St Bede’s AC – the early years, 1981-1989 – by Paul Turner
Being a brief history of, and personal tribute to, the club during the early years. Any errors or omissions are unintentional.
At the start of the 1981 football season certain older members of St Bede’s (RC Grammar School, Heaton) Old Boys Football Club were no longer guaranteed a game every week. Rather than not be involved in a sport they decided to join the running boom of the early 1980s. They started running on Saturday afternoons and would then meet socially at The Lithuanian Club in Manningham, after the football matches had been completed, and would still feel part of the club.
In October 1981 John McDonough and Paul Turner began training for the first Bradford Marathon in May 1982. Subsequently, two other people who were playing football regularly became keen to take part: Graham Eastell and Chris O’Brien. The first time the group ran as a team was at the Wetherby Half-Marathon on 3 May 1982. Paul Turner, John McDonough, David Narey and Chris O’Brien won the prize for first team.
Foundation and first AGM:
St Bede’s Athletic Club was officially founded on 17 August 1982 when the club became affiliated to the English AAA (Amateur Athletic Association).
The Old Boys Football Club kindly gave the Athletic Club a start-up loan of £50 which was to be paid back in one year, but it never foreclosed on this debt. Subs at that time were £2 per year.
The club’s first AGM took place on 8 June 1983 at the Lithuanian Club in Manningham. Present at this meeting were John McDonough, Paul Turner, David Lightowler, Dick Zurek, Paul Broome, Chris O’Brien, Pauline Turner, Graham Eastell, David Narey, Tony Stockdale, Alan Boland and Dick Bentley. The elected officers were David Lightowler (President), Paul Broome (Chairman), Pauline Turner (Secretary), Paul Turner (Treasurer) and Graham Eastell (Club Captain).
Graham Eastell and Alan Boland proved to be key members of this club. Graham introduced Alan to the club and over the years they have given exceptional support, both in their athletic ability and the many tasks they have fulfilled for the club.
Period from 1983 to 1985:
In the early years the club flourished and membership grew steadily. Other runners in the period include Peter Bairstow, Dick Zurek, Paul Broome, Dave Narey, Barry Conroy, Bill Spence and Tony Stockdale. Paul Turner met Kevin and Dennis Flaherty at the Bradford to Leeds Mileta 10-miler in 1983 and they both joined the club on 31 August 1983. Peter Bairstow was the first club runner to break three hours in the marathon at Rotherham in 1983. Steve Hornby joined the club in 1984 and proved a good half-marathon and 10k runner, completing half-marathons in about 70 minutes.
In 1984 the first female runner, Lesley Baber, joined the club. She took her athletics seriously and passed her level-one coaching exams.
The 1985 season was the first where the club affiliated to the Yorkshire Cross-Country Association. St Bede’s competed in the Halifax League, the Bradford League and also the West Yorkshire Cross-Country League. The cross-country season culminated in the National Cross-Country Championships at Milton Keynes, where Steve Hornby, Kevin Flaherty and Paul Turner competed.
On 11 January 1985 the club held its inaugural annual club dinner, at The Rock and Heifer in Thornton. Dennis Flaherty was presented the prize as ‘Clubman of the Year’, and Steve Hornby ‘Most Improved Athlete’.
On 17 July 1985 St Bede’s organised an Inter-Club 10k road race with Keighley Road Runners, using Keighley’s course at Haworth. St Bede’s were represented by Alan Boland, Steve Hornby, P. Thackray, Peter Bairstow, R. Murgatroyd, Paul Turner, D. Brown, Tony Stockdale, Dennis Bather, A. Wallbank and Billy Whittingham. This became an annual fixture.
The highlight of the social season was the club trip to the Paris 20k road race on 13 October 1985, organised by Kevin Flaherty. The club also organised a run and picnic in the Dales at Burnsall.
Alan Boland was Club Captain in 1985 and Graham Eastell Cross-Country Captain.
