Gosforth Harriers and Athletic Club

Club History

Founding Of Gosforth Harriers & AC

At the beginning of the 20th Century Gosforth, although some what smaller than it is now, had provided many athletes who had joined local athletics clubs such as Elswick H, Heaton H, Benwell H, Newcastle H, North Shields Polytechnic, Gateshead Congers, Saltwell H, or Gateshead St.Marys H (now Gateshead Harriers).

For a number of years Harold Walker, who lived in Gosforth and was an active member of Gateshead St.Marys H, had thought that it would be possible to form an amateur running club based in Gosforth. He discussed this idea initially with many athletes in the district including Frank Wiggans (Gateshead St.Marys H), Joseph O'Kane (Elswick H), Bill Stockport, Watson McAndrew, Jack Robson (all members of Heaton H), Tom Charlton, Leo McAndrew, Theo McGowan, Ernie walker, Tom Cusack, William Forster, Ernst Fleck, and Frederick Emmerson, all of whom would eventually join the club. Encouraged by their favorable reaction, Harold Walker arranged for a public meeting to be held at Gosforth adult school on Salter’s Road on September 30th 1927 when the following officials were elected pro-term:

Secretary H.Walker, Assistant Secretary W.G.Stockport, Treasurer F.Emmerson, Handicappers J.W.F.McAndrew and E.Smythe

The first race of the season took place on the 4th October from the Rothwell Hall on the St.Charles school site, Rothwell Road, and afterwards a meeting was held, chaired by Harold Walker, during which Jack 'Parrot' Robson and Guy Phillips were elected onto the committee. The following were also elected:

Club Captain J.W.F.McAndrew; Vice Captain E.Waker; Youths captain F.O'Kane; Youths Vice Captain S.Young.

The much respected secretary of Gateshead St.Mary's H, Joseph Gibson, gave advice on how to form the clubs constitution and on the procedure required to become affiliated to organisations such as N.E.C.C.C.A.

At a general meeting held on the 14th October in the Queen Victoria pub on Gosforth high street and chaired by Joseph Gibson the club rules were formally instituted, all twenty one of them. Amongst them were the following:

(1) That the club shall be named Gosforth Harriers (2) That the colours be helio vest and white knickers with a badge on the vest (3) That the object of the club be to encourage athletics under A.A.A laws and cross country laws. All members to be amateurs as defined by A.A.A. (6) The annual subscriptions for membership to be 2/6d, youths 1/6d, and which must be accompanied by the official membership form duly signed. (12) That the captain appoints pacemakers and whips on each club night and those members must obey the instructions of the whip and on no account attempt to pass the pacemaker.

Due to the outbreak of war in September 1939 and the subsequent call up of many of the club members the activities of the club were suspended at the end of 1939. Club members who were tragically lost were Ronnie Sinclair and Brian Charlton.

Refounding Of the Club

In September 1945, at the end of the war, a meeting was held, largely due to the efforts of Weston Malone at St.Charles club rooms on Gosforth High Street with Frank Moran, Bill Conway, Eddie McAndrew, Les Trench and Weston Malone all present. It was agreed that the clubs activities should resume as soon as possible, that members should be contacted once they were demobbed and that new club headquarters should be found. A general meeting was held in October 1945 at the Coxlodge Miner’s welfare football pavilion, which was to be the clubs temporary headquarters. This was attended by the above members plus Bill Stockport and Stan Irwin and several others not then members including Alf Ball, Sid McKenna and Ronnie Maylia also attended. Bill Stockport agreed to be Secretary-Treasurer until George Sivell was available again. A committee was also elected while it was agreed that Wilf Barton, Jack Mitchell, ''Buff'' Smith and Bert Hemsley should rejoin the committee as soon as they were released from the services.

Club Successes

Since the founding of the club in 1927, Gosforth Harriers have won many local, territorial and national titles. Below is a list of the clubs achievements over the last seventy six years and the individuals whom achieved this success.

