The Spike Golden Jubilee Number May 1949
The victoria university college athletic club faces the second half century of the College with as full a record as any College Club can claim. Before its official inception in 1904, an event delayed through the inability of the Tournament Committee to pay the necessary affiliation fees to the Athletic Association, the Club bad occupied a prominent place in College activities for some years.
The founder and first 'leader' of the Club was G. F. Dixon, who played a leading role in promoting the Tournament, and who from then right up to the present, has looked after the Club's interests at every opportunity.
In its embryo stages, athletics at Victoria College were fostered by the generosity of the late J. P. Firth of Wellington College, in making the Wellington College grounds available to our athletes, and by Professor T. H. Easterfield, an old Cambridge half blue, who gave much of his time, coupled with the benefit of his advice and experience, to our early athletes. Prior to World War I, many notable athletes rose from the Club's ranks. Probably the greatest was Athol Hudson who first competed at Tournament in 1913, when he won the three miles event in record time. In 1914 he beat his previous record in establishing the time 15 mins. 24 secs. for the three miles, and he also won the mile in the record time of 4 mins. 32 secs. At the New Zealand Championships, 1913-14, Hudson won the three miles in a sensational fashion, beating by nearly a lap the Australasian Champion, Jimmy Beatson. Had the war not claimed the life of this great athlete, there is little doubt that he would have proved one of the most brilliant distance runners New Zealand has ever produced. Mention should also be made of F. W. B, Goodbehere who, although he did not quite fulfil the promise of his College days, had the following fine Tournament record: three wins in each of the 100 yards and 220 yards, two wins in the 440 yards and one win in the broad jump. Another sprinter, A. T. Duncan, did well at Tournament and also won the New Zealand titles for the 100 yards and 220 yards in the 1912-13 championships. T. Rigg was three miles champion at Tournament for four years in succession. In 1909 he established a record which stood until Hudson bettered it in 1913. The walker, A, B. Sievwright, did well, winning the mile walk at Tournament in 1913, 1914, and 1915, and establishing new records in the two former years. Sievwright also won the New Zealand title for the mile and three mile walks in 1914-15 and 1919-20.
Following World War I, the Athletic Club had a lengthy period of success and produced many outstanding athletes. From 1919 the Club won the Athletic Shield at Tournament for three successive years, then for four years Otago held sway, with V.U.C.A.C. usually second, and finally, for a further four years, the Club held the Shield. During this period the Club played a prominent part in both Centre activities and the Provincial Championships. Many Provincial titles were carried off by Club members, but the Provincial Championship Shield was never won, although second place was gained on several occasions.
From 1930 onwards, the success of the Club was not so apparent, a state to be expected since, from the end of World War I, it had more or less led the field, but now the other Colleges were becoming stronger and took their turn at the top. About 1935, the V.U.C.A.C. began to show signs of a new life, although, except in 1939, it retained the wooden spoon; but on the advent of World War II any hope of regaining the lost place was shattered, since, as in the other Colleges, the activities of the Club were severely restricted and at times reduced to nil. However, since World War II, the Club has gradually regained its feet and has built up to almost pre-war standard, with the help of the introduction of some ' new blood ' by the inauguration of Women's Athletics at Tournament in 1945-46.
Unfortunately, space does not permit a survey of all the outstanding athletes of the Club since World War I, but their achievements will be found tabulated below. Yet it is impossible to pass on without mentioning some of them in slightly more detail. In the Sprints there have been L. A. Tracy (nine wins and several records at Tournament, three New Zealand Championships and a first and a second in Australasian Championships), M. Leadbetter, who became a champion while at V.U.C. and later transferred to Canterbury (six Tournament titles, seven New Zealand Championships and a New Zealand record of 9.8 seconds for 100 yards) and J. Sutherland (four Tournament titles, including equalling the record of 10 seconds for the 100 yards, and one New Zealand title). Among the Hurdlers, R. W. Lander, who first ran for Wellington, then Otago, and later for Wellington (six New Zealand Championships, an Australasian Championship and a New Zealand record of 15.2 seconds for the 120 yards hurdles). F. S. Ramson was not only a great hurdler, but the greatest all-rounder the College has produced. His record reads: ten Tournament Championships scored in five different events (a record which has not been equalled), four New Zealand hurdles titles, an Austalasian title and a New Zealand record (which has since been beaten) of 56.8 seconds in the 440 yards hurdles. The distance races have seen D. R. Scrymgeour in the three miles (two Tournament titles, including a record page 106 of 14 minutes 55.6 seconds for the three miles) and V. P. Boot (who really belonged to Canterbury College, but ran for a while with our Club) who won Provincial and National titles as well as being an Empire Games representative in the 880 yards.
In 1929 a New Zealand Universities Athletic Team visited Australia on an invitation from the Australian Universities, extended at the instance of Mr E. V. Dunbar, an Olympic Games representative, who had coached the Victoria College team with great success. Three V.U.C.A.C. men were in the touring team, viz., T. S. Ramson, E. K. Eastwood and J. N. Gordon. The team did not meet with a great deal of success against the Australian Universities although when competing with the State Universities the teams were more evenly matched. Plans are well in hand for another visit to Australia in May 1949 when a team of ten, selected at Tournament will cross the Tasman to compete once again with the Australian Universities.