Great turnout at Dave Crompton’s Memorial Race

To my chagrin I didn’t make it – a combination of flight cancellations and family illness. Apologies were also proffered by Tony Bell and Chris Harvey. It’s lovely to see all the usual faces, together with very welcome presence of Christine Pearce and my opposition in our youth from the 1960s, David Lamb.

As ever Dave Evans reports:

A larger than expected field turned out at today’s race in memory of one of the club’s most stylish walkers and to complement this show of affection for a friend lost the weather was very kind.


Unlike other club events, it was decided to start everyone at the same time which produced some interesting results with quite a few aspirants having a chance to “medal”. The opening mile saw Adrian Edwards in full command ticking through in 10 mins 22 seconds having negotiated the real roller coaster of the opening section of the course. In his wake were Ian Hilditch with an astonishing 10 mins 52 and Sailash Shah in 11 mins 22.  The main pack were not too far behind the leading three with all bar one dipping under 12 mins 23.

Adrian Edwards in command
Ian Hilditch surprising the officials
Sailash Shah- a study in concentration


 Being an out and back course meant some leg sapping ascents but equally leg testing descents. Most club walkers are hardy souls and rise to the challenge of big ups and downs. At the 3 and a half mile point Eric Horwill reminded them of their midway times and it was clear that some of the more genteel starters were beginning to close on their adversaries. Quite a few were destined to record negative splits. Adrian reached halfway in 38 mins 50 seconds and both Eric and I had to rub our eyes when Ian Hilditch came into view only 73 seconds adrift. Glyn Jones was sticking to his task particularly well and seems to be recovering from his recent back problems. In practice, this is not a course to help such a condition but nevertheless, he raced on. Hot on the heels of Glyn was a trio of “youngsters” but as the final results showed they lost time on the homeward stage.

Glyn Jones with Roy Gunnett in pursuit
Steven Wilde
Phil McCullagh with Joe Hardy in tow
Greg Smith in black

The final 1 mile of the race involves two long climbs and one steep descent and officials are sometimes very surprised when the walkers come into the finish in a different order than that predicted. On this occasion Steven Wilde, a newcomer to the club produced a strong final couple of miles and took 4th place. Pat Evans, now thankfully recovering from a leg problem, completed the 7 with no adverse effects. Andrea Lennon is a remarkable lady and at 80 years of age is able to handle this very hill course with maturity. She always looks very composed and has a ready smile at the finish. Andrea clocked an impressive 104 mins 12. The winner of the handicap was our club secretary Roy Gunnett who squeezed home by 18 seconds from Steve Wilde. Dave Crompton’s partner Louise completed the course with Emma, Dave’s daughter, in a very respectable 111 mins 37 seconds, pretty good going on one of the country’s hilliest courses.

Pat Evans back to fitness
Andrea Lennon defying her age
Bravo to Louise Whaite and Emma Crompton

Results
1. Adrian Edwards 78 mins 37(10 22/38 50/78 37)
2. Ian Hilditch 79 mins 38(10 52/40 03/79 38)
3. Glyn Jones 81 mins 12(11 32/41 08/81 12)
4. Steven Wilde 82 mins 47(11 53/41 47/82 47)
5. Phil McCullagh 83 mins 00(11 56/42 42/83 00)
6. Roy Gunnett 83 mins 29(11 37/41 34/83 29)
7. Sailash Shah 83 mins 47(11 22/41 46/83 47)
8. Joe Hardy 86 mins 47(11 58/43 56/86 47)
9. Pat Evans 88 mins 23(12 23/44 29/88 23)
10. Greg Smith 98 mins 50(12 06/46 42/98 50)
11. Andrea Lennon 104 mins 12(14 27/52 30/104 12)
12. Louise Whaite 111 mins 37(15 47/56 54/111 37)
12. Emma Crompton 111 mins 37(15 47/56 54/111 37)

Handicap results
1. Roy Gunnett 66 mins 59
2. Steven Wilde 67 mins 17
3. Glyn Jones 68 mins 12
4. Phil McCullagh 69 mins 00
5. Ian Hilditch 69 mins 08
6. Sailash Shah 70 mins 47
7. Andrea Lennon 71 mins 12
8. Pat Evans 72 mins 38
9. Joe Hardy 73 mins 47
10. Adrian Edwards 78 mins 37
11. Greg Smith 89 mins 05

Thanks are due to Greg Smith for the opening shots of everyone at the finish and to Martin Payne for the action photos. Very much appreciated.

