Unsuccessful athletes should join the Poly!

2 July, 2014 No Comments News
Ralph Harrison

Ralph Harrison

The above slogan was on memorabilia brought in by the grandson of a Poly athlete who competed in race walking in the 1908 Olympics. Keith Harrison was researching his grandfather Ralph Harrison’s connections with the club, and as well as bringing his Olympic Competitor’s medal and cap to show us, also brought the Dodd trophy (no it wasn’t one of our ‘missing’ ones-Ralph was allowed to keep it after winning it three times). Ralph’s story in some ways echoed Chariots of Fire. He only competed in race walking events during the week, never on a Sunday because he was a strict Methodist. Keith’s view is that this also brought him into conflict with Alderman Dodd the benefactor of the Dodd trophy, as the teetotal Ralph Harrison refused to go for a drink with Ald. Dodd.

Ralph Harrison’s race plan for the 1908 Olympics held in London that year unfortunately didn’t go well. He was entered for the 3,500 metres (yes, that’s correct, not yards) but unfortunately was disqualified. He was also entered for the 10 miles race walk, and had a good chance of doing well in this. However, he hadn’t banked on the unco-operation of his employer. Ralph Harrison got through the heats on the Thursday to gain a place in the final on the Friday. However he was told to return to work, so was unable to compete. It’s not recorded whether his relationship with his employer was cordial after that!

Keith Harrison

Keith Harrison

Keith has managed to build up a picture of his ancestor’s race walking career until the early 1920s. However if anyone has any Poly memorabilia that might relate to Ralph Harrison please get in touch with myself.

About the Author

Noreen Rees

Grants and Publicity Noreen has been a member of North Shields Poly since 1994, and has represented the club in road running, cross country and on the track. Occasionally she has won medals! She previously edited the Poly magazine in the 1990s (yes in those far off days before websites!) and has contributed to articles in the local press, as well as reviewing the occasional play. Noreen is hoping that Poly members will send her stories of their heroic efforts of running against the odds, training tips, opinions on the latest running technological advances, and race reports.

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