Dick Maxwell Memorial and Xmas 10km, December 3rd plus 2023 Fixture List

Dave Evans writes to alert us to the fast-approaching Dick Maxwell Memorial and Xmas 10-kilometres race to be held on Saturday, December 3rd at Simister, starting at 1.00 p.m.

Back in 2021 and back into the warmth!

We will be using our usual 10k course, out and back (twice)into Heaton Park. As the weather can be a factor we have moved away from the original ‘nightmare’ course and will now just race on the regular 10km course from our headquarters. Dave would appreciate it if all club members could confirm their availability by email at dave.evans08@hotmail.co.uk, indicating if they are walking or would be available to help with marshalling and any other tasks.

Not to be pessimistic but take account of Pat’s apparel!

LANCASHIRE WALKING CLUB 2023 RACING FIXTURES

DateA/BDistanceEventTimeVenue
Jan 1st-31stB5kVirtual 5k
Feb 4thB10kSam Shoebottom Trophy13:00Simister
Mar 4thB15kAlison Trophy13:00Chorley
Apr 1stB10 milesMacclesfield Shield13:00Macclesfield
Apr 15thGrand National
Apr 23rdBlackpool Marathon
May 6thB7 milesDave Crompton Memorial Trophy13:00Chorley
June 3rdFA Cup Final
June 10thB10k&5kTrack Walk R&Z Smith Trophy13:00Bury AC Track
June 18th5kPossible Horwich eventHorwich
July 1stB10kBarnard Trophy13:00Macclesfield
July 22ndB3x5kFred Pearce Trophy Relay13:00Simister
Aug 12thB10kGoodwin Cup13:00Chorley
???B100 milePossible Centurion 100 mile?MiddlesbroughSports Village Cycle Circuit or Colchester
Sep 2ndB1hJ Lambert and Ladies Trophy13:00Bury Track
Oct 7thB10kAlbert Rigby Shield13:00Macclesfield
Nov 4thB5kLancashire Walking Club AGM (116th)13:00Simister
Dec 2ndB10kDick Maxwell Mem. Race & Christmas H’cap13:00Simister
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RIP John Webb – one of the great stylists

Now and again I worry that my reminiscences are often rooted in the 60s and 70s but hope that they are still worthy of mention. Thus it falls to me to report the death of John Webb, universally recognised as one of the great stylists of his generation. Ironically, at our AGM, Glyn Jones and I were reflecting on the disappearance of the notion of ‘style’ from the race-walking lexicon. Back then many races would include a style prize and indeed the AAA 7 miles/10,000 metres track championship featured the coveted Fowler- Dixon style prize. I remember Paul Nihill being over the moon at receiving this honour, especially as his style differed from such greats as Matthews and Vickers. I should check this but I’m sure our own Ron Wallwork was also awarded this honour.

On a personal level, my dearest memory of John is him congratulating me generously at the end of a race-long tussle in the 1970 National 10 miles championship held in Kirkby. I managed to hold him off to finish sixth in 74:07 to his 74:19. Ahead of us, Ron was second to Wilf Wesch, clocking 72:13.

I heard first of his passing on the Portuguese website, O Marchador.

The British Olympic marcher John Albert Webb passed away last November 9, a victim of a prolonged illness, he counted 85 years old.

Webb, born in Dagenham, England, moved as an adult to Essex, an eastern county, where he represented Basildon Athletics Club. He was the first athlete from this club to participate in an Olympic Games, 1968 in Mexico, in the exciting 20 km walk won by the Soviet / Ukrainian Vladimir Golubnichiy, a test in which he was ranked twenty-second out of 34 competitors.

Among the eight international appearances by Great Britain of this inspiring athlete in the period between 1966 and 1972, the participation in the European Athletics Championships, in Budapest-1966 (13th, 20 km) and in Athens,1969 (8th, 20 km), and also at the Walking World Cup in Bad Saarow (Germany), in 1967 (8th, 20 km).

The “O Marchador” team sends heartfelt condolences to family, friends and the British racewalking community.

In this atmospheric photo of the start of the 1970 Metropolitan 20 kilometres. John is number 127

Whilst the Basildon Echo under the banner headline, Tributes pour in for legendary south Essex Olympian who passed away aged 85, featured a number of tributes.

Bob Hughes, who competed with John in the high-altitude cauldron of Mexico in 1968 commented, “He was one of the best guys you could wish to meet, Johnny Webb came to my wedding along with one or two other notable walkers, way back in November 1969. I had a few battles with and also suffered in a few races with him, but we always went back for more, sometimes taking turns to be the victors.

Paul Warburton, a former member of Southend-on-Sea Athletic Club, recalled how he was inspired to take up race walking by Mr Webb. “ He was the first racewalker I saw in the flesh. He used to train past the house each night. His passing is so very sad.

