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The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1934

Athletic Club

page 78

Athletic Club

After our College days are done,
And our Hall with ivy grown,
Back, from the fields where their fame was won,
We'll gather to cheer them home.
We'll sing the praise of strong and true,
Wherever such men are seen,
We'll raise a shout for the faithful who
Have worn the gold and green.

—F.A.M., 1905, "The Old Clay Patch,"1920.

Although the Athletic Club was not actually formed until 1904, athletics had occupied a prominent place in the College activities for some time before that, and Victoria College had been well represented in athletics at the Tournament ever since its inception. The formation of an Athletic Club had been deliberately delayed on account of the expense involved in paying affiliation fees, etc., to the athletic authorities, a matter of some importance in the infancy of our College, the athletic activities being under the control of a Tournament Committee. The first Tournament to be held in Wellington was in 1905, and the Club was formed in 1904 in order to have an organisation to control the athletic events. The founder and first "head" of the Club was G. F. Dixon, who took such a prominent part in promoting the Tournament, and he has not failed to keep a fatherly eye on the Club right up to the present time.

Athletics, in its early years at Victoria College, owes a great debt of gratitude to the late J. P. Firth, of Wellington College, and to Professor T. H. Easterfield. Mr. Firth for some years made the Wellington College grounds available to the 'Varsity, and thereby did a great deal to foster athletics and the Athletic Club when such help was most needed. Professor Easterfield, himself an old Cambridge half blue, freely gave the benefit of his advice and experience to our early athletes and his help and assistance were invalu-able. A note made about this time reads somewhat as follows: "Professor Easterfield donned his running togs after 15 years absence from the track and took us over a half-mile faster than most of us cared for."

Prior to the Great War the College produced some notable athletes. Mention might be made particularly of F. W. B. Goodbehere who, while not quite fulfilling the promise of his College days, had an outstanding record in the Tournament. Altogether he scored nine wins, three times each in the 100 yds. and 220 yds., twice in the 440 yds. and once in the long jump. A. T. Duncan, who won the New Zealand 100 yds. and 220 yds. Championships in the year 1912-13, also did well at the Tournament.

T. Rigg won the three miles at the Tournament for four years in succession. In 1909 he ran the distance in 15 mins. 56 secs., which stood as the record until beaten by Hudson in 1913. A. B. Sievwright who won the Tournament mile walk in 1913, 1914 and 1915 established new records in the two former years. Sievwright also won the New Zealand mile and 3 miles walks in 1914-15 and 1919-20.

And, finally, Athol Hudson the greatest of them all. Hudson first competed at the Tournament in 1913, when he won the 3 miles flat in the record time of 15 mins. 38 3-5 secs. In 1914 he won the mile, establishing a new record of 4 mins. 32 secs., and the three miles in 15 mins. 24 secs., beating his previous record and establishing a record which was not broken until this year's Tournament at Christchurch, when A. P. Thomson, formerly of V.U.C. now of C.U.C., and R. C. Morpeth, V.U.C., both bettered this time, Thomson running the 3 miles in 15 mins. 12 2-5 sees, and Morpeth in 15 mins. 20 secs. In 1913-14 Hudson also won the three miles New Zealand Championship in sensational fashion, beating by almost a lap the famous Jimmy Beat page 79 son who had just won the Australasian 3 miles Championship. Had Hudson lived, there is little doubt that he would have proved to be one of the most brilliant distance runners ever produced in New Zealand. The War, however, claimed him as it claimed many another member of the Athletic Club, and when Hudson laid down his life in Flanders' Fields, New Zealand lost a wonderful athlete as well as a brilliant scholar.

In the post-war years Victoria University College has produced an exceptional number of brilliant athletes, and for many years the Athletic Club had a quite remarkable record. Starting in 1919 Victoria University College won the Athletic Shield at the Tournament for three years in succession. Then after 4 wins in a row by Otago (with Victoria University College generally in second place) Victoria University College again won and, like Otago, continued winning for 4 years. During these post-war years, the Club also took a very prominent part in athletics in Wellington. Although it never won the Provincial Championship Shield (which was hardly to be expected considering its small membership as compared with some of the other local clubs) it carried off many individual Provincial Championships and on several occasions was second or third in the Shield Competition. During these years also, the Club established a notable record in relay racing, on numerous occasions winning the two special trophies given for relay racing in Welling-ton, viz., the Heenan Baton and the Oates Baton.

After 1929 and 1930, in spite of some athletes of the highest class, the Club began to fall away, which, after all, was only to be expected. Victoria University College had been exceptionally strong in athletics ever since the War, and it was now the turn of the other Colleges.

