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Dudley Harriers, how it all began

The history of many athletics clubs within the Midlands can trace their history back to Birchfield Harriers. Before 1924, athletics clubs could have multiple branches across a region. One of Birchfield Harriers branches was Tipton Harriers. Tipton Harriers became independent in 1910 and after the war, as their membership grew new branches were formed - the Dudley branch of Tipton Harriers was one of them. In 1924 the M.C.A.A.A banned the practice of having club branches which encouraged the formation of new clubs. The Dudley branch of Tipton Harriers formed a new club, Dudley Harriers.

Matt Weaver (pictured fifth from the left on the middle row in the picture, right) was the first secretary. He put 10 shillings of his own money into the kitty to get the club going. He was later to become a leading figure in Midland athletics, holding various offices, including Honorary Secretary of Birmingham and District and was a Midland Counties AAA official for about 20 years.

Both the Tipton Harriers (Dudley Branch) and the independent Dudley Harriers had their headquarters at the Gipsy's Tent pub which was at the junction of Stafford Street and Steppingstone Street at the top of Dudley Town. The Gipsy's Tent was used as a race headquarters for events in connection with the Birmingham & District Invitation Cross Country League which was formed in 1925 and the annual Boxing Day race, starting from that point became a great club tradition. His wife, May Weaver, when later interviewed by The Bugle recalled the early days when she made the running shorts for club members and really became involved in Dudley Harriers' affairs, as her home became a place for talking tactics, 'rub-downs' and club business.

Matt Weaver became the club's first life member in 1935. Riley Newell, Billy Preece and Wilf Walker were also founder members of Dudley Harriers and were honoured with life membership in 1951.

In 1936, twelve years after Dudley Harriers was formed, the club established a womens section.

Photograph on the right taken from an article in The Bugle called 'The Dawn of the Dudley Harriers' written by Roy Langford. Young women such as Joan Taylor and Betty Sankey brought new honours to the club as the women's section developed. Joan won the Midland Womens Junior Cross Country Championship in the late 1940s and was second in the National CCC and Betty Sankey won 11 medals for road and track walking and finished third in the national one mile walk at White City, just after the Second World War.

Young women such as Joan Taylor and Betty Sankey brought new honours to the club as the womens section developed. Joan won the Midland Womens Junior Cross Country Championship in the late 1940s and was second in the National CCC and Betty Sankey won 11 medals for road and track walking and finished third in the national one mile walk at White City, just after the Second World War.

The foundation of Dudley Harriers as an independent club allowed for the continuation of many fantastic achievements by athletes in cross country, road racing, road walking and track and field athletics. This new foundation would eventually lead to an amalgamation with Stourbridge and Wordsley District Harriers and the formation of Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers.

The common bond of goodwill and fairness that athletes have for each other, was captured in this article from the 1940s about a race which included local clubs Dudley Harriers and Tipton Harriers.

news paper clipping

*article extracts from: The Bugle (article published 3/7/2019 written by Gavin Jones), Newspaper cutting taken from the history section of the Birmingham and District Cross Country League written in 1940. photograph credits: some photos were included in the article published by the Bugle (article written by Gavin Jones), another photo taken from an article called "The Dawn of the Dudley Harriers" written by Roy Langford for the Bugle.

First team picture Gypsys Inn Pub Women members
Memories of Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers
Evidence of competitive running in Stourbridge can be dated back as far as 1900 where an article was written for the Black Country Bugle about the 2nd Annual Sports of the Stourbridge Cricket and Football Club. On the 10th July races included a 1 mile bicycle handicap, 120 yards hurdle race, 100 yards Midland Counties championship and the 1 mile flat handicap where O Harris (Stourbridge) came 2nd.

Many athletics clubs within the Midlands can usually trace their history back to Birchfield Harriers. Prior to 1924 athletics clubs could have multiple branches across a region. There are records dating back to 1910 that reference the Stourbridge branch of Birchfield Harriers. In the County Express in 1910 it mentions that Stourbridge Birchfield held a cross country open handicap where the club secretary at the time was B Cleverley Junior.

