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    RANDWICK-BOTANY HARRIERS INC.
    A BRIEF HISTORY

    In the early 1900's professional athletics events were conducted in Botany. However, the handicap system brought the footrace into dispute. When interest in athletics was revived, it was on an amateur basis. In 1907, the Botany Harriers was founded. Within a year the club had won the long distance teams championships from 1908 to 1920 (war postponed the competition for 3 years).

    In the 1920's the club recruited schoolboys from St. Joseph's College and began to star in track and field events. A ladies and junior boys' section was added in 1926. L. Goff, A Macdonald, A. Hayes & J. Patterson (men) and C. Kennedy and E. Evans (ladies) were selected to represent Australia in the British Empire games of 1938 at the S.C.G. The latter were the first Botany woman to represent Australia at the Empire Games (now The Commonwealth Games).
    Botany Harriers back in 1910
    Winter Fixture card from 1920 shows that winter season included variety of races with distances from 3 to 15 miles.
    That year winter season started with NSW A.A.A Grand Opening Distance Season race - 4 miles. Among other races mentioned on the card were Novice Cross Country Champs NSW (5 miles) and Parramatta to Sydney Open Race (15 miles).
    It is interesting to mention that last season competition was on the track and programme included following events: 75 yards, 3/4 mile, 120 hurdles, Broad Jump, Pole Vault and Allies' Relay.
    Detail from the front of Fixture Card - Winter 1920

    From 1945 the various athletic clubs began to sponsor schoolboy championships with a view to encouraging the sport & boosting membership. Having no secondary schools in the area until 1961, Botany could not participate in this development and as a result, Botany schoolboys were drawn into other clubs. As Randwick-Kensington was in a similar dilemma, the two clubs amalgamated in 1959, thereby gaining a larger area containing several large secondary schools. (As a historical note, Randwick and Kensington clubs amalgamated in 1932. Their member George Golding competed in the first Empire Games at Canada in 1930 and 1932 Olympic games in Los Angeles.)

    Every athletic club desires its own athletic track. Towards this end, Randwick-Botany leased an old tip site at Pagewood from Botany Council and was able to provide a local ground for athletics and a club house for the athletics club. This track was officially opened in October 1973, as a trial for the British Commonwealth games. The first track was bitumen. However, this was replaced with a synthetic called "Tartan" for the above Games Trials and was the first such type laid in Australia and also featured the first straight 200m.
    NSW 10k cross country championship at Randwick Racecourse in 1933,
    Chic Hensley (37) in a leading pack

    John Russell competed in the 1956 Olympic Games at Melbourne in the Marathon and at the 1958 Commonwealth Games at Cardiff. Also Allan Lawrence, Ron Crawford and Gary Knoke competed in the Olympics in Rome, Tokyo and Mexico city. Whilst Gary Knoke and Lim MCCann represented in the Commonwealth Games of 1962 and 1966. Gary also competed in the Olympics in Munich in 1972. Tony Manning won the 1970 Commonwealth Games steeplechase in Edinburgh.


    Jane Saville, probably Australia's best female walker competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney as well as the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1994 and Kuala Lumpur in 1998. Other members to compete at the Olympics include George Avery, Bill Burchart, Darren Clark (1998 Seoul) and The Empire Games-David Johnson and Bryce McKay
    .

    Allan Lawrence getting bronze medal at Melbourne Olympics in 1956, Vladimir Kutz was first and Jozsef. Kovacs second

    Over the last few years the club has won many Track & Field premierships but it is the long distance events where the club has regained its dominance and is the current premiers.

    More historical photos are available here.

    The Botany Harriers 'Minute Book' dating from 9th July 1907 to 30th October 1909 can be downloaded from here.

     

    By Ken Goldman
    Distance Secretary
    1974-1984 & Life Member
    Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2016 23:16
     
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