With the decision of the race for the Blue Ribbon cross country runners, comes the beginning of the end of the paper chasing season. Varied and numerous have proved the champions we have written about, it is questionable if there has ever been such a doughty one as the dual holder of the title, H. A. Heath, of the South Loudon Harriers. He fairly flew home to victory at Redditch on Saturday.
On leaving Euston by the 9.0 a.m. train for Birmingham, it looked as if the elements were determined to treat us badly. Happily it changed for the belter after Willesden was passed, and everything was right in that line afterwards. It was, indeed, an animating scene on the platform at Euston, lit up as it was by the pink coats many hunting men and more than one fair Diana. Saloon coaches were put on for the accommodation of those journeying to Birmingham, they being occupied by the Finchley, Essex Beagles, and Walthamstow Harriers. Amongst the Finchley party were F. J. Strange, F. D. Randall, H. H. Jarrett, J. W. Thomas, Sam Jones, Joe Daffern, A. Millet, H. Gale, G. H. Allen, G. Buck. W. B. Thorpe, T. T. Chown, Fred Jenney (trainer), Monte Neck (hon. sec.), J. A. Marshall, Morris Rogers, H.W. Miles (assist. hon. sec.), D. Prosser, Stephen J. Richardson (Sporting Life) A. J. Fowden (South London Harriers), A. J. Neck. R. W. Gale (captain), C. Roberts (V.P.), W. A. Unwin, Prosser, junior, and last though by no means least, that energetic L. and N.W. Railway official, Mr. James Wright. Inside the Walthamstow Harrier saloon were: - Messrs. A. S. Turk (captain), H. Watkins, H. W. Foreman, A. G. Dabbs, Latham, F. Ernest Jones, Charles Jacobs, I. Allen secretary, T. H. Robinson, and F. H. Cubbage, team; G. W. Turk, honorary secretary; R. L. Garrard, assistant honorary secretary; F. G. Kimber, W. E. Ward, W. Boffee, W. Allen, committee; and the Essex Beagles were made up Messrs. W. P. Tyrrell, W. P. Sparks, H. F. Pickering, J. Swait, C. E. Willers, J. Kibblewhite, A. Saward, W. Saward, T. W. Meredith, G. Martin, J. Wiggs, J. Bown, A. E. Conningham, H. Leapman, V.P., G. H. Bryant, C. J. Taylor (hon. sec.), A. G. Griffin, W. Bullen and T. Bartlett. Owing to the death of his father, Johnson was unable to run.
At Watford the intelligence came to hand that Hainsworth of the Finchley, was too unwell to run. On alighting for a few minutes at Rugby we noticed on the platform the presence Mr. Holland Hibbert, one of the directors of the line we were travelling by. To use an expressive term, it looked as if W. Saward (Essex Beagles) was up a tree. The boy in black and yellow had missed the train at Euston. Hon sec. Taylor, who is always as cool as a cucumber, although evidently annoyed, did not give vent to a big, big D. It must be confessed that it was not a promising beginning. Mr. James Wright quickly cast oil on the troubled waters informing the Beagles that the missing link would be forwarded by the succeeding train. It was onward then to Birmingham, which was reached sharp to the advertised time. Here we met E. Godbold of Coventry renown, and subsequently called at the Stork Hotel, the headquarters of the South London Harriers, and met with beany welcome from both Gordon Innes, hon. sec., and Norman Jones. Of course Heath was the observed of all observers, but as usual wore his mask of iron.
The South London Harrier looked in the pink of condition and fit to run for a kingdom. With but little time to waste a brief call was made at the Cobden. Such soles, indeed, fine place. Then away to Redditch; so crowded proved the train, it was almost impossible obtain a seat. "Place aux dames.'' course. One little bit of comfort remained for us though. Guard Copley - good old guard found room in the van. However, all's well that ends well, and Redditch was fetched at last. A cheery hallo, and we found ourselves shaking hands with one of the most marvellous mile runners that England ever produced, namely, W. G. George! How well, and looked, and fit enough to even cut his wonderful record of 4 min. 12sec. Well, fancy that George will able to call that record 'mine' for many a day to come.