In 1931 Stourbridge Birchfield were invited to join the Birmingham Cross Country League. They were entered into the first division. It seems that from this point onwards, Stourbridge Birchfield were known as Stourbridge Harriers.

In 1936, Stourbridge Harriers were Divisional 1 winners of the Birmingham and District Cross Country League.

In 1946, Stourbridge Harriers changed their name to become Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers. The women's section of the club raced in a yellow/gold vest and black shorts, whilst the men raced in an old gold vest with two royal blue hoops around the middle and black shorts.

It was in 1949 that Jim Skidmore joined Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers. Pam Horwill joined in 1951 and Eric Horwill in 1952. These three athletes went on to play an important part in the history of Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers and then later as members of Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers.

When we met with Jim, Pam and Eric, they had a life time of memories to share.

Jim Skidmore recalled; "I was 13 when I started running. It was in the winter when I first joined the club so it was cross country training. We used to train on the roads. The club was Stourbridge and Wordsley when I joined. It had only just been formed the year before. The date on my form said 4th April 1949, but I started running the winter before that".

"My mum and dad ran the Dudley Arms in Brierley Hill. One day when one of the customers, Ted Yardley, came in, he asked if I wanted to come to the club. He was a member at the time".

"We were based at King Edwards School in Stourbridge for the track and the old Wordsley Community Centre for the cross country. When King Edwards School was no longer available, we transferred to the County Cricket Ground Stourbridge. If you raced once a month you were lucky".

Jim went on to tell us that, "races were part of big fetes around the country. There would always be an athletics meeting as part of the fete. There was always one at Cadburys Bournville and in it there were always a couple of special meeting like the 440 yards. Special runners were invited. If you won the race three times you got to keep the trophy. I won it four times".

Jim, Pam and Eric remembered the Lees brothers who were a big part of Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers.

Pam said, "The only Lees brother that was running in those days was Dick, the youngest brother. The others were still involved in the club. They were there every Saturday for our training. Their names were Tom, Dick, Harry, Jo and Jack. Tom Lees was a school master. He taught at Kingswinford School when I was there".

Jim said, "They would sort the water and put the tin baths out so when you came back from your cross-country run, you'd get in the tin bath and get rid of the mud. There were about ten underneath the stairs and they would put them in a line down the corridor. The men had the first chance and the girls went in at the end.

Pam said, "There was no such thing as showers then. The girls didn't strip off, we just got rid of the mud on our legs. There was a bit of an alleyway down the side of the Community Centre so they could tip the baths up and empty them down the drains".

Jim went on to say, "In the winter we used to meet at the old Wordsley Community Centre, start our cross country run at the park and run across all the fields before the housing estate was built. In the summer we used to train on the Grammar School playing fields and then later moved to Stourbridge Cricket Ground".

Pam said, "Do you remember when Jo Lees used to organise our annual outing. We used to go to the National Cross-Country Championships. It was at Parliament Hill Fields. We'd all go on a coach. It was a magnificent sight, thousands of runners. It was like a whoosh when they started, before they all spread out. We'd find a hotel on the route back and stop for dinner. It was the highlight of the year".

Jim replied, "I was going to those kinds of races from when I joined the club. We used to use Sammy Johnson's Supreme Coaches. We used to get the bus into Stourbridge and then get the coach. I can't ever remember being asked for any money".

Pam said, "We loved it. I didn't worry about the time I got - I just used to love to run. We put an advert in the County Express to ask if any girls would want to join the club. Anne Stokes came and she brought Mary. There were never many of us, but it gave us that nucleus that we could work with".

