elliott. At this meeting Mary Peters broke the Northern Ireland Shot Putt record (11.95)  and Bridget Robinson the Javelin record (40.12) while Australian 3 mile Silver medalist from Cardiff Albie Thomas won the mile in 4:07.4.

Away from the Empire Games local events continued. A new track was being prepared at Tillysburn in East Belfast which was to become a venue for some great international performances in future years. Sadly now it is covered in grass  and the host club Shorts which produced many great athletes has disappeared. InBangor a new athletics club (Bangor AC) was being formed by a Polish man named Richard Weglarz.   A quality athlete in his own country Richard continued to compete as a veteran in his adopted country particularly in the Decathlon and maintained his links with the North Down club until his death in July of this year.

At Queen’s University the star performer was a German born student called Joe Kochling but a young fresher by the name ofDave McKibbin, a former pupil of RBAI, was  being tipped for great things over 880 yards. Nothing was mentioned however of his even greater potential as an announcer and journalist!  And speaking of journalists a graded meeting in June at Ormeau Parksaw victory over 100 and 220 yards for a young sprinter by the name of Gerry Carson  who was to take another 12 years before he graced the Commonwealth Games stage. 

As the Track an Field season drew to a close the organisers of the Portadown Sports were forced to cancel due to lack of support promised by Belfast athletes – where have I heard that before? One item of rugby news is also of interest.  Belfast High Former Pupils won their way through to the 3 rd round of the Junior Cup. Much of their success was due to the 39 year old pack leader John Bull, a Belfast schoolteacher and athletics coach who was also the father of a twelve year old son called Michael  who was to become the  a  future Commonwealth Champion in Pole Vault and Decathlon.

And so the athletic fraternity went into competitive hibernation before the two winter cross country races the Malcolm Cup at Dundonald on the 29 th of November and the West Down Cup on the 13 th December, both at Dundonald, brought the year to a close. Ballydrain’s  Jim Kenmore was the individual winner of both events with his club winning the Malcom and 9 th Old Boys the West Down. In an accompanying Novice event  Bob Cattersonachieved the distinction of being the first Ballymena club athlete to win a cross country race.

If anyone feels the urge in the year 2058 to look back half a century he or she will in some ways have an easier task in accessing information provided the current technology can be transferred to whatever amazing software the future holds – Windows 2058 cannot be imagined.  A comparison of fixture lists however shows that the historian  of the future will have a lot more statistics to wade through.  Will the youngsters of the day amaze their grandchildren with stories  of thousands of athletes running  26.2 miles  through the streets of Belfast ? Will they relate to disbelieving ears the fact that they had to run and train outdoors all winter because of lack of indoor facilities and in conditions of semi darkness on pock marked tracks? Will our successors gasp at the fact that the athletes far outnumbered the spectatators at the National Championships?  Or will the residents of the luxury housing developments on the banks of the Lagan or the shores of Lough Neagh express just passing interest in the news that their dwellings were once on the site of an ancient sport called athletics!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or Spiked Shoe  previewed  events and reported on news from the local clubs. On weeks when there was no competition  the paper carried reports of the Saturday training run of most of the clubs and on occasions listed the teams which had been selected for forthcoming races.

The Northern Ireland Junior took place a fortnight later on a course at Dundonald which is now the site of a factory. It was situated on the left hand side of what is now the dual carriage-way to Newtownards  just past Dundonald High School . It was a cracking cross country course which included a river splash, a steep hill and two foot high ditches accessing single runner gaps and was the regular venue for all championship races including at All Ireland level.  The 1958 race was historical in that it provided Lisnagarvey (now City of Lisburn ) with their first and only Junior title. The individual title went to F Spence of Duncairn Harriers.

The Northern Ireland Boy’s title went to  Methodist College and the following month at the same venue they took the All Ireland Youth title having lost out to Ballydrain for local honours. The leading athlete for the Malone Road outfit at the time was Harry Simpson who eight years later running for 9th Old Boys took the Northern Senior Championship and led his club to their 9 th Senior club title.

The star of the Cross Country season was probably Bob McCullough of East Antrim Harriers.  His titles during the season included the All Rounder Cross Country which was based on accumulated points, the All Ireland Senior, the Northern Ireland Territorial Army Championship and the Northern Irleand Senior in which he led his club to an amazing 24 th Senior Championship. McCullough was rewarded with international honours as he along with Davy Harrison (9 th Old Boys) and Adam Brown (Ballydrain) represented Ireland in the European Cross Country Championships in Cardiff .

Lest I be accused of being a misogynist or sexist for ignoring the ladies and their performances over the country I have an excuse. Quite simply there is nothing to report. Women did not run cross country or road or indeed anything that involved going more than once around a track. It was in fact in the summer of 1958 that the Women’s Association, itself only eight years old, introduced an 800 yards into their championships. The inaugural winner was Pamela Martin of Short’ and Harlands AC in a time of 3mins 14.8 secs!!

