NORTHERN IRELAND MENS TRACK and FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
The partition of Ireland in 1921, which brought about the the Northern Ireland State, posed considerable difficulties for sport which had hitherto been governed on an All Ireland basis. Some sports retained their All Ireland entity while others, like athletics, decided to split. The history of athletics in Ireland is an extremely complicated one full of intrigue, splits, bans and even violence and those seeking claification should seek out "The Politics of Irish Athletics 1850-19902 by Paudraig Griffin. In so far as events in these pages are concerned they are governed by the formation in 1925 of the Northern Ireland Amateur Athletic, Cross Country and Cycling Association was formed and preceeded to hold Championships. In the intervening almost 100 years there have many developments and changes, not least of which was an amalgamtion with the NIWAAA, the body governing women's athletics, with corresponiding name changes resulting in the present incarnation called Athletics NI.
Within nine days of it s formation the new Association crowned its first track Champion J P Clarke of Co Antrim Harriers in a meeting held at Ballydrain. For the first decade the "Championships" were a hotch potch of individual events farmed out to local meets across the Six Counties in ulikely venues like Shrigley, Celtic Park and the Oval, the home of Glentoran Football Club. It was only in 1935 that the first single day Championhips, incorporating all events, including the marathon, were held at Dunmore Stadium.
CInder tracks of various quality followed in the 1950's and 60's like Paisley Park, Aircraft Park and Ormeau Park before in the 1970's the move to synthetic surfaces at Upper Malone, Antrim Forum and Mary Peters Track (the same venue as Upper MAlone). In 1970, in line with currency, Track and Field went Metric with the saddest loss change being from the Mile replaced by the bizarre 3 and three quarter laps 1500 metres.
In its almost 100 year history the Championships have seen many local clubs disappear from the scene including the likes of 9th Old Boys, Duncairn Nomads, Albert Foundry, Short and Harland, Belfast Olympic, Achilles, Ulsterville, Abbey and others all of whom produced great Champions.