Chelmsford Athletics Club

Chelmsford Athletics Club - Club History Chapter 5


Chapter 5 – The Years of Success (1970-84)

The last 14 years of the club’s first half-century opened with Brian Hill-Cottingham leading a team of 10 in a 400 mile relay, with a message from the Mayor of Chelmsford to the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games -

 – and with Steve Marlow winning all 400m titles up to national level, including an appearance for GB in the European Championships.

The climax of the period came when Louise Miller and Terry Whitehead reached finals at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.  Louise (PB of 1.94m) finished in 11th place with 1.85m.  Terry was part of the GB 4x400m relay team, who were in line for a bronze medal before the final runner was tripped on the final bend.

The club reached the national league, and won the North of the Thames cross-country on Danbury Common in 1981. 

Marks & Spencers celebrated their centenary by funding an extension to the club house.

Don Cox re-awakened the walking section of the club by winning county 3k Walk twice in the period, and going on to represent GB.  Geof Tyler won 12 consecutive County Discus titles from 1971 to 1982, plus six in the Shot, and one in the Decathlon.  Graham Eggleton won the club’s first major Games medal – bronze in the Commonwealth Games Pole Vault in 1982.

In March 1982, the club men’s team, anchored by Richard Charleston, won the Essex Road Relays, to hold every county team title.

Roland Weedon ran the 800m for GB, in an international match against the USA and Norway in 1983.

Ernie Daley completed the course of the 1934 Inaugural Run, 50 years after he first did so – and John Weir, as a parent volunteered his services on the committee to take the club towards the 21st Century.


Highlights of 1972

The Relay to the Munich Olympics:

L-R: Ken Burgess, Danny Mullane, Gale Cobden, Phil Flack, Terry Farrow, Brian Hill-Cottingham, Laurie Esson and Ken Cross


Club Athletes of the Year:

1975 – Unbeatable Chelmsford

1975 turned out to be one of the club’s most successful in terms of the number of trophies added to the club cabinet!  Amongst the triumphs of the year were:

  • Promotion from Division Two of the Southern League

  • Fielding a 16-strong team at a Cross-Country event in Belgium which featured a number of international runners amongst the field of 86, and winning the team trophy!  Notable performances by team members were:

    • Senior Race:

      • Richard Charleston – 13th

      • Peter Fletcher – 14th

      • John Willoughby – 16th

      • Terry Farrow – 21st

    • Junior Race

      • Chris Turner – 7th

      • Roger Woodley – 9th

    • Veteran’s 5000m:

      • Ron Wicks – 40th

      • Ernie Daley – 43rd


  • Fielding a team of 11 women at the Highgate Open meeting at Parliament Fields, and coming home with prizes including two radios, four watches, and seven cameras! 

  • Winning the Holroyd Trophy by 180 points in Southend:

    • Caroline Warren (Essex’s top High Jumper) won the Junior 75mH with 13.1sec, and the High Jump with 1.50m

    • Diane Payne won the Intermediate 80m in 12.9sec

    • Andrew Vince won:

      • Youth Shot - 15.74m

      • Youth Discus – 40.60m

      • Senior Shot – 12.78m

    • Richard Smith won:

      • Senior 100m B – 11.2sec

      • Senior 200m – 22.7sec

      • Senior Discus – 37.46m

    • Alasdair Ross won the Senior 100m in 10.9sec, and the Senior 400m with 53.4sec

    • Sid Radcliffe won the Senior 200m B in 24.0sec

    • John Willoughby won the Senior 800m in 2min 5.7sec

    • Richard Charleston won the Senior 1500m in 4min 4.2sec

    • Michelle Wilcox won the 800m in 2min 24.4

    • Diane Payne, Carla Myhill and Hazel Lowe all won their Javelin events

    • Helen Clarke and Honor Bushnell both won in Discus


1976 – There’s No Stopping Chelmsford!

1976 started in much the same fashion, with a January newspaper headline trumpeting “There’s No Stopping Chelmsford”.  This headline came from a report on the Essex and Border Cross Country League, in which the reporter announced that surely none of the 13 clubs comprising the league could stop them from winning the league trophies for both the Men’s and Women’s events.

70 club members turned out in this first event of 1976, in Colchester, and finished with four team wins and three second places.  Amongst the individual performances reported were:

  • Moira Owers – 2nd in the U13 Girls

  • Peter Fletcher and John Willoughby – joint 2nd in the Senior Men’s race

  • Malcolm Orr – 4th in the Colts race

  • Tony Croxford – 5th in the Boys Youths race (a race won by one Eamonn Martin, from Basildon)

  • Angela Rothwell  - 1st in the Girls Junior race

  • Jeanette Fox – 7th in the Girls Junior race

  • Michelle Wilcox – 1st in the Senior Women’s race

  • Jackie Wilcox – 4th in the Senior Women’s race

14-year old Angela Rothwell was making quite a name for herself in 1975/76, and in March 1976 she collected a trophy to mark her achievement in Liverpool, in September 1975, when she won the WAAA Junior Pentathlon with a new UK record performance.

The local paper reported that she celebrated winning the award in January 1976 by winning the Colchester & North East Essex Schools Cross Country championship, and by leading her Manningtree school team to victory.  She also helped Chelmsford AC to second place in the Young Athletes Cross Country Relays at Thurrock in the same month.

Angela Rothwell


In October 1976 the club won the 29th running of the annual Road Relay, and brought home the Sydney Taylor Memorial Trophy (named after their own Founding President) for the very first time.  The photo below shows the members of team, showing off the trophy:

John Willoughby, Peter Fulcher, Terry Farrow, Mick Fletcher and Peter Fletcher


In the same Winter season, the U15 Boys successfully defended the Jubilee Cup, in the Southend Road Relays.