1958 was in fact a big year for Track and Field in that it was the year of the 6th Empire Games now known now as the Commonwealth Games. The venue for the Games was Cardiff and there was to be a massive increase in the size of the Northern Ireland representation compared to previous Games.   The first appearance had been at the second Games in London in 1934 with four competitiors , all men.  Four years later three men took the long boat journey to Sydney, Australia and it was another 20 years before the Province was again represented in Vancouver when the sole female of the five athlete team Thelma Hopkins picked up the first medals with Gold in the High Jump and Silver in the Long Jump.

The representation in Cardiff was no less than fourteen men and four women, a total which has never and is never likely to be exceeded. The consideration standards make interesting reading.

 

 

 

EVENT

MEN

WOMEN

100 yards

10.0

11.3

220 yards

22.2

25.4

440 yards

49.0

No event

880 yards

1:54.0

No event

Mile

4:12

No event

3 Mile

14:10

No event

6 Mile

30:15

No event

Marathon

2 hrs 50 mins

No event

120 / 80 yards Hurdles

15.2

11.5

440 yards hurdles

56.0

No event

High Jump

6 ‘ 1”  (1.85)

5’ 2”   (1.57)

Long Jump

23’ 0”  (7.00)

17’6”  (5.34)

Hop Step and Jump

46’ 6”  (14.18)

No event

Shot Putt

45’ 0”  (13.70)

36’  (10.94)

Discus

140’    (42.70)

112’  (34.14)

Hammer

170’   (51.82)

No event

Javelin

200’  (61.00)

112’  (34.14)

 

 

The fixture list published in the ISN showed little in the way of competition before the Empire Games Trials to be held on the 28 th May and the 4 th June. The season was to start with the Ballymena Sports organised by the one and only Sean Kyle and featuring the first races in the country to run over metric distances.  This meeting was to clash with the Lisnagarvey 6 mile road race but the latter had eventually to be cancelled due to lack of entries! What  are the chances of that happening in 2008?  At Ballymena Maeve (Kyle obviously) won the 100 and 200 metres presumably setting new NI and All Comers Records and Billy McCue had the same distinction in the 5000 metres winning in 15 mins 46 secs.

The Northern Ireland Women’s Chanmpionships took place at Cherryvale Playing Fields on the Ravenhill Road on 14 th May which unfortunately for them clashed with the Stranmillis College Sports which of course was primarily male athletics and thus merited much greater press coverage.  Thelma Hopkins won three titles, Mary Peters two and Maeve two so their selection forCardiff was pretty well obvious. Thankfully, as it turned out, Bridget Robinson also impressed in the javelin and she too was duly selected. Thus the only two champions not to get the nod were the aforementioned Pamela martin and the 440 yards Champion Judith Bottle (68.0) neither of whom’s event wereon the Games programme.   The Women’s Association also responded to the appeal for funds made by the Empire Games Council and a Cake and Daffodil Sale was the preferred method of fund raising. Time for our female athletes to get into the kitchen and garden in readiness for India 2010!

When the team was announced  nine of the male champions were left out, two because they were Ghanaian  students at Queen’s University and therefore not eligible.  Joe Riverson  took the first of three consecutive 100 yards titles while Gordon Ziddah won his first 440 yards hurdles  Gold Medal an achievement which he repeated in 1960. Of the others W. E. Jebb (Mile) Harry Goodman (HJ) J McGrath (PV) Dave Davison, father of rugby star Jeremy, (Shot) Albert Lucas (Discus) Gilmore Andrews (javelin) and Jim Lally (Hammer) were all disappointed.

In the Northern Ireland Marathon the race for selection was intense and five runners broke the 2:50 qualifying standard. The selectors chose three namely the winner Jimmy Todd (2:37.42) and the runner up Jack Dawson (2:40.15) as well as the fourth place man John Henning (2:48.38) by far the most experienced runner and the fourth oldest man ever to compete in a Commonwealth Games athletics event. The other two qualifers were Alex Hall in the bronze medal position and Eddie Wilson in fifth place. Fifty years on Eddie Wilson is still on the scene turning out week after week summer and winter with his trusty stopwatches.  He also at the time was in a most interesting position as he was a member of the Games selection panel! Interstingly the fastest time of the year was set by Duncairn Harrier Rab Crossan who chose to run the All Ireland Marathon finishing second in 2:35.23.

The full team and their performances:

 

Paddy Toner

100 yards

3h10 10.1       5QF3 10.5

 

220 yards

6h6 22.55       6QF6 22.62

Peter Street

100 yards

5h7 10.3

 

220 yards

4h4 23.31      6QF3 22.94

Ronnie Chambers

100 yards

5h12  10.2 

 

220 yards

3h2 22.21      4QF2  22.39

Billy Dundas

440 yards

4h4  51.0

Colin Shillington

880 yards

4h4  1:57.06

 

 Mile

7h2  ntr

Billy McCue

3 miles

17  ntr

Des Price

120 yards hurdles

4h4  15.11

Mark Cumming

440 yards hurdles

3h3  55.4   5SF2 59.38

N Gordon Hamilton

Long Jump

20th  6.89

 