Pam remembered that in 1954 Diane Leather was the first women to run a mile in under five minutes. Her first competitive race, a Midland Cross Country meeting, took place at King George V Park in Wordsley. Pam also took part in this race. Many years later Diane Leather was ranked 2nd in a list of great women's 1500m runners behind Kelly Holmes.

Eric recalled a time when Dorothy Nelson Neal (Nelson), a Birchfield Harrier and a pioneer for women'ss athletics, had come down with some of the young Birchfield athletes to the Gala Cup in Wordsley. One of the youngsters commented on the age of one of the competitors to which Nelson replied, "That's Mary Wixey and you will learn".

Mary Wixey went on to win her event. Mary was a successful Masters Athlete who only took up competitive athletics when she retired and continued to compete regularly as a V90 for Cheltenham.

Pam said of Dorothy Nelson Neal, "We used to meet at her house in Birmingham as part of the WAAA meetings. Nelson coached Diane Leather and Carol Quinton. She reached the top as a coach and administrator. She was in our life throughout all our time in athletics. If the phone went at 11pm you knew it would be Nelson".

In 1976 Nelson was awarded an OBE for her services to athletics.

Jim remembered the time he got into timekeeping. "I became a grade 1 timekeeper in 1979. Arthur Wright, who formed the Birmingham Cross Country League, was a timekeeper. I used to take him everywhere. One day he had to go to Cosford for his test. In those days you had to take a scribe with you to write down the times. This particular day they'd scrapped that so they said you might as well have a go. I got 76% on my first go, but later, after plenty of timekeeping, I got 94%. Alan Tomkins took me under his wings. Then with Brian Shepherd, who was also a timekeeper, there weren't many Saturdays that we weren't timekeeping somewhere - Manchester, Durham, Bristol, London, Crystal Palace. The first time I ever went to Crystal Palace was with Alan Tomkins. It was the stadium of the time. When the gun fired, the noise, the crowd, I was shaking!

In 1963 Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers amalgamated with Dudley Harriers to become Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers. The new club and stadium were to become a big part of Jim, Pam and Eric's continuing journey in athletics along with athletes from Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers, of which Geoff Bishop became secretary of the new club for many years.

Among his many roles in athletics, Jim Skidmore went on to be president of Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers from 1978-2021 while Pam and Eric took on various roles on the committee during their time at DASH, including president, women's section secretary, men's section secretary and treasurer to name but a few. They also both coached many children in race walking and other disciplines. They used to go down to Lilleshall (one of the National Sports Centres) to gain their coaching qualifications. Over the years they both gained qualifications to coach in all disciplines except the hurdles.

In 1991, to honour their commitment to athletics, Jim Skidmore, Pam Horwill and Eric Horwill became life-long members of the club.

Image of Parliment Fields with runners
Pam Horwill recalls her love of athletics
I always loved sport and games and couldn't wait to go to secondary school in Penzer Street, Kingswinford, where I could actually do P.E. in a proper gym full of equipment. We didn't do any athletics as such, but had a sports day once a year.

When I moved on to Brierley Hill Tech, there was no gymnasium, but we played netball most lunchtimes and had matches with other schools.

I left Tech at 16 and started working in an office. I always cycled to work. It was cheap and kept me fit.

My favourite athlete growing up was Fanny Blankers-Koen in the 1948 London Olympics. She was known as the Dutch Flying Housewife. I was 14, no TV then, but I saw her on a newsreel at the cinema.

I joined the local youth club and played netball in the youth team where they organised an area sports day. Training was arranged for us and of course I was first in the queue. One evening, I remember it well, we were trying long jump when Joe Lees from Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers came along and asked me to come and join. I couldn't wait, I was 17.

That was the start of it all. If it wasn't for Joe I would never have got into athletics. He always proved to be a great ally, a generous benefactor and a very dear friend.

The ladies section of the club was fairly new and struggled to attract members. It was run by a lady called Edith Reynolds, who after I'd been in the club a year, announced she was leaving to get married. It was a case of fold up or do it ourselves, so at the age of 18 I became the Ladies Secretary.

