Sefton Harriers A Centenary History 1889-1989 Norman Wilson
Chapter 2 1914-1939 (page 15)
Man is creature of habit. In the face of impending disaster, he will continue to go about his daily tasks he has performed for years. When great changes threaten, there is a sense of security in the familiar things.
From scrutiny of the Clubs records, this certainly appears to have been the case with Sefton Harriers. The annual general Meeting for 1914 was held on 29th September at the Bee Hotel. Treasurer’s and Secretary’s reports were read. the Balance Sheet was adopted, and the officers for 1914/15 season were elected in the same time honoured fashion.
At the October Committee meeting it was resolved to apply to the N.C.A.A for a permit to run the 1915 Good Friday Meeting. The Committee was planning ahead for the next track season. Why not? They always had done: there did not seem any reason not to do so now.
There was so much business to discuss; we held a total of four Committee Meetings in October alone. By the next Meeting however, on 15th December, a harsh note of reality had sounded from France with the news that Corporal J.Clancy had been killed in action. John Clancy was a Sefton Harrier, and was the first of our members to lose his life in the “war to end all wars”.
On the 10th February 1915, “a good profit of £14 was reported on the Christmas Draw to ease a little in the desperate financial situation; but these brief mundane matters were giving way to the weight of wider and more serious issues.
During the following four years in the Clubs activities were greatly reduced. The promotion of open meetings and the Club Championships were suspended, although members who were at home kept the home fires burning”, and the Club ticking over
with Saturday runs and evening meetings for members only.
Committee meetings were suspended and only General Meeting on a six-monthly basis were upheld. From November 17th 1917 to May 1919 there were no meetings at all. There is a interest note in the minutes of the last named meeting; “Owing to the conditions produced by the war, it was found impossible to hold the Annual General Meetings for 1917 and 1918. For the proposes of election of Officers, it was therefore decided to to regard meeting as in effect the AGM. for 1918 and 1919”.
From these dormant years there is one occurrence that is worthy of a special mention. On the 17th November 1917, E.J. Rogers was elected as a member. When the war years were behind us, and running got into it’s stride again, Sefton was to move out of the Jack Rimmer and W.T. Clarke era, into the Ted Rogers era. Ted was to become one of the most successful athletes, and loyal clubmen we have ever had; but more of him later.
On the 11th November 1918, at 11am the Great War was officially over. the boys came home to a “land fit for heroes”. The nation rejoiced, except of course those whose boys did not come home.
the Seftonians came home; well not quite all of them. Some were left behind in the mud of Flanders and on the green fields of France.
ROLL OF HONOUR
The following members lost their lives on Active Service in the Great War;
Capt. Noel Chavasse VC and Bar MC August 1917
Corporal John Clancey November 1917
Pte T. Webster July 1915
Sgt.J.Norman August 1916
Pte.J.W.Fitzgerald October 1916
Pte W.T.Thomas September 1917
Pte A.G.Roberts September 1917
capt.F.C.Dillon August 1918
2nd Lt.H.Alty DCM October 1918
Their names will live for ever, as long as we remember them
By the summer of 1919 track running was back in full swing with Sefton Harriers runners very much at the head of affairs.
At Stamford Bridge, London on 5th July our E.J.Rogers finshed 3rd in the A.A.As 4 mile Championship. Ted also took 2nd place in the N.C.A.A 1 mile Championship in Manchester in the same year.
The following Sefton success were recorded in the summer:
1st Salford police Sports 19 July
1st Liverpool Tramways Sports 22nd July
2nd Manchester Athletic Club Sports 26th July
2nd New Brighton sports 4th August
3rd Wigan Police 7th June
3rd Liverpool Police 28th June
(E.J.Rogers 1st man home)
1st Makerfield 2nd August
(E.J.Rogers 1st man home)
Sefton were making a rapid recovery from the war years, and in addition to the successes achieved on the track and field; at the Annual general Meeting on 10th September 1919, “the Hon Treasurer was congratulated on the excellent financial position of the Club who had now a balance of £11.17.6d. after everything had been paid for and allowed for. For the first time in 10 years our finances were in credit! At the same Meeting J.T.Rimmer was unanimously elected a life-member. It was a well deserved honour for a man who put back into the sport more than he ever took out.
