A Brief History Of Haywards Heath Harriers

There was a running club in the town long before most of us were born called Haywards Heath Athletics Club. There are no known records now in existence but we do know that it just about re-surfaced after the war but then sank rapidly into oblivion towards the end of the fifties.

The club began with Cross Country as its main core of interest. At first it was mainly a club for juniors and intermediates (i.e. school age youngsters) but as some of these original members got a little older and some of the parents and helpers became more involved, a senior section developed. Over the last 40 or so years the demographic break down of the club has changed a lot with an ebb and flow of members in all age groups as well as the swing from one discipline to another from year to year.  Nowadays road races are much more popular than cross country and the track & field side is more active than previously. From small beginnings the overall membership has grown to its current level of about 250.

The club’s most famous “old boy” is, by far, Daley Thompson who started his athletics career with the club and stayed with the Harriers for some time until he had little choice but to move on so that he could develop his talent at a higher level. His name still appears in the club’s records, as  Frances Thompson, and of course he is a very big name in the British athletics Hall of Fame following his triumphs at the Olympic Games and other major international competitions.

Over the years the club has gradually developed into an organisation that caters for all aspects of the varied sport of athletics from track and field to cross country to road races to ultra distance to trail races, relays and fun runs. The club records would suggest that the only UKA governed discipline we have not at some time contested is the tug of war.

Over the years the club has had many county champions and whilst this boast does not necessarily cover all events it certainly includes champions on the track, jumpers and throwers in the field as well as road and cross country winners.   

Several others have achieved international vests after starting out with the Harriers, notably Debbie Peel (Senior 3000 metres), Emily Goodall (Junior 800 metres), Duncan Malins (Junior 110 metres hurdles) and Kevin Holland (Junior cross country).

In its present form the Harriers club began to emerge in 1965 under the guidance of Phil Nash and Tim French. The club became formally affiliated to the governing body, then the Amateur Athletics Association, in February 1966, which we consider to be the year of our formation. Other people instrumental in the development of the club in its early years include the Heaseman, Humphries, Jones, Pyle, Robertson, Rowe and Scott families.