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Dave Crompton Memorial Trophy 7 miles, Chorley on May 7

All being well we will be in Chorley on Saturday, May 7 racing our hearts out and remembering with great affection, Dave Crompton in the Memorial Trophy event named after him.

Dave, ‘safe as houses’ in the 2 hours walk at Bury 2016

Our new changing facility is to be found at St Peter’s Church Hall on Harpers Lane, PR6 0HP. It is only a stone’s throw from our old stomping ground, the St Peter’s Social Club. Indeed the race will start at 1.00 p.m. at the usual place outside the Social Club.

https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/11484/find-us/

See the above map and directions to the Church Hall.

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Further to our tribute to the late Eric Hall

A photo of a group of those gathered together to honour his memory – thanks to Dave Ainsworth for circulating and to Joan Wallwork for recording the image. From left to right: Dave Ainsworth, Glyn Jones, Amos Seddon, Jon May, Ron Wallwork, Carl Lawton, Gerry O’Doherty (Essex County AA President), Lance Williams & Pam Ficken.

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Macclesfield in the rain – Lol Allen triumphs in the 1951 National 10 miles

As we bemoan the unfortunate cancellation of our recent race at Macclesfield it’s fascinating to recollect the staging of the National 10 miles championships over seventy years ago in the very same town. Roy Gunnett has unearthed this Pathe News gem, which records Lol Allen’s hat-trick of wins, the third achieved in soaking Cheshire weather.

A few observations you might find of interest.

  • The folk in the cinema must have chuckled at the presenter’s comment, ‘there’s only one rule – one foot must be at all times in contact with the ground. Of course, if it’s the same foot you won’t get very far!’
  • Jim Hackwood’s report on the race in the Race Walking Record is so faded it wouldn’t copy but he pays tribute to the organisational prowess of the Sutton Walking Club. So too in those times, it must have been quite difficult to travel to Macclesfield from the Midlands and South on the day of the race.
  • Jim’s report reveals also that Roland Hardy, Lol Allen’s great rival was disqualified at the 6 miles point.
  • On the film, I think the walker at the turning point is Keith French of Sheffield but he does not appear in the results.
  • Twenty years later George Chaplin [Coventry Godiva], who finished 55th. was still stylishly contesting the lead in major races.

From a Lancashire point of view Harold Harwood and George Lamb were our first counters with the wonderfully eccentric Matt Clarke bringing up the rear. in June Matt finished next to last in the Blackpool clocking a time of 11:18:19. This was Matt’s usual position, whatever the distance but it never put him off. To the best of my memory, he raced always in a formal collared shirt! Not to forget that the starting pistol for the championship was in Jack Tempest’s hand.

Chris Bolton gets in touch with this lovely anecdote.

Thanks for the memories, particularly of Matt Clarke.  You and I remember Matt at the back of the field but I believe that as a young man he was quite handy. He once told me of a medley track race he took part in. It was a one-mile run, a one-mile walk and a one-mile bike ride.

After the run, he was very well placed and after the walk he was a long way in the lead. He told me he jumped on the bike for his ride to glory and the pedal fell off. In those days there was a lot of illegal betting at the tracks and Matt had been nobbled!

From a Sutton perspective the stalwart Albert Rigby finished third from last, whilst Don Warren [49th] was at the beginning of his career. His progress was remarkable and in July of the same year he won the Lancashire 2 miles track championship in an excellent 14:27.

Don Warren is the tall handsome figure on the right with his Sutton vest clearly showing.

In the late 1960s Don was very supportive to me, guiding me round my first National 50 kilometres championship in 1968. I repaid him unexpectedly in an emotional National 20 kilometres championships the very next year. Inspired by Ron Wallwork I’d made something of a breakthrough, 2nd to Jake Warhurst in the Northern 10 miles at Sutton of all places, Sadly my dad died in late April just before the National 20 kilometres to be held at Gomersal in Yorkshire. My head was all over the place but it went without saying that the club needed me to toe the starting line. I struggled throughout on a hilly one lap course, dragged along by Guy Goodair for much of the race. As I crossed the line I burst into tears and fell into the arms of Joe Lambert, who was understandably perplexed. Joe, a picture of reserve, desisted from telling me ‘to pull myself together’. An hour later though all seemed worthwhile as it was announced that we had finished second team [Wallwork, Vickers, Taylor, Warren] and now it was Don, who could hardly hold back his tears. He was to be presented with his first ever national medal.

