HISTORY OF THE NORTH MIDLANDS CROSS COUNTRY LEAGUE
- The North Midlands League was founded in 1946. After some discussion and prompting by George White of Leicester, a meeting was convened for the purpose of forming a cross country league. The meeting was held at the Leicester Colleges of Art & Technology on the 28th June 1946 with representatives present from Notts AC, Hinckley Technical College AC, Leicester Harriers, Leicester Colleges of Art & Technology, and Leicester AAA.. After a short discussion it was unanimously agreed that a league be formed.
- The first two rules were then agreed:
1. 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.
2. Membership of the League shall be open to athletic clubs in the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and that all clubs shall pay a subscription.
- Other rules which were adopted (shown on the League Rules page) are still used today, and is a tribute to the founding fathers. Rule 2 has since been amended to include clubs from adjoining counties. The area now is east of a line drawn roughly through Chesterfield, Derby, Leicester and Daventry and includes part of Lincolnshire.
- Over the years league races have been held, not only in the main Derby, Nottingham and Leicester areas but also at Grimsby, Sleaford, Lincoln, Heanor, Market Harborough, Corby and Kettering which illustrates that the stated objective of the League 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, ECCA, commonwealth and olympic teams. Notable runners include Jack Buckner, who ran at all age levels in the League and went on to become European 5000 metres champion in 1986. David Moorcroft competed in the League for a period and later became world record holder at 5000 metres. Other notable athletes include Dick Milne, Nick Lees, Billy Farquharson, Matt O'Dowd and Ben Connor; and, not to forget the ladies, Gemma Steel who was a multi medallist in European cross country championships. During the period of conscription many athletes from outside the area were able to compete in the League, exceptional amongst these was Gordon Pirie who is recorded to have won the 4th league race at Wigston, Leicester on 28th January 1949, beating Eddie Hardy (Derby) into second place. That season, a race at Wilford, Nottingham was noteworthy for the fact that runners had to be guided to the finish at dusk by cycle lamps. Olympic marathon silver medallist and world record holder, Basil Heatley, whilst serving in the forces, competed and won a number of races.
- We are also pleased to record that five of our officials have been honoured by being elected President of the English Cross Country Union, now English Cross Country Association. They were T.Hunt (Derby & County AC), G.G.White (Leicester), K.Rickhuss (Newark AC), M.Robinson (Notts AC) and P.Carlan (Mansfield Harriers & AC). The League has named three trophies in honour of these men recording the years of their presidency.
- The League began with only a race for senior men. However, it has been able to develop and expand, and now includes races for ladies, junior age groups, and masters age groups. The youngest age group for U11 runners was added in the 2011 season. The masters age groups were standardised at 40+ to 65+, for both men and women, in five year ranges for the 2023 season. So, currently the League is providing sport for the under 11's to the over 60's which is far beyond the dreams of the founders in 1946. The fact that the League has had only three honorary secretaries has helped to maintain its continuity and stability. It has an outstanding record and reputation which we aim to continue.