100 yards

5h3  10.4

Tom Cairns

Hop Step and Jump

16th  14.13

Jack  Dawson

Marathon

Dnf

Richard (Dick) Millar

Javelin

4th  66.96

John Henning

Marathon

20 th   3:07.51

Jimmy Todd

Marathon

19 th 3:01.28

Maeve Kyle

100 yards

4h6  11.58

 

220 yards

4h2  25.86

Mary Peters

Shot Putt

8 th     11.21

 

High Jump

10 th =   1.47

Thelma Hopkins

High Jump

8 th    1.57

 

Long Jump

7 th   5.55

Bridget Robinson

Javelin

8 th   36.67

Mens 4x100

Toner, Hamilton, Street, Chambers

5h1  42.97

Womens 4 x 100

Hopkins, Robinson, Peters, Kyle

3h1  50.12   6 th Final  50.43

 

 

There was in fact another Northern Ireland competitor at the Games namely three times Javelin Champion Kevin Flannagan who had competed for Northern Ireland in 1954 when a member of the RUC but had emigrated to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and represented his new country in Cardiff finishing 11 th behind the excellent performance of Dick Millar.

Perhaps the story of the Games as far as Northern Ireland is concerned was the performance of the Women’s relay team finishing 6 th in the final. The team comprised the only women selected namely a sprinter, a high jumper, a shot putter and a javelin thrower.  Together they ran 50.12 an astonishing performance!

The fact that the Games were held so close had several spins off as far as the local public was concerned as local events were graced by several overseas athletes before and after the Games. Josephine Cooke from England broke the British Shot Putt Record (13.94) at the annual Londonderry Trophy meeting which saw the emergence of 15 year old Methody schoolgirl Joan Atkinson who was to go on to win nine Senior sprint titles and a Silver medal at the World Student Games. Later asJoan Stewart she became one of our leading timekeepers.

In June the Nigerian team turned out in full at the RUC Sports held at the Showgrounds, Balmoral and in July Paisley Park on theWest Circular Road played host to the Australian team, unfortunately without the much anticipated Herb Elliott. At this meeting Mary Peters broke the Northern Ireland Shot Putt record (11.95)  and Bridget Robinson the Javelin record (40.12) while Australian 3 mile Silver medalist from Cardiff won the mile in 4:07.4.

Away from the Empire Games local events continued. A new track was being prepared at Tillysburn in East Belfast which was to become a venue for some great international performances in future years. Sadly now it is covered in grass  and the host club Shorts which produced many great athletes has disappeared. InBangor a new athletics club (Bangor AC) was being formed by a Polish man named Richard Weglarz.   A quality athlete in his own country Richard continued to compete as a veteran in his adopted country particularly in the Decathlon and maintained his links with the North Down club until his death in July of this year.

At Queen’s University the star performer was a German born student called Joe Kochling but a young fresher by the name of Dave McKibbin, a former pupil of RBAI, was  being tipped for great things over 880 yards. Nothing was mentioned however of his even greater potential as an announcer and journalist!  And speaking of journalists a graded meeting in June at Ormeau Parksaw victory over 100 and 220 yards for a young sprinter by the name of Gerry Carson  who was to take another 12 years before he graced the Commonwealth Games stage. 

As the Track an Field season drew to a close the organisers of the Portadown Sports were forced to cancel due to lack of support promised by Belfast athletes – where have I heard that before? One item of rugby news is also of interest.  Belfast High Former Pupils won their way through to the 3 rd round of the Junior Cup. Much of their success was due to the 39 year old pack leader John Bull, a Belfast schoolteacher and athletics coach who was also the father of a twelve year old son called Michael  who was to become the  a  future Commonwealth Champion in Pole Vault and Decathlon.

And so the athletic fraternity went into competitive hibernation before the two winter cross country races the Malcolm Cup at Dundonald on the 29 th of November and the West Down Cup on the 13 th December, both at Dundonald, brought the year to a close. Ballydrain’s  Jim Kenmore was the individual winner of both events with his club winning the Malcom and 9 th Old Boys the West Down. In an accompanying Novice event  Bob Catterson achieved the distinction of being the first Ballymena club athlete to win a cross country race.

If anyone feels the urge in the year 2058 to look back half a century he or she will in some ways have an easier task in accessing information provided the current technology can be transferred to whatever amazing software the future holds – Windows 2058 cannot be imagined.  A comparison of fixture lists however shows that the historian  of the future will have a lot more statistics to wade through.  Will the youngsters of the day amaze their grandchildren with stories  of thousands of athletes running  26.2 miles  through the streets of Belfast ? Will they relate to disbelieving ears the fact that they had to run and train outdoors all winter because of lack of indoor facilities and in conditions of semi darkness on pock marked tracks? Will our successors gasp at the fact that the athletes far outnumbered the spectatators at the National Championships?  Or will the residents of the luxury housing developments on the banks of the Lagan or the shores of Lough Neagh express just passing interest in the news that their dwellings were once on the site of an ancient sport called athletics!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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