1914 • Eagerness and a fair
degree of success
The new-found eagerness engendered by Oscar Horwood carried the team into 1914. There seemed to be more fixtures than ever, and a fair degree of success came for the men in the claret and gold hooped uniforms.
Inter-club cross-country races in January saw Thames Valley Harriers, on their home course at Busch Corner, beat the Bels by 9 pts, 35 to 44, while a run over seven miles incorporating the championship for the “H.T. Blackstaffe Shield” at Raynes Park saw Raynes Park St Saviour’s Harriers beaten handsomely; H.J. Sexton won the race and shield with the Johns Helm and Garnett in 2nd and 4th.
At this time, for Saturday home match changing accommodation, the club used St Saviour's Church Hall, Grand Drive, Raynes Park. An amusing fact related many years later by Edmund Donovan, was that members travelling on the London & South Western Railway were able to buy cheap return "Cemetery" tickets from Clapham Junction to Raynes Park on the pretext of visiting the grave of an interred relative from Battersea who had found their final resting place in the large cemetery at the end of Grand Drive.
Two teams were entered for the South of the Thames Championship at Stoke d’Abernon where they placed 12th and 22nd; the field was swollen by many military men and the 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers took the spoils. A team was entered for the ‘Southern’ Championship but the ‘National’ was still a step too far, although a party of Belgravians was organised to travel to Chesham in Buckinghamshire to spectate. The winter season finished with a 5 miles Open Team Race at Raynes Park where Belgrave were winners. F.H. Foster and J. Helm set things up nicely by running home 1st and 2nd individuals. Sexton, Foster, Helm and Garnett had spearheaded the teams throughout the winter but, tragically, the latter two were to lose their lives in the next couple of years while serving their country.
Above: Saturday 24th January, 1914. The day of the "H.T. Blackstaffe Shield" race, held from St Saviour's Church Hall, Raynes Park, and incorporating a match v. Raynes Park St Saviour's Harriers. Placing 2nd in the race was John Helm, seated second from the right and wearing 13. To his right (left in the picture) is H.J. Sexton. the race winner. The chap standing at the back, 9th from the left in hooped jersey, is John Garnett, 4th on the day and after whom is named our "Garnett Cup" for the 1 mile/1,500 metres. Edmund Donovan, mentioned in the text, left, is at the centre of the picture, arms folded.
For as full a list of names as we can currently muster, click on the image.
From "The People", Sunday 25th January 1914
The return inter-club race between the Belgrave Harriers and St. Saviour's Harriers took place yesterday over a circular course of 3½ miles which was traversed twice. In conjunction with the race each club decided a sealed handicap, and the Blackstaffe Shield, put up for competition by the Belgrave H. was won by H.J. Sexton.
Team placings resulted thus:- Belgrave H. 1, 2, 4, 5 - 12 points - 1; St. Saviour's 3, 6, 7, 8 - 24 points - 2. The order of finishing was H.J. Sexton, Belg. H., 1; J. Helm Belg. H., 2; H. Lee St. Sav., 3; J. Garnett, Belg. H., 4. The Belgrave sealed handicap resulted as follows: E. Rolfe, 2min 25sec start, 1; H. Sexton, 45sec, 2. St Saviour's sealed handicap: T. Stedman 4min start, 1; H. Hall 5min 20sec, 2. The novices prize was won by J.W. Macher, Belgrave H. The award offered to those who had never run before went to A.E. Macher, Belgrave H.; and the prize for the first "walking" member to finish was secured by J. Belchamber, also of the Belgrave H.
The fourth and final race in a series of “Junior” competitions was organised by the Race Walking Association, over a course of about 9 miles at Raynes Park. Eight clubs and nearly fifty walkers took part. The walkers, too, showed that they could head a close contest, and won with 22 pts, to Ashcombe AC’s 29 and Surrey AC’s 32.
It was time for individuals to shine as Easter came around. G.W. Clarke won the South London Harriers 2 miles walk and, making a name for himself, Fred Rickards ran third to Olympian Willie Applegarth in the 220 yards sprint. Over at Stamford Bridge Bob Ricketts was another 2 miles walk winner. The ‘Bridge’ was the venue for the British Amateur Athletics Championships where Rickards placed second to Applegarth in the heats of the 100 yards, but he could take his challenge no further as only heat winners qualified for the final.
The Club’s Annual Evening Meeting at Stamford Bridge in July was the main event of the year. No less than 116 entries were received for the open one-mile handicap, and also on the programme was the 440 yards Belgrave Championship for the “G. Thomas Challenge Cup” where Fred Rickards prevailed. Fred’s family were famous in his home town of Luton where he was just one member of a large family, all excellent sports men and women. His younger brother was a fine army miler and cross-country runner for the 7th Battalion of the Bedford Regiment, his sisters were prominent in the prize lists for just about any event going, and Fred, a Metropolitan Police officer, was more than handy in any sprint and described proudly in his hometown newspaper as "the Belgrave Harriers' Champion".
All looked set for the Club to progress and to begin to fulfil Oscar Horwood’s vision, but momentous events had been set in motion, far from home, and far beyond the control of a group of athletes from London, S.W.