Our Reminiscences Series returns with this welcome, revealing contribution from Tony Malone. I’ve not deleted his many unnecessary apologies to the reader.
Hi Tony, herewith as requested is my athletics biography. Hope it isn’t too boring for everybody.
I’d always been interested in running especially as I was the 2nd fastest miler in my last year at school and I always ran from the north side of Stockport to watch Stockport County on the south side of the town. I always had to be first through the the turnstiles when they opened. I supposed if I had got there five minutes before the kick off I would still have been first in the queue!
If you’re already getting bored carry on reading at bed time and I will soon cure your insomnia.
I was at my local youth club back in 1968 when the club leader asked if I was interested in attending a young athletes’ course at Mellands Fields in Manchester and the club would pay the fees. On the Saturday of the course, I didn’t want to go but my parents insisted as the youth club had already paid. So I went along with my tee shirt, shorts and pumps (yes, pumps!). When I arrived most athletes had clubs vests, track suits and trainers and spikes. I put myself down for middle distance and after a short while threw off my pumps and continued the weekend in my bare feet. The coaches were not amused!
A the end of the weekend three guys came and gave a demonstration of race walking and all the young athletes had to have a go.Then the senior of the three guys gave a little speech and said if you haven’t already got a club then you should join one. I took him at his word, approached him, asking if could I join his walking club. rest they say is history. The three guys were Maurice Ireland, Chris Bolton and Fred Pearce Junior.
So for all those ladies and gents out there, who have had to put up with me for all these years you can blame Maurice, Chris, Fred and my parents.
I went training each Sunday at Stretford track with Maurice. I did two Stretford league races, in which I came 2nd from last in both, just ahead of Dave Grindley of Lancs Walking Club. This isn’t as easy as it looks were my thoughts. [Eds note – Ron Wallwork has dug out one of the results, August 20]
My first road race was the LWC annual 6 mile novice Walk from Mellands Fields, Manchester on the 24th August 1968, finishing 13th in 57m.35 sec. The race was won by Dave Vickers from the home club in 48m.14sec. One thing I’ll always blame Chris Bolton for (my Mum always did!!) is that he never mentioned anything about greasing up prior to a race. I spent the rest of the weekend on the floor with my legs apart resting on a chair! I was just a ‘little sore’.
It was after this I was coached by the late Dick Smith at Leigh on Tuesday evenings and from his chip shop on Thursday and Sundays. I was knocked into shape and slowly started to improve my technique and speed.
Are you still awake?
As always with Lancashire Walking Club there were plenty of events to compete in up and down the country. On many occasions there were enough of us to hire a coach to take us to the various venues. To think at times we could have as many as three teams in a race with eight needed to walk and four to score. On these excursions the club captain Ron Wallwork used to get the bus singing and one of the songs was always ‘You’ll never walk (M)alone’ by Gerry and Pacemakers! Sod!!!
Lancashire Walking Club were lucky enough to have a very good junior section. It took me over twelve months to break into the scoring team when we had such good walkers as Steve Crow, Mick Entwistle, Dave Ward, Mick Fishwick, Marshall Barnard, Keith Bebbington and later on Chris Eyre. Where are they all now?
I was fortunate enough to compete in the 1969 AAA’s Junior Championships at Crystal Palace, going down to make up the numbers with our own Dave Ward, the favourite to win. I admit (and those who know me know how modest I am) I was surprised with myself when I came second, 2/10th of second behind the winner Dennis Holly of Brighton. What was nice was when I returned home I received a call from Ron Wallwork to congratulate me on my performance. That’s something I’ve never forgotten.
Over the years I have competed in countless races both walking and running. Some of my favourite events over the years have been the Morecambe (possibly) 20kms, the Metropolitan 7 at Imber Court, theLeicester 7 (I like racing in Leicester), the Dick Hudsons from Bradford. I have always enjoyed in competing the national Championships, no matter what the distance or venue One thing I always wanted to do was to race along Blackpool promenade, the only problem being I had to start at Manchester Town Hall, which I did in 1982. From Horwich I was on my own all the way to the finish and to come 3rd in 8:41:07 wasn’t too bad for me.
Are you still with me? There’s loads to go yet AND it gets worse!!
I’ve had many satisfying races over the years – the above Manchester to Blackpool is just one of them. My GB Junior International at Battersea Park, London in 1970. The National 50km at Milton Keynesin 1977, not my fastest, but it was a multi lap circuit and I was lapped by Brian Adams and John Warhurst, followed by Peter Hodkinson from Cambridge Harriers, who I stuck with for the rest of hisrace and he dragged me though the field. I will always remember passing the late Colin Young, who really encouraged me, thinking I was battling Peter for 3rd place when in fact I was only passing Colin and not lapping him!
These days with not competing as much and there not being the same competition I look forward to competing in the Masters events such as Horwich and recently the Leicester 10km which includes the British Masters championships. Also now that I have switched (at long last) to the Republic of Ireland it iss great to represent and compete for them in Masters championships. The wearing of the Green is something special.
For some years I did quite a bit of running. My highs in running have been the Manchester Piccadilly Marathon of 1985 when before the start I met my old friend Roger Michell and we ran together for 22 miles when I think I must have upset him because he raced off and left me! I recorded my best time of 2h.51m.58s. finishing 201st. The 1st 100 finishers received a track suit, the 2nd 100 finishers received a T shirt. No way could I have passed another runner for that T shirt!
I remember running a 6 mile race in Stockport in 1977, when finishing downhill I lost my balance and fell passing two runners in the process I finished in 31:07 and was I believe dragged to the first aid area where I came to. Another satisfying completion was the 1988 Tour of Tameside. This is a double marathon of 6 races in7 days and was the inspiration of the great Ron Hill.
Wake up we’re nearly finished
I do have few regrets from my years in athletics. The first never having won a senior RWA Championship medal at either individual or team level and the second is having not competed and completed a 100 mile race to become a Centurion.
Well if you’re still awake you need to go and see your doctor!!
PERSONAL BESTS – RACE WALKING
1 mile 7.15:7
2 mile 15.08
5 mile 36.56
6 mile 46.09
7 mile 51.15
8 mile 63.55
10 mile 75.06
20 mile 3.00.06
1 hour 12,779 metres
PERSONAL BESTS – RUNNING
100m 11.8, 800m 2.19:8, 1mile 5.13, 3000m 9.20, 2 mile 9.35, 5000m 16.43, 5 mile 28.15, 6 mile 31.09, 10km 34.07, 7 mile 39.51, 10 mile 59.10, 20km 78.38, 1/2 marathon 77.53 and marathon 2.51.58