This article draws on a wealth of information amassed by John Finney. It is hoped that a more detailed history covering 120 or so years can be produced in due course.
The current Stafford Harriers
Stafford Harriers Running Club came into being in April 1986 following the merger of Stafford Athletic Club and Cannock AC to form Cannock and Stafford AC. Its first home was GEC’s Social Club ( MRI Club – Metres, Relays and Instruments) and consequently was originally know as Stafford St Leonard’s Harriers. But it was not the first of its kind to grace the County town.
That honour goes to another ‘Stafford Harriers’, one that was established in 1893 with about forty members in town. Concentrating on cross country running but also competing in road and track races, it based itself firstly at YMCA rooms in Gaol Square. Club president was local MP and banker Thomas Salt of Baswich House. However, by Spring the following year club headquarters had moved to the Vine Hotel in Salter Street and twelve months later it relocated again, this time to the Junction Hotel situated on land currently occupied by the car sales lot down from the former Eagle public house in Newport Road.
Interestingly the 31 August of that year saw several of its athletes competing in races against rivals from other Staffordshire clubs on an impromptu track laid down at Lammascote Farm. This was the home of Stafford Cricket Club before it moved to The Hough and subsequently to its current Riverway base. But chief organiser of the meeting was Stafford Cycling Club and it was at that club’s headquarters, the White Hart Hotel located in Eastgate Street opposite what is now the Gatehouse Theatre, that post meeting celebrations took place.
But then Stafford Harriers disappeared from view, probably due to lack of support. And it would be another seventeen years before the town could boast a proper replacement. Until then the area had to make do with a ‘harrier’ club associated with the Stafford Institute in Earl Street and an ‘athletic club’ linked to Siemens, the forerunner of the English Electric company and GEC.
Then in 1912 was born Stafford and District Harriers based at The Old Blue Posts Hotel on the south side of Martin Street. The Earl of Harrowby, its first president was fairly quickly replaced by Colonel J. S. Nicholson, DSO. But like many other local sports clubs this new kid on the block soon became a casualty of Great War as young men trooped off to the trenches, thus denuding it of its membership.
There would now be no club running in the town for nearly another forty years; until the aforementioned Stafford A C came along. Its inaugural meeting was held on 24 February 1950 at the White Lion Inn, in White Lion Street, which was later demolished to make way for a new road layout associated with the construction of Queensway. This club lasted for thirty six years, rather longer than its predecessors, until the Cannock merger in 1986.