The John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League
Our thanks go to Jeff Aston for transcribing all of these fixture dates and venues from original lists, and to various contributors for their memories. If you can contribute your own memories for particular fixtures, or if you know any of the missing dates and venues (back in the 1960s), please Let Us Know. If you have any archive photographs of classic league moments, we would also love to see them.
Notes (Hover over Memories for More) Contributors to memories: Derek Osborne (DO), Hedydd Davies (HD), Mick McGeogh (McG), Neil Miller (NM), Pat Gallagher (PG), Pete Morris (PM). If you can contribute, please email your recollections, address above.
Memories McG: For this season only, the league was known as the Pontypool & District League, and the venues reflect this.
Thanks! NM: A big thank you to Mick McGeogh for searching through historic copies of Athletics Weekly to fill in the dates and venues 1963-1969
Memories PM: My first race (I think) was at Gilwern in October 1965 and, in over 100 races, there were many courses - like Singleton, Weston, Exeter and Heath Park - which I always enjoyed running.
Note McG: First fixture not known
Memories PM: I appreciate that current health & safety considerations mean that the bridge over the river Ogmore is a particular concern but my view on the course used at Bridgend in recent years is not as challenging as the one used 40/50 years ago, which incorporated the hill and fields on the other side of the river.
Memories McG: My first participation was in the Boys race at Newbridge Fields, Bridgend in October 1970 (for Barry Boys Comp). I always hated Bridgend - far too muddy, especially when the local farmer ploughed his fields, seemingly for us. But that's why the league is so good - 5 very different races, different conditions, something for everyone. I believe I have completed 190 races and 1 DNF over 50 seasons.
Memories McG: Very few people had heard of the (21 year old) winner, but they soon found out a lot more: 1. Steve Jones (Swindon) 30:16; 2. Ted Turner (Bristol) 30:34; 3. Ali Cole (Swansea) 30:37; 4. Tony Milosorov (Tipton) 30:49; 5. Peter Ratcliffe (Cardiff) 31:01; 6. Bernie Hayward (Cardiff) 31:04; 7. Dave Hopkins (Newport) 31:08; 8. Malcolm Firth (Univ College Cardiff) 31:15; 9. Fred Bell (Cleddau) 31:21; 10. George Blackburn (Westbury) 31:25; 11. Dave James (Cardiff) 31:26; 12. Rod Cornish (Westbury) 31:30; 13. Andrew Darby (Cwmbran) 31:39; 14. Bill Valentine (Westbury) 31:45; ...
Cwmbran Continued ... 15. John Theophilus (Swansea) 31:55; 16. Ian Kellie (Westbury) 32:05; 17. Dai Flynn (Swansea) 32:09; 18. Tony Davies (RRoW) 32:15; 19. Paul Darney (Cardiff) 32:26; 20. Colin Mattock (Bristol) 32:31; 21. Mike Lane (Cwmbran) 32:37; 22. Michael Ligema (Aberystwyth) 32:40; 23. Jeff Bartley (Cardiff) 32:42; 24. Chris Myers (Bridgend) 32:55; 25. Mick McGeoch (Barry) 33:02. 163 FINISHED. TEAMS: (5 to score); 1. Cardiff 763; 2. Westbury 751; 3. Swansea 736
Memories PG: I think I ran my first Gwent in 1977 a very unfit Pat. From then I ran the Gwent every XC season
|1979-1980||1||06-Oct-1979||Bishop Vaughan School|
Memories HD: My best performance was in October 1981 when as a veteran I finished 14th overall in the senior race at Blaise Castle, Bristol. That evening I drove up to Llanberis and the following morning finished ninth in the first Snowdonia marathon.
