id740-Remembering Surrey AC

Written by Tom Pollak   

The formation of Surrey AC in 1903 is to be commemorated in Richmond Park on a nostalgic day for old SAC stars;much of the organisation has been done by Doris Dean,a former President of K&P and long-time Secretary of Surrey AC.

(This article reproduced by kind permission of Tom Pollak)

Former members and friends of the now disbanded Kingston-based Surrey Athletic Club will meet in Richmond Park next week to plant a tree to commemorate the 100-plus years since the club was founded as Malden Harriers in 1903.

The club, which was founded by the late Ted Vowles, met regularly at the Royal Oak public house in New Malden, changed its name to Surrey AC in 1907 and, the following year, one of its members, Joe Deakin, who was still running well into his 80's, won the three miles gold medal at the 1908 Olympics at London's White City,though he was in the colours of Herne Hill Harriers at the time and joined SAC later.

Surrey AC progressed to become one of the top clubs in both track and field and cross country and nurtured numerous champions and internationals over the years.

Its track headquarters were at the former Norbiton Recreation Ground now Kingsmeadow Stadium. In the 1960's, former world one mile record-holder Australian Herb Elliott, opened a new cinder track,later to become an 8-lane all-weather track in the mid-1980s.

In 1969, Surrey AC was a founder member of the British Athletics League (along with Polytechnic Harriers) but dropped out of the league in 1973.

Less than 10 years later, senior male members of the club were eager to regain national league status and in 1982 a meeting was held to disband the club to enable the male members to join rivals Belgrave Harriers. The enhanced Belgrave team won the qualifying match that year and won the British League Division Five title in 1985. The women's section of Surrey AC led by stalwart Stan Belton, himself a former cross country international, declined to have anything to do with Belgrave and linked up with the newly-formed Royal Borough of Kingston Athletic Club based at Norbiton.

Within two years Kingstonian Football Club had sold their Richmond Road ground and moved to their new ground at Kingsmeadow Stadium where, as part of the deal,they met the cost of the new athletics facility.

In 1985 Polytechnic Harriers, formerly based at Polytechnic Stadium, Chiswick, where the track had been allowed to decay, merged with the Kingston club to former Kingston AC and Polytechnic Harriers.

The formal planting of an oak sapling will take place at 2pm on Monday,June 9th on part of Surrey AC's old cross country course next to the Isabella Plantation. Deakin's grandson, Joe Cleverley will be there with Joe's 1908 Olympic gold medal, as well as Evanne Woodley, the grand-daughter of the club's founder along with past president and life member Doris Dean, ex Surrey AC members Eric and Christine Thompson, Maurice Joyce and John Snowden, and former Surrey AC hurdler David and Prue Wright, who have paid for the tree, will also be present.(Sadly,Evanne Woodley was not well enough to attend).

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