The Mandale 40 reunion 21.11.15
Was held last night with over 65 former athletes and coaches attending. There was a vast collection of photos, Mandale Mags, trophies and other memorabilia on display. The event was organised by the 2 founder members of the club, Roy Bradley and Mike Starford with some help from others and an excellent night was had by all. Thanks guys! Alan Thompson, a former parent and coach was presented with the very first copy of the history of the Early Years of Mandale. His wife Barbara had been the original instigator of this many years ago and Mike had continued the good work to produce the manuscript. There was an informal athletic related quiz, cutting of the cake and a very sociable evening to follow.
Many thanks to Roy and Mike.
The early days of Mandale A.C.
• Queen Elizabeth had been on the throne for 23 years
• Harold Wilson was Prime Minister
• Margaret Thatcher was Leader of the Opposition
• The first ever referendum was held to stay in the E.E.C.
• Graham Hill, father of Damon was killed when his light aircraft crashed
• Derby County were the English League champions
• John Walker held the mile record – 3.49.4
• Middlesbrough FC had Jack Charlton as their manager and they lost in the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup to Birmingham City 1 – 0
• Mandale Harriers and Athletic club was formed
Both Mike Starford and his coaching colleague Roy Bradley were becoming disillusioned with negative aspects of their club – Middlesbrough and Cleveland Harriers at the time. Both decided to resign.
Together they brainstormed what the future could bring and decided to form a small club that would provide the individual athlete with affiliations to the various athletic governing bodies – so they could choose to compete in only their selected event. That was the theory anyway!
In September an application to form the new club was sent to the Northern Counties A.A. and a constitution formulated. The name selected was ‘Cleveland Athletic Club’. Cleveland having been created in 1974 (at least we lasted longer than their concept) The name wasn’t acceptable to the local governing bodies so it was either wait until the next meeting or come up with an alternative in the space of 10 minutes. Mike and Roy chose the latter and came up with Mandale A.C. This was taken from the name of ‘Mandale marshes’ and ‘Mandale cut’ both where Teesside Retail Park is today.
The official vesting day of MAC was January 1 st 1975. The policy of the club was to keep the area of South Teesside within the structure of the North East and to be run from subs only. The club colours were black with gold trim and the vest could be bought from Jack Hatfield for £1.80. Mick Garrett took credit for this arriving one night with Mandale AC embroidered across the front. The first members of the club aside from founder members Mike and Roy were Jon Williams, Mick Garrett, Richard Puckrin and Steve Walker.
February saw the club join the Northern counties AAA. The club existed for the majority of this year on a very informal basis, business being written on paper, copied and circulated via the members, most meeting to train at Clairville.
The ladies soon took an interest with Ken Brewer acting as Team Manager, the first ladies were Jackie Kitching, Claire Bowen, Linda Thompson, Debra Leckonby and Helen Bloomfield. Other members include Tom Flory, Marcus Towse, John Metcalfe, F.Anderson and RG Elliston. Within the first 6 months there were 12 or so Senior Men and a similar number of Ladies, attracting more by the week.
In the September, the club was affiliated to the NYSD cross country League and Northumberland & Durham league. In December, the first AGM was held in Mike’s front room with the declaration that the membership had exceeded 50 with 12 waiting to join. He thanked the following for their assistance over the year Roy Bradley, Richard Puckrin, Bill Medhurst, Paul Threadgill and Ken Brewer for their invaluable assistance.
The club just missed out on a Senior Men’s Team trophy at Rowntrees meet at York with Tom Flory, a notable longer distance runner and P Threadgill a natural decathlete. Towards the end of the year a 3000m handicap was arranged using Stainsby fields, now the home of Acklam Grange School. A new member taking the honours was Ray Stevenson.
The books showed an income of £39.69, an expend of £32.25 with a surplus of £7.44. The estimated budget for 1976 necessitated subs going to seniors £2.20, 15 – 17 31.00 and under 15’s, 50p
Mick Garrett came 14 th in the annual 3 Peaks Fell race and the likes of Tom Flory, Jon Williams and Richard Puckrin along with now second claim Steve Walker enjoying considerable success in fell running. As it became apparent that Mandale would take the honours at the NYSD XC that year, Steve would travel up from Manchester, such was the attraction of Mandale knocking off the local giants. Mike Starford was individual senior winner also.