Memories PG: My favourite was the old Bridgend course followed by the old Blaise course both very testing. Always wanted to walk at the of the recently ploughed field at Bridgend but the team manager always stood at the top behind the hedge to scream at me!!
|2||27-Oct-1984||Blaise Castle||See video page!|
Certificate of Achievement
|1985-1986||1||05-Oct-1985||Cardiff - Heath Park||
Memories HD: In 1985 I got Carmarthen Harriers to be seriously involved in the Gwent Cross Country League and as the Harriers chairman (1981-2018) organised from 1985 onwards all the Carmarthen and District Harriers Athletics teams at all the Gwent League matches as well as organising five Gwent League matches at the United Counties showground at Nantyci, Carmarthen. In that period I did not miss a single Gwent League race.
|3||30-Nov-1985||Cardiff - Fairwater|
Memories PG: Race I remember most was at Barry 1986. [My daughter] Lynne won the novice girls race and I won the senior ladies. NM: At the final fixture at Swansea, Pat won overall lady and vet, while daughter Lynne finished runner up novice girl.
|2||25-Oct-1986||Cardiff - Fairwater|
|5||14-Mar-1987||Cardiff - Heath Park|
|4||06-Feb-1988||Cardiff - Fairwater|
|5||12-Mar-1988||Cardiff - Heath Park|
|1988-1989||1||08-Oct-1988||Cardiff - Heath Park|
Memories NM: Organising club Weston AC took advantage of the creation of artificial sand dunes for the Weston Beach Motorcross Race to host a very unusual and challenging cross-country fixture. On the club coach for the journey home we set off after the usual head-count. A hundred metres down the road there were screams from the back 'you've left Roy Fox behind', and looking out of the back window sure enough our 84 year-old Club President was running down the prom after us! It turned out that one of the youngsters had invited a friend to come back with us, altering the numbers. Never rely on a head count!
Memories NM: I think this was the fixture which included Bleadon Hill, making it more of a fell race that a cross-country run!
|4||Heath Park, Cardiff||Cancelled (Threat to Daffodils)|
Memories PG: I was leading overall seniors lady at Carmarthen. It was very wet and muddy and I looked like a duck; hate wet slippery mud, I came 3rd so lost the overall - ugh! Nicky [Haines] and I still talk about that race at Carmarthen
Any photos? DO: Do we have any pics of people plunging into the stream in Exeter? On one occasion we had to run a few yards up the stream. Not quite as deep as Cantonian, Cardiff (the ski slope course!) on one occasion when there had been a fair bit of rain.
|3||28-Nov-1992||Forest of Dean|
|3||25-Nov-1995||Forest of Dean|
|3||30-Nov-1996||Forest of Dean|
|3||29-Nov-1997||Forest of Dean|
|4||07-Feb-1998||Parc Bryn Bach, Tredegar||
Memories DO: The 1998 'Tredegar' fixture was at Bryn Bach Park, organised by Brecon AC! Not the course that was used in 2018 but on the North West of the park - very wet and muddy with a fairly strong wind - no change there then!
Memories NM: The portaloos weren't picked up until the Sunday morning, by which time some (presumably) errant youths had burnt them down. A protracted legal case followed, which is why there were no fixtures at Blaise Castle for several years after that.
|1998-1999||1||04-Oct-1998||Cardiff - Llandaff Fields|
Memories DO: One of the senior women was shot in the rear at Exeter - and when the police took the lad to his father there was apparently no blame to attach to the youth but the father wanted to sue the male runners who dragged the kid out of the bushes and handed him over to the police. We didn't go back to Exeter after that!
|3||04-Dec-1999||Bristol - Hengrove|
|2000-2001||1||14-Oct-2000||Dare Valley County Park Aberdare|
|2||04-Nov-2000||Bristol - Hengrove|
|3||02-Dec-2000||Bracelands Forest of Dean|
Cancelled (Foot and Mouth Disease) NM: Although it affected cattle and sheep rather than humans, the 2001 UK outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease is the only event in modern times that remotely compares to the Covid-19 pandemic. Farms, footpaths, parks, and many parts of the countryside were closed for months on end. Viral plumes could carry for miles, and in the end more than 6 million cattle and sheep were slaughtered before the disease was brought under control.
