The eighth annual competition for national title honours took place on Saturday last, the venue on this occasion being Four Oaks Park, Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham. It is worthy of not that until the present year the contest has always been decided in the metropolis, and though provincial clubs had repeatedly made overtures for the competition to be held alternately in the North, South, and Midlands, so that the annual gathering of cross-country clubs might be a truly representative one, they had in variably met with the strongest opposition by the Southern contingent, who were evidently determined to hold the bridle-rein in their own hands and conduct the meeting entirely to their own liking. The unfairness of such a principle is too manifest to need any explanation, but eventually the climax was reached, and, after all attempts to induce the late committee of management to treat foreign clubs with the consideration which they were justly entitled to had completely failed, the provincials finally decided to 'boycott' the then existing association, and organise a thoroughly representative Cross Country Union. Accordingly, a meeting of representatives of cross-country clubs was called together in London, the result being the formation of the present association. An entirely new code of rules were drawn up, and, so far as matters have at present gone, there appears to be every prospect of the reform league bringing about the much-needed. improvements, though it is only natural enough to suppose that any association, no matter of what denomination, invariably has many difficulties to contend against in its infancy. At any rate, that is the result of experience, and such may be said, to be the case in the present instance, though what few difficulties may have arisen in connection with this organisation, have been surmounted in a manner reflect-ing great credit upon the committee of management. The result of this years' experience to, that a slight alteration in rules will need consideration before next year's meeting, so as to effectually remove any doubts as to the bona fides or correct qualification of runners representing the various clubs entered for the race. The qualification rule, as at present constituted, certainly requires amendment, for the omission of one simple word has been the means of letting men into the race whose entries ought most certainly to have been rejected. It is an unpleasant reflection that such a simple oversight should have been the means of creating dissatisfac-tion to certain clubs entered for the competition the Liverpool Harriers to wit, who decided to withdraw from the contest on account of being dissatisfied with the qualification of certain representatives.
Unfortunately for the financial success of the meeting, it happened to clash with a very important football fixture at the Lower Grounds, which proved a strong attraction to the Birmingham public, and undoubtedly had the effect of diminishing the attendance at Four Oaks Park by many thousands. As it was, there were barely 1,500 persons present to witness the battle of England's cross-country championship aspirants, but the grand stands were well patronised, the 'bookies', as usual, playing prominent part in the proceedings by their shouts of '5 to 1 bar one'. Of the six clubs entered there was only one absentee, vis., the Liverpool Harriers, who had withdrawn from the competition for the reason above stated, thus leaving the issue to be fought out between Moseley, Birchfield, South London, Cheshire Tally-ho, and Small Heath Harriers. After the magnifi-cent form displayed by the Birchfield representatives in the Midland event, it was at one time anticipated that they would repeat their previous performance, but during the last week or two they have experienced the moot persistent bad luck, no less than five of their most prominent performers being rendered hors de combat, four of whom were incapacitated from taking part in the race, whilst H. Bate, who ran so well in the Midland event, was suffering from a kenched ankle, and was certainly unfit to compete. On the other hand, the Moseley Harriers had strengthened their team by the addition of three well-known Godiva Harriers, and the remainder of their team appeared in the pink of condition, which accordingly gave them a great advantage over their old opponents. The South London were also deprived of the services of J. B. Fore-man and Lidiard, which considerably reduced their chances.
At 4-20 the string of runners, numbering 48, were marshalled to the starting point in front of the grand stand and despatched on their journey, W. J. Lawrence at once cutting out the pace, Cattlin, Snook, and Hickman following close behind. Bate and Hook bringing up the rear. Half way round the course Snook went to the front, and on passing the grandstand leading into the paddock the positions were Snook, Cattlin, Carter, Alexander, and George. After emerging on to Sutton Common and passing under the Railway Bridge, Alexander took up the running, and on entering the wood was slightly in advance of Thornton. George, Snook. Etkins, Hickman, Cattlin, Carter, Humphries, Lewin, Prescott, M'Master, Coad, Bate, and Law. The Birchfield men at this point were all running well, and so far the points were in their favour. Passing Princess Alice's Orphanage, three miles from the start, Thornton was leading, closely pursued by George, Snook, Alexander, Hickman, Etkins, Carter, and Smith, in the order named. Shortly afterwards George commenced to cut out the running at a rare pace, and at Barr Common, which to half-distance, he was more than half a furlong to the good. Carter, Lewin, Bate, Coad, Snook Thornton, Smith, Etkins, and Alexander being the next to make their appearance. George still continued to pursue the even tenour of his way, and, taking to the road two miles away from home, was several hundred yards to the good. The order of the attendants were much the same, Hickman having improved his position. The Birchfield men, who, up to this point, had been running prominently, were now beginning to show signs of distress, and it was evident the race between the clubs was practically over. George entered Four Oaks Park with a 300 yards lead, looking as fresh as a daisy; Carter came next, then Hickman, Smith, Thornton, Etkins, Coad, Lewin, Alexander. M'Master, Law, and Humphries. Several alterations took place on the course. George maintained his lead to the end, and won by 1min. 3sec. from Carter.