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MACCLESFIELD SHIELD RACE ON APRIL 2 CANCELLED

Unfortunately, we have to inform you that Saturday’s 10 miles race at Sutton has had to be cancelled due to COVID striking the Barnard household. We hope Marshall and Kath are feeling better soon.

Sad to say we won’t be changing, racing and eating at Sutton on Saturday

The next club race will be the Dave Crompton Memorial Trophy 7 miles at Chorley on Saturday, May 7. More details to follow. All being well I will manage to get back from Crete to see everyone.

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Macclesfield Shield  10 miles, April 2nd 

Our next club race in the beautiful surroundings of Sutton will soon be upon us. Unusually, given their dedication to the cause, Dave and Pat Evans will not be able to attend. Never fear Roy Gunnett will have everything under control. Our great friend Marshall Barnard will be opening the club at 12.30 and Roy advises that the start time of the race will revert to 1.30 p.m. It would be really helpful if you could let me know if you are attending, particularly with regard to the catering arrangements.

Beautiful countryside awaits

MACCLESFIELD SHIELD 10 MILES, APRIL 2 at SUTTON

NOTE – START TIME 1.30 P.M.

NOTIFY TONY TAYLOR IF INTENDING TO ATTEND at tonymtaylor@gmail.com

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ERIC HALL RIP – Fond memories of a Belgravian in Lancashire

Eric Hall during his Belgrave Harriers Presidential year, 1999-2000. Thanks to Alan Mead

Sadly we have to inform you that Eric Hall of Belgrave Harriers and a double Olympian passed away on March 20th, 89 years of age. Eric has a special place in the history of our club and is fondly remembered by those of us, who were privileged to know and race against him. In particular, he was an inspiration to Ron Wallwork, who takes up the story.

ERIC HALL REST IN PEACE

Eric’s first race in Lancashire was probably the 1957 50km at Leyland. He was already an Olympian having qualified by finishing second in the race the previous year at Enfield. 

Thanks to Will Cockerill for this photo of Eric winning the 1957 National 20 miles. Will observes that Eric said the National win gave him the most satisfaction of any in his career, also because “this event had seemed to carry a hoodoo for Belgravians for he was the first Club man to win the title of this, the oldest championship event.”

Four years later following another Olympic appearance in Rome, this time at 20km the Belgravian, who was a Customs & Excise Officer was posted to Manchester’s Ringway airport and it was a chance meeting in Deansgate with Joe Lambert that triggered off Eric’s period with Lancashire Walking Club. Joe, a senior civil servant had met Eric at the Civil Servant championships and extended a welcome to guest in the club’s events. Well, he accepted the invitation and joined second-claim, turning out whenever he could. 

I can’t recall just how long Eric was stationed at Ringway before being posted to Leicester, perhaps five years, but his time in the north was of terrific benefit for me. I was making my way up the rankings, and he was an endless well of advice and support and was instrumental in my international breakthrough in 1963. 

Joan and I were frequent guests at Eric and Mavis’s Cheadle Hulme home so that us men-folk could get in some serious “strolling”. I have vivid memories of Eric’s favourite route, a four-hour slog which took in the “Cat & Fiddle” the second-highest pub in England. Of many things he told me, was that after a season of 50km training and racing, my times at all the shorter distances would improve and so they did. 

A February 1964 Club 10 miles at Earlestown. L/R The Mayoress, Tony Taylor, Eric. Graham Abley, Alan Hall [no relation[, Mike Hatton, Ron Wallwork, Bob Turnbull and Chris Bolton
On the same day a Boys’ race was held. The staged start included Ron second and Eric fifth from the right of the photo

During his sojourn with LWC he raced at all the Club’s venues; West Didsbury, Frank O’Neill’s at Swinton, Urmston Baths, the Plough Hotel at Crossens, Southport and  Earlstown, fitting in easily, with no hint of the great walker that he was, and always ready to spend time with walkers seeking advice. 