It was about this time I met Eric through the youth club and he joined the Harriers through me.

The athletics year was very sedate in those days with not many competitions. Track in the summer, road walking in the autumn for women, then cross country in the winter. Women were not allowed to run cross country or race over 800 yards until their 16th birthday.

After Eric and I got married in 1957, we decided if the club was to be a success, we had better find out how things worked, so we started to attend Midland Counties W.A.A.A meetings, we joined coaching courses locally and at Lillishall and between us we tried to cover most events. The men's section was sceptical and insistent they were "Harriers" who ran cross country and a few miles and half miles in the winter and a bit of sprinting in the summer, but we insisted if we wanted to be successful in the long term we had to be competing and coaching in every event.

The club did a lot of good in those days. I remember when Geoff Bishop was the secretary of the men's section, they started the Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers Invitation League, which was the forerunner of the present Evening League. Also, Eric and I started an Invitation Cross Country League for girls which was to be the forerunner of the Midland Counties Women's C.C League. If it was an Invitation event restricted to a maximum of six clubs, you could choose your own rules, so we didn't have to worry about girls being 16.

In the early 1960s we were approached to amalgamate with Dudley Harriers, which eventually took place in 1963. We merged the men's and ladies section to form one club with a new constitution.

In 1970 I accepted an invitation to take part in what we thought was a 10,000m track race walk near Roeun in Normandy with Margaret Lewis of Harborne Harriers and Brenda Cook of Wolverhampton Harriers. We had to pay all our own expenses. When we got there, it was 20k not 10k, which was 50 laps of the track. I had never done anything like that in my life! It was an attack on the French record. I did it in 2hrs 7mins and 22 secs and the French girl did it in 2hrs 16mins and 5secs. We all smashed the record on the record books as far as I know as women don't usually race 20km on the track.

I always really loved cross country, but began to get problems with my back. That's why I stuck to walking - no jarring.

I thought I had finished with athletics when our family arrived, but getting involved with the veteran's movement opened up a whole new world. I met women who hadn't started running until they were 60.

In 1985, Pam took part in the world veterans championship in Rome where she won the women's 5,000m walk and came second in the 10,000m walk in the 50-55 age group.

Pam has been a positive role model for women throughout her time in athletics. She took on many roles in athletics including attending National Women's Association committee meetings in London on a regular basis, representing the WAAA on the National Body in London, life member of the Midland Counties AAA, life member of the Midlands Masters Athletics Club, president of the Midland Race Walking Association and life member of the Race-Walking Association. Pam was made a life-long member of Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers in 2019 and remained an active member of the club until 2023.

Image of Pam Horwill holding her World Championships T-Shirt
Barbara Shepherd - President of Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers
Memories of her journey into athletics with her husband Brian

My name is Barbara Shepherd and I am the president of Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers. I have been involved in the club for over thirty years.

Our son David was the reason myself and my husband Brian became involved in DASH in the first place. David was encouraged to join the club in 1982 by his school teacher, who was a member of the club at the time.

The club was helpful and friendly and myself and Brian started lending a hand at athletics meetings. I can say that helping out was never a chore. We enjoyed every minute.

Brian was encouraged to go on coaching and technical officials courses and myself to get more involved in many aspects of the club.

I particularly loved the young athletes cross-country meetings on a Sunday during the winter season. We used to pack up the car the night before with the DASH tent and flag so we were ready for an early start in the morning. Brian was the club official at the finishing area of these races and my job was to give out the race numbers and then collect them in at the end of each meeting. We had to make sure we kept them all as the athletes had to use the same number for each cross-country meeting. To make sure they weren’t lost, I gave a Freddo to every child who handed in their number. I never lost a number!