Sandra Brown, 73, a former international race walker who holds several world records, said: “John lived near the Bristol to Bath old railway path and said that he did all his training up and down that excellent recreational route.

1973 National 10 Miles

Roger himself comments:

Lovely man, Essex boy and loyal club man in the true sense. Competed 100% in races, ultra fair, lovely technique and great company. He turned me over more than once! RIP JW

And Greg Smith, our very own club secretary remembers fondly:

John Webb got me into race walking around the same time as Oliver Caviglioli and, like him, I have many warm memories of those days. From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, the peak of John’s success as an athlete, race walking flourished at Basildon AC. Basildon walkers enjoyed great success at both age group and senior levels.

John was at the centre of that development, driving it on with his enormous enthusiasm and energy. He was an inspirational figure. John was keen to encourage others to share his passion for race walking, athletics and the outdoor, active life. John was a sparky, good-humoured character: talking with him, you never quite knew where the conversation would go next. He had a generous outlook and a strong sense of fairness.

The Sunday morning group training sessions with John from Phil Everard’s bungalow in Crays Hill stand out in my memory. We timed our sessions by the garage clock at the top of the hill and afterwards drank tea in the Everards’ kitchen. The talk could range from training niggles and what was in this week’s Athletics Weekly to the bigger issues of the day. As John’s son Harry reminded us in his eulogy at the funeral last week, John was a man of firm principles. When invited to compete for Britain in apartheid-era South Africa, John very publicly refused.

I learned a lot from John, not just about race walking. For me, he lit a fire that still burns. He will be missed but not forgotten.

I’ll leave the last word to Oliver Caviglioli, who in the late 60s was well-known and admired in Lancashire circles, not least for the fluency of his action. His great rival in the Youth ranks was our very own Steve Crow. In 1967 Olly. as he was known, won the National Youth 3 miles championship at Worsley in 23:01 with Steve second in 23:35. Both passed through 1 mile in 7:10 before Olly pulled away.

John Webb was my hero. And remained so. As a 13-year-old, I was awestruck by the upright, athletic-looking man in a GB tracksuit. He was friendly and soon invited you into the world of international athletics, introducing the leading contenders here and in Europe. He named his dog, Abdon (Pamich). As you might guess from this, he was playful. During our runs in the woods, he used to play a game of submission. If I accepted a branch he offered me, I was defeated. To decline it would result in another 5 minutes of searing pace.

His technique was superb. When, later, I had the opportunity to witness the leading race walkers from Europe, I still thought none matched John’s upright, athletic and always safe mode of progression. His running style, by contrast, was a rangy, bouncy affair. On occasions he mixed both in a training session, switching from road walking to cross-country running — and all with no notice of the changes, as I struggled to keep up and understand quite what was happening.

He was his own man, starting his day at 6:00 am with 30 minutes of reading his beloved Charles Dickens before setting off to run to work at the centre for adults with learning difficulties. Years later when I learned that my firstborn had Down syndrome, John was one of the first people I telephoned. His was the perfect, yet totally unexpected, reply: “some of my best friends have Downs Syndrome!” I feel honoured to have known John, and during my daily walks through the self-same woods we used to run through, I think of him every time.

REST IN PEACE – JOHN WEBB

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The ‘Adrian Edwards’ AGM

Dave Evans calls the meeting to order

Chaired impeccably by Dave Evans, minutes taken diligently by Tony Bell, our Annual General Meeting was dominated by one figure. Unsurprisingly this was the always unassuming Adrian Edwards, whose courageous feat in becoming a Centurion was hailed by Eric Horwill as one of the gutsiest he had ever witnessed. And Eric has competed in and officiated at more long-distance events than probably anyone else in the country. His praise means a lot. Marking this remarkable achievement Adrian collected both the Cliff Royle and AJ Taylor trophies. In addition, he was presented with the priceless Centurions’ certificate. of membership by Eric and Martin Fisher, the present Centurions’ President. Everyone was unanimous in their respect for Adrian’s endeavour. Believe it or not, word has it that he has his sights set on further long-distance challenges. To round matters off Adrian was elected to be the Club’s President for 2022/2023.

Adrian, Eric and Martin

In a much-appreciated gesture Sailash Shah on behalf of himself, Adrian and Martin Payne, our trio of competitors at Middlesborough, presented Dave and Pat Evans, alongside Roy Gunnett with bottles of wine in tribute to their unstinting support across a wind-swept and rain-battered 24 hours. The nectar in question was ‘Chateau de Neuf Pape’, described as having ‘a spiced black fruit aroma and a velvety warm palate’. One detects Sailash’s knowledgeable hand in this elegant choice. Bravo!