The minutes of this particular meeting have presented the author with rich pickings and reproduced here is a further extract:
A.A.A voting power. Mr T.C Jones proposed, Mr A.E Lovelady seconding:- “That Sefton Harriers place themselves on record as strongly protesting against the present voting arrangements of A.A.A. by which the Southern voting strength is more than twice that of the Northern and Midlands districts combined. The motion was passed unanimously, it being decided to send a copy of the resolution direct to the A.A.A and the Clubs’s representatives support the protest at the N.C.A.A district meetings” Sefton were making waves against the North/South divide; which with hindsight does not appear to be so recent a phenomenon.
With the advent of the 1919/1920 cross-country season, club Officials were looking around for suitable accommodation, and Mr H.H. Boadle, our Hon Secretary at the time, reported that he had managed to negotiate terms with, and book quarters at West Derby Village Hall. This was the begining of an association which was to last for over 50 years, during which time hundreds of Seftonians have passed through their portals, and enjoyed many convivial Saturday afternoons. Another long lasting Sefton tradition commenced that year when the Christmas Handicap, followed by the Evening Social were held at the same venue.
The move to West Derby augured well for the Club, for that season we were Liverpool and District Champions and runners up in the West Lancs Championships. In the West Lancs we were narrowly beaten by Warrington who scored 59 points to our 67.
Despite protests by Wirral A.C. that we ran 11 men instead of the 10 the result of the Liverpool and District was upheld, and we were the victors by 34 points to Wirral’s 73. Sefton had their six counters in the first nine finishers!
As the memory of the war years faded and we moved into the 1920s, the Club went from strength to strength. The attendance at the Half-Yearly Meeting in April 1920 was 55 members. This was no freak figure. The AGM in September of the same year brought out 58 members. This pattern continued for some time with 59 members in 1921, 57 in 1922, 46 in 1923 and 52 in 1924. the membership appears to have taken seriously the principal of Club democracy, as well as their responsibilities as contributors.
Membership grew rapidly in the early 1920s and among the 29 new members elected on 15th July 1921 was the name of J.S. Lubbock. In the course of the next 50 years, the name of Stan Lubbock became synonymous with Sefton. Stan once told the author “I soon discovered that I wasn’t much of a runner, so I decided to do what I was good at”. He still tried running for a while nevertheless, for 1923, along with J.Baines, he was awarded the attendance prize; for having not missed a cross-country run all season.
That was the essence of the man; 100% dependable.
The Good Friday meeting had been revived and the one held in 1921 was a great success. In the Club records, emphasis is placed upon the high level of co-operation, and good feelings that existed between the promoting clubs, Pembroke, Liverpool Harriers and ourselves. Financially it was profitable; each Club receiving £20.
Sefton’s involvement in the promotion of athletics is a strong tradition which goes back along time. This says a great deal about the commitment of members, to the Club in particular and the sport in general.
It is interesting to note that the business side of Club affairs was not left solely to non-runners. Active athletes were also very much involved, and took their share of tasks. Ted Rogers for example, in addition to being our star runner of the 1920s, was also an active Committee member along with others. This is still true today, when the majority of the committee members are busily involved in competition also.
The open Sports Meeting on 7th may 1924, promoted by the now established triumvirate of Pembroke-Liverpool-Sefton, was intended to be a big affair. to promote the event, a “high profile” advertising campaign was launched which included displays on Mersey Railways, Wallasey Ferries, Wallasey Tramways, Cinemas and even sandwich-men. It would appear that we over-reached ourselves; the meeting made a loss of £100.
With the boom in membership came the popularity of the Club social function. these happened on a frequent and regular basis and took the form of Dances, Concerts, Whist drives and hot Pot Suppers.
It was at this period that we recruited a considerable number of members from the Prescot and St Helens area; so many in fact, that a Prescot branch of Sefton Harriers was formed. Their Headquarters was the Sun Inn, Prescot, where the landlord a Mr Roughsedge, was a member of the Club. This branch grew in strength and was successful for many years under their guiding force; Harry Tickle. They held their own social functions, and as one reads accounts of exchange visits between the West Derby members and those of the Prescot branch, for Club
Runs and Hot Pot Suppers, there is a warm feeling of good fellowship and conviviality conveyed from an earlier age which was simpler and far less manic than that to which we are now accustomed. From his early days with the Club the author well remembers Harry Tickle; a happy smiling man; full of goodwill. It is well that he is remembered in the Harry Tickle trophy which we still have.
