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04/02/1961

Wallasey runners great fight with champions



Wallasey Athletic Club's senior cross-country team last Saturday gave Liverpool Pembroke the hardest fight they have had in an area championship for many years.

Wallasey failed by only 11 points in the West Lancashire event at Sherdley Park, St. Helens. The race was over nine miles of hilly grassland which must surely be one of the finest in the country and of the 13 teams competing it was soon clear that the issue was solely between Wallasey and the reigning champions, Liverpool Pembroke.

Wallasey's Tony Townsend led the field round the first lap with all the team's counters in the first twenty places, but it was not long before Cambridge University runner Mike Turner started building up at lead which he was never in real danger of losing.

Running with great verve and freedom, Turner was an easy winner of the individual race, although John Wright looked much happier than in the Liverpool and District the previous week and was never more than 30 or 40 yards behind Turner until the last lap. Wright on this occasion convincingly beat Geoff Warriner of Pembroke who could not hold Wright after the first two or three miles and finished in third place some 200 yards behind. Meanwhile the team event had been fluctuating to and fro, Pembroke usually having five or six points lead with Baleman, Highton and Jones

solidly following Warriner and successfully preventing the supporting Wallasey runners from spitting them up.

Wallasey's second man home was once again junior Brian Chalton in 9th place. He is now showing the consistency of the first-class athlete, and he undoubtedly gave up fine chance of an individual place in the junior event by running as a senior to strengthen team prospects. Chalton was followed by Woolford 12th and Barlow 13th, both of whom improved on their recent form and showed clear signs of a return to racing fitness, one hopes, for Northern championships at Blackpool on 25th February.

Townsend failed to maintain his early pace in finishing 15th, but this young runner, perhaps Wallasey's finest stylist, is going to be a very fine runner indeed if his course at Loughborough College builds up his strength to the level of his natural running ability.

In sixth counting place was that most loyal of clubmen, Hugh Pritchard, who again travelled from Newcastle-on-Tyne to run an absolute 'blinder' and finish in eighteenth position after a continuous fight throughout the race with Pembroke's fifth and sixth counters.

This was certainly Pritchard's first running for Wallasey A.C. and his recent running has at last given the team a reliable tail and to an extent offset the loss of points caused by training setbacks to one or two of Wallasey's front runners.

Kevin Mather also ran a good race and was not far behind at the finish. Altogether it was very fighting performance by Wallasey's young team who seem certain to develop into a most formidable combination during the next year or two.

The Wallasey boys' team were again short of two regular team members and had to be content with fourth team position, Meldrum and Bibby again being their most successful runners and McWilliams, Martin and Dickinson giving good support.

To-day, Wallasey have a strong team running in the St. Asaph to Rhyl road race, which is over it 71/2 mile course with three runners to count for team placings.

Supporters will be very welcome when the club travel by coach to the Northern championships at Blackpool on February 25 and anybody interested should contact the general secretary, Matt Smith, at 29 Beechwood Avenue, or Bob McCaig at 80 Taunton Road. Tel. New Brighton 1632.

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