Great 'heathens

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Last updated 20 October 2002

PERSONALITY LINKS - GREAT 'HEATHENS

H J DYBALL

 H J Dyball joined in 1912. He was a capable sprinter who made a popular Track Captain, but it was as Club Secretary from 1922 to 1928 that he had the most profound influence by building up the membership after the 1914-1918 First World War and laying the foundations for future successes.

He was a natural diplomat with a remarkable gift for establishing relations with outside bodies, such as schools, business houses and sports clubs in encouraging them to send along new members. In this way and by the introduction of new fixtures, a membership of fewer than 500 in 1922 had reached 657 in 1928.

The Club, to his extraordinary talents and energy in its service, owes an enormous debt.

RHT

 

NORMAN W PAGE

Any member of the Track & Field team of the 50’s and 60’s will remember Norman Page as the iron fist in the velvet glove. Many of us turned out to perform in our own specialties to find that Norman could talk you into just one triple jump, one hammer throw, or run for a point in the 440 yards hurdles or the 2 miles walk. As a result one always tried that little bit harder and sometimes found a new event.

His was Team Captaincy at its very best. In addition to winning many major Trophies for the Club’ he handed “his” Team over, on his retirement, as one of the founder qualifying teams in the newly formed National League in 1969.

A true ‘Heathen!

REDT

 

ALAN BRENT

Arguably Past President Alan Brent is the greatest living ‘Heathen. His contribution to Athletics and Blackheath Harriers has been immense. His Jubilee Medal and Presidency of the ECCU are among the apt recognitions his contributions have received.

A top class competitor, he won medals at the Southern and National Cross-Country Championships. He was at 50 consecutive Nationals as competitor, official and President, but ironically was absent when Blackheath, for the first time in its history, won its two senior team titles.

His measured and experienced contributions to the many committees he has served on are widely admired. His continued energy at the many athletics meetings he officiates at would be respected for a man half his age. He still swims regularly and competed in the Maryon Wilson swimming race just two days after his 80th birthday.

One cannot write about Alan without mentioning the ever-present Brenda, whose own support of Alan and the Club was recognized by her election as the Club’s first honorary life member and in March 2001 a Vice President.

He was the first to properly celebrate his 50 years of Club membership, and his 80th birthday was an opportunity for his many admirers and contemporaries to express their warm feelings about Alan. A teacher by profession, happily remembered by all whom he taught, Alan enjoyed being 80 and gave this advice to those who attended his 80th birthday party: “Retire early and hammer the pension fund!”

It has been a privilege and pleasure to be involved with such a great ‘Heathen.

MDM

 

SYDNEY WOODERSON, MBE

Soon after joining Blackheath Harriers, Sydney Wooderson’s outstanding talent became obvious, and under the guidance of his trainer, Albert Hill (the former Olympic 800 & 1500 metres champion), he was rising to great heights both on the Track and over the ‘Country.

Sydney’s peak achievements can best be summarized as world record holder at 880 yards and 1 mile, 5000 metres European champion and National Cross-Country champion in 1948. He had epic meetings with the Belgian Slykhuis, the Swedes Arne Anderson and Gundar Haegg and New Zealand’s Jack Lovelock, to mention a few of the greats – all meetings at which he was rarely beaten.

In no way did all this success detract from Sydney’s love for Blackheath Harriers, for whom he served as President in 1946 and Centenary President in 1969. He was deservedly awarded an MBE in the 2000 Birthday Honours List for services to Blackheath Harriers and athletics.

 Sydney was a quiet, retiring and unassuming solicitor’s clerk. A truly great Blackheath Harrier and amateur sportsman, whose very qualities endear him to all who had the privilege to know him.

VWWB

 

FREDERICK H REED

Although perhaps not literally the founder of Blackheath Harriers, Frederick Henry Reed has always been accepted as the man who more or less started the Club, and by natural right his portrait occupies a prominent position in the clubroom.

Reed was among the group of young men, living on the northern fringe of Peckham, who started Peckham AAC in 1869. The energizing force during those early days was provided by the indefatigable trio of Williamson (Chairman), Darnell and Reed as Secretary/Treasurer, a post he held for 6 years. At 6.30 am he was to be found marking out a track for the competition (held for a different event each week) early Friday morning, and then going on to compete. Similarly, in the winter he would lay the trail before competing himself, which he continued to do until 1884.

