Croydon Harriers – A Brief History Snapshot
Athletics did not begin in the town of Croydon with the formation of Croydon Harriers, but this event occurred at a later stage in a much longer story. The first known athletics activity that is recorded in Croydon was reported by the newspaper Bells Life in London, which reported the results of a sports day at the Addiscombe Military Academy on 22nd October 1851.
As early as 1905 the General Committee of the A.A.A had accepted the affiliation of Croydon Adult School Athletic Club. The Advertiser described it as being the only affiliated Harriers Club belonging to Croydon. Its headquarters were at a social club in Ellis David Road and young men interested in this form of recreation were enjoined to contact the Secretary, Me. Wilfred Gibbins of Tamworth Road.
Early in 1910 the Advertiser announced that South Croydon Harriers has been disbanded because so many of its members had joined the Army.
Croydon A.C. continued to flourish right into the period of the Great War. In February 1914, they defeated Brighton Railway A.C. at Park Lane in a 3 mile cross-country championship that year was won by a second-claim member, Edgar Lloyd, in 36:38.0. The Club was reported to have over 70 members and its secretary was Mr. H.W. Hines. As late as October 1914 a five mile walking race along Shirley Church Road to the Swan, West Wickham and back was reported. After that Croydon A.C fades from history.
With the Great War over, athletics in Croydon took some time to revive. In June 1920 the advertiser reported an athletics meeting organised by Creeds. This meeting is being promoted for the purpose of trying to get a fresh start for athletics in Croydon.
By June 1921 Mr.H.E. Wills had informed the Advertiser that there was to be a Croydon Sports Club competition at Plough Lane, and he expects to have the finest lot of athletes ever seen in Croydon. This Croydon Sports Club was the embryo out of which Croydon Harriers emerged.
Later that year a group of youngsters, under the guidance of Mr. Wills, trained and did cross-country runs centred on a hut in Plough Lane, near Croydon Airport. They were the Harriers section of the Croydon Sports Club.
One of the most important activities of the Club in the early days was the Sunday morning stroll to various local villages. For example, in September 1921 the Advertiser reported a stroll to the White Bear, Chelsham led by Mr. W.H. Hines.
The Club Minute Book records the change in name to Croydon Harriers being agreed in September 1925.
We are grateful to Alan Dolton for the following excellent history book, detailing the club’s exploits between 1980-2000.
The club’s 75th Year Book will also be uploaded here in due course.
On the 75th Anniversary of the club’s formation, we produced a history book detailing the club’s achievements. Jayne Brackenborough very kindly typed up the book for us and can be seen below.
Old Croydon Harriers & Croydon Arean footage below