Ta to Will Cockerill again. Eric duels with Stan Vickers in the 1957 Regents Park 15 miles Open

Eric’s race walking career wasn’t a long one but left an indelible mark on the race walking scene. Along with his great friend Stan Vickers he helped his club Belgrave Harriers maintain a decade of dominance in the three national road championships: 10, 20 miles and 50km. In addition to his two Olympic appearances, he won the 1957 national 20 miles championship and logged another dozen top three national finishes. 

We lost touch for 20 years but reunited in the late 80s and thereafter met on a regular basis. Eric remained a source of encouragement, always ready to pitch in with schemes I dreamt up and typically, although in his late 70’s played a crucial role in the 2009 Barclay Re-enactment. 

Richard Dunwoody’s support team on duty on and off for 6 weeks.
Jon May, Amos Seddon, Eric, Mal Blyth, Ron, Glyn Jones,

Deepest Condolences to Mavis, Alister, Sharon and his Grandchildren

RON WALLWORK

An eloquent and fascinating obituary penned by Alan R. Mead is to be found at ERIC W. HALL 1932-2022 and an abridged version is available at Double Olympian Eric Hall, oldest and longest serving Belgravian. A must read.

A lovely early anecdote goes as follows:

“Why don’t you meet us outside Kingston Odeon on Saturday,” offered Eric’s friends. “We’re going up to our club at Wimbledon.” A naïve Eric thought he was going to join a rambling club. An added impetus was that it was the summer of the 1948 London Olympics. Eric and his schoolfriends were avid autograph hunters and in nearby Richmond Park, not far from Ladderstile Gate, there were rows of barracks that were one of the sites of the ‘Olympic villages.’ So not only were exotic athletes to be spied in the park, but this club at Wimbledon had members who were Olympic competitors. Eric completed his application form and became a Belgrave Harrier on 1st November 1948.

And, as for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics:

The Melbourne city experience was wonderful for Eric. He loved Australia and revisited many times throughout the rest of his life. But the race was not a happy one. After rainy and cool conditions which had the British rubbing their hands with glee, race day proved to be hot and very humid. Eric lost over 3 kg in weight during the event (he was only just over 61 kg to start with) and went through a very bad patch when it was all that he could do to focus on the blue line marking the route and aim for each next drinking station. Several competitors ahead of him collapsed and Britain’s no. 1, Don Thompson, was so far gone that he walked into the back of a parked car and, dazed, then set off again in the wrong direction. Of twenty-one competitors, six failed to finish and two were disqualified. Thompson was hospitalised for three days. Eric was 9th and remembered nothing about the finish – except for Stan Vicker’s comment, “I had to persuade them to keep the stadium gates open for you!”

Meanwhile the ever vigilant and knowledgeable Peter Matthew, Editor Athletics International and International Athletics Annual has supplied these details:

Eric William HALL (GBR) (b. 15 Sep 1932 Oxshott, Surrey) died on March 20 aged 89. A distinguished member of the walking community and a past President and life member of Belgrave Harriers, he had three internationals for Britain, including 9th at 50k in 1956 and 10th at 20k in 1960 at the Olympic Games, RWA champion at 20 miles 1957, with 2nd places at RWA 10M 1957-8 and 1961, 50k 1956, and in the AAA 7 miles track walk 1957-8. Walks PBS: 2M 13:51.4 ’60, 5M 36:09.0 ’60, 10000m 45:34.2 ’60, 7M 51:52.0 ’60, 1Hr 12,740m ’57, 10M 1:16:09 ’57, 20k 1:33:37 ’59, 50k 4:31:41 ’56.

Eric and Ken Matthews lead the pack

A last word remembered in Alan Read’s obituary.

Very many years ago Jack Crump, the Secretary of the British Amateur Athletic Board, found cause to say of Eric that he was “Gentlemanly, modest, temperamentally and technically a perfect walker.” Well over 60 years later we can not only confirm those qualities but add that Eric was generous in the extreme and a great friend to many, in all walks of our Club and sport.

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MANCHESTER – BLACKPOOL WINNERS 1908 – 2008

Enormous thanks to Roy Gunnett and Dave Evans for pulling together this roster of Blackpool victors. As for the photo of Bobby Bridge found by David Lamb to be seen below. It shows allegedly Bobby passing through Chorley on his way to Blackpool on July 1st, 1928. However, this does not tally with the fact that the 1928 race was held on October 6th and that Bobby lost a leg in a motor-bike accident in 1926!! More detective work is clearly required. In the meantime, I couldn’t resist putting up the wonderful image!