A light, well-knit man of immense energy and drive, he was to become a dominant figure in the Club for 40 years. He was much involved in the move to Blackheath and the subsequent change of name. Also he instigated the idea in 1878 of the Club badge of two entwined squares, whose origin or symbolism remains a mystery to this day.

In 1882 he became Club President, a post he was to hold for 22 years and 9 months, during which time the Club expanded to become a major influence in the development of athletics. Today he appears to us as a most enigmatic figure preserving a certain air of mystery about him; in his later years he appeared to most members as a rather remote father figure. He was an architect by profession, designing the Hotel Cecil where the Club held many functions, and was one time Warden of the Saddlers Company.

His death in 1909 was historically the end of an era going back to the Club’s beginnings. He is buried in Nunhead Cemetery, adjacent to the path along which he used to run and over-looking the country he had enjoyed in his youth. Perhaps his feelings for the Club are best summed up by his reply to the presentation made to him at the Annual Dinner in 1905, when he said that Blackheath Harriers were his only child, and he could not therefore forget it.

PJGB

 

JACK SIMS

Jack joined the Club in 1946, and although not a great runner, he was always able and willing to turn out when required. It was soon clear after his election that Jack’s talents lay in administration.

 A chartered accountant, Jack became Entertainment Secretary in 1951, and despite the waning of the “Bohemian Concerts” at that time, he arranged a full programme of other parties, dances and concerts. He was also a keen rower and a member of the Blackheath rowing crew for a number of years.

He became General Secretary of the Club in 1954 and remained in that post until his election as President in 1960. As Director & Secretary of BHHQ Ltd, his input in the development of 56 Bourne Way was considerable.

Blackheath could ill afford the loss of Jack, whose sudden death whilst on holiday in the Himalayas in 1974 – a dedicated administrator, fund raiser and holder of widespread Club offices. His generous bequest, wisely specified, has since been perpetuated in his memory.

He was a gentle giant of a man, a wonderful companion and a friend of all. Through his efforts, the huge standing of Blackheath Harriers remains to this day.

KJJ

 

VICTOR W W BEARDON

Born 1909 in London, Victor’s family moved to Dartford, where he attended Dartford Grammar School, representing the school at rugby and athletics. He worked with Metropolitan Gas Company and served in Auxiliary Fire Service 1939-45.

Victor joined Blackheath Harriers in May 1927. He was a County class sprinter, representing Kent and was a member of the Blackheath relay teams, which were successful in the mid-1930’s.

A meticulous administrator, he held numerous posts. Track Vice Captain 1930, Handicapper 1934-46, Hon Secretary 1946-53 and President in 1958. His last competitive performance was in the Maryon-Wilson swimming race, when 80 years old!

In the 1950’s he was Kent Hon Secretary and a top-ranked Starter, graduating to a Field Judge in 1980. He was listed in the Kent County A List of Loyal Members and was always  a regular and respected supporter of athletics and in particular Blackheath Harriers.

AJB

W.R.J. CLARKE

Joined the club in 1912 and was an outstanding example for the work he put into the Club and Athletics. After service in the R.N.V.R during the first world war, and your move to Hayes Headquarters, he became a member of that notorious body of ‘Trail Layers’ ( What would they say today, scattering litter all over Hayes Common indeed).

His services as Secretary of the wine committee for 18 years from 1930 to 1948 will be remembered by the elder members for the efficient manner in which he conducted his duties - particularly during the difficult times of the second world war. This was much appreciated by serving members who were able to visit the club, which was likened to the Windmill Theatre in that the club never closed! Somehow, meals were produced. For example, the ‘sausage and mash’ suppers were enjoyed by members on Saturday evenings until the food situation improved.

Nobby as he was affectionately known, also served as a director on the board of B.H.H.Q and was chairman of the Kent County AAA. He was a much sought after referee for many international events where his acute knowledge of the rules enabled him to dispense his duties with firmness, fairness and impartiality.

He became President of the club in 1948/1949, when his duties precluded him from leading the club cry, the memory of which will be preserved.

In later years his visits to Hayes lessened through ill health. Nobby was the last of a trio of Past Presidents from West Wickham who had served the club conscientiously for many years and to whom the club meant so much.

His death war reported In June 1980.

JPC

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