Roy Langford - Article No.3 (05/12/2011)

John Thompsons Ltd Fourth Annual Sports and Horticultural Show, John Thompson Sports Ground, Ettingshall, Bilston - Saturday 13th August 1955

This Sports and Horticulture Show gives you a fine example of how industrial firms in the Midlands at one time took an interest in the social welfare side of its work force and not just a blank face in the background. For weeks ahead of these Sports Days a great deal of organisation went on behind the scenes and with the aid of local athletic clubs, in this case Tipton Harriers, made if a wonderful day to remember.

The opening ceremony was performed at 2.15 pm by Mr G P A Thompson. Soon after it was time for the children of John Thompsons workforce with ages ranging from 8 to 14 years to indulge in their own little social sports day, with their proud parents looking on a series of events ranging from 60 to 100 yards races took place, intermingled with egg and spoon races and I don't suppose for one minute their efforts went unrewarded at the end of it all.

Opening Sports Programme

Local athletic teams in Inter-Club meeting are:- Stourbridge, Bilston, Coseley, Wolverhampton and of course Tipton Harriers.

This meeting also had the honour of seeing some of the best county athletes in action from Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire in an Inter-Counties contest.

Inter-County 10 Mile Road Race

To start the proceeding off at 3 pm was the Inter-Counties 10 mile road race in which 12 accomplished athletes took part. The man who started them off on this gruelling race was Mr J Colley. The runners ran two circuits of the track before heading out of the sports ground. The race would take them beyond the borders of Bilston into the surrounding districts with guts and determination in their hearts this road race would be run at 5 minutes per mile pace, in just over an hour all 12 athletes had finished the race.

The winter was W Gray (Warwick) who covered the 10 mile course in the excellent time of 53 minutes 1 second. Second was D Osborne (Stafford – Tipton Harriers), third J Man (Warwick).

Third again in the 100 yards Sprint Final

My most vivid recollection of that day was of missing the call to the starting line of the Inter-Club 220 yards heats.

I had already made it to the 100 yards final again at 3.50 pm, only to be beaten by a couple of yards by the two Graham brothers from Wolverhampton Harriers to finish up in third place, and it was another 50 minutes till the 220 yards heats at 4.40 pm.

But I think my distraction was caused by the brilliant Inter-Counties 880 yards race at 4.35 pm. Six runners took part in this race, but only two really mattered with Mike Rawson (Warwick) and Mick Farrell (Stafford) in turn taking the lead round the 2½ lap half mile track. They had all the crowd on their feet with excitement and as the finishing line came into view it was Mike Farrell who won by the thickness of his running vest in the good time of 1 minute 58.8 seconds, in third place was Brian Eldridge (Warwick).

With such a buzz of excitement round the ground, I can only blame that race as to why I missed the call to the starting line of the 220 yards heats of which I had a great chance of finishing in the first three in the final, but as fate would have it I missed my chance.

Final won by Peter Graham with Tommy Graham second and Bill Corns (Bilston) third time 24.8 seconds.

Another missed chance

Another little incident I remember from that afternoon was the Inter-Club 880 yards race in which our club was well represented by Ken Rickhuss and Stuart Williams (Tipton Harriers) along with 8 other runners. The track was 5 laps to the mile, and that's were Stuart got all his pre-race tactics wrong in the half mile, approaching 1¾ laps around the track he made a great effort passing all the other runners including Ken to what he thought was the winner line and automatically slowed down thinking he had one the race. Only to his dismay to find he had another half a lap to go and didn't have enough reaction time when all the other competitors passed him by. Team mate Ken Rickhuss won the race in 2 minutes 1.2 seconds.

Needless to say Stuart was very upset at the silly mistake he had made in the race.

Another great run by Ken Rickuss

Ken Rickhuss went on to run in the Inter-County one mile race that day and finished up in third place beaten by a great Midlands runner Colin Kimpson (Warwick) winning time an excellent 4 minutes 19 seconds.

There was really a very high standard of running throughout the day's athletics with a great spring double for the mighty Jack Cole (Stafford and Halesowen) he won the 100 yards in 10.5 seconds and the 220 yards in 22.7 seconds.

Other placing that day by Tipton athletes and worth a mention are in the Ladies Invitation 880 yards final a third place for A Dyke (Tipton) winter of race B Edge (Bilston) time 2 minutes 29.5 seconds.

In the Ladies Invitation 1 mile walk B Wall of Tipton came third, winner R Phillips (Smethwick) time 8 minutes 35.1 seconds.

Wolverhampton won the Inter-Club event with 12 points, Tipton and Bilston on 6 points each.

This again was a great meeting to be involved with, even if I didn't win any race again.