Athletics: Rich archive of photos bring back memories of Harlow AC in its heyday

Athletics / Thu 3rd Sep 2020 at 04:24pm

A TREASURE trove of photos of athletes from Harlow Athletics Club in the seventies has been unearthed by a former coach.

Brian Gleeson was a sprint coach at the club from the seventies until the early nineties.

However, he doubled up as a club photographer.

The photos had been languishing in his private collection, until his daughter encouraged him to out them on the Facebook page, Photos of Harlow, Old and New.

The photos showcase the strength in depth at the club over that period of time.

Brian said: “At meetings, I would be running around, encouraging my athletes, but also time-keeping and undertaking other duties.

When I had a minute, I would take a few photos.

“I do remember the night (September 1977) when we had our first International Floodlit Meeting.

“Daley Thompson competed with our star sprinter Andrew Pitts. There was also Olympic shot-putter, Geoff Capes and may more top athletes.

“I have been bowled over by the reaction and am pleased they have brought back happy memories”.

Essex 800 metre champion, Veronica Johannson (nee Cullen) said: “There were champions all over the place.

“Wendy McDonnell went on to compete at the 100 metre hurdles in the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Sue Mapstone won Bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 1978.

I ran with All-England Cross Country Champion, Toni Lattimore, who was as small as me but seemed to float through the mud. Ann Tamplin ran 2hrs 45 mins for the marathon.

The Dainton’s at High Jump, Sandra Hayes at Long Jump, the Rafferty brothers at middle distance. Richard Green held a world best time fro 1500 metres in his teenage years.

Then there were the coaches. Dave Patey, Nat Fisher, Roy Snow, Ken Day, to name just a few.

“There are so many people. It was a very happy time. The training was tough but the feeling of satisfaction at winning was great.”

Included in the photographs is the editor of YourHarlow, Michael Casey

He said: “I was just a bog standard club athlete whilst all those people you see mentioned were truly impressive athletes.

“But it taught me a lot about determination and many other life skills beside. I will never forget the encouragement of my PE teacher, Kelvin Evans and my middle distance coach, Nat Fisher.

“I will also never forget, 10 x 400 metres at 67 pace with 90 seconds recovery..on a Monday”

“When we are free of Covid-19, I would love to work with Brian and Harlow Museum to organise an exhibition and invite former athletes to have a jog down memory lane.”

All photos courtesy of Brian Gleeson.

You can see many more on


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10 Comments for Athletics: Rich archive of photos bring back memories of Harlow AC in its heyday:

2020-09-03 21:26:50

Yes great memories great Club great coaches and life skills taught to us all to go out work hatd and you can achoeve anything....the discipiline to train to achieve ones goals was instilled at this club . Grest article Michael and fantastic photos Brian ...

Jason keen
2021-06-10 19:01:40

Have you anything from1981to 1983 Harlow athletic club.i believe I still hold the record for 400 m.

Paul Smith.
2021-09-15 20:15:55

Great times at Harlow AC. I was there 1967 'til about 1974

Ricky Fox
2021-11-18 17:03:28

Hi Jason I remember racing you over 300m in November 1984 at Harlow. I really enjoyed our Open Meets

Ricky Fox
2021-11-18 17:26:44

I echo Veronica's views. Never forget my first ever sess as 15 year old sprinter. Only Nat was available so joined in with his group's 25 x 100m with 30 sec rec. Ran flat out first 2 reps and suffered remaining 23.. Great times!

Geoff Hale
2022-05-11 21:15:07

Cecil was our coach back then. What a surprise to see your name Paul after all this time. Lots of memories great times. So pleased my 2 sons joined the club later.

Jim Johnson
2022-12-04 16:51:57

Ken Day was my teacher at Brays Grove 1964-1968. What happened to him?

Staff Reporter
2022-12-05 11:37:35

You can still find Ken down at the Mark Hall track with Harlow AC most weeks.

Mike Canty
2023-05-11 00:39:54

I remember Dave Horton well. He was a tough little distance runner and liked his music. We hitched to Knebworth to see Led Zeppelin and drank our way through the weekend at the Reading Rick Festival

Ken Spencer
2023-05-27 06:15:06

Great article brings back memories of great times. What a club we had in the 70's and 80's coached by Cecil Smith who moved to Canada to early.

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