Year Of Celebration (1971-72)

We, that is Doug Fownes, Alan Richards and myself, were asked by senior officials of the club after a special meeting, to produce a booklet depicting the magnificent successes of our club during the 1971-2 Cross Country and Road Season.

We have naturally concentrated our efforts on the Comrades Marathon, National Cross Country and National Road Relay victories, each of which were excellent achievements in their own right. To have won all three in the same season is a unique honour and one which I feel sure will never be equalled by another club. I realise never is a very long time, but I do not foresee any other club being able to foster team effort and spirit to the extent that we have over the past few years. Despite the heroic individual contributions of Mick Orton for example who was a prominent member in all three achievements, our successes have been the fruit of a tremendous all conquering wave of club spirit. This abstract element pervades the club and includes not only athletes but also officials, supporters and of late our friends at T.S.U.T who we not only influenced by the club spirit but are also now part of it and help to foster it.

The Comrades Venture was a magnificent exercise of "where there's a will, there's a way". Initially I think, only the ultra distance men themselves believed that the money for the fares could be raised and with the help of T.S.U.T and the support of their own club mates at the various functions and fund raising activities a figure in excess of £1,200 was collected. Most of these early functions were organised by the ultra distance men themselves. This however was only part of the battle.

Not many assessors felt that our men could defeat the might of South Africa in their own championships in what pundits believe is the toughest road race in the sport of Ultra distance running.

To a man our team trained harder than ever before and proved worthy ambassadors of Tipton Harriers and indeed of all the other clubs and organisation that gave their support.

We have naturally included specific articles on the three major victories. In addition we have resurrected items from old editors of "The Whippet" that we feel are topical in this booklet. We hope that Tony Phillip's article proves to be prophetic and that in a few years we shall be producing a booklet to commemorate a year of great track success.

Before permitting you to attach the real meat we must mention that during this spectacular year Jack Timmins decided to vacate the position of Chairman of the Club after a lifetime of service both as an athlete and official. Naturally Jack will still be seen regularly in the club and at race meetings, but his authority at committee meetings will be sadly missed as at least one of our contributors will testify.

I'm similar vein, this will be Jim Bedford's last year of office as club secretary after 21 years in which he has held the reins through thick and thin. It must be very gratifying for these two excellent club servants to be able to bow out when the club is on the crest of the wave.

We hope that you will enjoy reading this legacy of athletic literature and we would urge all road and country men and indeed all club members to extend the scope of our team spirit to embrace our track activities in the future and therefore bring to reality in the not too distant future the dream of Tony Phillips.