So many of the Club members have achieved distinction on the athletic fields since the War that to traverse their records in any detail would be too long a task. Their achievements will be found tabulated below, but it is impossible not to mention some of them more particularly here. In sprinters we have had L. A. Tracy (9 wins and several records at the Tournament, 3 New Zealand Championships, and a first and a second in Australasian Championships) and M. Lead-better (who became a champion while at Victoria University College and later transferred to Canterbury—6 Tournament Championships, 7 New Zealand Championships and a New Zealand record of 9 4-5 sees, in the 100 yds.). In hurdlers we have had R. W. Lander, who first ran for Wellington, then for Otago and later for Wellington again (6 New Zealand Championships, an Australasian Championship and a New Zealand record of 15 1-5 sees, in the 120 yds. hurdles). F. S. Ramson was not only a great hurdler but the greatest all-rounder the College has produced. His record reads: 10 Tournament Championships scored in 5 different events (a record which has not been equalled), 4 New Zealand Hurdles Championships, an Australasian Championship, and a New Zealand record (which has since been beaten) of 56 4-5 sees, in the 440 yds. hurdles.

In 1929 a New Zealand University athletic team was invited to compete in New South Wales against the Australian Universities. The invitation was extended to New Zealand at the instance of Mr. E. V. Dunbar, a notable athlete who had competed at the Olympic Games and who for some years had coached the Victoria College team with remarkable success. The Victoria College Club organised the trip from this end, handling over formal control to the National Union of Students only after practically the whole of the arrangements had been made. Three Victoria University College men were in the team, viz., F. S. Ramson, E. K. Eastwood and J. N. Goodson. The team did not meet with a great deal of success against the Australian Universities, scoring, in fact, only one win. Ramson, however, was particularly unfortunate in the 440 yds. hurdles. He was winning beautifully by a large margin and in record time, when he unfortunately struck the last hurdle and fell. The strength of the opposition presented by the Australian Universities' side may be gauged from the fact that the New Zealand team had previously met and defeated a N.S.W. State team by 7 events to 2.

The performances of Victoria University College athletes are set out overleaf with the exception of performances at the Tournament, which may be ascertained from the article on the Tournament elsewhere in this issue.

page 80

Australasian Championships

L. A. Tracy, 440 yards flat, 1924.

R. W. Lander, 120 yards Hurdles, 1927.

F. S. Ramson, 440 yards Hurdles, 1927.

New Zealand Championships.

100 yards.

A. T. Duncan, 1912-13.

M. Leadbetter, 1926-27.

M. Leadbetter, 1924-25.

M. Leadbetter, 1927-28.

M. Leadbetter, 1925-26.

220 yards.

A. T. Duncan, 1912-13.

L. A. Tracy, 1922-23.

L. A. Tracy, 1923-24.

L. A. Tracy, 1924-25.

M. Leadbetter, 1925-26.

M. Leadbetter, 1926-27.

M. Leadbetter, 1927-28.

C. H. Jenkins, 1929-30.

C. H. Jenkins, 1930-31.

880 yards.

K. M. Griffin, 1922-23.

C. B. Allan, 1927-28.

1 mile.

K. M. Griffin, 1922-23.

3 miles.

A. Hudson, 1913-14.

1 mile Walk.

A. B. Sievwright, 1914-15.

A. B. Sievwright, 1919-20.

3 miles Walk

A. B. Sievwright, 1914-15.

A. B. Sievwright, 1919-20.

S. G. Mcintosh, 1923-24.

120 yards Hurdles.

R. W. Lander, 6 years from 1923-24 to 1928-29.

F. S. Ramson, 1929-30.

440 yards Hurdles.

F. S. Ramson, 1927-28.

F. S. Ramson, 1929-30.

F S. Ramson, 1928-29.

Broad Jump.

D. W. A. Barker, 1929-30.

High Jump.

G J. Sceats, 1927-28.

Cross Country Championship.

H E. Moore, 1921.

New Zealand Records.

M. Leadbetter, 100 yards, 9.4/5 sees, in 1927.

R. W. Lander, 120 yards Hurdles 15.1/5 sees, in 1927.

F. S. Ramson, 440 yards Hurdles, 56.4/5 sees, in 1927.

(Ramson's record has since been beaten by a Canterbury College athlete, A. T. Anderson.)

In addition, G. J. Sceats for some time held the best New Zealander's performance in the High Jump at 6 feet, a height which has since been beaten.

—H. Mccormick.