Throwback Thursday (20/08/2015)

Life member Peter "Geno" Griffiths and father of current rising star Gareth Griffiths recently sent us in the following photograph from his archives.

Tipton - Vauxhall Relay Luton Pete Geno Griffiths  Others Edited

The image contains four Tipton Harriers receiving their prizes and, possibly, one of the race sponsors. From left to right they are - Mike Kearns, Unknown Official, Pete "Geno" Griffiths, Andy Holden and Bryan Cole.

The race in question is understood possibly to have been the first cross country race ever shown live on British television. According to Geno it was a relay event staged in Luton.

If our records are correct then it was from 1976 (25/09/1976) when Tipton Harriers won the Vauxhall Motors XC Relay staged at People Park, Luton. They won in a time of 55m 24s from Airedale & Spen Valley (2nd, 55m 40s) and Cambridge & Coleridge (3rd, 55m 40s).

According to the AW (Athletics Weekly) report of the time the course was "a tough fell-like course" designed by Mike Beevor. Mike Kearns was 3rd fastest individual on the day and Andy Holden 4th fastest.

According to the Radio Times' Genome Project the race was shown as part of the Saturday afternoon's Grandstand sports programme. It was advertised in the Radio Times for that week as follows:-

"International Cross Country Relay - Twenty teams, including Cross Country Champions Gateshead Harriers, compete over a gruelling 1,500-metres course in the Vauxhall Motors International relay. Among those taking part are GB internationals Tony Simmons , Ian Thompson , Bernie Ford and David Black. Organised by Luton United AC in association with Luton Recreation Services Department. Commentators RON PICKERING and HARRY WILSON"