England Athletics Chief Executive Chris Jones headed to Yorkshire club Spenborough & District AC to find out more about their activities. The club trains at Princess Mary Athletics Stadium in Cleckheaton. On arrival Chris was met by the club chair Jason Newell who outlined the set-up of the club and the different training groups who would be in action that evening.
Also visiting the club were the England Athletics Club Support Manager Emma Hurst and Kirklees Assistant Operation Manager Amy Andrews. Amy and Emma joined Chris and Jason for a walk around the track prior to the club training sessions starting. Amy referenced her team’s role in the maintenance of the track and spoke highly of the club’s positive contribution to looking after the track. The club lease the track from Kirklees Council for club training nights as well as competitions. Both Jason and Amy spoke about improvement to the track including pole vault, throws and the stand.
As the young athletes were arriving at the membership desk to sign in with the long-standing volunteer Marjorie Bain, Chris was able to speak to Club Secretary Frank Reddington, Roy Bain, Ian Horsley, Rob Chaplin (Memberships), Barbara Croughan (volunteer).
Once the training session was in full swing, Chris was able to observe U14 juniors, followed by upper juniors (14+), seniors and masters. Whilst all the action was taking place at the track, the road running section of the club (who cater for all abilities) was heading out for their training run. Chris had the opportunity to talking to young athlete Imogen Atkinson who said her role was model was Jessica Ennis-Hill and loved everything about athletics as she got to run, jump and throw.
Spenborough & District AC is known as “A Club for all” with the aim of promoting and encouraging the sport of athletics. The club provides coaching for members, organises competitions and events, and encourages Club representation in various England Athletics and UK Athletics Leagues and Championships. The club motto is 'train to compete' and encourage all members to attend Club nights to train to compete in leagues and other competitions, representing the Club in red and gold.
Club Chair Jason Newell commented, “One of the things I am most proud of is the feedback we always get when we host events: about the friendly welcome, value for money and great organisation at Spenborough. Throughout the year we host YDL and Senior Track fixtures, Cross Country Leagues, regional vets grand prix races and our own road races including our 10k and 20 mile races. We have a large percentage of young athletes who are well catered for by the coaching team, a thriving road running group including regular coach to 5k programmes and numerous masters athletes competing locally, nationally and internationally. Our team of volunteers contribute in all aspects of athletics locally including local schools' events as well as regional and national competitions. We welcome diversity and inclusivity and are working with local groups to raise awareness of opportunities within all cultures and of course of all ages.”
The club competes in West Yorkshire Track and Field League, North of England, Youth Development Leagues, West Yorkshire Cross Country League and Northern and Yorkshire Veterans Athletics. Athletes are also encouraged to take part in Yorkshire and other County AA Championships, North England Championships and AAA Championships.
Spenborough & District AC has seen many of their members achieve success in these events over the years;
- Molly Waring (6th English Schools' AA 400mH U20 aged 17),
- Joe Sagar (Winner Bradford 10k, other local 10ks and 30th place in the great North Run),
- Glenn Aspindle (20 year old decathlete, Winner of the West Yorkshire Track and Field League)
- Jason Newell (20th World Masters Championships M45 decathlon)
- Geoff Render (13th World Masters M40 shot)
For over forty years the club have organised the Spen 20, a twenty-mile road race noted for its arduous lap course. The road running members are encouraged to participate in both local races and those farther afield.
Chris commented; “Yet again I was fortunate to be able to witness the great work and camaraderie on show at one of our member clubs. As we all know, our great sport is founded on the efforts of selfless volunteers giving their time to help others to enjoy their experience in this wonderful sport whatever their aspirations maybe. Such spirit was on full show at Spenborough & District Athletics Club when I visited them on a Thursday training night. It was great to hear from Jason, and members of the club, the ambitious future plans that are in place for this community club who put great emphasis in providing opportunities for all."
He continued, "What was also reassuring was the strong partnership that the club has with the Track Operator Active Kirklees who manage the track facility but who also recognise the huge contribution that the club makes to both sporting and wider agendas in the community.”