Elsewhere in the meeting, Dave spoke to his Chairperson’s report, offering his condolences to John Payn for the loss of his dear wife, Flo and to Martin Fisher on the passing of his redoubtable father, whilst Joe Hardy was thanked for his sojourn as President and Roy Gunnett calmed our nerves with his Treasurer’s update. Our books are balanced but the demands of subscriptions to English Athletics and the Northern Area means an increase in our annual subscription to 20 pounds – still a snip.

Wonderful to see John Payn, Judith Fisher and Christine Pearce, sitting between Eric and Pat

Tony Malone, backed by Chris Harvey, launched an interesting discussion around the case for a Sunday morning race as one of our club fixtures. In the end, it was agreed that we should consider such an inclusion in 2023/2024, possibly using Woodbank Park as a venue. Flowing out of this debate we touched upon whether nurturing a closer relationship with an athletics club, for example, Stockport Harriers would be to our benefit, increasing our visibility and hopefully attracting new blood.

Thanking folk for their generous comments regarding the club website, I revealed that I wanted to revive the series, wherein individuals shared their memories of how they got into race walking, their favourite races and their best performances. I will be getting in touch with members in the coming months to see if they are happy to be involved.

On a personal and indulgent note, I informed the meeting that the coming year would be my 70th since my first race as a six-year-old in 1953. Thus, all being well, I intend, at the very least, to be on the starting line at the Fred Pearce Relay in July and hope that there will be faces. past and present, in attendance. Watch this space.

Both Martins, Steven, Phil and company anxiously await Dave’s announcement of the course for the Xmas Handicap!

As the meeting closed Dave informed the gathering that the Dick Maxwell Xmas 10km race will not be held on the notorious ‘Nightmare’ course. The collective sense of relief was palpable.

Thanks to Roy Gunnett for the photos.

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Tony Bell sprints to victory in the AGM 5km

Three years on it was great to be back on the road again with everyone. In the photo below taken by Dave Evans, it looks as if I know what I’m doing with my watch but I pressed all the wrong buttons. As for the weather, I must confess to being mard and finding it a touch cold!!

On your marks

Dave Evans reports:

Tony Bell sprints away

No fireworks on this occasion but some healthy competition from a baker’s dozen on the usual “out and back” course. Tony Taylor, our former international, was visiting the UK from Crete and certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons as despite some ongoing muscle problems he made his way to the head of the field at halfway.

Tony Taylor chases in vain

Martin Fisher and Adrian Edwards normally vie for honours in this event but as the 13-strong ensemble turned for home it was the bandanaed Tony Bell who charged to the front with Tony Taylor in close attendance. Given that Tony is carrying an injury at present he did well to match strides with his much younger opponent but the final half a mile or so became a bit problematic as a long steepish section met them towards the end.

Metronomic Martin

Martin Fisher walked with his usual metronomic style and was rewarded with a sub 30-minute time only 17 seconds adrift of the second place.

Centurion Adrian

Adrian Edwards is still recovering from his Centurions 100 mile so his time was a bit behind his normal clocking.

Andrea’s performance of the day

One of the best walks of the day was by Andrea Lennon, a very sprightly octogenarian, who has recently completed the Manchester half marathon. Her 40 mins 57 was tremendous and one of her best times ever over the distance.

Roy ‘Heel and Toe’ Gunnett
Steven and Glyn keep close company

RESULTSSCRATCH

  1. Tony Bell 29:19
  2. Tony Taylor 29:24
  3. Martin Fisher 29:41
  4. Adrian Edwards 30:42
  5. Roy Gunnett 33:46
  6. Glyn Jones 33:59
  7. Steven Wilde 33:59
  8. Ian Hilditch 35:02
  9. Sailash Shah 36:13
  10. Pat Evans 36:19
  11. Phil McCullagh 37:47
  12. Joe Hardy 38:22
  13. Andrea Lennon 40:57
Ian’s stylish gilet
Sailash holds off Pat

HANDICAP

  1. Tony Bell 25:59
  2. Roy Gunnett 26:16
  3. Glyn Jones 27:09
  4. Martin Fisher 27:41
  5. Steven Wilde 27:44
  6. Adrian Edwards 28:12
  7. Andrew Lennon 28:27
  8. Sailash Shah 28:58
  9. Tony Taylor 29:24
  10. Pat Evans 29:24
  11. Ian Hilditch 30:32
  12. Phil McCullagh 30:37
  13. Joe Hardy 32:02
‘Day-glo[ Phill
Our retiring President, Joe

Thanks to Martin Payne, sidelined by a hamstring injury, for the photos.

