A sturdy little fellow from Wirral, S. Dodd, who is Northern champion, won individual laurels in the National Cross Country championship, at Himley Park, near Dudley, in somewhat sensational fashion. The champion of 1932, J. A. Burns (Elswick), who led practically throughout the race, held a commanding lead when there was less than three-quarters of a mile to go to the finishing point. Putting in an amazing finish, Dodd not only passed Burns in the last three hundred yards, but was so full of running that he actually won by forty yards. The Midland champion, Jack Holden, the much-fancied local candidate, finished third. The international champion did not run with his usual sparkle, and, as he mentioned at the prize-giving, the National seems to be his "bogey race.".
No stone had been left unturned to ensure the success of the race. The course of one short lap, and three of just over three miles each, was in excellent condition. The seven thousand spectators had a good view of all that was going on, and might have had a better view of the finish if they had kept within the limits of the large stretch of the course which had been fenced off near the start and the finish. Rugby B.T.H. were the only absent team, and it was a fine spectacle when the 273 runners, representing 35 teams, and 26 individuals, paraded. Mr. H. Palethorpe started the race with a gun instead of following the time-honoured custom of using a flag, and an excellent start it was.
Burns took the lead early on and for the first seven miles he was pretty, closely challenged by Holden, Dodd, and Sergeant Sutherland. In the last lap the ex-champion drew well away, only to be beaten in the remarkable manner already described.
The holder, Tom Evenson, was obviously short of training, but he picked up a good many positions in the closing stages.
Birchfield Harriers packed extremely well. They were without Fred Light and lost the services of Jack Webster. At seven miles Belgrave and Salford were threatening to rob them of a title they had won on 22 previous occasions, but in the last three miles the Stagbearers got together in their own inimitable way and they finished a team in the first 24 (that is discounting individuals). Salford beat Belgrave for second place by a single point.
The only other team to win a National since the War, apart from Birchfield, Hallamshire, were weakened by the absence of their captain, Ernest Harper, who was nursing a severe cold.