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News > Archives > Athletics: a history of sprinting at Worksop College

Athletics: a history of sprinting at Worksop College

Since 1895, Worksop has produced its fair share of speedsters and even a AAA junior champion.
12 Jul 2020
Written by Simon Langley
East Field sprinting aggression 1973.
East Field sprinting aggression 1973.

The first Athletic Sports was held on the South Field in the Lent Term of 1896, and it remained as a Lent Term activity until 1947, when bad weather forced it into the Summer Term, where it has remained ever since. Athletics at Worksop in the early years must have been more like cross country, rather than track running. The Cuthbertian uses such phrases as “a rough and uneven course” and “the running was not everywhere as smooth as it might have been”, and so it is not surprising that running times were sometimes rather slow. By 1900 the meeting was held on North Field, apart from the hundred yards, since the new centre offered no suitably level stretch of this length. In 1902 the new hundred yard track, parallel to the drive, was hailed as “an excellent and welcome discovery”. In 1956, the Prep School having moved to Ranby House, therefore vacated its games field, thus East Field became the present permanent track, with the result that cricket and athletics ceased to alternate with each other.

1896 - 1969 - 100 yards

The 100 yards dash took place at the very first College Sports in 1896, all the way to 1969 when Worksop went metric (or almost metric; it took a good few years for yards, feet and inches to vanish entirely). Here's how that first event went:

Saturday April 11th 1896
100 Yards (over 14). Chapman 1, Palmer 2, Longbotham 3. Time: 11 1/5th secs. A good wind down the hill, and a longer stride enabled Chapman to win by a yard.

If one uses the standard conversion from 100y to 100m (adding 0.9 seconds to the former) this results in a winning time of 12.1s so not too shabby for 1896.

The record continued to improve steadily until 1930 when W.P. Heath (Pelham 1925-1931) took it down to 10.2 (11.1) when winning the 100y at the England Public Schools Games and the inaugural AAA Junior Championships. It's a bit of an understatement to state that Heath was a very good all-round sportsman. He played for the England Public Schools XV at rugby and later for Harlequins, who were at the time the best team in England. He also held the College cricket ball record (105 yards) - the mind boggles!

Heath's record was equalled more than once in the 1930s, when Worksop produced some of the best schoolboy athletes in Great Britain at the time. Then in 1947, P.S. Southcott (Mountgarret 1943-1947) in a match against RAF Cranwell achieved something remarkable, 10.0 or evens as it was then known - equating to 10.9 for the modern day 100m.

School Vs RAF College, Cranwell.
"This was probably the highlight of the athletic season. Here the School had the opportunity of competing under the first-class conditions of the Stadium Cranwell. The team were infected with the true atmosphere of athletics and in rising to the occasion no fewer than three school records were broken and one equalled. Congratulations P.S. Southcoft on realising every sprinter’s ambition by doing ‘evens’ for the 100 yards and to P. C. A. Garbutt and R. Keay for breaking their own record for the third time this season, also to the team as a whole for a very fine performance".

Unsurprisingly, Southcott's imperial record was never bettered, however... M.L. Teale (Mountgarret 1944-1949) clocked 10.0 at an inter-counties event at Coalville in 1949 but the track was deemed to be downhill.  D.R.V. Warrington (Mountgarret 1953-1956) a fantastic young sprinter from the 1950s recorded 9.9 at the Nottinghamshire Youth Champs in 1956 but his performance was judged to be wind-aided and therefore not eligible for record purposes. Finally, R.E. Randle (Talbot 1958-1963) came close in 1963 with 10.1, but by the time of the implementation of metric measures, Southcott's record had survived all-comers.

1970-present - 100 metres

In 1973, R.T.N Brearley (Portland 1968-1973) clocked 10.9 for the 100m which was given as an equal record to Southcott's 10.0 from 1947 (which had been "Des Hacketted" to 10.9). Brearley was clearly some talent, as he won all 100m events he entered in 1973, but missed the England Schools Champs due to CCF commitments.

The 1980s saw another quality era of athletics at Worksop and J.D. Bray (Talbot 1982-1986) shaved two-hundredths off Brearley's record with 10.88 en route to winning the England Public Schools event.

Then to 1993 and the Dorothy Hyman Track in Cudworth, Yorkshire... In what can only be described as Worksop College's most astounding sprint race of all-time, not only did two Worksop College athletes go sub 11 in the same race, two Worksop College athletes went sub 10.8! Even more amazing is that S.D. Heggie (Portland 1989-1994) was still in the lower sixth at the time. His winning time of 10.6 remains as a record and will take some beating. In second place that day was A.B. Simpson (Talbot 1988-1993) - how often does 10.7 get you second place in a schools sprint race?!

Since the mid-1990s, Worksop has had a bit of a dry spell sprinting-wise. However there have been glimmers of hope, with H. Haith (Pelham 2009-2014) breaking Heggie's under 17 100m record of 11.2 with 11.12 in 2012.

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