• Keith Gregson


It looks like last week’s athletics’ blog was well timed. Not only did many club and Strollers’ members take part in the Great North Run but we also saw a club related world record on national and international television!

Aly Dixon, Strollers member and renowned international athlete, was followed by cameras throughout the race as she crossed the line in the fastest time in a half-marathon for someone dressed as a super-hero! (https://alydixon.com/about/)

With this in mind it is equally appropriate to continue on the athletics theme and to reflect times in the last century when the annual Police Sports at Ashbrooke were the talk of the town. The Sports always attracted thousands of spectators but by the 1950s they were also a magnet for the top cyclists and runners in the country and the archives contain a number of photographs and documents to prove it.

The start of a handicap race from outside the groundsman’s shed

A programme from 1953

A slightly out of focus photograph of cyclists in action

A list which shows the quality of the cyclists taking part

And the sports are worthy of a couple of footnotes;

 One of the most popular events at the Police Sports was the cyclists’ Devil Take the Hindmost - a crazy race which often involved blood-letting and was loved by youngsters. Can anyone remember watching one of these races?

 The Dixon family is a well-established athletic family on Wearside. The archivist can remember interviewing Aly’s dad and his brother for Running magazine – in the 1980s! If his memory serves him well one of the brothers starred as a pace-maker in one of the very early London Marathons.

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