The eighty seventh English National Cross-Country Championships took place in Graves Park, Sheffield. The course was ankle deep in mud in places caused by the melting snow but also had some fast stretches and the course had some steep inclines and long gradual declines and was nine miles consisting of three laps of three miles.
The main threats for the team title were likely to be Bolton United Harriers, Gateshead Harriers (the defending champions), Tipton Harriers and Cardiff, and the strong Southern clubs, Aldershot, Farnham and District AC and Thames Valley Harriers.
David Bedford, the defending champion, was absent with a hamstring injury suffered at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand, John Wild (Derby and County AC) had the inter-county title under his belt and was expected to feature, Southern Champion Frank Briscoe (Hercules-Wimbledon AC), Northern title holder Bob Patterson (Blaydon Harriers) and Midland winner Dave Lem (Birchfield Harriers) were also fancied to win.
A field of about 1,200 set off by the starter Michael Kelly on the course that had been churned up badly by two previous races and the runners experienced periods of sunshine as they battled over the course.
On the first lap the Scottish pair of Andy McKean (Edinburgh AC) and Jim Brown (Haringey Southgate AC) set the pace closely followed by Frank Briscoe, Bernie Ford (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC), Grenville Tuck (Cambridge & Coleridge AC), Dave Black (Small Heath Harriers), Ray Smedley (Birchfield Harriers) and Peter Standing (Brighton & Hove AC).
A break occurred two-thirds of the way around the second lap as Jim Brown and Bernie Ford moved away from McKean who was 15 yards adrift, David Black was further back in seventh place.
A mile into the third lap Black, who had overcome a stitch, started his charge to victory. With one mile left of the race Black had caught the leaders and used the last mile to extend his lead to 40 yards winning by 6 seconds in 47min. 42sec.
Black who was National youth champion in 1971 and junior champion in 1972 said after the race "I did not think I would make it. I suffered with stitch on the second lap and I felt bad. I could not get going until the end and then it suddenly clicked. Perhaps I should have taken my time and gradually gone through the field."