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Frank Stroud, 1913-1982

Frank Stroud was one of Belgrave's leading sprinters for half a decade in the 1930s.


Born in Wapping on 8 March 1913, Frank became a Belgrave Harrier at the age of 18, in May 1931, and within a couple of months The Belgravian reported him to be: "… a sprinter of more than ordinary promise."


A junior in his opening season, he launched into the full round of club fixtures, winning over 300 yards at Reading, placing 2nd in a 100 yards at Ilford and, just a day before his formal election to the club on 14th May, he was put under pressure by being dropped into a match situation at the Inter-Club Relay Meeting at Battersea Park:-


"For the 4 x 300yds we were in a quandary as Jim Tosh was unable to run owing to sickness and so we brought in Stroud, who had already raced twice on that evening. He, however, ran a strong race and well backed up by Jarvis and Titherley, enabled our last man J.E. Read, to get away level with the Croydon runner. Read put in a fine finish and so won us yet another event."


His other two races that day were the Junior 220 yards, in which he placed 2nd in his heat and then replicated that in the final. Three races of a furlong and longer at one meeting was a tall order for an eighteen year-old.


Non-match or championship events were invariably handicaps and in 1932 Frank showed himself to be in fine early season form as he won both 100 and 220 yard events during the match v. London Athletic Club at Battersea Park. His mark in the shorter event was 8 yards and in the longer sprint, 17 yards. A month later and the handicapper was beginning to get the measure of him; he placed 2nd over 220 yards in the tightest of races having been pulled back to 13 yards.


A year later, again in the match v. London Athletic Club, and the handicappers were even harsher as he was granted just 4½ yards in the 100 – where he was second – but he followed it up by: "… running away with the 220 yards match event, and must now be considered one of our leading sprinters."


Acknowledged as one of the club's best, the handicappers had got Frank's number and his 3½ yards mark was not enough for him to get into the frame; but no doubt this was of little concern as he was now a regular in match races and a force to be recognised in championships.


In the Southern Amateur Athletic League the last event of the series was the 1 mile Medley Relay, held at the White City during the prestigious Fire Brigade Sports on July 22nd.  Belgrave had what was considered their best team out with the 440 yards first stage covered by Jim Tosh, who ran well to give about a yard lead over Herne Hill Harriers. George Basford ran next over the half lap and maintained this lead to pass on to Frank for the next 220 yards. Frank had the redoubtable George Pallett as his opponent but held him until the end of the stage where in struggling to reach their waiting club-mates, he had to run wide to reach Tommy Scrimshaw. There was still only a yard in it though and Scrimshaw set a terrific pace, shot to the front and finished an easy winner. Belgrave’s winning time of 3 min. 33 1/5 sec. compared very favourably with the winning time in an England v. France international a little earlier in the year – 3 min. 38 2/5 sec.

Frank Stroud (2) wins the Belgrave 100 yards Championship for the Grosvenor Cup at Battersea Park on Saturday , 3rd August 1935.  Second was B.L. Bone (7), third C.H. Brodie and also pictured is E.L. Kealey (6). Frank had previously won the title in 1933 and, as on that earlier occasion, he went on to make it a ‘double’ by winning the 220 yards later in the afternoon.

At the Club Championships on 5th August Frank triumphed in the 100 yards final to win the Grosvenor Cup, improving on his winning heat time of 10 3/5 seconds to score his first championship title in 10 ½ sec. It wasn’t long before he collected his second pot to take home as later in the afternoon he won the Elsie Cup for 220 yards in 23 1/10 sec.


Frank continued competing regularly for the next couple of seasons, not featuring as a medallist in the Club Championships of 1934 but returning to take back both his trophies in 1935. 1936 appears to have been his last competitive season when he won the bronze medal in the Club’s 100 yard event.


Now a family man, Frank was called up for war service and served with the Royal Engineers in Italy, among other places. Coming safely through the conflict he took up work as a Shipping Clerk in London. He moved with his family to Canada in 1947 but lost everything in a fire and returned to London in 1949. After many years working in 'shipping' again, Frank faced redundancy at the age of 60 but took up employment with a company in Hampshire who were coach builders to the royal family.


In 1982 and now retired, Frank emigrated to Adelaide, Australia, with his wife and daughter's family, joining up with his son who had moved there 15 years earlier. He died later that year, on 17 December, happy to have reunited his family.

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