Chelmsford Athletics Club

Chelmsford Athletics Club - Club History Chapter 6

Ups and Down’s in the 90’s

For the years to 2002, the club suffered by having to make do with the old cinder track and wooden stands.  The club’s main focus was on distance running and cross country.  The club could not host any Senior league matches at home, though younger age group matches could be held at Melbourne Park.

The Ladies team (once in the National League) slipped down to the Women’s Southern Athletics League, and the Men’s team had mixed performances in the old Southern Athletics League (Men only) and were promoted/relegated with regularity between Div 1 and DIv 3.  However, the Men were able to turn out two teams – one managed by Jim Sayers, and the other by John Clark.

The Men’s team were better known for their performances at distance running and cross country events, especially as Jim Sayers managed to attract distance athletes to the club.  Keith Cullen gained international honours and still holds the record for the 10K Road Race organised by the club (timed at 29:02).  The event has been run in late November for many years and once had to the called off due to heavy snow falling on the eve of the race.

The most successful performance of the Men’s distance running team was in 1995 when the team were placed third in the South of England event (see photo in Club House).


Milestones in the club’s development in this period are:

·         The extension of the Club House building in 1989, following a donation from Marks & Spencer.


·         The decision by the Council to scrap the old cinder track and lay the present eight lane synthetic track in April 1999 – aided by funding from the National Lottery


·         The later decision of the Council to add the indoor sports hall and sprint straight in 2002, which has allowed athletes to train all year round.  The new facilities have encouraged more athletes to take up the sport, and retention of athletes has also improved.  This has helped strengthen the Ladies and Men’s teams - and also the younger athletes’ teams which have now moved into the Youth Development Leagues for U13/15 and U17/20 age groups.


·         The club received a Grant from the Queen’s Jubilee Fund in 2002, which enabled roof repairs to the building, and provision of heating and insulation


·         In 2006 the Council developed further facilities at the centre, including a stand for spectators as Chelmsford City FC became joint users of the stadium


·         In 2014 the Council added an outside Throws area, to allow Throws training to take place throughout the year, without causing damage to the CCFC football pitch


·         In 2015 the club re-developed its gym area, and has a modern strength and conditioning area for use by club members 

Senior Teams

Managers of the Men’s Senior Team in this period have been:




Jim Sayers

John Clark



Mark Weir



John Weir



Miv Owen



The Men’s and Ladies Teams opted out of the single sex leagues, and joined the new mixed Southern Athletics League in 2011.  The team have been in Div 1 since inception of the League, finishing third in 2015.

Club Committee

The Committee has seen many changes in personnel, especially at Secretary level, and club minutes history reflects this.

Dave Dawson and Ron Woolgar stood down as Chair/Secretary in around 1985, at which time the three regular members of the Committee – Roy Meadowcroft, John Weir and Ralph Burrows were unable to make decisions as no quorum was present.

John Stark and Steve Toogood were encouraged to join the Committee, which slowly expanded over the years to get the club back onto a firmer footing.  Mike Morgan also joined the team and was helpful in the discussions with the Council on the stadium redevelopment.


Amongst the people who played major roles in the management and progress of the club in this period were:

·         Bill Bushnell - a Throws coach at the club.

·         Graham Smith – a long serving coach in High Jump and Hurdles – and a Timekeeper.

·         Roy Meadowcroft – a club athlete in the 1950’s, who has performed virtually every role possible in his 60 years with the club

·         Ralph Burrows – another club star of the 1950’s, who has gone on to be a Field judge in events from Club matches to international events

·         John Weir – a sprinter in the 1950’s and 60’s who joined the Club Committee in 1983, and has served as Treasurer, Chairman, Team Manager – and a plethora of other roles

·         Phil Sergeant – see below

Phil Sergeant

Long term Level 3 Long and High Jump coach Phil Sergeant competed as a distance runner for his school, county, and Durham University in his youth.  He became part of Chelmsford AC in the mid 1980’s, at a time when he had taken up jogging to keep fit (progressing to competing in the London Marathon three times!), and his children were taking up the sport.

