The attendance of spectators at Bebington Show Ground, in the Wirral Peninsula, to witness the championship of the Liverpool District Association was not sufficient to gladden the heart of the treasurer. Rain had fallen all the morning in the district, and although it had been the means of making the course exceedingly heavy, the splendid entries of clubs and competitors and the assurance of accommodation so perfect should have been the means of attracting a much larger crowd.
With the departure of rain soon after midday. Came glorious sunshine and a fine atmosphere, and when the juniors were due to make their appearance everything looked promising for a fine afternoon's sport,
Junior turnout - The ten teams tamed out as per the programme, exactly 108 runners being dispatched on their way from the far side of the track. An improvement on previous arrangements enabled the runners to clear out of the grounds into the country without first traversing one circuit of the track.
There was one outstanding performer when one lap had been covered, about two miles; this was last year's winner, Louis Drinkwater, St. Helens Recreation. His performance at Rainford only two weeks ago did not show him in a favourable light. Evidently he had not prepared himself. On Saturday last he was a vastly superior runner. He strode out with confidence, his style easy, yet disclosing an amount of strength and speed. H. H. Herbert, a winner of two seasons ago, came next in order, with W. H. Begg about 80 yards behind, and J. W. Fraser the same distance away. The only changes in the next lap were the movement forward of McGuffog to second place and the falling away to fourth place of H. H. Herbert.
Drinkwater had increased his lead by about 50 yards, and as the leaders left the enclosure for the third and last time it looked like an easy and certain victory for the St. Helens Recreation man. Therefore, when the men were sighted half a mile from home it occasioned no surprise to find Drinkwater still forging ahead. He entered the ground with a handsome lead of 200 yards, which was reduced by W. H. Begg. Who ran a well-judged race.
The desperate efforts of many of the runners to regain a few higher places in the list was left, as is nowadays a common occurrence, until the track was reached, and only a matter of 300 yards had to be covered. The racing of some of the juniors at this period of the contest would have been creditable to many finishes in one-mile track races. These performances were exciting to the spectators. Who relished the vigorous struggles, but they could hardly have been so inspiriting to club officials, who saw chances thrown away earlier in the contest. As a matter of fact, the judges' task was no sinecure, and more than one dead-heat might have been recorded. As it was, the judges failed to separate the pair who followed the second man home.
The season's performances of Wallasey A.C. entitled them to the honour of being styled favourites for team awards, but, as is so often the case with absolute certainties, the result did not justify the confidence. The team met with a portion of bad luck at the start when a prominent member. R. J. Lowes, had the misfortune to be spiked, and his shoe torn from his foot. This weakening had its full effect, but not enough to make the difference of 33 points. H. S. Mellander bore his portion of the contest with a due regard for his ponderous junior figure. In the forefront at the start, he occupied a position two minutes behind the leader after one lap had been covered. W. Wharton who ran so well for St. Austin's, at Rainford, never figured on Saturday in a promising position. When the placings came to be totalled up it was seen that victory had gone to Liverpool Boundary Harriers, with Wallasey second, the same position they held a year ago. Members of the winning team were always prominent; they packed well in the early stages, and as the race progressed the back men gave the desired support to the leaders and made victory doubly certain by doing more than maintain their position in the last circuit.
JUNIOR INDIVIDUAL PLACINGS.
1. L. Drinkwater, St. Helens C and A.C.H.
2. W. H. Begg, Liverpool Boundary Harriers
3. J. W. Fraser, Southport H. and A C. and T. J. Brooks. Wallasey Harriers
4. J. McGuffog, Liverpool Boundary H.
5. H. H. Herbert, Liverpool Boundary H.
6. G. Barratt, Liverpool Boundary H.
8. A. T. Preece, Runcorn Holy Trinity H.
9. T. Edwards, St. Helens Recs. C and A.C.H.
10. E. S. Ball, Wallasey Harriers
11. J. A. Ball, Richmond Harriers
12. R. Evans, Liverpool Boundary Harriers
JUNIOR TEAM PLACINGS
1. Liverpool Boundary Harriers, 55 points
2. Wallasey A.C., 801/2 points
3. St. Helens Recreation C. and A.C.H., 156 points
4. St. Austin's H. and A.C., 158 points
5. Runcorn H.T.H, 183 points
6. Liverpool Oddfellows H., 237 points
Ten teams started and all finished teams, excepting Ryland's Workmen's R.C.