Donato Pavesi, winner in 1922 following his victory in the 1921 London-Brighton – found by Ron Wallwork in Brian Ficken’s archives
Joe Hopkins, the club’s single winner in 1926
Hughie Neilson
John Paddick and Guy Goodair – both winners
John Eddershaw
Ken Harding – 5x winner
Martin Fisher – 4x winner of the Manchester-Blackpool race; 3x the 50 miles track race
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The Alison Trophy beckons in the Spring

A smashing photo taken by Greg of all-comers to the race . Moving to see Eric and Louise present outside St Peters. Good to see too David Lamb, son of Leyland legend, George.

Dave Evans reports and takes photos of the action

Spring had arrived and there was certainly a spring in the step of the 12 competitors who set out on a glorious day of pleasant sunshine if you ignored a coolish wind!

To ensure that most walkers were home within a relatively short threshold they were set off in two groups with the “likely faster” aspirants setting off 2 minutes in arrear. This course has always been a test of grit and determination and all stepped up the plate.

The two Martins lead Tony Bell

At the end of the opening mile Martin Fisher, Martin Payne and Tony Bell were together clocking a solid 10 minutes 26 not too far behind the main group who they eased past on the first of the three 2.4 mile circuits. The “early start” brigade kept in close proximity with each other until they entered the second of the demanding loop whereafter the fitter members stretched away.

Glyn trying to drop Ian on a long climb

The speedy threesome comprising the two Martins and Tony B arrived at the 5.8-mile point with only a second between in 60 minutes. Ian Hilditch and Glyn Jones kept pace with each other passing the same point in 67 minutes 11 as the rest of the field battled the mixed gradients a further 2 or 3 minutes behind.

Sailash out on his own

Given the distance between all of the walkers at this point it was necessary for Eric Horwill and I to return to the start to ensure complete times for all of the competitors. In the intervening period, positions changed and some quite dramatically.

Greg – well wrapped up

As the field completed their 15k it was clear a few had suffered in the latter stages suggesting the course was particularly demanding on this occasion. Andrea Lennon, our 80-year-old, was walking wonderfully well – like a woman half her age – and although deciding beforehand to do only two of the circuits, approached the finish looking fresh and purposeful. Glyn Jones looked very good when we left him at 5.8 miles but a previous back problem caught up with him in the last couple of miles and he looked quite distraught as he strolled into the finish. Martin Fisher accompanied his same start rivals for 6 miles then reduced his pace and helped other walkers complete the course, hence his less than normal time.

Andrea – the epitome of smooth relaxation

Martin Payne retained the handicap trophy for this event and was a worthy winner.  Our host for the event was Eric Crompton who very sadly lost his dear wife very recently and we owe him our very grateful thanks for providing the facility, ably supported by Louise.

Scratch

Martin Payne retains the Alison Trophy, Ta to Greg for the pic.

1. Martin Payne 95 mins 36
2. Tony Bell 99 mins 36
3. Martin Fisher 101 mins 54
4. Ian Hilditch 105 mins 08
5. Glyn Jones 107 mins 43
6. Phil McCullagh 109 mins 21
7. Sailash Shah 111 mins 53
8. Steve Wilde 113 mins 00
9. Joe Hardy 114 mins 20
10. Greg Smith 117 mins 00
11. Roy Gunnett 118 mins 49

Andrea Lennon (6.8 miles)104 mins 20

Handicap

1. Martin Payne 90 mins 06
2. Tony Bell 94 mins 36
3. Ian Hilditch 94 mins 38
4. Glyn Jones 94 mins 43
5. Phil McCullagh 95 mins 21
6. Steve Wilde 97 mins 30
7. Sailash Shah 98 mins 53
8. Martin Fisher 100mins 24
9. Joe Hardy 101 mins 20
10. Roy Gunnett 102mins 19
11. Greg Smith 107 mins 30

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ALISON TROPHY 15K, MARCH 5 – another race tinged with sadness

Our club races at Chorley are indelibly associated with the Crompton family, staunch supporters of our sport across the decades. Sadly we lost the much-loved Dave back in 2018 and now Marion, Eric’s wife has passed away unexpectedly. I have very fond memories of Marion on the roadside at many events in the 1970s. I know that Dave Evans has sent a heartfelt message to Eric from the club and it’s only right that I reiterate our sincerest condolences here on the club’s website. Marion Crompton RIP.