Reading through the minute books is a fascinating pastime. They are a window on a bygone age, and as you sit at that window, the history of Sefton Harriers and their activities, pass before your eye. Sometimes it is possible to get a good look; at others; just a tantalizing glance of something that catches the attention.
As we are now fully emancipated Club, with our own Ladies cross-country team, and very proud we are of them, the following item of the Half Yearly Meeting of 28th April 1926 might prove of interest, and afford a little amusement. “It was agreed to start a Ladies Section and the yearly subs are to be 2/-“. At the AGM. later that same year the minutes recorded “it was agreed to leave the matter as it was until we found real live enthusiastic lady to begin the team” It must have been Mary Dean they had in mind, the description fits perfectly.
Here is one of those entries which make you want to know more. Committee Meeting on 21st April 1925 “J.E Wildboar was suspended by N.C.A.A. for not trying at Salford Harriers meting”. Why? Was he in the pay of the bookies, or was he trying to manipulate his handicap mark for a future advantage? We shall never know.
Another entry of interest, and one we do have continuity, is the election to membership of of one E.E.Cotter on 8th June 1926. E.E.Cotter, Ernie to all his friends is the grand old man of Sefton, and is happily still with us 63 years after first pulling on the black and white hoops. This must be a record. In the late 1920s and the early 1930s Ernie Cotter was one of our crack sprinters, competing in and winning races from 100yds to 880yds. He was so good that he actually turned down offers to turn professional; preferring to retain his amateur status and loyalty to the Club. When his running days were over he served the Club in an administrative capacity for many years. From 1952 to 1954 Ernie was our Hon Treasurer. In 1950’s he was instrumental in recruiting some fine young runners notably his nephew Mike Batty, of whom more later.
The authors curiosity was aroused by the entry from the Committee Meeting of 23rd August 1927 when it is noted that “61 second claim members were elected”. What could this mean? After some thought and speculation, it is possible that they were all cyclists who joined for the winter season only, which although not now a practise amongst our wheeled friends, was then the usual thing to do. The changing rooms in West Derby Village Hall must have been a crowded place during that particular winter.
There is an oft repeated story in Sefton Harriers, of a young man who died on a winter cross-country run. His absence was noticed after the run had finished. He was searched for, and found to be dead. Like so many past happenings that are now part of the oral tradition, this had become to sound like an apocryphal tale, This misconception was entirely dismissed by the discovery of a full account of the happening in the minutes of the Committee Meeting of 23rd January 1928. It is worth reproducing the entry in it’s entirety.
“Death of H.G.Abram. the circumstances of the tragic and sudden death of this young member was refered to by J.W.Horne Hon Treasurer Mr S.Lubbock the Hon Secretary. The following also spoke expressing words of sympathy. Messrs H. Goldboun, E.Brady. E.B.R. Fry and T.V Willaims. References were made to funeral expenses, also to a Club gold medal to the parents in remembrance. It was agreed to leave these matters in the hands of Mr Goldbourn to see if the parents would accept the same. The family’s request for four members of Sefton Harriers to act as bearers was mentioned, and the following were selected, Messrs H Goldbourn, C.H.Boadle, C.C. Berger and J.S.Lubbock. Agreed and a wreath with Club colours on be sent, also a letter of sympathy be sent to the parents. Mr Horne mentitioned the inquest was on Tuesday 24th at 1,30 pm at Huyton Council Offices, and that Mr Mills would attend. The meeting rose in respect. The run for Saturday 28th inst, was cancelled and no member to run at Chester”. A further report on the 6th February 1928 completes the picture. “Mr H. Goldborn reported his visit to the parents, who accepted the suggestion of the Gold medal and financial help re the funeral.
Mr Horne Hon Treasurer mentioned that he started a fund which was doing well. He anticipated getting £20. Agreed that the engraving on the medal be as follows; “10 Miles Cross-Country Championship Jan 21st 1928 He ran a great race and finished the course.”
