League History - Club Amalgamations (15/10/2017)

We are always interested to hear of historical aspects of the League and the role it has played in the development of athletics in our area. Terry Egan looks into the history & geographical background of two clubs that now form Rugby & Northampton A.C. in the context of the Birmingham & District Invitation Cross Country League.

"Before the merger of Rugby & District AC and Northampton Phoenix AC on April 1st 2002 the two separate clubs have a previous history in the Mens Birmingham Cross Country League.

BTH Recreation Club, Rugby as they were first known first entered the League in 1955 where they started in division Two. In 1960, they were promoted for the first time to Division One and then became AEI Rugby.

They competed under this name for 11 years and during this period they won their first title by clinching Division Two in 1963. They remained in Division One for the next four years.

On gaining promotion back to Division One the club changed their name again to Rugby & District AC in 1971.

After one season they were relegated again and spent the next 15 years in Division Two.

In 1987, they dropped down to Division Three for the first time in their history, but were soon promoted again for the following season.

In 1991, Rugby & District AC won the Division Three title and were promoted again the following season as runners-up in Division Two.

The 1992-93 season proved to be their last in Division One. They were to spend the next 8 years in division Two with Northampton Phoenix AC.

The final season for Rugby & District in 2001-02 saw them winning the Division Three title again.

Northampton & County AC first appeared in the Birmingham League in 1962 in Division Three and after four years they were promoted to Division Two. They held on in that division for a second season before being relegated, only to be promoted back up again to division Two in 1969.

The club failed to finish a full team in the final race of the 1969-70 season and were instantly relegated, but soon after that Northampton & County had dissolved.

They rose again as Northampton Phoenix AC in 1972, but never entered a team in the Birmingham League until 1981. Unfortunately, this was short lived, because they had an incomplete team in only the second race in Division Three. They didn't apply for re-election until 1985 and they started back in Division Four, which had been newly formed the previous year. The club clinched promotion straightaway and then had four years in Division Three before clinching their only ever title at Princethorpe College in 1990.

For the next 12 years they competed in Division Two and then in the final race of their final season as Northampton Phoenix the club had their first team victory in Division Two, their first individual winner and clinched promotion to Division One for the first time, finishing in third place on countback.

Rugby & Northampton as separate clubs spent 12 seasons together in the same division and of the 48 races contested between them, Northampton had 28 victories, to Rugby's 20.

Rugby spent 9 seasons in total in Division One, 34 in Division Two and 4 in Division Three. Northampton had 15 total years in Division Two with 10 in Division Three and 1 in Division 4.

Rugby & Northampton AC spent their first three years in Division One and then in the 2005-06 season they won promotion after one season in Division Two.

The following season the League decided to extend division One from 13 clubs to 16 and therefore,there was no relegation for one season.

Rugby & Northampton finished bottom, but survived because of the new format and went on to have their longest spell to date of 5 years in the top flight.

In 2011-12 they found themselves back in Division Two, but went on to win the title and the start of the 2017-18 season will see a 6th consecutive year in Division One and 14 in total.

Since 1955, Rugby and Northampton have had four individual winners each, for Rugby, Roy Bateman-2 wins in Div.2, Stewart Harris – 1 win in Div.2, Seamus Lynch – 1 win in Div.2, Andy Evans – 2 wins in Div.3. For Northampton, John Love – 2 wins in Div.3, Terry Egan – 2 wins – 1 in Div 4 & 1 in Div.3, Mark McKay – 1 win in Div.2, Jacob Allen – 1 win in Div.1."

There are many other League clubs that have been formed following an amalgamation of historically famous Midland clubs or, indeed, a breakaway or split from another club. Some clubs simply folded and their members switched to the nearest available active club. Two clubs that spring to mind include Dudley & Stourbridge Harriers and Wolverhampton & Bilston A.C..

We would welcome an insight into such aspects of any member clubs' existance in the context of the League competition. Perhaps you could cover not just the athletes and the club performances but any officials, officers or team managars who have been involved over the years and the stories they can tell over the years. You could also cover any courses the club has used when promoting races.

Please submit your stories to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.