HISTORY OF THE NORTH MIDLANDS CROSS COUNTRY LEAGUE

The North Midlands Cross-Country League was founded in 1946.

After some discussions and prompting by George .G.White of Leicester, a meeting was convened for the purpose of forming a cross county league. This was held at the Leicester College of Art and Technology at 7.45pm. on the 28th. June,1946 , with representatives present from Notts AC., Hinckley Tech Coll .AC., Leicester Harriers,Leicester Coll. of A&T. AC, and Leicester AAA.

After a short discussion it was unanimously agreed that a league be formed.

The first two rules were then agreed.

  • The Association shall be called ‘The North Midlands Cross Country League’, and that the object of the League shall be the promotion of cross-country running.
  • Membership of the League shall be open to all athletic clubs in the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and that all clubs shall pay an annual subscription.
  • Other rules which were adopted ( which are shown on other pages), are still used today, which is a tribute to the founding fathers.

    Rule 2 has since been amended to include clubs from adjoining counties. The area now covered by the League, is east of a line drawn roughly through Chesterfield,

    Derby, Leicester and Daventry extending eastwards to the coast and includes Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

    A list of the League clubs is shown in another section.

    Over the years League races have been held ,not only in the main Derby, Notts and Leics. area but also at Grimsby, Lincoln,Peterborough, Corby and Market harborough. Which illustrates that the stated object of the league ‘to promote cross-country running’has been fulfilled.

    The League has helped to raise standards in both athletic performance and race organisation. Many of our club runners have gone on to be selected for Regional,National, ECCU, Commonwealth and Olympic teams.

    Some notable runners have been associated with the League. Jack Buckner ran at all age levels in the league and went on to be European 5000m. Champion.  David Moorcroft competed in the League for a period and later became World Record Holder at 5000m.

    During the period of conscription many athletes serving in the Forces were able to compete in the League , notable amongst these was Gordon Pirie who is recorded as having won the 4th. League race at Wigston, Leics.,on the 28th.January 1949 beating Eddie Hardy (Derby) into second place.That season a race at Wilford .Notts.was notable for the fact that the runners were guided to the finish,in the dusk, by cycle lamps. Basil Heatley, while serving in the Forces, competed and won a number of races.

    We are pleased to have had these athletes competing in the League and thank them for helping to raise the standards.

    Club teams have also been successful in winning major honours at both regional and National levels.

    The experience gained in organising league races has led to league clubs being able to promote Regional ,National and CAU. Championships with great success in Leicester, Lincoln and Nottingham

    We are also pleased to record that 5 of our officials were honoured by being elected President of the English Cross Country Union. They were. T.Hunt (Derby) G.G.White( Leics),  K.Rickhuss (Newark), M. Robinson Notts AC and Pat Carlan Mansfield Harriers .The League has named three trophies in honour of these men recording the year of their presidency

    The League has been able to develope and expand steadily since it was founded helped by the fact that we have had only six Hon.Treasurers and two Hon.Secretarys since 1946. This stability and continuity has helped to develop a strong organisation both of race officials and administration.

    The league started with only a race for senior men,but a few races were held in1948 and 1949 for what was then a youth category, now the Under 17s. In 1950 a Youth Team race was added and the W.G Williams Trophy was presented to the League for that competition by Leicester Harriers . The situation remained this way until the early Seventies when ,by requests from some clubs, races for under 15 boys were staged. In 1976 it was agreed to extend the race programme by adding races for Under 15 boys and Under 13 boys.

    The running boom of the early Eighties brought more members into the clubs, especially women and girls. So again, some races were held to test the demand for further expansion. In 1982 competition was officially introduced by adding two more races to the programme, a women’s race ,which incorporated Senior, Veteran, Junior andU17s women was added and also a race for Under 15 Girls. Then, four years later in 1986, we added a race for Under 13 Girls and finally a Veteran Men’s team competition was included.

    In the last two years we have staged some short fun runs for boys and girls under 11yrs.

    So currently we are providing sport for under 11s to over 60s. which is far beyond the dreams of the men who met in 1946 to promote cross country running.

    We now, on League days, start the first race at 1.00pm and throughout the afternoon stage seven races covering all ages and with the help of well organised race officials and an efficient results team, complete the programme and publish all the race results for the team races and for the first 30 finishers in each race by 4.00pm.

    The League has a good record and reputation which we aim to continue.