It was also resolved to to place on record the warm hearted appreciation of the Committee, of services rendered in the connection of members L. Evans, J, Givanovich and S. Lubbock. Theses three engaged in a long fruitless search immediately after the race in worst of weather conditions, and did not cease their efforts until early next morning. The following day (Sunday) they resumed their search at 7.30 am, with the co-operation of members J.W. Horne and E.B.R. Fry, to whom also the Committee desire to extend their appreciation. A deal of work devolved upon J.W. Horns and S Lubbock during the week following the tragedy and the manner it was carried out, speaks volumes for our Hon Treasurer and Hon Secretary J.W Horne and S Lubbock. we are proud of all such members. Also it was agreed to send a letter of thanks to Dr Jack Mills for his services rendered during the affair.
On 21 September 2003 the Club secretary Robbie Wood received a phone call from a Mavis Roberts who lives in St Anne’s Lancashire concerning the above event. It was with great surprise and interest that she retold the story of her uncle who had lost his life on that January day in 1928. After almost seventy six years we can now add to this story, with the agreement of Norman Wilson I include her account below (Robbie Wood 26th September 2003)
“He was my Mother’s younger brother, and was a member of Sefton Harriers. The week before the race that ended such a shot life, he had been suffering from a bout of ‘Flu and my father used to take him to all his meetings on the back of his Motor Bike. This particular weekend my father said he shouldn’t compete as he been poorly, but Gordon was adamant he wanted to take part (just like all the Abram family) and he told my father that if he didn’t take him, he would get someone else to take him, so my Father said he didn’t approve, but he would rather take him than have to ask someone else.
After the race, and when he didn’t finish with the stragglers even, everyone got worried and started a search – but as it was January, the nights came in fast and although they had torches the searchers, which included my father, could find him anywhere. The next morning, as soon as it was light, my father and two of my uncles (his brothers) went out again, and the club searched all along the route, but my father thought he may have stopped somewhere, because of not being well the week before, so my Dad and two uncles decided they would go a different route, and then after a while they saw what looked like a bundle of sacks in the middle of a field, so they went across and there, unfortunately, was my Uncle Gordon, lying in a ploughed field in one of the furrows, hands still clenched as they are when one runs, but he was dead. He was only l9, the baby of the family, and unfortunately we do not know of the medal he was awarded or what happened to it. We think that after my Grandmother died, it may have gone to my Uncle Ken, who was a sports editor on the Daily and the the Sunday Express.”
On 7th October 2006 Robbie Wood received a phone call from Mavis Roberts to inform me that she was sending me copies of reports that appeared in the Liverpool Echo on this tragedy. I have typed to the reports and have added them to this history Read Echo Reports
With the thought of the forthcoming centenary dinner in mind, and the anticipation of the re-union of many old friends, the readers of this history may find interest in the following. It is a reproduction of an article which appeared in the Liverpool Echo on Friday 8th April 1927. Let the present members of the Club feel proud that were known as a “world famed club”.
SEFTON HARRIERS RE-UNITE
The great re-union and dinner for past and present members of Sefton Harriers will take place at St George’s Restaurant, Redcross Street to-morrow evening at 7. Amongst the founders of the now world -famed club is Clem Bluett, the winner of the first club cross-country championship ever held in Liverpool, and the first link in the chain of champions stretching through the forty years of athletic achievement to the present day. Every past champion, official and life-member should be a sure starter on this unique occasion.
Acceptances include members who in their day were England’s premier performers, and all Seftonians are assured of a real feast of athletics reminiscences of England’s greatest athletes from the eighties to the present day.”
During the process of compiling the history, the author has endeavoured to illustrate the nature of a club like Sefton Harriers as that of a composite of many parts. The parts of course being individuals: individuals of many kinds. Some have won more fame that others. The fact we are 100 years old is a tribute to them all, and although it would not be practical to name each one, it is fitting that some are given special attention.
In the 1920s Sefton had many fine runners in their ranks, but perhaps the one who stands out, not only for his running prowess, but also for his long service with the Club, is E.J Rogers. His list of achievements is such that the most talented of us would be hard put to emulate it.
Ted, who had Irish qualifications, was an international runner for that country, and in the years 1920 and 1922 was their National Champion at 1 mile and 4 miles. His 3rd place in the English 4 miles Championship in 1919 has been mentioned earlier. Ted Rogers was Club Captain in 1923/24 and 1928/29 seasons, and was the spearhead of our cross-country team for many seasons. He was a member of the team that scored the famous victory in the Liverpool and District Championships of 1920, when we had our 6 counters in the first 9. The 1925/6 season saw Ted emulate his predecessors of the pre-war years, by winning the Liverpool and District individual title. His victories on the track, at meetings in many parts of the country were numerous; contributing in no small way to Sefton’s success in 2 mile team race. Like all great men he was modest about his achievements and allowed his actions to speak for him. In his dedication to the sport, and his long and loyal service to the Club, he is an inspiration to us all.