Period from 1986 to 1987:
The club was continuing to prosper, though concern was expressed about the lack of female members. Public liability insurance was an issue that was being discussed, but was resolved when the AAA confirmed that they provided automatic cover up to £1m for affiliated clubs.
The annual road-race in 1986 with Keighley RR took place at St Bede’s on 25 June 1986. St Bede’s were victorious, 418 points to 407. Since those early days Keighley (after merging with the Craven fell running club) have progressed to become a leading Yorkshire club.
During the autumn of 1986 the club was approached by the secretary of Ilkley Harriers about a possible inter-club competition among the smaller clubs in the area: Ilkley Harriers, Horsforth Harriers, Queensbury, Keighley RR and St Bede’s.
The inter-club race with Keighley drew out 23 runners from St Bede’s, while 18 runners in winter club races is indicative of the competitive strength at this time. Several runners continued to improve, notably Graham Eastell, Steve Hornby, Michael Hersi and Martin Firth. At this time, another woman joined the club (at last), Louise Dunn.
In the 1987 season, Keighley won the annual inter-club race on 22 July, but St Bede’s had more runners out than Keighley, on the ‘mob-match’ system.
On 2 September 1987 St Bede’s held a ‘round-the-school relay’ with Baildon Runners, and there was a return fixture at Roberts Park, Saltaire. For the first time, on 13 December 1987 the club entered the Calderdale Way fell relay, an excellent event over six legs with runners competing in pairs.
At this point two brothers had recently joined the club. Dave Verity had become a member in 1986. He was a good club-runner and Paul Turner coached him for the London Marathon where he comfortably bettered three hours. Dave was a staunch club member, but arguably his best deed was to introduce his brother, Jack, a notable county athlete, who over the ensuing years proved a staunch club member, partly by his athletic example but also the quiet and reliable way he helped in the administration of the club.
On the cross-country scene, Jack Verity strengthened the club for the West Yorkshire CC league, but more runners were required to be competitive. It is worth mentioning that nine boys from St Bede’s Grammar School turned out in the last fixture of the WYCC season at Honley (near Holmfirth).
Chris Upton won the Club Handicap and Alan Boland was voted ‘Clubman of the Year’ for 1987.
Period from 1988 to 1989:
At this period, the club had runners who were performing well on the road or the country included Jack Verity, Steve Hornby, Graham Eastell and Martin Firth.
For the first time in the club’s history, the club organised a training camp, at Torpenhow in the northern Lakes, near Keswick. Those taking part were Jack Firth, Martin Firth, Kevin Flaherty, Graham Eastell, Alan Boland and Paul Turner.
Those who attended the 1988 AGM were Paul Turner, Jack Verity, Dave Verity, Mike Moss, Chris Upton, Billy Whittingham, Mick Moriarty, Lesley Baber, Alan Boland, Graham Eastell, Louise Dunn, Wendy Flaherty, Helen Flaherty, Dennis Bather, Tony Priestley, Martin Firth, Tom Keating, Alan Wood and Jack Firth.
At this point, six years into the club’s life, St Bede’s welcomed a member who influenced the club probably more than any other during its later years, namely Mike Moss. Mike started running with the club in 1988. During one evening training run he let it be known that he was interested in becoming club secretary, which proved to be a great appointment. Mike took over this role at the AGM in January 1989, since when he has proved to be a fantastic servant to St Bede’s.
Into the 90s:
Since that point many more have become involved with the club and took the club strongly forward in the 90s. Paul Turner notes the following with affection: Doris and Keith Pratchett, Roy and Jackie Wilks, Neil and Anne Lloyd, Mick Long, Mick Jones, Dave Armstrong, Carole Raistrick, Rita Jordan, Mike Mahoney, Colin Huntley, Martin and Helen Love, Hilary Waite and, from the early years, Tony and Pat Priestley. Not only these, but the club pays tribute to the unstinting contributions of Pauline Turner, Pat Boland, Michelle Eastell and others who have helped with catering, marshalling and various other duties after races and social events.
