Shortly after the 1st World War a group of Worthing based members of the Brighton & County Athletic Club began meeting at St.Pauls Church youth club for their weekly training, and by 1921 membership was sufficient to form a Worthing branch of the club. A meeting was held at 42 Richmond Road, Worthing on the 18th November, 1921, and James Grevatt was elected Chairman with Les Hartland Secretary.
One of the first priorities was to raise funds, a Christmas dance and raffle brought in almost £20 which went towards the hire of the backroom at The Cricketers public house from Mrs Medlock, the licensee. This would become cross-country HQ, and a loan of 36 shillings was paid from member L Hogbin to make up the shortfall for the first quarters hire.
The Chairman presented two cups, the Grevatt Cup for a 5 mile cross-country handicap, and the Grevatt Challenge Cup for a 7m cross-country handicap. On 14th January 13 members turned out for the first Grevatt Cup, won by Harold Bone, a long time supporter of our 100 club. Harold was also the first winner of the Challenge Cup, in 1923. Both cups survive, with the Grevatt Challenge Cup competed for annually over the original downland course.
By 1927 the Worthing branch of Brighton & County AC had grown to 36 members and at the 7th AGM held at Worthing Sports Ground on 29th April 1927, under the Chairmanship of James Grevatt, a long and serious discussion took place. This discussion focused on the desirability of dissolving the existing branch of Brighton & County Athletics Club and forming a Worthing Harriers Athletics Club. On the proposition of A L Jones, seconded by E J Hills, this was carried by 19 votes to 2, with 2 abstentions.
The club welcomed Edgar Geal as a new member. Edgar at the age of 36, won the 1927 Sussex County AAA marathon, from Preston Park to Worthing and back, in a time of 3:03hrs. Edgar had achieved fame a few years earlier by finishing 4th against international competition in the Poly Marathon having cycled to London to compete, returning by bike the same day!
In May 1934 track activities – such as they were – transferred to the Woodside Road field of Worthing Football Club, hired for 4 guineas for the season. Here Dick Hughes, faithful Secretary, regularly marked out the track.
In 1936 discussions commenced with the borough for a permanent home with proper facilities. Notes from the recorded minutes of the time show continued representations to use the Rotary Ground; with George Hogflesh, a local AAA official, pressing the council for a decision.
As a result of these continued requests in April 1939 the council agreed to the use of the Rotary Ground, with field events in the Hill Barn Ground. A high profile inter-counties track match was hosted in July 1939 at which Sidney Wooderson competed (Sidney, a Blackheath Harrier was one of premier international runners of the day, and the County awarded him a gold medal as a memento of the meeting).
Subsequently in 1939 the club appointed a sub committee to liaise with Excelsior Cycling Club to press the council for a running and cycling track on the new West Park Estate. The 2nd World War prevented any immediate action on these plans.
more to follow…