Towards the middle of the 1920s Ted Rogers was being chased hard by another up and coming Seftonian. This G.P. Boardman. In 1924/25 season George Boardman, who was still a Junior, won the Club Cross-Country Championships, and it was apparent that in him we had a runner of exceptional ability. This was first of five Club Championships that he was to win in the
following years. To further prove his class, he went on to become West Lancs Junior Champion in 1925. The following year 1926 he won the Liverpool and District and West Lancs senior Championships; retaining the West Lancs title in 1927. George was our Captain in 1924/25 and was also part of the track team with Ted Rogers.
In the late 20s the name of C.Weston begins to appear on the list of honours. Chris Weston was a member of our Youth’s team who were Liverpool and District Champions in 1924/25, and by 1927 was a Liverpool and District Individual Junior Champion. This consistency was continued when he reached senior ranks, for in 1929 he became West Lancs Senior Champion.
1928 saw us win the Liverpool and District Youths team Championship with our own D.G. Edgar being the first man home. The following year, in addition to Chris Weston individual victory in the West Lancs; Sefton won both Junior and senior team Championships in the Liverpool and District.
The passing of the 1920s witnessed no lessening of our influence on cross-country scene and the following extracts from the minute book illustrates the commitment to the sport within the Club:
Half yearly Meeting 28th April 1931;
“The Hon Secretary mentioned that 72 members actually turned out during the season and the average pack was 30 to 50 strong; the season proving a very enjoyable one”.
Half yearly Meeting 15th April 1932;
“The cross-country season had been a very happy one, all events were contested in the Sefton spirit, we entertained a few visitors including the Monster Meet of all District clubs and preserved our pleasant relationship. The pack each week was of considerable dimension, round the 40 mark, and of these members, three sturdy men succeeded in not missing a single run. They are Captain Norman F Newbury, A.A. Hill, and R. Pass. M Brady, a Vice President of the Club and one of it’s original members, insisted on trebling his kind offer of an Attendance Prize, so that each of the three named receive a prize equal to any of them had been the solitary winner. We had teams in the various Championships but they did not set the Alt on fire”.
It all has the sound of a group of men deriving great satisfaction from an activity they have chosen to take part in.
1934 saw us back with a winner in the shape of W. Bingham who was successful in the West Lancs Youth Championship. In 1935 we were Liverpool and District Youth Champions when our team of E.Jones, J.Woods, J.Entwistle and G.V. Davies were the winners. In 1936 the title was retained with an almost totally different set of runners, namely F.Thornley, T.Downes, E.Jones and R.Bithell. There was obviously strength in depth; E. Jones was a member of both year’s teams and he was later to become a very successful track athlete, and Liverpool and District Senior Cross-Country Champion in 1938. T.G. Downes from the Youth team went on to win the individual Youth titles in the Liverpool and District and West Lancs Championships in 1937.
The inter war years closed with another individual title coming to Sefton when D. Craddock won the West Lancs Junior Championship.
There has been great efforts made in recent years to rid us of our
“cross-country only” image. By the hard work done by a small number of members we are managing to maintain a position in the Northern Track League and other Cup competitions. This has not been easy, and the battle continues. It may be of some comfort to our track and field devotees, that in addition to the cross-country achievements just listed, we had considerable success in the past in both track and field events.
At a time when field events do figure prominently in the Club. it is interesting to look back on some of the Seftonians who were at the forefront of those disciplines in their day.
In the 1920s W.H. Childs and J. Pozzi were both very successful long jumpers. J Pozzie was Northern Counties Champion in 1927 and 1928. 1925 was a great year for W.H.Childs when he not only won the N.C.A.A and A.A.a. Long jump Championships, but was also selected for the International Match against France, and won his event with a jump of 21ft 113/4 ins.
At this time we were still affiliated to the National Cyclists union, so consequently had a cycling members on the books. One of these C.C. Berger, was N.C.U (Liverpool area) Champion at 440yds and 50 miles. He was obviously very versatile to win at these vastly varying distances.