Myself and Brian also used to enjoy helping with the organisation of the Boxing Day run for Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers. We all used to meet at King George V Park in Wordsley. The route went along Cot Lane, down to the A449, along Lawnswood to Lawnswood Road and then back to the park. After the race, everyone got together at various venues to be presented with awards and trophies. It was always a lovely day.

My husband Brian used the qualifications he had gained to train young athletes for middle distance and cross country at the Dell during the week and then at Baggeridge Country Park and Himley Park at the weekends. I was always busy in the club room on a Tuesday and Thursday taking subs, sorting memberships and talking to new members, but I was always involved as a helper around the courses at the weekend.

Brian was also really proud to be a timekeeper. He travelled around the country to officiate at cross country league and championship meetings which he loved doing.

He became the chairman of the club in 1992 which was a post he held for 12 years. At the September Middle Distance Fest held at the Dell in September 2023, the club put on a mile race in honour of my husband. It was called the Brian Shepherd Mile. I was so proud.

At various times I helped with other roles for the club. For example, I was team manager of the Heart of England League, the Youth Development League and also the Midland Counties Athletics men’s track and field when the club had a B team.

Brian was also involved at these meetings as the club timekeeper, plus many other track and field meetings for the club over the years.

In 1987 the club needed a secretary and my arm was twisted. I became the club secretary first, then the membership secretary was added to my role. I continued in these roles until 2021 – a total of 34 years.

I have loved every minute of being part of the club and I know Brian did too. So many happy years to remember.

In 2021 Barbara was given the post of club president, which is a role she still holds to date.

Barbara and Brian Shepherd were made lifelong members of Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers in the year 2000, in recognition of their invaluable help and commitment to the club.

Steve Oldham talks about athletics
Steve Oldham is head coach at Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers and has been coaching for over 37 years.

My first involvement in athletics began in 1986 when my eldest daughter became interested in sprint and hurdles events at Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers, then coached by Barry Priest. Training at the club at that time was on a cinder surface until it was replaced with a much-welcomed all-weather synthetic track in 1987. During the transformation, the group training sessions took place at alternative venues in Halesowen, Tipton, Warley and Wolverhampton. These arrangements were repeated during track restoration in 2014.

I first completed an assistant coaching qualification in 1988, received my level 2 hurdles coaching award in 1991 and attended a UKA conversion course in 2000, to gain a Level 3 coaching qualification, specialising in sprinting and hurdles. I subsequently became a full member of Dudley Borough SEAL Coaches Association which allowed me access to schools in the Borough.

Whilst coaching at Dudley and Stourbridge, I continued to develop my knowledge under the direction of Graham Knight, the Great Britain National Hurdles Coach & Great Britain Technical Director of sprints, relays and hurdles, at the Northwood Academy of Hurdles sessions, during residential sprint and hurdles courses at Crystal Palace and through regular sprint and hurdle squad weekend sessions at Cosford with regional coaches Conrad Phillips, Roger Walters and Keith Antoine.

I have served as the DASH team manager for the Central Girls League, the Evening League, the McDonalds National League and the Midlands League, formerly known as the Women League Track and Field League.

From 1993 to 2004 I was the DASH Sportshall Athletics League team manager, and one of four Regional and National Birmingham Sportshall Team managers, during which time I witnessed the early journey of Mark Lewis Francis through his career in athletics, as a key member of the Sportshall team. I recall one time how Mark, who having been selected for the Birmingham Team at the Sportshall National Finals, was nowhere to be found for the opening parade, only to discover that he had overslept and was still in bed as the parade assembled. Mark still arrived in time to compete and massively help the team secure a win, a moment we reminisced about in recent years when our paths crossed again. For many consecutive years, athletes from DASH were selected to represent the Birmingham Indoor Sportshall Team at the Regional and National Finals. They achieved successive silver medal positions throughout the years and then became National Champions in 1999 during a televised event at the National Indoor Arena. Three of the team of seven U15 girls who competed at the championship were athletes from my squad at Dudley and Stourbridge.

