In the summer of 1965 a number of girls training at the track asked their parents if they would form a club for them, but before it was registered two or three boys asked if they could also join. So the club was registered with the Northern Women’s and Men’s Association for at the time it was two separate organising bodies.
As the track was cinder it was not always available between October and March, depending on the weather. So, alternative training was needed, and this was cross country running, but there was only a men’s cross country association. To accommodate the girls and ladies a few clubs from Yorkshire and Lancashire got together and formed the Northern Women’s Cross Country and Road Running Association, the first meeting was held at the Spen track running round the golf course area and pit tips which covered the area where the football pitches are now.
As there was no track and field leagues at this time, competition was acquired by going to trophy meeting in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire and as far south as Stoke-On-Trent. The club members honed their administration and organisational skills by hosting the Yorkshire County Men’s and Women’s Championships and the Northern County Men’s and Women’s Championships.
The first English Schools success was from Susan Midgley in 1968, this also was the clubs first Junior International the same year.
In 1969 the late Councillor Allatt acquired funding from W.R.C.C. to build the stand with a training room underneath to give the club indoor training in the winter and Spenborough UDC agreed to maintain the building. This was completed in 1970, attracting higher profile meetings and also encouraged members to become athletic officials.
Following the construction of new “tartan tracks” in cities around the country Spen raised the money for the track to be converted and this was opened with the Winter Warm Up in 1974.
This gave the club athletes an opening to better competition and brought a number of GB Junior International to the club, including Peter Crampton, who won National and European titles at 400m, and was a member of the GB Olympics 4 x 400m squad in Barcelona.
In the late 1970’s the League competition arrived, first for men who had some success reaching Division 1 and then by the Women’s who had some success and even gained a place in the National League Division VI for one season , but then they hovered in the Northern Division between leagues 1 and three years for a few years. The boys, girls and junior leagues teams enjoyed some successes during this time and were often members of the Top Division.
During the 1980’s the club made visits to Sandnes Athletic Club in Stavanger, and they made trips to Cleckheaton and Spen also hosted a club from Düsseldorf.
In 1999/2000 the boys made a clean sweep in the Cross-Country, winning gold medals in the West Yorkshire Championships and also the Yorkshire County Championships in the under 13’s, under 15’s and under 17’s. 2002/2003 saw the changes to the track and field competition by starting leagues for mixed teams of male and females of all ages.
The club has continued to develop and our club is currently affiliated to the West Yorkshire Track and Field League, North of England, Youth Development Leagues, West Yorkshire Cross Country League and Northern and Yorkshire Veterans Athletics.
Athletes are also, encouraged to take part in Yorkshire and other county AA Championships, North England Championships and AAA Championships. Spenborough & District AC has seen many of our members achieve success in these events over the years.
The club has continued to develop with coaches, and officials being encouraged to undertake professional development. The numbers of members has fluctuated over the years and saw a good increase during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Over the years the club has had a flourishing road running section, influenced initially by the running boom of the early nineteen eighties, which coincided with the inaugural London Marathon.
For over forty years the club have organised the Spen 20, a twenty mile road race noted for its arduous lap course. The club has been well supported over the years by the local sports manufacturers Mileta Ltd, who have the well-known Tog 24 brand of sports clothing. The director, Mr Brian Ward, our club president has supported the Mileta 10 mile race, which was reduced to the 10k distance.
The road running members are encouraged to participate in both local races and those farther afield by way of the Grand Prix. This event is growing in numbers and is very popular with our newer road runners as there is a variety of distances and courses.