SHAFTESBURY BARNET HARRIERS
(Founded in 1890 amalgamated with Barnet Ladies in autumn 1986)
It is August 1978. The place, the athletic stadium at Cwmbran in South Wales.
Shaftesbury have surprised everyone by getting to the final of the GRE Gold Cup for the second year; the athletics equivalent of the FA Cup.
With three events to go, the club is still in with a chance of winning the cup. But few believe a Division three club can do it in the face of opposition from Cardiff, Edinburgh Southern, Wolverhampton and the other big clubs with national reputations.
The Frank Attoh surpasses himself with a great triple jump win; our sprint relay team also wins and little Shaftesbury Harriers are the cup champions of Great Britain.
What a distance the club has travelled since that day in 1890, we are not sure of the exact day or even the month, when some young men met at the old Jubilee Hall at Hornsey and decided to form a running club and called it Shaftesbury Harriers. Jubilee Hall was then newly built and used for dances, concerts and such like social events, and was over what was then called a coffee tavern. It stood at the corner of Hornsey Road and Fairbridge Road, not far from Hornsey Road railway station and a mile from Hampstead Heath. It seems probable that, like others of the many clubs being formed about that time, the title came from a road in the district. Possibly some of the lads lived in Shaftesbury Road close by; with its tall Victorian houses the road has not changed so much with the passing years. The Shaftesbury Tavern is still on the corner. (Pictures from p14 of Club History) The first headquarters were at a coffee shop in Crouch End from which runs were held for two seasons after which a move was made to the Fox and Crown on West Hill, Highgate. This pub has since been demolished, but carved on the house built on the site is "The site of the Fox and Crown".
With the advent of the boom in jogging and jogging many of the girl friend and wives of the Shaftesbury Harriers men wanted to belong to the same club. Rather than start afresh with women who were new to running discussions took place with the establish ladies only club Barnet Copthall Ladies AC and amalgamation took place in the autumn of 1986. The history of the ladies section goes back to 1948 when they were formed as the ladies section of Hampstead Harriers. In 1966 Hampstead Harriers merged with Barnet AC to become Barnet and District AC but 10 years later through disagreements the ladies broke away in 1976 to form Barnet Ladies AC and in 1984 the name was changed to Barnet Copthall ladies AC. In spite of the name changes it has always been the same ladies club
From those early days in the 1980s the club had its ups and downs moving base from Tufnell Park track, to Parliament Hill track with some members training at the Headstone Lane track, then to the Maccabi Stadium in Hendon and eventually to Copthall Stadium in 1964. For many years the cross-country headquarters were at Brook Farm, Totteridge with inter club races throughout the winter.
From a harrier tradition the club has developed into an all round club catering for all ages, male and female with competition over country, road and track including indoors.
The Club's first international was Doug Thompson who represented England in the International cross country championships held in Dublin on 26th March 1949. Doug ran for England again in 1950. International representation was spasmodic in the 1950s and 1960s but it was in the 1963 that a certain David Bedford won the Shaftesbury Boys cross-country race. In the years that followed Dave went on to win numerous junior and senior cross country titles including the Junior International cross country championship in 1979 and the Senior title in 1971. Dave was our first Olympian in 1972 and broke the world record holder for 10,000m in 1973 with a time of 27:30.8. Dave is now the Race Director of the world famous London Marathon.
On the Ladies side Joyce Smith also went to the Munich Olympics of 1972 in the 1500m and like Dave Bedford gained international representation over country, road and track. Her outstanding achievements were winning the International cross-country in 1972. Joyce w as captain of the British women's Olympic team in 1972, gained a bronze medal in the European 3000m championship and went on to win the first two London Marathons and represent Great Britain in the first world championships 1983 and the 1984 Olympics. In 1984 she was awarded the MBE for services to athletics.
Since Joyce and Dave Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers have had representatives at every Olympic Games after 1972. A full list appears in the International athletes section.