At the start of the T&F season the club was struggling with too many Indians and not enough chiefs! The club managed to survive. Athlete of the year was Tommy Dunne and other awards went to Christopher Marshall and Mike Semp.
Mike Starford and Tom Flory were appointed to look for an alternative club colour, easily sourced, reasonably cheap and one that did not clash with other clubs in the area. Light blue fitted the bill. These coloured vests were obtainable as a singlet. New club colours were established of light blue vest with red shorts. The darker band of blue was a later addition when the club trained at Tilery sports centre in Stockton.
Over the winter cross country season that year, Mandale in conjunction with Stockton Borough Council held its first NYSD XC fixture. Starting from the Harold Wilson centre in Thornaby and using the Bassleton woods area. The Senior men won the title for the second year in succession. Youngsters showing promise included Tom Dunne, Dave Pearson, and Terry Franks with more success from Mike O’Donnell, Mike Semp, A Morion and Rodney Flory. Tom Flory had his best season on the roads winning the Yorkshire marathon, 2 nd at Rotherham and 5 th in the Cleveland Major.
The track season that year was poor with a lack of sprinters and field athletes. Several of the ladies were a little better, Tracy Mylan and Sandra Laws.
By October Roy as treasurer was reporting that although there had been a fund raiser in the form of a disco, there was a deficit of £35.43. The cost of holding T&F meetings, team entries and buses to fixtures took its toll on the finances( sounds oh so familiar)Subs were raised Seniors £4.70, School age £2.00.
For reasons unknown Tom Flory left the club. Several members and parents also left but here at last was someone to step into the breach. Enter our very own Jimmy Hedley (Steve Cram’s famous Coach) Cyril Elliott. He took over the coaching of the younger athletes. Such was his enthusiasm and good nature he was nicknamed the ‘Pied Piper’ having up to 40 athletes following his every word and every step. His calm disposition was notable to all who remember him.
Mandale organised the North East cross country championships at Preston Park. Mick Garrett was the instigator of the first Gisborough Moors race starting from the Rugby Club and going to Capt Cook’s Monument, Easby Moor, Roseberry Topping and High Cliff Nab. It was a resounding success and is still a regular event on the fell running calendar.
At the start of the Track and Field season, trouble was brewing. Members were undecided as to whether they were happy to run as individuals or as a team within the club. A special general meeting was held in the canteen room under the stands at Clairville. Andy Ward was involved, yes our Andy as secretary. Part of his minutes read…..
‘A motion to amalgamate with another club was discussed, voted upon and heavily defeated. The committee stated they would do their utmost to improve the morale and communications within the club’
After that meeting, it was felt that having the club Mandale was something special and worth keeping so the members rallied and weathered the storm. Amongst the winners at that time were our current Treasurer Francis O’Connor along with his brother Patrick, our Patrick’s Uncle. By November, it was obvious that there was not enough room at Clairville for 2 clubs. Exclusive club sessions were held on Mon/Wed at Tilery sports centre in Stockton with the added bonus of an indoor sports hall. With the dedication of Cyril, Roy and Mike along with new comers Dave French and John Flook, Mandale was not going to fail.
In the winter of 78-79 a new member Dave Parry was the only representative at the National cross country at Luton. But a certain Colin Walker had joined and would prove to be a very valuable member to the club. Finances were again an issue (aren’t they always) with the club in the red by £19.20.
This is a version of the Club’s history up to the end of 1979 by founder member Mike Starford and abridged by Jill King. Hopefully through Mike we can look forward to a continuation of the history of the club from 1979 onwards. It would be another 5 years in 1983 before Sarah King would join the club, training alongside Anthony Dryden and Robbie Simpson with Cyril as their coach. A new Membership Secretary in the form of her Mum took over up to the present day.
The Club intends to celebrate 40 years of Mandale in January 2015 and would appreciate any photos, results etc. relating to the history of the club. Please contact Jill via the club website or membership form for contact details
In November moved to our new home at Middlesbrough Sports Village.
Our 40th anniversary.
Youth Development Lower East 1 Division Champions
Youth Development Upper East 2 Division Champions
Senior 3 East Division Champions