Other track performances of note were;
A Whitby who won was Lancashire Youths 440yds Champion in 1927; J. Lomax Devon County Champion at 100yds in 1926 and Navy Shot Putt Champion; another all-rounder. E. Speakman was the 1923 N.C.A.A Senior High Jump Champion. One year later we had the N.C.A.A Steeplechase Champion in the person of C.A. Rae.
Let us hope that in recalling the exploits of our past track and field men, it will give inspiration to the present generation to keep flying the flag that they have so bravely raised again.
As the end of the 4th decade of the century drew close, so did the threat of Hitler’s plans for world domination. Winston Churhchill’s voice was a “crying in the wilderness”, but most people went about their business as usual. History was repeating itself just twenty five years later.
Sefton Harriers were fully occupied in their affairs, and an enthusiastic group of young men were putting their energies into running. R.G Jones, F.A Rogers, A.E Serle, H. Kay, A. Byrne and T. Hogan were very much to the fore in the Club results around this
In the 1938 Sefton Park Relay, in which we were 2nd team to Pembroke; R.G Jones put us into the lead on the 1st leg with an excellent time of 16.40 for the 31/4 mile lap. He was ably backed by Bert Searle, Fred Rogers, and Tom Hogan. Fred Rogers, who was Club Captain for the years 1935/6/7/8 was also Club Cross-Country Champion in 1937 and 1938. He is happily retired, and is living in North Wales near his old club mate; Bert Searle. Bert who was a young slip of a lad in those days, came back from the 1939-1946 conflict to become part of the backbone of the Club.
it was Andy Byrne who introduced the author to Sefton Harriers. Andy was a doughty opponent, and he had a tenacity which had to be seen to be believed. His ability to hang on and suffer was remarkable.
Of medium height, and slight build, Tom Hogan was a live wire and a real “terrier” of a runner. He won the Club Cross Country Championship in the last year before the outbreak of the 2nd World War.
The report of the event in the local press captured the atmosphere and excitement so well that it is reproduced here.
“The Makerfield Cup, which is Sefton Harriers trophy for their Senior Championship, is to be held for 12 months by T.Hogan; for he defeated the holder (Rogers) at West Derby following a thrilling struggle. From the time that MR J.T. Rimmer set the pack off, these two men took it in turns at leading the field, and it was only in the 50yds that Hogan raced ahead, and won by an extremely narrow margin of 5yds. Downs the Junior Champion of the Club was 3rd. Again it happened that the winner and runner-up were placed the same in the sealed handicap, with Newbury running into third position. Sefton Championship was over a four lap course, the distance, as usual being approximately 10 miles”.
The sudden deaths of both Tom Hogan and Andy Byrne, was a sadness to those of us who knew them, and we will miss them when we celebrate our Centenary. Happily Harry Kay is still with us, and lives in contented retirement in Cumbria. In the tradition of the Kay family, Harry took over the position of Hon Treasurer, from his brother Bob, and in that capacity gave many years loyal service to the Club. Harry along with Fred Rogers joined the Club on 28th October 1929.
All of these men were in the prime of their life in the immediate pre-war years, and a study of the records and accounts of the time, shoe Sefton were actively involved in the promotion of, and the participation in athletics as at any other time in their history.
Another chapter was drawing to a close, but we cannot allow that to happen until special mention has been made of the most prominent and influential Seftonain of the inter-war years.
Mr Harry Goldbourn was our President from 1918 until his death in 1940. A truly remarkable record. If ever the term “father figure” was aptly applied, it certainly was in Harry Goldborns case. In his years connected with athletics, he seems to have performed enough duties for two normal men, for his sphere of influence and commitment extended beyond ordinary club limits. District Committees benefited from his involvement, and he was ever ready and willing to attend Sports Meetings held by Schools and Colleges. During the perusal of Club papers, the author has observed references to “Mr Goldbourn’s apologies for absences because of his commitment to another meeting”, only to see his late arrival noted; “he came along because the other meeting had finished early”.
In the 100th year, it seems fitting to close this chapter in the year 1939, exactly halfway!.
As our Centenary Dinner approaches, what could be more apt than to reproduce here, the account, as it appeared in the Liverpool Echo, in 1939, our Golden Jubilee Dinner which describes the then younger generation, “anxious to hear what the veterans of 89 had to say”. If good fortune favours us we hope to have the younger generation of 89 hanging on to the word of the veterans of 1939.