A new home
In the early 2000's (exact date not noted - probably 2001) the club switched its headquarters from the St. Bede's school in Heaton to the Esholt Sports club. Unfortunately with this move we lost 2 of our dedicated members Jack and Martin Firth who decided to switch their membership to Queensbury running club.
The Airedale Athletics Partnership
The Idea of a Partnership between Athletics and Endurance Sports Clubs - During 2006, St Bede’s AC had undergone a strategic review and had concluded that the minimum viability for a successful club, which could sustain teams in all athletics disciplines, would require over 200 members. From a base of 60 members in 2005 it appeared unlikely that such a number could be achieved within the required timescale. The club expected a boom in interest in running associated with the 2012 Olympics, but it would be unlikely to be able to benefit fully under its own efforts alone. Having studied a number of collaborative models available abroad (in northern Europe and in the Commonwealth) St Bede’s agreed a strategy of seeking a partnership with athletics and other endurance sports clubs in the vicinity. The concept of a partnership with clubs retaining their individual identity, but maximising collaborative possibilities, was intended to get away from a grand merger of all local clubs into a putative City of Bradford AC, an idea that had been mooted previously, but had never taken root.
At the same time, Bradford Airedale AC had hit a low point, with a minimum of athletes and volunteers, and was considering closing down at its AGM in September 2006. This was averted by the prospect of a partnership with other clubs, whereby Bradford Airedale would have a clear role promoting track-and-field athletics from its Horsfall home, developing youth teams, and catering for the sport in south Bradford.
Agreement and Constitution, March 2007, between Founding Partners - The two clubs, Bradford Airedale and St Bede’s, worked together to produce a partnership agreement and constitution. The outline was presented to other clubs in the Bradford area. At this stage, Eccleshill Road Runners expressed a possible interest, whereas Bingley and Ilkley Harriers both considered that the proposal had little benefit to them, while Idle AC considered the collaborative concept fundamentally flawed.
A Founding Agreement and Constitution was agreed between Bradford Airedale and St Bede’s and signed on 1 March 2007 by Chris Hainsworth (chairman of BAAC) and Mike Moss (secretary of St Bede’s).
The Partnership took the formal name of the Airedale Athletics Partnership.
Eccleshill Road Runners Join the Partnership - At their AGM on 6 September 2007, Eccleshill Road Runners, agreed to become the first new partner and signed the partnership agreement on 1 December 2007.
Since that date, Skyrac, Baildon Runners and Queensbury have joined the partnership and composite teams have competed in a number of relays including the Northern 6 stage road relays and finished 2nd and 3rd in the 2010 and 2011 Leeds Country Way relay.
January 2011 - A new beginning
At the AGM of St. Bede's A.C. in November 2010 it was agreed to rename the club, after a democratic vote it was agreed that the new name would be Saltaire Striders from the 1st January 2011. The reasons behind this were that it was felt by some that the name St. Bede's might evoke religious connotations and put some people off joining and as we had moved away from our base at St. Bede's school in Heaton many years ago we no longer had any connections with the school. It was also felt that a new name linked to a location might attract new members looking for a running club by area.
In February 2011 14 members attended a Run in England leaders training course with a view to starting up new training sessions to try and attract new members.
In March 2011 the mens team of Saltaire Striders won the Peco League 1 title and were promoted to the Premier league for the 2011/2012 season.
In April 2011 new training sessions were launched on Monday evenings from outside the Old Tramshed at Saltaire roundabout, on Thursday evenings from Saltaire sports complex at the bottom of Victoria Road and on Saturday mornings from the park gates at Northcliffe Park.
In March 2012 the ladies team were promoted to the Premier league of the Peco league for the 2012/2013 season.
In 2012 the club membership reached the impressive figure of over 100 paid up members and training sessions went from strength to strength. Tuesday night sessions transferred from Esholt to Nuffield starting in October. Simon Pass a relative newcomer won his first open race at the Kirstall Abbey trail race and went on to win the first of the 2012/13 seasons Peco league races.