Sincere apologies for the belated appearance of this report, but I hope it’s of some interest and not too indulgent.
Given my first Northern 10 was fifty years ago I was determined to make the start of this year’s race at Stockport. I made it by the skin of my dentures, aided gallantly by Tony Malone, who, having witnessed my incompetence in the past, pinned the race number to my club singlet. Why have I always been fingers and thumbs when it comes to this simple task? Emerging from the dressing room into a miserable mix of cold breeze and drizzle I was immediately the subject of banter. How come, hotfoot from Crete, I was attired in a vest and skimpy shorts, whilst Bill McFadden from the wilds of Scotland was sensibly wearing both a thermal bob-cap and gloves?
Fortunately, as I had no sensible answer up my non-existent sleeve, we were called to the start line by none other than the statesman-like figure of John Eddershaw, a stalwart of our sport. In measured tones John called us to order, whilst Fred Pearce as Chief Judge waved the dreaded paddles, only one of which seemed to be relevant, namely that concerned with our knees. To lose contact was the stuff of our collective dreams.
From the outset Adrian Edwards dominated proceedings, chased vainly by myself, Bill and all around the sixteen, sometimes muddy, sometimes doggy laps. It was a challenging, decently surfaced course, even if Bill lamented the lack of inclines. After the race in the welcome embrace of the hot showers, such was the day, we resembled more a Sunday league football team than a group of proud pedestrians.
In the clubhouse Fred Pearce opened the after-race proceedings by inviting John Eddershaw to present the medals, referring to his memorable exploits in the Manchester-Blackpool race, including a victory in 1972. John, known affectionately to his Sheffield team mates as ‘nid nod’ on account of his head nodding on every stride, won in 8:16:10 from Peter Markham 8:17:41 with Eric Crompton, third in 8:24:16, the latter leading Leyland Motors to a memorable team title. At this point nostalgia swept across the room as Fred drew our attention to the presence of others, who had finished in the first three of this sadly missed classic, namely Joe Hardy, Tony Malone, Mark Byrne and Graham Jackson. If I’d had my wits about me, I would have interrupted to add that in Denis Jackson, Graham’s father, we were privileged to race alongside one of Britains greatest all-rounders. Denis still stands 5th on the all-time 50 kilometres list with his outstanding 1986 clocking of 4:03:08, set in Madrid over thirty years ago. In addition he dipped under 90 minutes for 20 kilometres with a time of 89:42 at York in the same year – not to mention by this time he had entered the veterans O40 ranks!
NORTHERN 10 MILES CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Adrian Edwards Lancashire WC ‘A’ M50 Lancs 1.32.21
2 Tony Taylor Lancashire WC ‘A’ M65 Lancs 1.33.22
3 Bill McFadden Scotia RWC M55 Scots 1.35.26
4 Tony Bell Lancashire WC ‘B’ M50 Lancs 1.43.26
5 Tony Malone Lancashire WC ‘A’ M65 Lancs 1.44.00
6 Graham Jackson Yorkshire CIU M45 Yorks 1.44.44
7 Dave Crompton Lancashire WC ‘B’ M50 Lancs 1.44.56
8 Dennis Jackson Yorkshire CIU M70 Yorks 1.46.00
9 Roy Gunnett Lancashire WC ‘B’ M65 Lancs 1.48.04
10 Peter Crahan Lancashire WC ‘C’ M60 Lancs 1.48.08
11 Joe Hardy Lancashire WC ‘C’ M70 Lancs 1.50.48
12 Mark Byrne Redcar RWC M55 Yorks 1.55.08
13 Ian Hilditch Lancashire WC ‘A’ M75 Lancs 1.55.20
14 Irene Pike Lady Lancashire WC W65 Lancs 1.57.43
15 Sailash Shah Lancashire WC ‘B’ M50 Lancs 1.59.33
16 John Crahan Lancashire WC ‘C’ M65 Lancs 2.02.40
17 Ian Vaughan Lancashire WC ‘C’ M60 Lancs 2.10.12
Guest Dan Maskell Surrey WC M65 1.49.21
1 Lancashire WC ‘A’
2 Lancashire WC ‘B’
3 Lancashire WC ‘C’
Thus it was that Adrian, who had done much of the legwork in ensuring the race happened, took deservedly the individual title. In second place I took pleasure in reminding John Eddershaw that fifty years ago Lancashire led home by Ron Wallwork had ended Sheffield United Harriers’ thirty year winning streak in this championship. However the pleasure was fleeting, given the sad demise of that great club, once feared throughout the land. Unfortunately Bill McFadden was unable to receive his individual medal in person as he had been forced to dash up north. Disappointingly too no other teams were able to close in so our club swept the board.
A special vote of thanks must go the officials, who defied the elements – Fred Pearce, John Howley, Chris Bolton, Glyn Jones, Keith French, Eric and Kath Horwill. I suspect all of them would rather have competed. In addition the club put on a champion spread, ably organised by Christine Pearce and Louise Crompton.
All in all it was an excellently organised, but bitter-sweet occasion. I’ve not mentioned the fact that the day should also have hosted the triangular match between Lancashire, Yorkshire and Scotland for the Ken Munro Trophy. As it was our club took the prize by default. Hence we would be burying our heads in the mud of Woodbank Park if we did not recognise the dilemmas haunting our great sport in the North. None of us are getting any younger. The burden on a few officials is enormous. Indeed Fred Pearce, resilient as ever, had been ill during the week prior to the race. And, obviously, there are issues about where best to hold northern races, given the importance of supporting the valiant efforts of the Scotia club. There is much food for thought, but here’s hoping that in 2027 we celebrate another decade of the Northern 10!