And there’s a goodly chance Marion was watching Eric take over from David Lamb racing for Leyland Motors in the Blackpool to Stockport Relay – any info re the race gratefully received.

POSTSCRIPT ADDITION

In my rush to do this post, I’m remiss in not underlining Eric’s significant contribution to the exploits of the Leyland Motors A.C. [Walking Section], of which David was also a member. In the near future, I hope to explore the history of the Leyland club.

As it is the Alison Trophy will take place on Saturday, March 5 in Chorley. The new changing facility is to be found at St Peter’s Church Hall on Harpers Lane, PR6 0HP. It is only a stone’s throw from our old stomping ground, the St Peter’s Social Club. Indeed the race will start at 1.00 p.m. from the usual place and will use the traditional out and back to the three laps of the reservoir. As ever it will be tough!

https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/11484/find-us/

See the above map and directions to the Church Hall.

I must apologise for my silence in the last week or so. I’ve got some great historical material to post. Our satellite internet connection crashed in time with the onset of the Ukraine crisis and is still not fixed – presently using wi-fi hotspot. In addition, I had every intention of being with you on Saturday – flights and accommodation booked, However, I crashed on my bike last Thursday, shaken not broken but with a very sore back. It means that I can hardly move at the moment so no chance of getting on a plane. I’m ‘proper’ fed up.


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John Dowling RIP – Ireland and Sheffield’s Legendary Race Walker

The year was 1963. My first encounter with John came, sponge and drink in hand, at the Halfway House, Chorley, living up to its name on the road from Manchester to Blackpool. ‘Paddy’, as he was affectionately but problematically labelled in those days, eyes twinkling, thanked me graciously for my trouble as I chased up the road to rescue the precious sponge. In the surreal surroundings of Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, he sought me out to offer his thanks afresh, stressing the importance of roadside support in long-distance races. I took this to heart and rarely missed playing this role over the ensuing decades of the North’s Blue Riband event.

The start of the 1965 TT Walk. courtesy of Guy Goodair, who is already up the road on his way to victory. John [11] is flanked by Albert Johnson and Norman Hopkinson with John Eddershaw [10] close behind. I’m the tall figure in white with a mop of black hair on the right.

Two years later, just turned 18, I found myself racing in John’s company the Isle of Man TT Open Walk, 37.75 miles in length. Having coaxed me along John broke away on the long climb up to the Bungalow [1360 ft] but I held him to about four minutes as we finished just over 7 hours. Post-race he was sure I had a future in the longer events. He could not have been more mistaken. The TT Walk remains the longest I ever completed. in the ensuing years, he chided me on that account, mixed in with dressing room banter about the superiority over all-comers of his beloved Sheffield United Harriers.

Thanks again to Guy Goodair. John in the hooped SUH shirt leads out a Wakefield 6 miles race in 1961.

As the years passed I followed John’s exploits with awe from afar but didn’t expect to see him again. Then, in 2016. our paths crossed unexpectedly. Trevor McDermot had invited him to be guest of honour at Yorkshire Race Walking Club’s Festival of Walking held in the picturesque village of Kirkby Fleetham. By chance, I was back in England on one of my occasional trips from Crete, racing, as you might glean, the 10 rather than the 50 kilometres. John didn’t hold it against me. As I wrote at the time,

It was a joy to see him again, humble and humorous as ever, and swap tales about the great tussles in the past between our club and Sheffield United Harriers, now sadly, only a proud name in the history of our sport. And to remember again, John’s amazing long-distance feats. For example, he once raced four 200 plus kilometre European events on successive weekends – utterly magnificent, utterly bonkers!

Thanks to Trevor McDermot for this wonderfully atmospheric photo of John

In addition, for the first time, I learned of John’s musical talents, his love of the Celtic tradition and I shared my affection for Cretan folk music and song. We joked that I must visit Sheffield for the ‘crack’ and in return, we would venture together into the Cretan mountains to ‘dance’ to the sound of the lyra

Returning to the roads I am grateful to Tim Erickson. the Australian historian of our sport, for permission to reproduce his brilliant piece on John’s outstanding career. He leans on the beautiful and moving podcast created by John’s niece, Madge O’Callaghan, which can still be listened to here.