Over the years he has performed a multitude of roles, including Team Manager, Field Judge, Starter, Marksman, and Club Secretary.   His favourite role, however, is coaching and mentoring children and teenagers – not only coaching at the club, but offering his services to the Council, and schools in the area.  His work in this area was recognised in 2010 when he won the England Athletics award for Development Coach of the Year.

Amongst the higher profile athletes that he has coached are Sam Bailey (UK U20 No.1 High Jumper in 2010), and Poppy Lake – both of whom claimed English Schools titles in High Jump, and who have both competed for their country in their event.

Club Awards 1994

A clipping from the Essex Chronicle, November 1994:

2009-11 – a record breaking period

A feature article in Athletics Weekly in September 2011 acknowledged what a period of success the club had achieved during 2009, 2010 and 2011:


The article describes the club’s out-reach coaching, schools liaison programmes and Under 11’s Academy and how this directly led to the club’s successes:

·         20 club members representing Essex at the English Schools Championships in 2010

·         25 County Champions (and 74 medallists) at the Essex County Championships in 2011

·         8 club members selected for the Essex U13 team

·         9 club members holding international honours:

o   Jess Judd (UK U17 No.1 in 800m, 1500m and 3000m – and bronze medallist at the IAAF World Youth Championships)

o   Sophie Riches (1500m Gold medal at European Youth Olympics)

o   Hayley McLean (UK U17 400m Hurdles record holder, and IAAF World Youth finalist)

o   Georgia Atkins (100m Hurdles at 2009 European Youth Olympics)

o   Lauren Bouchard (400m Hurdles at 2009 European Juniors)

o   Sam Bailey (High Jump at 2009 European Juniors, and World Junior selection in 2010)

o   Marcus Hunt (4x400m relay at 2009 European Juniors)

o   Alex O’Brien (Combined Events Bronze medallist at SIAB Schools International 2011)

o   Ellie Besford (English Schools Pole Vault Gold for three years’ running)

Jessica Judd

When Jess Judd moved from Thurrock Harriers, to join Chelmsford AC as an U15 in 2009, she was already the UK No.1 in her age group at 800, 1500m, 3000m, and the 1 Mile!  Since 2010 her continued progress has been outstanding:

·         2014 – Oslo - recorded 800m PB of 1:59.77 in Oslo. Commonwealth Games 800m finalist, finishing fourth in 2:01.91. European Championships 800m finalist, finishing seventh in 2:01.65.

·         2013 - Sainsbury's British Championships 800m - Silver. British Athletics European Indoor Trials & UK Championships 3000m – Bronze

IAAF World Championships 800 - 5th ht. European Athletics Team Championships 800m - Gold

·         2012 - Aviva Olympic Trials & UK Championships 800m - Bronze. BUCS Championships 800m - Gold. Aviva England Athletics U20 Championships & World Trials 1500m - Gold. English Schools Cross Country Championships - Silver. English National Cross Country Championships - Bronze. Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships – Gold

IAAF World Junior Championships 800m - Silver, 1500m - 5th

·         2011 - English Schools Championships 1500m - Gold. Sainsbury UK School Games 1500m - Gold. Aviva SIAB Schools International 1500m - Gold. England Athletics U17 Championships 1500m - Gold. Aviva World Trials & UK Championships 800m - 5th. English Schools Cross Country Championships - Gold. Aviva Schools International Cross Country - Gold. English National Cross Country Championships - Silver. Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships – Gold

IAAF World Youth Championships 800m - Bronze

·         2010 - Aviva English Schools Championships 1500m - Gold. UK School Games 1500m - Gold. Aviva Schools International 1500m - Gold. Aviva England Athletics U17 Championships 1500m - Gold. English Schools Cross Country Championships - Gold. English National Cross Country Championships - Gold. SIAB Schools International Cross Country – Gold

During her time with Chelmsford AC she has been coached by Jeremy Freeman and Rob Denmark.  She is currently at university in Loughborough, where she is coached jointly by George Gandy and her father, Mick.

She is a Sports Ambassador at Chelmsford Sports and Athletics Centre, and is one of the club’s most inspiring ambassadors.

Web Site and Modern Technology

The club has moved forward and now has a comprehensive web site to record the club’s activities.  Members also make full use of Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch.  Team Managers at all age groups keep in touch with athletes via email, regarding availability for club matches.