Coaching over the years has given me some wonderful memories of my time in athletics. It has been a pathway which has afforded me the opportunity to spend time in the company of some phenomenal athletes like Sally Gunnell and Colin Jackson, who during an arranged visit to a Northwood Academy session, spent the entire time chatting to and encouraging young athletes, in between signing anything they could find to write on, including sports kit.

Sportshall competitions were held on a Friday night, when the athletes were transported by minibus to Perry Barr and later Stockland Green Leisure Centre. During the return journey, at the conclusion of many successful evenings, we visited the local fish and chip shop with the team invariably bursting into song throughout the journey back to the Dell. (Clearly the nutrition lectures were wasted on them and me for that matter.)

I remember when myself and another coach were invited to take the Sportshall team down to the BBC studios in London to appear on Blue Peter for a sports television presentation. Katy Hill was the presenter at the time and all the athletes received a Blue Peter badge. Despite my protestations, the program directors laughingly declined our request for a badge!

In 1994 I organised a long residential weekend for athletes from DASH, who were transported in two local authority minibus vehicles to and from the venue in West Sussex, where they engaged in a conditioning, fun-based fitness training regime accompanied by supervised down time & social events.

I remember, with amusement, an event that took place in Hereford in 2022, when I highlighted the possible advantages of replacing badly worn spikes fitted to running shoes worn by one of my athletes in readiness for the Midland Counties Track & Field Competition. The spikes were removed on the evening prior to the competition and I provided her with new spikes on the morning of the meeting. Having achieved a winning lifetime best performance in the 200m, she came over to me to celebrate her win in what was a personal best performance, only to tell me that she had forgotten to replace the spikes and had in fact run the entire race with no spikes in her shoes!

Reflecting on my time at Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers, I have been privileged to coach numerous athletes of all ages and abilities, many of whom have and continue to receive recognition at the Dudley Schools Championships (receiving their Colours), progressing to become finalists and champions in their event at the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Worcester Schools Championships, Inter County Championships (Mason Trophy), English Schools National Track & Field Championships, Birmingham Regional Championships, Worcester County Championships and the Scotland School Championship, with some having even achieved international status.

I remember with great pride coaching my youngest daughter through County Championships, Dudley & West Midlands Schools Championships and the Mason Trophy, progressing to the finals of the England Schools Athletics Association National Championship for two years in succession. Although my children left the sport by 2000, I continued to pursue a coaching interest with DASH.

I have spent my coaching career divided between coaching at Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers and coaching at the Northwood Academy of Hurdles at Stoke Athletics Stadium, working with under 15s to senior level & masters in sprinting and long hurdlers in what is without doubt a very technical event.

My interest in hurdles has continued through most of my coaching career. I have coached at the academy since 1993 and was appointed as the Director of Coaching in 2018, a position I hold to date. The philosophy of Northwood Academy of Hurdles focuses on the development of technical excellence for its athletes and the enormous benefits of bringing hurdles coaches together from all over the country in an environment which encourages them to exchange their knowledge and coaching skills with other coaches. The Academy now in its 32nd year, is fully supported by England Athletics and remains as popular as ever to this date.

At a recent England Athletics forum, I was asked what makes the Northwood Academy so successful?
The answer, I said, is quite simple. During my extensive years, coaching at the Academy, I have watched with admiration the hard work, commitment and skill of the coaches who in the pursuit of excellence, give up their free time with no desire for reward other than the pleasure they gain from coaching young hurdlers in the event, and of watching the athletes develop their technical hurdling skills, which so often enable them to deliver outstanding results in competition.

For his commitment to coaching, Steve has been awarded a lifetime honorary membership of Dudley & Stourbridge Harriers.

In May 2022, for giving his time so generously to coach athletes at Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers, he was awarded the Dudley Council Community Award for Services to the Community. This was presented to him at the Dell stadium in front of DASH athletes.