|2||03-Nov-2001||Dare Valley County Park Aberdare|
Memories DO: The farm course used the year after foot and mouth was definitely in the top 10 hardest courses!
|2||02-Nov-2002||Dare Valley County Park Aberdare|
|3||01-Dec-2002||University of Bath|
|2||02-Nov-2003||Leckwith Stadium Cardiff|
|3||30-Nov-2003||University of Bath|
|2||31-Oct-2004||Leckwith Stadium Cardiff|
|3||05-Dec-2004||University of Bath|
|5||12-Mar-2005||Tredegar House Newport|
|2005-2006||1||15-Oct-2005||Leckwith Stadium Cardiff|
|3||04-Dec-2005||University of Bath|
|2006-2007||1||14-Oct-2006||Leckwith Stadium Cardiff|
|2||12-Nov-2006||University of Bath|
|2||11-Nov-2007||University of Bath|
|4||09-Feb-2008||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
|2||09-Nov-2008||University of Bath|
|4||14-Feb-2009||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
|2||08-Nov-2009||University of Bath|
|3||06-Dec-2009||Hestercombe Gardens Taunton|
|4||13-Feb-2010||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
|4||12-Feb-2011||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
|2||13-Nov-2011||University of Bath|
|4||11-Feb-2012||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
|2||10-Nov-2012||Parc de Pugh Brecon|
|4||09-Feb-2013||University of Bath|
|5||02-Mar-2013||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
Memories NM: We went back to Pontypool in 2013 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the league; The course was hilly and made very slippery by some intense rain showers. DO: Those who didn't have spikes or fells were sliding back down one of the banks (when they were meant to be going up!). NM One runner made 4 attempts to get up the first bank, and several seniors also 'spun off' on a tight bend at the end of each lap, having no choice but to 'let go' through the spectators and down a bank.
|3||08-Dec-2013||University of Bath|
|4||08-Feb-2014||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon||
Memories NM: This now legendary event was held in a severe gale and continuous rain. No tents survived, and we were lucky that all participants did. The storm had been forecast for further east, but made a direct hit on Brecon.
|2||09-Nov-2014||Cardiff - Llandaff Fields|
|3||06-Dec-2014||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
|2||08-Nov-2015||Cardiff - Llandaff Fields|
|5||05-Mar-2016||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
|2||12-Nov-2016||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
|2017-2018||1||14-Oct-2017||Cardiff - Llandaff Fields|
|2||11-Nov-2017||Penlan Leisure Centre Brecon|
|5||03-Mar-2018||Blaise Castle||Cancelled (Wales snowbound)|
|2018-2019||1||13-Oct-2018||Cardiff - Llandaff Fields|
|3||02-Dec-2018||Parc Bryn Bach||
Memories NM: This was the first time at what could have been a very scenic venue on the top of the moors, but alas it was wet and windy all day. One of the club tents was blown into the lake, where it was left abandoned.
|2019-20||1||12-Oct-2019||Cardiff - Llandaff Fields|
|5||01-Mar-2020||Singleton Park, Swansea||
Cancelled (Course Waterlogged) NM: If it hadn't been for the pandemic sweeping over us in March, we'd remember this winter for being exceptionally wet! We had the wettest February on record, and the average winter rainfail over the UK was more than 18 inches.
|2020-21||All||All Fixtures Cancelled (Covid-19 Pandemic)|
|2021-22||1||16-Oct-2021||Cardiff - Llandaff Fields|
|2||14-Nov-2021||Parc de Pugh, Brecon|
|3||04-Dec-2021||Pembrey Country Park|
Memories NM: This was a day after Storm Eunice hit the UK with gusts of 50+ knots. Thankfully, only a couple of trees were down on the course, but at least one tent blew away. The ground was very soft, and not only did we have to push the ambulance out of the mud, but the day ended with a dozen senior men, having just finished their race, pushing a 3 tonne toilet block out of the mud!
|5||19-Mar-2022||Singleton Park, Swansea|