JUBILEE AND COMING-OF-AGE
“There was more than the usual speech making at Sefton Harrier’s Golden Jubilee Dinner on Saturday evening last, but in the special circumstances this was quite understandable and quite as it should have been. The men who founded Sefton Harriers fifty years ago, and who were then youths in attendance at the Florence Institute, Mill St, were at the dinner in strength.
They (or several of them) were anxious to tell the younger generation of their experiences, and most of the other members of Sefton and the large representative body of visitors, were anxious to hear what the veterans of 89 had to say. So it was that closing time came all too quickly, but while most of us would have stayed on for a long time, we came away feeling we had taken part in a memorable evening.
Very string too, was the demonstration of good-will by the whole company towards Mr Harry Goldbourn (President) when his health was proposed, and when he intimated that this was his twenty first year in office.
A very good musical entertainment had been arranged and the programme was thus an exceedingly full one from the opening of the proceedings to the lusty singing of the National Anthem”.
The following is taken from the Liverpool Echo Monday 23 January 1928,
I have tried to reproduce the article in is a similar format as it appeared in the paper, hence the use of bold type and headlines
TRAGEDY OF PLUCK
Father On Fate Of Harrier Son
WEAK HEART SEQUEL
REFUSED TO DROP OUT OF
THE RUN The Tragic fate of the Sefton Harrier, Harold George Abram, aged nineteen, whose body was found in a ploughed field near Croxteth on Sunday, after a day-night-search by his fellow-members, may the “Echo” understands be accounted for by the fact that his heart was believed not strong>
The story of the runners death on a ten mile course, after he had completed more than eight miles has caused the greatest sympathy throughout Walton.
The course was an extremely difficult one owing to the very bad weather conditions and Abram, who had never before attempted a ten-mile course, was well in the rear at the completion of the first round. The course was a circular one leading from West Derby Village Hall.
DETERMINED TO DO IT
The youth’s father when he was seen by an “Echo” representative, today spoke with tears in his eyes, of the plucky conduct of his son, who although he knew he was beaten, still struggled gamely on and would not own defeat. “They tell me”, the father said “that my son was found in the fields with his elbows doubled up, and his fists clenched, as though he had determined not to give up. The boy must have known he was dying, but he saw a farmhouse across the field and determined to make it. He must have run till he fell, and dropped in his tracks.
“If it were possible to feel proud at such a moment as this” added the father. “I should be proud of him, and glad that he died in such a way. He was always full of grit, and ready for anything, though he was not too strong, and I think, his heart was not so strong as it might have been.”
MUD KNEE DEEP
” I went over the course yesterday” added the father, and words can’t describe it. The mud was sometimes knee deep.”
A member of Sefton Harriers who was present and took part in the run on Saturday described the search to the “Echo” to-day. “When we got in,” he said “it was discovered that Abram’s clothes were lying untouched on one side of the room at the Village Hall where we changed.”
We organised a search party but could not find him anywhere on the course. Some of the members said they had seen Abram running under difficulties, and we began to be afraid something serious had happened to him.
IN BLINDING RAINSTORM
“The police were informed, and we set out once more in a blinding rainstorm carrying electric torches, and were joined by the police and gamekeepers from the Croxteth estate. One of the members Leslie Evans, put on his running things and went right over the course once more, but failed to find any trace.
“On the Sunday morning, Mr Horne the treasurer got together all the members he could collect and formed two search parties. The track had be shown by a paper trail, but it was several hundred yards to the left of the trail that the body was found at last by Mr Horne in a ploughed field. Apparently he had felt himself to be beaten and had tried to reach the farmhouse of Gill Moss Farm over the field.”
Abram’s older brother told the “Echo” “My brother had only recently taken up running and took his first cross country run with them at Christmas, when he completed a five miles run in a little over half an hour.
“I believe he had been told by one of the course officials on Saturday to drop out, but refused to do so and tried to finish the course.”
The following is taken from the Liverpool Echo Tuesday 24 January 1928,
INQUEST STORY OF WALTON
An inquest was held at Huyton to-day on the body of Harold Gordon Abram (19) who resided at Weldon Street, Walton, Liverpool and suddenly collapsed and died in a field at Croxteth, while engaged in a cross-country run with Sefton Harries on Saturday.
