Sunderland Harriers rallying call to find Masters

Bede Grammar School athletics team from 1959-60, with Alan Archbold second from left, front row
Bede Grammar School athletics team from 1959-60, with Alan Archbold second from left, front row
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A call has gone out to leading Sunderland Harriers veterans who wish to be considered for selection for the England Masters’ team for the British and Irish Masters Cross Country International.

The race takes place in Dublin on Saturday, November 14.

The Wearsiders have a rich tradition of athletes who have gone on to gain selection for England over the years.

The Wearsiders have a rich tradition of athletes who have gone on to gain selection for England over the years and now the following have caught the selectors’ eye.

They are over-35 Kevin Jeffress, over-45s Micky Thompson and Brian Bewick, over-50 Tim Field, over-55 Paul Merrison and over-60 Peter Richardson.

Jeffress competed for England last year, finishing 11th at Nottingham, and will be looking to gain his second vest. Merrison was also at Nottingham and he came home ninth over-55.

The others are all endeavouring to gain their first vest and they need to put in some eye-catching performances, in their age groups in the coming months, to claim the honour.

Selectors will be looking out for performances in races far and wide and over the traditional distances of 5k, 10k, 10 miles and half marathon, using ranking lists to determine their final selections.

Hopeful athletes should contact England team manager Harry Matthews for further details on 01207 230677.

Alan Archbold, a former Sunderland Harrier and Houghton Harrier, has died at the age of 70.

He was the Sunderland Schools’ cross country champion in 1959 and represented Durham in the first ever English Schools’ Cross Country Championships in 1960 at Birkenhead.

In a short athletics career, he enjoyed being a top club youth runner in the North East, with his best performance winning the youths’ 880 yards in the Vaux International at Gateshead Stadium in 1961.

He clocked the outstanding time for a 16-year-old of 1min 56.2sec after winning his heat in 2.01.

His son Ian, who lives in Newton Aycliffe, said: “Thanks to my dad, I got involved in athletics and enjoyed several international honours and I will always be extremely thankful to him for that.

“He became a Labour councillor in the early to mid seventies in Sunderland. He worked at Atteys the printers in Norfolk Street for many years before working for South Tyneside Council at Boldon Community Association for 24 years before retiring in 2009.

“Unfortunately, he suffered with ill health from the age of 60 and died at home in Boldon on June 16.

“After my oldest daughter, Aimee, ran for Durham at the 2008 championships at Liverpool, I wondered if we were the first family in England to have three generations run the championships for the same county (I ran at Wigan in 1981).”

Houghton Harrier all-rounder Ben Mitchell achieved an English Schools senior boys discus standard with a throw of 40.83 in the Inter County Schools match at Gateshead on Saturday. Club-mate Jamie Reed clocked a personal best for second place in the junior boys’ 800m (2.06.36).

Sunderland Harrier Jess Fox finished second in the senior girls’ 3000m with a best of 10.58.21 and Mark Smith dipped under two minutes for the first time for second place in the senior boys’ 800m (1.58.17).

Congratulations go to Houghton Harrier Philippa Ellis, who won the female athlete of the match at the North East Grand Prix at Gateshead.

The under-13 won the long jump (3.93), shot (7.43) and was second in the 100m (13.5).

Other Houghton performances included Josh Peel winning the senior men’s javelin (41.90), while Rachel Scott was first in the senior women’s 100m (27.6), Savannah Lloyd triumphed in the under-15 long jump (4.41) and was second in the 100m (13.3).

Eva Hardie won the 1500m (5.12.3) and under-13 Henry Johnson (4.54.6) and William Bellamy (5.01.6) were first and second in the 1500m.

Sunderland Harrier Sparrow Morley won the Stan Long Mile (4:31.9) after winning the open mile (4:32) in the North East Veterans’ meeting two days previously.

Molly Gardener won the under-15 100m (13.00) at the grand prix. Sunderland’s Sophie Burnett (Birtley) was first in the junior women’s mile in 5.14.1.

The North East Masters’ track and field championships take place at Monkton on Saturday.