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LWC 116th AGM and 5KM, NOVEMBER 5th, 2022

You will find below the invitation to the 116th AGM of our great club, together with the Chairman’s and President’s reports. All other papers pertaining to the AGM have been circulated by Greg Smith, who unfortunately is unable to be with us – sincere thanks to him for his labours. Please send your apologies if you are unable to attend and in the same vein let Dave know if you will be at the race and in what capacity. It helps preparations enormously. It’s important to stress that the AGM is the moment when members renew their annual subscription, which this year stands at twenty pounds. This is a veritable bargain especially as seventeen of these pounds go to England Athletics and the Northern Counties with a mere three going into club funds. All being well I will be at my first AGM since 2019 and look forward to being with everybody in person.

Tony Taylor [ A Lancastrian abroad]

Chairman’s Report November 2022

I am pleased to begin my report by saying that the major issues presented by the Pandemic have largely disappeared so our calendar of events has continued as planned. Two fixtures had to be cancelled through the illness of one venue host and the refurbishment of the Bury track but in the latter case, an alternative venue was found.

Although we are all one year older, it is very pleasing to see that we have generally held together as a group and while times are a little slower, the enthusiasm is still there. At this point, I should add that our youth programme has come to nowt but we have acquired a new member who is improving well and making his presence felt. Steve Wilde is a runner by background and is getting the hang of things in this technical discipline.

Our regular venues continue to be available thanks to the good work of Roy Gunnett. The charges for race venues have remained fairly static and thanks must be given to Eric Crompton for providing an alternative changing area when the St Peters Club was closed.

From a competitive point of view, our race numbers have been encouraging with between 7 and 13 walkers. In the latter part of this year, a couple of our regulars have been side-lined through injury but both have hopes of returning to the fold in the near future.

Few, if any, walking clubs in England, promote monthly club events so we should be proud that we are continuing a tradition established way back in 1907 by our founders.

Most organisations rely on a number of backroom staff and I would like to take this opportunity of giving my thanks to Roy Gunnett, Tony Taylor, Greg Smith, Adrian Edwards, Eric Crompton, Louise Whaite, Pat Evans, Marshall Barnard, Chris Pearce and Ian Hilditch, all of whom have provided logistical support throughout the year. A special mention must be made of Eric Horwill who travels from the Midlands to the vast majority of events to do our timekeeping and Glyn Jones, a fellow Midlander, who has been a regular competitor and a confidant on all matters relating to the sport.

I am sure that colleagues will mention this as well but the highlight of the club’s performances this year has to be in the Centurions 100 mile in Middlesbrough. The bravery and character shown by our representatives were outstanding and we were proud of all of them.

Adrian Edwards became the Club’s newest and 41st centurion, Martin Payne almost walked that magical distance again, Sailash Shah was battered by the wind and rain into submission and Martin Fisher had to cut short his attempt to claim his 29th hundred.

We move into our 116th year with the knowledge that we are continuing to promote our sport and are mindful of the club’s antecedents who laid the foundations of the Lancashire Walking club. Long may we continue.

Dave Evans, Chairman, Lancashire Walking Club, November 2022

President’s Report 2021/22

In the last 12 months, the Lancashire Walking Club has continued to pursue an activity which is now in its 115th year. As Club President I have been very pleased to share the camaraderie and enthusiasm with my fellow walkers and long may it continue.

We are steeped in tradition and still celebrate the achievements of former club members as far back as 1924 when Reg Goodwin took a silver medal in the walk at the 1924 Olympic Games. Most of our club trophies are named after individuals who brought credit to the club and rightly so.

This last season, 2021/22, saw us returning to something like our old timetable at venues in Simister, Bury, Chorley and Macclesfield, all of which have been supported by our regular nucleus in good numbers.

In previous years one notable highlight would have been the British Masters’ championships at Horwich where we collected almost as many medals as we had participants. However, these championships were sadly cancelled when the host town was unable to provide the usual facilities.

Aside from this event, we had no major championships on the calendar, however, hopes were high that we might be fielding a number of individuals in the 2022 Centurions 100-mile race at Middlesbrough.

In August, four of our club members toed the starting line for the country’s longest race-walking challenge in the hope that we could add more names to the Lancashire Walking Club roll of honour, numbering 40 at that point.

Twenty-four hours after the start the Centurions were delighted to receive Adrian Edwards into the Brotherhood after his highly traumatic journey around the 166 circuits of the Middlesbrough cycle track. His journey has already been described on our club website but suffice to say his success was hard-earned and richly deserved.

Martin Payne, already a Centurion, completed the sojourn around the open enclave, failing narrowly to double his tally for the event, as he too suffered trauma on route but regained his composure in the last two hours.

