Stanley Charles Botwright, 1916-1997
Just coming up for the age of 13, Stanley Charles Botwright of Holland Park, West London signed up as a member of Belgrave Harriers and was duly elected on 8th October 1929. No record exists of his very first years with the club and as far as we know there was no programme of activities for youngster in those days but nevertheless, his interest in the sport was maintained and five years later in 1934 Stanley’s name cropped up as the winner of the ‘R.W. Ricketts’ Cup for the Junior (under 18) 220 yards club championship.
By 1935 his prowess as a fine sprinter over the furlong distance was being remarked upon as he won an inter-club handicap competition off the scratch mark and among other competitions took the Middlesex Junior 220 yards championship. The following year, and now well into competition as a senior, Stanley’s sprinting range had extended from 100 yards to the quarter mile.
He’d become a key member of the Club’s relay teams and in 1937, when the club celebrated its 50th year, it marked the occasion by sending a team to compete in Birmingham in the prestigious Waddilove Trophy Meeting against the top clubs in the country. The relay team (featuring young Stanley) took second place at a crucial stage of the match, thus enabling Belgrave to tie with London A.C. to become joint holders of the handsome trophy. Further success came to 20-year-old Stanley when he chalked up a surprise win in the Club’s 220 yards championship, beating the holder, E. Gray, by a narrow margin.
Individual runs over the quarter mile distance led him to be included, along with Alby Bird, Syd Jarlett and Eddie Pack in Belgrave’s 1938 team for the A.A.A. 4x440 yards championship where the silver medals were won behind an outstanding Achilles A.C. team. As a postal worker Stanley took part in the Civil Service Championships and took the 220 yards title as well as two sprint titles in the British Workers Sports Association Championships. Stan held on to the ‘Elsie’ Cup for the Club’s 220 yards Championship – winning in a club record of 22.7 – and annexed the 100 yards title to boot.
The year was notable for the Club when at the Waddilove match, again, the team had the possibility of improving upon the previous year’s result if only they could hold off Birchfield Harriers and London A.C. in the final event, the medley relay. The standard was very high with the international runner Sidney Wooderson turning out for Blackheath over the first stage, but our man Alby Bird hunted him home in second, Jarlett kept us in second, leaving Blunden and Botwright in charge of the two furlong legs. They held off their critical rivals and the trophy was in Belgrave hands – another page in the Club’s history.
The noted German coach Franz Stampfl had taken a role in training Belgrave sprinters and Stan benefitted from the German’s methods to the extent that in 1939 he won both the 100 and 220 yards in the Civil Service Championships and took all three sprints in the Club Championships. At the beginning of the year he was being mentioned as a “possible” for the 1940 Olympics, due to be held at Helsingfors in Finland, but the international situation in Europe was worsening and when war with Germany was declared it was not long before Stan was called into the services. He joined
the Royal Air Force, becoming a Physical Training Instructor and in the next few years rose to the rank of Flight Sergeant.
A certain amount of athletics was continued throughout the war years and although not near his previous level of fitness Stan represented the R.A.F. and Jack Crump’s A.A.A. team (Crump was the chief administrator of British athletics), and took part in some inter-service and club events. In spite of being posted away, he married Doris in 1940 and soon their son was signed up as a Belgravian before he was a year old.
In 1946 with hostilities halted and the world returning to something like normal, Stan was demobbed. The Belgrave Club Championships were resumed and at Tooting, in August, Stan was 3rd in the 100 yards but yet again managed to pull off a win in his favoured 220 yards. He continued to compete at a lower level until about 1949.
Taking a post with the Air Ministry, it wasn't long before Stan was involved in the administration of the sports section within that body and he maintained an interest in athletics throughout his life.
Stan passed away at the age of 80 on 4th January 1997.
Belgrave Harriers Club Championships
1934 Junior 220 yds – 1st 24.6 secs.
1937 100 yds – 3rd; 220 yds – 1st 23.1 secs.
1938 100 yds – 1st 10.2 secs.; 220 yds – 1st 22.7 secs.
1939 100 yds – 1st 10.4 secs.; 220 yds – 2nd; 440 yds – 1st 52.6 secs.
1946 220 yds – 1st 23.1 secs.
Above: Representing Jack Crump's wartime A.A.A. team, Stan easily wins the 220 yards in a match at the City of London School Ground, Grove Park, Kent, versus Blackheath Harriers, London A.C. and South London Harriers. His time was 22.8 seconds.
Below: pictured at Perry Bar Stadium, Birmingham, 1937, Belgrave were proud joint holders of the Waddilove Trophy with Stan Botwright standing on the left of the photo. Others, left to right are: Les Cohen, Bill Webb, Ernie Duffett, Dick Michael, and kneeling: Arthur Penny, Alby Bird, ?, Ted Stimpson, ?