If you went to a local Bradford School you would have the opportunity to play fixtures and compete against many other schools. If you went to Linton you had the odd friendly against Netherside Hall, Threshfield and that was it, well almost.

In 1974 the PE teachers from the Special Schools in Bradford & one Leeds school decided to form the Bradford & Leeds Special Schools League. The schools involved were:

Haycliffe School, Great Horton.

Tong Park, Baildon.

Hilton Grange, Bramhope.

Temple Bank School.

McMillan School.

Victoria Park School, Leeds.

Tranfield School, Guiseley &

Linton School.

There may have been one or two others.

The schools were very different in make up and competition was always fierce.

The first cross country championship started in 1974 & I think it was at Linton, we came 5th.

We were determined, each year, to do better and beat the invincible Hilton Grange, a National Children’s Home in Bramhope.

 

This was a much larger school than Linton and so had many more children to pick a team from.

 

We tried every year to beat them but could only manage 2nd place for 5 years on the run whilst they were always winners.

 

We never gave up though and in April 1981 it finally happened, not only did we win but, we blew them apart, winning by 18 points which was amazing considering they had second and third individual places.

 

Our Gary Holland won the title by half a minute and the rest of the team

 

Philip Rieny, Nigel Spence, Michael Coffey, Brian Dean, Martin Abson, Colin Beetham & Donald James finished so close together that we were at last champions.

 

I wonder how many still have their championship medal?

 

I know that Michael Coffey went on to do great things running on the fells and encouraged his own three to follow in dad’s footsteps.

 

By the time the next championships came around I had left Linton.

 

As I type I can still feel the excitement of that day at McMillan School.

 

The first cutting is from the Telegraph & Argus letting Bradford know of our win & the second is from The Dales own Craven Herald who talk about some of the team being familiar faces in the Upper Wharfedale fell races. This was due in part to Skipton’s own Roger Ingham who encouraged us to participate at the local events, made us feel very welcome & always gave us a special mention.

 

The photographs come from the Telegraph & Argus photographer of the day but are not of great quality.

 

The first shows the race start. We cannot see any Linton runners as we started furthest away from the camera.

The second shows Linton’s Gary Holland, the winner, taking the lead.

The third shows Donald James & Nigel Spence making their way through the runners.

Teaching PE, after I left Linton, was never the same. I was so lucky to have such a wonderful & willing (sometimes) set of pupils to work with & nothing ever replaced that time together. Thank you all.

Ben McKenzie

(Helen Chippendale-James writes to say thanks for the picture, she had spotted her husband in one and was really pleased as she did not have any pictures of him as a lad!)

 

Hi Peter,
Helen Chippendale- James commented on Linton school (Grassington)''s Wall post.
Helen wrote: "Article Title 15, Crosscountry Championships photo number 3rd one down. I have used the photo as profile pic. Thanks you passing on our regards. Don remembers him, (Ben McKenzie) as one of his best teachers."

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