Sailash Shah was walking very well in the first 6 hours but 40-mile-an-hour winds and torrential rain closed in as it was going dark and he was unable to sustain the pace required to make the 100-mile cut-off. He lives to fight another day and he will.

Martin Fisher, our second claim member, succumbed to an underlying health problem and was to step off the circuit at halfway. With 28 previous 100’s to his name, he has nothing to prove.

Former club member, Hazel Fairhurst, completed her second Centurions event with a tremendous display of disciplined walking knocking around an hour off her personal best.

As President, I have been privileged to see the Club continuing to promote its events and aspiring to keep the Club’s name in the headlines. While we owe a vote of thanks to our committee members and helpers on this side of the European continent, may I give a very big thank you to Tony Taylor, our website controller, for his magnificent contribution to the life of the Club. One of these days he may make it over from Crete so we can thank him personally.

Joe Hardy, President, Lancashire Walking Club, 2021/22

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RACE WALKING BY JULIAN HOPKINS 1976

Back at the end of 2021, Tim Erickson posted the following thoughts in the Victorian Race Walking Club Newsletter about the three books on Race Walking published by the governing bodies in the UK since the Second World War. I asked him if I could pinch his musings and in particular the pdf link to the second of these books, which he favoured. He readily agreed. Being slow at times [increasingly so!] it has taken me this long. As you will see I was particularly delighted that he was most impressed by the manual written by my dear friend and training partner Julian Hopkins, who joined Lancashire Walking Club back in 1961. Published in 1976 it is still well worth perusing its contents.

The cover features the ever-stylish Roger Mills, the 1974 European 20km bronze medallist
Julian is on the extreme left along with Eric Crompton, Mick Entwistle, Fred Pearce, Ron Wallwork and myself at the 2016 celebration of Ron’s 2 Hour record.

In the report on the 2016 event at Bury, I supplied some comments on those of us, who raced on that rainy day in 1971. In Julian’s case, I noted.

Julian Hopkins, is famously or infamously, remembered as a National Coach way ahead of his time, hounded out of the sport for observing that contact was increasingly impossible as the event developed. In his time he was featured on the cover of Race Walking Record, in July 1967, as a rising star, having finished 10th counter in the National 20k, won by Ron Wallwork, enabling a second place for the club. In 1970 he was integral to the team that placed first, second and third in the four senior championships, alongside Wallwork and Taylor, ensuring that the club won the A.D. McSweeney trophy as the leading club of the year, ahead of 29 teams – with four walkers to count in all championships. The other counters in that notable year were Dave Vickers [10 miles], Chris Eyre [20k[, Don Warren [20 miles] and Mick Entwistle [50k].

There is no doubt that an interview with Julian is called for. I will do my best.

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ALBERT RIGBY TROPHY RESULT AND PHOTOS

Roy Gunnett reports, whilst Greg Smith and Irene Pike provide an array of great photos, many be saved in the Images archive.

Picturesque Sutton – the scene of many race walks across the years. Ta to Greg

Albert Rigby Shield 10k @ Macclesfield 8th October 2022

A field of 7 walkers took part in the Albert Rigby Trophy 10k race at Macclesfield.

Most of the field in the picture. Ta to Irene.

A number of the walkers and officials only just arrived in time for the race – due to very heavy local traffic. The normal 3-lap ‘out and back’ hilly course was used. On this occasion, there were no guest walkers. Just before the race rain clouds threatened – luckily, however, these soon blew away and the walk took place in mild conditions with sunny spells.

Greg, Roy and Steve in close formation with Sailash hidden. Ta to Irene.
Joe Hardy somewhat isolated. Ta to Irene
A determined Sailash also unaccompanied. Ta to Irene

The walkers were split into 2 groups – Adrian Edwards and Martin Payne being in the fast group and the remainder in the other. Adrian and Martin were started 3 minutes behind the others. This was Adrian’s first race since his heroic walk at Middlesbrough when he succeeded in becoming a Centurion in late August.

Adrian Edwards leads Martin Payne. Ta to Greg

Adrian and Martin walked together for most of the race, with Adrian just pipping Martin at the end to win the scratch race. Both walked extremely well in the aftermath of their epic centurion race only a few weeks earlier.

Locked in combat Adrian holds off Martin. Ta to Greg

The race for third place was contested by Steven Wilde and Roy Gunnett in a final dash for the line – this resulted in a draw between them.

Steve and Roy on their way to a dead heat! Ta to Irene

Huge thanks must go to Eric Horwill, Glyn Jones, Ian Hilditch, Irene Pike and Chris Pearce for their help in Timekeeping, Marshalling etc. 

Ian Hilditch on marshalling duties aided by a local road sign. Ta to Irene

As usual, Marshall and Kath Barnard were wonderful hosts. They put on a magnificent spread of food/ tea and they provided and awarded prizes to the first 3 in the handicap.

