The annual contest for the National Cross Country Championship took place on Saturday afternoon, the venue being Sutton Coldfield. The attendance was miserably small, not more than 500 people braving the unpropitious elements. This year the event might truly be titled 'International,' both Scotland and Ireland being represented. Cheshire Tally Ho Hare and Hounds having scratched, the following eight clubs remained to do battle for the coveted title: Salford Harriers (holders) Finchley Harriers, Worcester Harriers, Haddington Harriers (Dublin), Birchfield Harriers, Clydesdale (Scottish Champions), South London Harriers and Coventry Godiva Harriers. Last year Salford Harriers were victorious over Birchfield Harriers by a single point, and as the Worcester team defeated the latter a week ago for the Midland Championship, the contest decided on Saturday assumed very open character.
The result justified this opinion as only 3 points separated the first three teams. When the runners were sent on their 10-mile journey, Souch, Parry, Morton led the field a merry pace, their forward position serving them well, as at the first gate the leaders got well away. The ruck had a perfect scramble to get over; several took the hedge and were severely scratched and shaken. After going two miles Birch (Birchfield Harriers), runner up to Jeff the Midland Championship, had a bad stitch and was soon hopelessly in the rear this was a sad blow to the Birchfield men, and had a great effect on the result. Crossing the common to the Park Wall, Jeff displaced Morton and Parry, Souch having lost a lot of ground through a fall. rapidly overtook the leaders, and the road gave Parry the go bye, taking strong lead, Morton in close attendance with his club mate, and Jeff fourth.
Travelling a mile in this order, Souch had another nasty fall which lost him quite 60 yards. Pulling himself together, our plucky little local was soon on terms with the two Salford cracks. Again taking running he went along in splendid style. At this point Souch unfortunately missed the trail, and followed by Parry and Morton, the three leaders lost fully 100 yards, letting up Hannah, Jeff, and Fowler.
The Worcester Captain had a short spell of pace making, but was soon slipped by Parry, who, with Morton, gradually drew away, and they were never again headed. Parry taking the last gate like a real steeplechaser, while Morton climbed it, got a decided lead, and coming down the 200 yards straight full of running, landed a most popular win, Morton 20 yards behind was second, followed by Fowler (Finchley Harriers) third, with Souch and Jeff four and fifth respectively.
The winner's time, 53m. 10sec, clearly shows that distance covered was well under 10 miles, but in spite of this the performance was highly meritorious, the going in places being exceptionally heavy. Souch's two unlucky upsets handicapped him greatly, and but for these mishaps he would have troubled the winner. Under the circumstances it is surprising he got so near. Jeff ran gamely, but at no time in the race did appear likely to repeat his performance of the previous week. Harris (Worcester) obtained a useful position for his team, did W. Greaves, Phillips, and Pitt, who completed the Worcester first six.
The judges had great difficulty placing the runners, the spectators crowding on the track; in fact, the arrangements have room for great improvement. The excitement was intense as Salford, Birchfield, and Worcester men completed the journey, and it was soon evident that the scoring of these teams would be very close. After a long wait the official result was given as below : E. W. Parry, Salford 1; W. H. Morton, Salford 2; A. J. Fowler, Finchley 3 C. Souch, Worcester 4; R. Jeff, Worcester 5