Drinkwater's time for the seven miles was 33min 48secs.
Senior contest - I like to see a man stand up for his rights, even though they only concern laws and regulations governing cross-country contests. Last year the regulation at Bebington which entailed the whole of the competitors traversing one lap of the track before leaving for the open country won't be means of causing an amount of confusion and irritation amongst the men with winning chances. This year the rule was deleted; for that happy state I believe some credit was due to Clarke. He figured in a peculiar position - on the reserve team of his club - one that required some understanding and believing, and I believe it was more as a mild protest against the track regulation than any other desire not to compete. Last year's race was a costly undertaking for the ex-champion, for, it must be remembered, he was badly spiked, and suffered enforced absence from road and track for almost twelve months.
When the twelve teams, 128 individuals, were liberated from their "pens", a fine sight was presented. The sun was in its last stage of brightness and sufficiently strong to intensify the bright-coloured costumes of the bunches of men as they rushed down the grass enclosure for the small opening in the fence that led into the country. The cry of "Go on, Clarke" indicated that he was the popular favourite and fancy. He was in the van hoping to take the lead as early as possible. Behind, at his side, everywhere out in front, was a struggling, panting mass of humanity, being urged on their way by force of circumstances. The vast majority were physical types of manhood worthy of admiration; a few were on the young side, and an equal number of aged men balanced affairs.
The time occupied by the leaders in going one circuit more than suggested the course was short. I am sorry for that circumstance, one probably that could not be avoided, for Messrs, H. H. Fleetwood and T. H. Blair had gone to infinite trouble to arrange an ideal cross-country route for their subjects, and limited land must account for the shortage.
When the competitors appeared for the first time Clarke had established a lead of 50 yards. T. Melia came next, with H. Holbrook, C. A. Millington, S. Welding, and C. J. Straw in that order. Away they went again, a long, straggling line of men, some showing signs of tbe rough country through which they had waded and slipped.
The story of the race is soon told. Clarke led all the way. Obviously he had the measure of his opponents from an early stage. In the second round Millington had taken second place. Holbrook lay third, and Straw had come Into fourth place. Rimmer being seventh. The finish of the third round showed Clarke with a slightly reduced lead, Holbrook being second, and S. Welding third, Rimmer having advanced one stage higher.
When Clarke arrived for the fourth and last time (91/2 miles) his lead had advanced to a full 50 yards. Holbrook second, Millington, Welding, and Rimmer fighting hard. The winner was never troubled, but we had one more example of the plodding perseverance of J. T. Rimmer. Who went all-out and secured third place.
The team struggle had been interesting. The artisans of Warrington were never loath to advance the claims of their team. Sefton, too had numerous friends, but Sutton I think rejoiced rather with the sympathy of the great majority. Quietly they must have been smiling, for, after the half-way mark, they were always formidable. Their tactics were clever. They contented themselves with slow and sure movements which culminated in success. Once more we are face to face with a problem: which of the West Lancashire clubs will lead in the Northern Senior Championship.
Sutton Harriers 55 points. I (last year they scored 67 points): Warrington A.C. 100 points, 2. Sefton Harriers 129 points, 3. Sacred Heart 138 points, 4. West Cheshire 189 points, 5. Warrington United 265 points, 6. W. T. Clarke gained the medal for first man home; C. A. Millington the award for first man in an unplaced team, and T. Melia the second; 103 men completed the full course.
SENIOR INDIVIDUAL PLACINGS.
1. W. T. Clarke, Sefton Harriers
2. H. Holbrook, Warrington A.C.
3. J. T. Rimmer, Sefton Harriers
4. S. Welding, Sutton Harriers
5. C. A. Millington, Liverpool Pembroke A. & C.C.
6. T. Melia, Sacred Heart H. (St. Helens)
7. C. J. Straw, Sutton Harriers
8. J. Parsonge, Warrington A.C.
9. Joe Bailey, Sutton Harriers
10. F. J. Whittle, Sutton Harriers
12. Dan Large, Sutton Harriers
13. H. Hardman, Sutton Harriers
14. J. W. Bailey, Sutton Harriers
15. J. Twiss, Warrington A.C.
Time: 45min 30sec.