Martin Payne won the Albert Rigby Shield for being the first Lancashire walker in the handicap and he was presented with the shield by Marshall. Marshall’s wife Kath is the niece of Albert Rigby – whom the Shield is named after.

Scratch Race

1 Adrian Edwards.  63.36

2 Martin Payne       63.37

3 Stephen Wilde.    71.39

3 Roy Gunnett.       71.39

5.Sailash Shah.      73.49

6 Joe Hardy.           78.59

Greg Smith  2 Laps 6.7km 49.36

Handicap Race

1 Martin Payne.       58.37

2 Roy Gunnett.        60.09

3 Stephen Wilde.     60.39

4 Sailash Shah.       61.49

5 Adrian Edwards.   62.16

6 Joe Hardy.            65.39

Another landmark feature to be found on all the differing courses over the years. Ta to Greg.
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Albert Rigby 10 km on October 8th plus a century-old reminiscence

Sadly today’s Chorley Six Hour Challenge had to be postponed because of one of the key organisers’ serious illness. We wish her a speedy recovery. As it is our next club event, the Albert Rigby 10 kilometres, will take place next Saturday, October 8th from our much-loved venue in the village of Sutton Macclesfield, starting at 1.00 p.m. As ever it would be helpful both to Dave Evans and Marshall Bernard if you could let Dave know of your intended attendance.

A beautiful but testing course

Meanwhile, we are grateful to Guy Goodair for unearthing this fascinating newspaper article from exactly a century ago – September 1922. Doesn’t time pass us by?

Donato Pavesi

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Rugby League and Race Walking – contact sports of a very different kind

I hope you’ll forgive this indulgent post about my grandson’s burgeoning rugby league career but I rather liked my reference to both rugby league and race walking being contact sports.

Back in 1947, I was born into the working class world of Rugby League – the Lancashire side of the Pennines. During my teenage years, I lived in a classic two-up, two-down terraced house, only a drop kick away from Hilton Park, the rickety home of Leigh RLFC. My dad, like many a miner, tried his hand, playing a couple of games as a hooker for the ‘A’ team. And, in 1957, I played for Newton West Park against the Twelve Apostles in the Leigh Primary Schools final on the hallowed ground of the town’s professional team. The muddy pitch was so big it was a wonder either team got near the opposition’s try line. It ended 3 points all in a dour draw. I ended up with a bloody nose, which was sorted by my father, running on with the ‘magic sponge’ and the instruction, ‘ger on wi’it’.

Hilton Park. Leigh

Like many a young lad, I dreamed of playing for Leigh. My hero was the rampaging Mick Martyn. However, I was neither tough nor quick enough to emulate his exploits. Never mind that I went to grammar school, where class pretension meant rugby union was the name of a game, where writhing about on the ground was a necessity. kicking obligatory and passing almost unheard of. I became a race walker, where the only necessary contact was with the ground rather than with hurtling bodies – in retrospect far safer. Indeed it used to be a huge compliment to be told post-race by knowledgeable spectators and eagle-eyed judges alike that your style meant you were ‘as safe as houses’.

Roland Hardy – safe as houses

In 1989 I found myself living in a ‘posher’ house close to the middle of Wigan, this time only a spiralling pass from Central Park, the atmospheric home of Wigan RLFC, Leigh’s fiercest rivals. My love for the game was reignited. To the dismay, I’m sure of loyal ‘Leythers’, with my wife being a ‘Wigginer’, I rationalised following both the Leigh and Wigan teams, the latter in its pomp. Ellery Hanley, Shaun Edwards and Andy Farrell were amongst our heroes. It was an exhilarating period of dramatic matches, of incredible skills and courage, interspersed on our part with many a pint of Pendle Witch or Timothy Taylor’s Landlord consumed in characterful pubs across the North-West of England. During a couple of summers, I even found myself playing touch rugby for my local, the Tudor House, the oldest, slowest, but perhaps fittest in the team. On a couple of occasions my daughter’s soon-to-be husband, Bob Astley contributed to our efforts, startling us with his blistering pace.

Central Park, Wigan

Bob’s fast-twitch fibres were to be of more than passing importance. Having emigrated to Crete. Marilyn and I were not present at Logan’s birth so we can’t confirm the rumour that he was born with a rugby ball between his thighs. We can though vouch for the fact that from an early age he went to bed with ball in hand. Indeed when we visited we found the living room had been transformed into a rugby pitch with two couches set at a right angle, comprising the grandstands. From thence on the ruffled carpet was host to passes, short and long, delicate grubber kicks and crunching tackles with Sonny, Logan’s younger brother in the heat of affairs. It’s a wonder the room remains roughly in one piece. Recently, Tubby, the family dog has found himself buffetted in the thick of things and, apprenticeship served, is able now to bark with authority, ‘Grr ’em onside’.