Stanley James Abram, 16 Everest Avenue, Fazakerley, brother said he last saw Harold alive on Friday when he appeared quite well. He was keen on cross-country running and competed in the ten-mile race on Saturday.
Questioned by Mr Fraser Harrison barrister, who represented the Sefton Harriers Club, he said that when first informed of his brother’s disappearance he thought he had become exhausted and called into a cottage to have his clothes dried and probably fallen asleep.
His father was an old runner, and he (witness) on behalf of the family, wanted to say they were perfectly satisfied that everything possible was done for his brother, and thanked all the club members and officials for their work and expressions of sympathy.
Richard Thwaite, a window cleaner, 6 Lindley Street, Edge Hill, Liverpool, a member of the Sefton Harriers Club said “they started the race at 3pm, and during it he saw, Abram twice, first when he passed witness in Croxteth Hall Drive near the end of the first lap, and again when he passed him after leaving the golf links in the second lap. They passed him very gradually and he seemed to be running well and not at all distressed otherwise they would not have left him. He made no complaint then.
WENT ON RUNNING
Joseph W Horne of Talbotville Road, Broadgreen, treasure of the Sefton Harriers, stated that Abram was running in the ten miles cross-country for the club championship. The course was one of five miles to be covered twice, starting and finishing from the club-house.
He saw Abram at the end of the first five-mile lap. He was well in the rear though not the last of the runners. Seeing that he had no chances in the race witness called out to him “Inside” Abram would know that meant him to finish and go to the club-house, but he went on running the second lap.
Witness left early after the race, and thought all the runners had returned. At 8:30 on Sunday morning he was told that Abram was missing and that several members had been over the course, but had failed to find him.
Witness at once cycled to West Derby organised a search party, and at 11:45 found the body lying face downwards in the middle of a ploughed field at Gillmoss Farm, Croxteth.
The spot was 700yards wide of the correct course.
The Coroner–Was this an old fashioned paper chase?
Witness–It used to be termed the paper chase in the old days, but we now the more modern name of cross-country race.
NO CHANCE OF WINNING
Mr Fraser Harrison–Why did you call out to Abram “Inside”?
Witness–The leaders were so far away that I realised he had not the remotest chance of catching them, and having regard to the state of the weather I thought no useful purpose could be served by him carrying on.
Mr Fraser Harrison– It was not because you thought he looked bad in any way?
Witness–Not at all. As a matter of fact I should not have given him any option. I should stopped him compulsorily if he had been distressed. The lad looked quite capable of doing the course, but quite incapable of catching the leaders.
EIGHT MILES COVERED
Inspector Hinds of Huyton, stated that the body was lying face downwards in the soft earth, as if Abram had fallen forward exhausted. The position was about the middle of a ploughed field, 150 yards from any side and 300yards from the footpath and 700yards wide of the trail. Abram had completed eight miles of the course.
Dr Gilbert E Green, of Prescot who made the post-mortem examination, said that death was due to dilatation of the heart brought on by the exercise strain.
In answer to Mr Fraser Harrison, Dr Green said he had examined runners for the Liverpool marathon. If he had examined Abram he would have passed him for the race. Abram would have been passed for insurance>
Mr Fraser Harrison_–There was some heart weakness which would not be apparent to anybody, but which must have been in existence?
Dr Green– Yes.
DESIRE TO EXCEL
The coroner said Abram was imbued with a natural desire to excel in physical feats. He (the coroner) had the same desire himself when he was younger though he did not know whether he excelled or not.
” I think it is very interesting” continued the coroner, “that there are persons who will develop their physical qualities nowadays. My experience of the youth of the present day is that if a man is on one side of the street and sees his well-beloved on the other, he generally calls for a taxi, in order to speak with her.
” This young fellow like other member of the Sefton Harriers, was engaged in a good pursuit which would develop the physical frame and so lead to mental ability. Unfortunately he overtaxed his strength. I find that he died from excessive exertion, as described by the doctor.
” there is no blame attaching to the Sefton Harriers. On the contrary, I am very pleased to find that there are still associations in existence which have for their object the physical welfare of the young fellows of the day. The Sefton Harriers did all they possibly could in this matter.”
Mr Fraser Harrison extended the sympathy of the Sefton Harriers to the relatives.