Druridge Bay and Tanfield are welcomed to the winter round of fixtures

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North Eastern Harrier League officials have come forward with the new winter fixture list, amid difficulties in seeking venues that can cater for the hundreds of runners and spectators that attend the events now.

With well over 1,000 athletes competing in each of the six fixtures, one of the main considerations now in choosing new venues, is car parking facilities.

The dramatic surge in numbers shows that cross country running is in a healthy position, but this has brought added headaches to organizers in their search for new venues.

Druridge Bay and Tanfield are new additions to the fixture list following the loss of Beadwell Park, Jarrow and Wallington Hall in Northumberland.

Tanfield has hosted a previous event, a couple of years ago, and the farmland course was a real test for the cross country runner that proved very popular.

Druridge Bay will make its debut for a cross country race, but other athletics events have been held there before.

Tanfield will get the season underway on Saturday, September 26, then comes the Sherman Cup and Davison Shield on October 10 at Temple Park, South Shields.

Druridge Bay is on November 28, Newcastle’s Town Moor hosts the event on January 9 and 10, Anwick is on March 5, and Wrekenton closes the season on March 19. All dates set are provisional.

Other cross country dates are North Eastern Cross Country Championships, Sedgefield, Saturday December 12, the Northern Championships is at Blackburn on January 30, and the National Championships is on February 27, at Donnington Park.

At the annual meeting of the North Eastern Harrier League at Jesmond, Newcastle, there were some changes to the league structure.

There will now be three divisions for the women instead of just two.

Four runners will count for a team after a proposal for six counters was defeated.

With extra toilets and added first aid cvoverage, individual registrations have had to rise to £2 in advance. Fees on the day will be £3. Club pay £50 for registration.

A picture of the Bede Grammar School all-conquering athletics team from 1958 is shown with old boy Ernie Johnson (third from the left second row with their arms folded) reminiscing on past achievements.

He said: “I was selected to run for the county a number of times and competed in the All England Schools at Houghton in 1958.

“I remember that when I ran for the Harriers’ in 1958/59 we had a super relay team which included northern 220 yards champion Barry Stewart and we won a number of races, including one at the inaugural floodlit meeting at Gateshead Stadium.”

Bede hosted the town school sports on their six laps to the mile grass track with a slight climb going into the final straight.

It was here that many an athlete tasted athletics for the first time and went on to greater achievements.

Also in the picture, third from the left front row is Bede’s star cross country runner, Larry Pratt, who clocked 2.20.24 in the London marathon in 1983.

The teacher on the left is Bill Ellis, the 1958 North Eastern javelin champion.

Barry Allinson, a top schoolboy cross country runner, is pictured fourth from the right in the third row.

The penultimate North Eastern Grand Prix will take place at Monkton tonight (7.00).

There are graded races for the 100m, 200m and 1,500m.

The leaders in the Sunderland Harriers’ track and field grand prix are Under-11/13 – 1 Lucy Gardener 34 pts, 2 Lydia Stoker 32, 3 Freya Doran 24. Under-15/17 – 1 Molly Gardener 70, 2 Declan Murray 66, 3 Reece Carroll 50. Under-20/Senior – 1 Jess Fox 52, 2 Michael Wilson 50, 3 Mark Smith 46.