A magical try from Logan in his younger days!

Outside of the Astley’s private training ground, Logan has made his way successfully through the competitive age groups of the local amateur rugby scene, often in the colours of the Wigan St Patrick’s club, earning consistent praise for his talents. Possessed of an exhilarating turn of speed, inherited from his dad and perchance a willingness to do the hard miles reminiscent of my athletic dedication he has stood out from the pack. He’s been on the books of Wigan Warriors [ don’t get me started on the daft, unnecessary brand name!] for the past few years and has made his first team debut. Where it goes from here is not anyone’s guess. He is gifted and committed, telling his mum, ‘how lucky he is to be paid for doing something he loves’ but the sport is cruel. Many an exciting prospect falls by the wayside, sometimes through career-threatening injury, sometimes by losing the plot. In his favour is a laid-back and unpretentious disposition. He’s certainly not too big for his own boots. For now, a proud grandad I’ll wallow in the moment described below and leave tomorrow for another day.

Astley leads the way as Warriors take title


WIGAN WARRIORS 40 WAKEFIELD TRINITY 12

DAVID KUZIO

Robin Park, Sunday, September 18, 2022

BEN O’KEEFE grabbed a hat-trick of tries and kicked four goals as Wigan claimed the second-string crown with a comfortable victory.

The winger completed his treble in the first half as the hosts led 18-6 at the break after bossing the bulk of the action.

The Warriors raced into a 14-0 lead with O’Keefe scoring twice on either side of a Kieran Tyrer try (O’Keefe improved that effort).

But Robbie Butterworth got Wakefield on the board with a try out of nothing, to which he added the two, as the visitors started to grow into the contest.

However, O’Keefe’s score on the hooter settled the home side, who were slowly allowing Trinity to get into the game.

A 51st-minute score from Josh Phillips, also converted by O’Keefe, gave Wakefield fresh hope as the deficit was cut to six points.

But a brace of tries from Sam Halsall and scores by Alex Sutton and Logan Astley, plus three O’Keefe goals, saw Wigan home.

It was not a great start from them as Umlya Hanley put the ball out on the full from the kick-off, and they then conceded a drop-out as Wakefield looked to gain an early advantage.

But Tyrer turned the tide as he found touch from the drop-out and it was Wigan now on the front foot.

They made that count as Astley took the ball left and found Halsall in space to send O’Keefe in at the corner.

Wigan extended their lead in the 15th minute when Tyrer collected a short ball, threw a dummy and went in under the posts unopposed.

Jack Bibby and Tyrer went close before Astley and Halsall combined once again to send O’Keefe in for his second try – and a 14-0 lead.

Great defence from Robbie Mann and Rob Butler prevented Wigan from scoring their fourth try.

The Yorkshire side took heart from that, went up the other end, and scored their first.

A towering kick was collected by Hanley, but he was met with a monster hit and spilled possession, leaving Butterworth to pick up and touch down. Wigan were reduced to twelve men with James McDonnell sent to the sin bin for a professional foul, and Wakefield started to cause problems.

Jay Haywood-Scriven came close to grabbing a second, but he was held just short.

Wigan managed to soak up a lot of pressure and O’Keefe crossed for his hat-trick just before the interval following another neat pass from Astley.

Wakefield enjoyed a lot of possession at the start of the second half as they camped on Wigan’s line, and they got their reward with Phillips forcing his way over from close range.

Wigan were now struggling to create chances as Wakefield were taking the game to them, but a poor pass was intercepted by Halsall, who raced 80 metres to help put Wigan twelve points in front with 23 minutes to go.

Halsall then put the game out of Wakefield’s reach with another long range effort. Junior Nsemba – who was brilliant all afternoon – combined with Astley and O’Keefe, with the latter turning it inside for the scorer to race away.

Wigan’s seventh try came from Sutton as he was on the end on another passing move started by Astley, who then capped a marvellous performance with a try of his own.

GAMESTAR: Ben O’Keefe, Sam Halsall and Junior Nsemba were brilliant, but scrum-half Logan Astley was the one pulling the strings.

GAMEBREAKER: Sam Halsall’s 57th-minute interception try pushed Wigan ahead by twelve points and they were never in danger of losing the game after that.

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Lambert Trophy contested on the road rather than the track

Dave Evans reports and reveals hidden talents as a photographer and caption writer!