MY UNCLE JACK

Brian Eley [18] leads John [89] at the start of what we think is the 1969 London -Brighton race, Thanks to Ron Wallwork for the Jim Comber photo.
John with Mick Hague at the Bradord 50 km Centenary. Ta to Ron Wallwork

Guy Goodair – I can remember John telling me that he never finished a Strasbourg to Paris because he was on a ‘wing and prayer’ with only one attendant and by the time he got to the Champagne region the offers of champagne refreshment were too good to resist!

Kath Crilley – So many good memories of Paddy. I only met Paddy in the early 1990s and I stand in awe of his many achievements. I am also gathering tributes toads to “Paddy’s page” on the Centurions Worldwide website. I will link to other websites to give a full picture of Paddy’s life.

Peter Fawkes – It’s worth reading the article on Paddy penned by Tim Erikson to understand fully what a great man he was. R.I.P.

Bob Dobson – One of the ALL-TIME GREATS. Happy memories.

Ray Flynn – R.I.P. John. Was a teammate on the Irish Race Walking team. He was so proud to represent the country of his birth. Proud Waterford man.

Trevor McDermot – Sad news. Such a legendary walker and personality. Our thoughts and condolences to the family. RIP John 🙁

Rob Elliott – Rest in Peace, John

Edwin Bowlah – My deepest condolences 🙏🙏to the family and friends from Trinidad.

Jim Sheehan – A great long-distance Walker and a true Gentleman may he rest in peace.

Patrick Furey – RIP John, I had the honour of accompanying him To France 🇫🇷 on many occasions back in the 1970s to participate in village race walking events As we always stayed with guest family’s he made sure he had his harmonica with him and a good time was had by all – not forgetting a bottle of POWERS for the family. He held icon status in France 🇫🇷 and was loved by all.

Thanks to Helen Elleker for this cutting from the Sheffield Star, December 24, 1996

Nathan Adams – I remember this article, it really inspired me at the time, and now. Really sad news.

Dave Turner – Saddened, to hear the news. Always, Will Remember suddenly finding myself in his company. Helping John up 30+ STEEP stairs at the entrance to Roubaix Town Hall for the presentation. Just a few hours after athletes had finished the famous gruelling international Ultra-Distance event. [I kid you not, ask any, who have been this way] I will always recall him telling me not to call him ‘Pa….’ When I asked him his thoughts about that. ‘LABEL’ – that occasionally attributed to him in reports and comments. Had met the guy at many previous Yorkshire/ Northern events so was in awe of his pedigree. He will always be remembered as a quality ultra-distance specialist – from a club that produced many Olympians/Internationals at all levels. Great, likeable guy to be in the company of and talk to. I forget the year. I was there for the experience as a ‘feeder’. Well worth doing if you get the chance or indeed at any National 100 miles event. Rest in Peace, John.

Martin Payne – I never actually met John although we chatted on the phone before my Centurion in 2015. He was very encouraging and although I knew he’d done “some long distance stuff” I had no idea just how much. He was so modest. I recall from the LWC website something that he wrote following the death of Colin Young : “May his God hold him in the hollow of his hand”. That seems entirely appropriate for John too.

Roger Mills – . Gentle on the outside,hard as nails inside! A privilege to have benefitted from his smile! Great man.

Chris Bolton – I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Paddy Dowling. There was a close affinity between Paddy and myself. In the 1962 100 miles event Paddy and I finished together in the same time and so Paddy is Centurion 331 and I am 332. Such a bond could never be broken. I had the greatest respect and affection for Paddy; he was true sportsman. I recall that we were stride for stride at 15 miles in a Northern 20 miles Championship one year when his attendant asked if he needed a drink. I was starting to flag and asked Paddy if his attendant could find a drink for me. His answer was typical of him “there’ll be big trouble if he won’t” Paddy knew that without the drink he would beat me. After nearly sixty years I have never forgotten that moment. Incidentally, I was his attendant on the Strasbourg to Paris event. Happy memories but tinged with sadness of a truly great sportsman.

If anyone wishes to add a memory and/or photo, send to tonymtaylor@gmail.com

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A TRIBUTE PAGE has been opened at johndowling.muchloved.com.

Here you can leave thoughts, images and make a donation to St. Luke’s Hospice, Sheffield.

You will also find details of a link to a live webcast of the funeral if you are not able to be there in person,

The Funeral service is at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium on Friday 11th March 2022 at 11am

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