It was a tidy good tramp from the station to the Windsor Cricket Club Ground, and no one seemed to like their mud shoes - Charlie Souch, to wit. What a difference he found in the morning to that when he was frozen out at Ripon. However, he told us that he is now going lay down his shoe for ever, and take up the slips like his brother. We wish him every luck. Verily the far-stretching landscape, softly merging into the distant blue sky, shone like a land of goodly promise. Indeed, an ideal country for such a contest as the one at issue. Brightly shone the sun, gaily chirruped the feathered tribe, and ever anon the tinkle of the sheep bell was borne on the balmy breeze. Mr. G. H. Alexander, the energetic hon. sec., can fairly shake hands with himself over the excellency of his arrangements. Perfect harmony prevailed, and Mr. Inspector Emms, Serjeant Dunn, and the ten constables present deserve every credit for their tact and care in order to conduce to the comfort of both runners and spectators. Prior to the start a committee meeting, consisting of Messrs. W. Alexander, Oxley. A. J. Fowden. G. Alexander, Torkington, and Taylor, discussed the Strange question. The Parliament was held 'in camera.' behind a cart. It was subsequently decided that Strange should run for the Finchley.
Now for a cruise through the accommodation tents. First we sighted Fred Hughes, the well known and respected trainer of the Birchfield Harriers. Like an old pair of boots, he wears wonderfully well. So does that gay young spark Tommy Birch, only thirty-eight year's old. Very promising appeared the Worcester City County Harriers. With the pack were President Walter Holland, Hon. Sec. Walter Stockhall, F. W. Perks, W. Frances, H. King, J. Hughes, S. Stockhall, G. Hinton, G. Holloway, W. Johnson. Vice-president Hardwicke of the Salford Harriers, looked even jollier than ever, and Dr. Roby full of smiles, as of yore. The old Blackheathen, W. Howland, now of Bath, likewise mingled with the throng, and so did Charlie Paine. By the way, the South London Harriers were received on their arrival at Birmingham on Friday night by Messrs. W. Birkett, A. Smith, R. J. Moran, Captain Mabbett, and Fred Whitmore, of the Birmingham Leander S.C.
So far as the issue of the race was concerned, H. A. Heath, of the South London Harriers, remained the public fancy. How he verified the anticipations formed of him is now a matter of history. 'Twas a gallant victory. Little Moran, of the Salford Harriers, who ran a big race, finished second, and J. Kibblewhite third. This was exactly our forecast in the Sporting Life of Saturday. March 4. As a coincidence we may mention that last year, at Ockham, we, in a similar manner, placed the first three in the actual order in which they finished-Heath, first; Randall, second; Dermott, third. And then, oh what a Southern shout, my countrymen, when the news went up that Birchfield had to play second fiddle the Essex Beagles! How grandly the boys in black and yellow ran! Their combination was beyond all praise. But starter Alexander is hoisting the National Flag, so to business.
The men lined across at the top end of the field, and an excellent start was effected. Souch was first to break the line, with Davies after him, the latter being greeted with loud shouts of encouragement from his friends. At end of the first lap the order of running read South, Davis, Bacon, Crawshaw, Strange, and Kibblewhite. As usual, Heath kept on the even tenor of his way never bustling up. Second time round Davis acted pioneer, with Bacon second, Kibblewhite third, Souch fourth, Crawshaw fifth and Heath coming on. Then they streamed out into the country. What a pretty sight as the boys dashed up the hill for Brockhill Wood! Here a great crowd were assembled to cheer them on their way. At this point G. Hilton - good old Johnstone's novice was going true as steel, and as strong as a lion.
An adjournment was then made by the official timekeeper and others the Reindeer break, from which a splendid view of the country was obtained. On passing the judges at the completion of the half distance the order of running was - Davies, Kibblewhite, Watkins, Moran, Heath, Martin, Bartlett, Douglas, Hinton, Birch, Strange, Randall, Bacon, Allen, Meredith, Pearce, Bullen, Saward, A. Coad. Here W. H. Coad, who sported black gloves on his hands, retired. The leader's time was 35 min. 2 sec. In crossing the course, the assistant timekeeper, C. Davenport unlike his famous namesake tied a knot with his toes in the rope which he could not unravel; so down came Charlie. An old friend, in the person of G. A. Henson, of the Speedwell C.C., now boarded the Reindeer and passed the time of day. Davies was going fast and easy, but his gallery spurt had decidedly taken some of the steel out of him. On the other hand, Heath lathered considerably, as the pace, so far, had been somewhat of an eyeopener.