Having just recovered from the Centurions 100, another 100 raised its head in the form of 10 walkers completing 10k. The original event for this date was a track race at Bury but a refurbishment of the track meant us cancelling our 1-hour outing and replacing it with a road 10k on our regular course at Simister in the same borough. With a number of absentees, we were wary about having sufficient personnel to police the event but long-time member Chris Bolton appeared and we were A-OK to go ahead. Eric Horwill made the journey from the Midlands to secure our timekeeping team so the journey could begin and competition set underway.

The race field. Martin is having a quiet moment while Pat is telling Joe not to pass her en route and his facial expression suggests he might ignore the challenge. Ta to Dave Evans

Tony Bell and Martin Payne, the latter some 4 weeks after walking 94 miles in the Centurions 24-hour enactment, set the pace followed quite closely by 8 other aspirants, all bar one wearing the club colours. Glyn Jones was attired in those of Coventry Godiva. At halfway Tony and Martin clocked a steady 34 mins 20, neither wanting to throw a glove on the floor and go for broke. In the next two minutes or so most of the rest of the field approached the 5k point, all looking fresh and no doubt considering their next move.

Being an out-and-back course offers all participants the chance to assess their tactics mid-race and as the second half unwound several tentative first-halfers chose to press the go button! As the weather was clement and a bit humid conditions were ideal. As the race neared its end Tony pulled away stretching his lead to 7 seconds and great credit to Martin for producing a very decent time after his long walk four weeks earlier. Phil McCullagh picked up two places in the second half employing his usual second-half improvement but in places rather than times.


Results

Scratch

  1. Tony Bell. 66:45(34.20)
  2. Martin Payne 66:52(34.20)
  3. Roy Gunnett 72:08(34.51)
  4. Sailash Shah 72:34(35.54)
  5. Glyn Jones 73:08(36.55)
  6. Phil McCullagh 74:07(36.59)
  7. Joe Hardy 74:23(36.56)
  8. Pat Evans 74:26(36.57)
  9. Ian Hilditch 74:26(37.00)
  10. Greg Smith 77:15(37.02)

Handicap

  1. Roy Gunnett 61:38
  2. Martin Payne 62:22
  3. Pat Evans 62:56
  4. Sailash Shah 63:04
  5. Tony Bell 63:15
  6. Joe Hardy 64:23
  7. Ian Hilditch 65:26
  8. Phil McCullagh 66:07
  9. Glyn Jones 66:23
  10. Greg Smith 66:45

Dave Ainsworth gets in touch with this fascinating tale about Mick Barker from Sheffield, who appeared out of the blue to participate successfully in the BMAF races at Horwich a few years ago. Hopefully Mick is well on the way to recovery.

The previous issue of “Essex Walker” did a write-up on a television programme which featured a Northern Walker (mentioned only as Mick) who was taken to Barnsley Hospital A&E. “Essex Walker” asked if any readers could identify this unfortunate patient? To save you all looking further, he was identified by Sheffield-based Brian Adams. I had, more-or-less, thought along the same lines – but wasn’t sure, hence I asked for him to be properly identified for certain. In any case, I consider myself a bit of a northerner as I resided in Bolton (Sharples Avenue, Astley Bridge) in 1966, the year I took up race walking when my late father was Manager of the Co-op Pharmacy in Bolton Town Centre.

“CASUALTY 24/7: EVERY SECOND COUNTS”

Our previous edition featured this Channel 5 “fly-on-the-wall” programme, filmed at a busy Barnsley Hospital, where into A&E was brought Mick (in Nike racing pumps) – a race walker who’d suffered a heart attack at 16-and-half miles while training. We saw him receive treatment and put on a road to recovery. We added a direct link to Channel 5’s programme “catch-up” service – which is still available for viewing. It’s an hour long, but Mick’s case is fairly early on. We asked if any readers knew this patient’s name and details?

We thank Sheffield-based Olympian and Centurion of Leicester Walking Club fame, Brian Adams, for providing us with the answers – he writes :

Mick,, the octogenarian walker from Barnsley is Mick Barker who won the Sheffield Star Walk in 1964 and joined Sheffield United Harriers. He joined us for a short time in January 2019. In 2018 he won the British Masters M75 10,000m & 5km Champs and finished 4th in the World 5,000m champs…. with a broken Arm!! Walk with Jesus Brian


It is Paul Nhill’s birthday today. He would have been 83 years of age. In remembering this great athlete, see this atmospheric early photo of him competing in wintry conditions. It’s tempting to think it’s one of the famous London Seven Mile races.



Important message from Mark Easton, the RWA Treasurer

Athletes, officials and supporters are encouraged to join the RWA 200 Club, which raises much-needed finance for the Association

It is £12 per number per year payable by standing order on the 1st Oct.

If people need more details they can contact me by Email at rwatreasurer@yahoo.co.uk

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