Steve has had an outstanding impact on so many young athletes over the years and on the sport itself. The club is very fortunate to have him as their head coach.

Image of Steve Oldham receiving his award from Dudley Council
The opening of the Dell

The Dell Athletics Track was officially opened at the Dell Recreation Ground on 18th May 1963 by the chairman of Brierley Hill Urban Council, Councillor Mr A.G. Skelding J.P. It was constructed at a cost of just over £15,000.

In his opening speech covered in an article in the County Express on 25th May 1963, Mr A.G. Skelding said, "Those who had served on the council since the war should feel proud of the new recreation ground which was the result of foresight and determination of successive local councils."

Immediately after the war, the Dell was a barren piece of wasteland, but the council recognised its potential. The area was filled and levelled with material moved from the other side of Bryce Road where they were building new houses.

Mr A.J. Skelding was quoted in the article as saying, "After a lot of correspondence and several visits to London, the Council was able to persuade the government departments to allow a start on the playing area and pavilion, which were opened in June 1960."

The playing area occupied about ten acres and comprised of three football pitches, five tennis courts and a bowling green. There were also three changing rooms and a common room which served as a tea room and shelter.

Work on the athletics track then began in 1961. Mr A.J. Skelding went on to thank Midland Counties Amateur Athletics Association, the Staffordshire Playing Fields Association and Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers for their help and advice in providing and equipping the track.

Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers and Dudley Harriers were invited to use the Dell for training and meetings. Both clubs then went on to amalgamate to become Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers.

Covering the event, the County Express noted, "A successful inaugural meeting followed the opening ceremony. It was the first time that the Midland Youth Championships had been staged as an integral programme. In addition, invitation events featured several notable seniors."

Schools including Dudley Girls High School, King Edwards School in Stourbridge, Longlands County Secondary School and Cradley Secondary Modern School to name but a few took part in the Midland Youth Championships, as well as youth clubs including Wall Heath and Brierley Hill, and also individuals representing their clubs in the invitation events from as far afield as Birchfield, Bromsgrove and Redditch, Coventry Godiva and Small Heath.

The first event of the day was two laps of honour by the international race-walking champion Ken Matthews who completed the half mile in 3mins 18 secs. In 1964 Ken Matthews went on to win the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo in the 20k walk.

Also taking part in the opening ceremony was British Empire Champion Brian Kilby from Coventry Godiva Harriers who won the 2mile race in 9mins 10.6 secs.

In the ladies 880 yards the winner was the international runner B Cook from Bilston Harriers who was the 880 yards indoor champion at that time.

In an article in the Black Country Bugle by Terry Church entitled 'Big names at the opening of Dell Stadium', he also mentioned the presence of Basil Heatley of Coventry Godiva Harriers in the two-mile flat race who went on to win a silver medal for Great Britain in the Marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and Allan Rushmer of Oldbury in the 2000m steeplechase who went on to win a bronze medal in the 3-mile race at the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica in 1966.

Finally, not forgetting of course our very own Pam Horwill who took part in the athletics meeting by entering in the 1 1/2 Mile Invitation Walk. Pam, a former member of Stourbridge and Wordsley District Harriers, remained a member of Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers for 60 years.

To finish the meeting, 41 members of Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers took turns to run a 24hour relay which finished on the Sunday. Eric Horwill, a former member of Stourbridge, Wordsley and District Harriers who then went on to become a member of the newly formed Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers for 60 years until he retired in 2023, was there at the opening and took part in the 24-hour run that was completed at approximately 5:30 on Sunday Evening.

Eric said, "We ran round the track like a relay. We’d run an hour or so and then take a rest. We ran a total of 247 miles in 24 hours."

The idea of the 24-hour relay was to make a gesture to the local Council that the club would put the track to good use.

Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers Athletics Club has continued to use the Dell athletics stadium as their home for over sixty years, successfully offering opportunities for aspiring athletes of all ages.

Opening leaflet