The club has won two North Eastern Cross Country Senior men’s team championship, 1948/1946 and 1950/51. John.E.Bell is the only ever Gosforth Harriers to have won the North Eastern Senior Men’s cross country title, he won it twice in 1958/59 and 1959/60. The club has had many winners of the younger age groups titles and also supplied many medalists. They include G.W.Barton who won the North Eastern Junior C.C title in 1932/33, W.Conway who won the North Eastern junior C.C championship in 1933/34. P.Pattinson, J.Bell and Andy Gibson are all Gosforth Harriers to have won the North Eastern Junior C.C championship in 1952/53, 1955/56, and 1974/75 respectively. The club has also won the North eastern junior cross country title six times in 1946/47, 1951/52, 1968/69, 1969/70, 1970/71, and 1980/81. The club has also supplied many winners of the under 17 men’s championship. The winners include W.Conway, J.Bell, J.R.Gibson and Lewis Timmins, these titles were won in 1932/33, 1952/53, 1954/55 and 2003/2004 respectively. Gosforth Harriers has had major success when it comes to winning the North Eastern under 17 men’s team title. Gosforth lifted the title in 1932/33, 1937/38, 1948/49, 1949/50, 1950/51, 1954/55, 1955/56, 1956/57, 1971/78 and 2000/2001. Gosforth have also had three runners who have lifted the North Eastern under 15 boys Cross Country Championships. They include K.Middlemiss who won in 1954/55 and retained the title in 1955/56, D.Miles who won in 1980/81 and Terry West won in 1983/84. Again the club has tasted success in the team championship of this age group winning the title in 1950/51, 1953/54, 1955/56, 1958/59, 1975/76, 1976/77, and 1982/83. The under 13 boy’s title has only been won twice; the two winners were J.Surtees in 1977/78 and Jonathan Graham in 1996/97. In 1998 Jonathan Graham picked up a bronze medal in the junior boys 1500m final at the English Schools Championships. Way back in 1984 when the 3000m was held for the first time at an English schools Championships David Miles won the Senior boys event in a time of 8:23.2. Both Keith Middlemiss and Lewis Timmins went onto win Northern Cross Country Championships. Keith won the Under 15 boys and Under 17 men’s titles in 1956 and 1957. Gosforth also won the team title for the Northern under 15 age group in 1954. Lewis Timmins picked up the Under 17 men’s cross country title at St.Helens.

Below: Jonathan Graham in action at the English Schools cross country championships at London. Jonathan is a winner of various coloured English schools, Northern and North Eastern medals.

Gosforth have also experienced success on the roads and in 2001 the team of Paul Hutton, Drew Graham, Jan Stankewich and Marc Fenwick won the Northern under 17 men’s four stage road relay championships at Carlisle. Gosforth have also won North Eastern and Northern titles on the track. Since the founding of the club in 1927 Gosforth has won 106 North Eastern or N&D track and field titles as they were once known. The most successful ever male athlete on the track for Gosforth Harriers was probably John McCarthy who won three Northern 800m titles in 1970, 1974 and 1975. He also finished second in the Intercounties Championships in the 800m in 1973 as well as winning numerous 800m and 1500m North Eastern titles during the seventies. Other Northern titles gained were the 200m junior championships when Neil Graham won in 1969. In 1955 R.W.Sharp won the Northern junior men’s high jump championships and in 1949 one of Gosforth’s greatest athletes, Bert.L.Helmsley won the Northern Senior men’s marathon. In 2002 Paul Hutton finished a close second to Chris Parr of Gateshead Harriers for the Northern Junior 3000m title at Manchester. In 2003 Gosforth collected  it's first Northern gold for three years when Lewis Timmins won the North of England under 17 men’s 1500m title at Wavertree, Liverpool.



On the women’s side Ann Oliver won the Women’s Northern 880yards title nine times and the mile eight times. She won the 880yards in 1953, 1954,1955,1956,1957,1958,1959,1960 and 1961. She also won the mile titles in 1952,1953,1954,1955,1956,1959,1960 and 1961. On the country Ann picked up the clubs first national women’s title when she won the junior Women’s National Cross Country in 1951/52.  She also won the Northern Senior and Junior women’s Cross Country Championships in 1951/52 as a junior and in 1952/53,1953/54,1955/56,1956/57,1957/58, 1959/1960 and finally in 1960/61 as a senior athlete. At the same time Ann led the Gosforth women’s team to two Northern Women’s Cross Country team titles when they picked up the trophy in 1959/1960 and 1960/61. Following on from Ann, Decia Crisp won the Northern Junior Women’s Cross Country title in 1954/55. Ann picked up two more national titles, this time on the track when she lifted the women’s A.A.A mile title and the women’s A.A.A 880yards title in 1952 and 1953 respectively. Ann also won the North Eastern 880 yards and mile championships on a number of occasions. She lifted the 880 yards title in 1952, 1953, 1954, and finally in 1955. She also won the mile title in 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955 and she lifted her last North Eastern track title in 1956. The most recent North Eastern track champion is Rachael Lundgren who won the U/15 Girls 3000ms in 2007. 


Royal Signals Relays

Gosforth Harriers have won the Prestigious Royal signals relays on four occasions, the first came in 1940 and then they won the title again in 1951, 1955 and in 1956 they retained the title. Competing in the 2005 relays Gosforth Just missed out finishing second. 

Sherman Cup

This title has been won ten times by Gosforth. They first won the title in 1949 and during the fifties they dominated winning in 1950, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1958 and 1959. They retained the title in 1960 and won the last Sherman cup to be won by Gosforth in 1977.