Birchfield Harriers is the UK’s premier athletics club in the Midlands and has been represented at every summer Olympiad bar one since 1908. Over one hundred Birchfield Harriers have flown the flag for their country in the Olympic Games in the last hundred years and the north Birmingham club intend to increase this number in Tokyo in 2020.
The last quarter of the nineteenth century witnessed a most significant period of sporting history in England and in particular in Birmingham.
The Midlands was a centre of sporting activity and the main venue for many important events was the Aston Lower Grounds, which was part of the grounds of Aston Hall. The sporting activities took place on the meadow. The Warwickshire Country cricket club played some of its games there before moving to Edgbaston in 1886.
When Aston Villa football club was formed in 1874 they played on the meadow before moving to their present location. Some years later a cinder path was laid and Birchfield Harriers held its first track meeting in 1879.
Birchfield Harriers were created as the result of a cross country race, promoted by Excelsior football club at Aston Lower Grounds, ending in a fiasco through a faulty trail. Prizes were awarded but it was felt by some that the race should have been re-run. As a result, a group of dissatisfied cross country runners agreed to a meeting in a Sunday school in Wheelers Street, Lozells to discuss the formation of their own athletics club. Birchfield Harriers came into existence and took its name from the Birmingham district in which they based their activities.
Birchfield Harriers has been at the forefront of innovation and development of the sport of athletics for more than a century and a quarter, being the first club to own its own track and the first to employ a paid administrator.
Birchfield Harriers introduce youngsters between the ages of 9 and 15 years of age at their AGA Academy at the Alexander Stadium on Saturday mornings. In addition to this programme the club has several ongoing sponsorship initiatives, which are designed to assist the club and its membership.
With an enduring reputation in distance running and multi events, the “Stags” have also had a significant impact on track and field events, not only at national level but also on the global stage.
Current athletes include Danny Talbot, Matthew Hudson-Smith, Eliott Giles, Jarryd Dunn, Shara Proctor, Sara Treacy and Paralympian Laura Sugar. Numerous other international and young athletes include Joel Fearon, Meghan Beesley, Sally Peake, Laura Samuel, Dannish Walker-Khan, Leon Reid, Peter Shand, Theo Campbell, Katie Stainton, Nikita Campbell-Smith, Georgina Rogers, Amy Hillyard, Elliot Rutter, Christian Byron, Sarah McDonald, Georgina Outten, Will Richardson, Greg Millar, Craig Lacy, Jake Porter, Joseph Hylton, Heather Paton, Bethan Partridge, Mike Edwards, Sophie Cook, Jack Phipps, Sineade Gutzmore, Julian Reid, Scott Rider, Daniel Cartwright, Adam Damadzic, Chris Shorthouse, and James Bedford.
The club is extremely proud of the achievements of it’s disabled athletes Deborah Brennan and Mickey Bushell who won gold medals at recent Paralympics.
Olympic Heptathlon champion Denise Lewis, World Champions Ian Stewart, Daniel Caines and Ashia Hansen; Katharine Merry, Kelly Sotherton, Mark Lewis-Francis, Nathan Morgan, Samantha Davies, Helen Frost, Helen Karagounis, Tom Parsons, Chris Baillie, Edward Dunford, Amy Harris, Robert Davis, Jade Surman, Louise Butterworth, Scott Simpson, Julie Hollman, Karl Keska, Louise Hazell, Jessica Leach, Jonathan Moore, Eden Francis, Jean Ndayisenga, Phil Brown, Ainsley Bennett, Robbie Brightwell, Daphne Arden, Geoff Capes, Diane Leather, Carole Quinton, Peter Radford, John Salisbury, Lincoln Asquith, Judy Simpson, Peter and Mary Stewart, Derek Redmond, Aston Moore, Stewart Faulkner, Michael Rosswess, Eric McCalla, John Graham, Rob Harrison, Du’aine Ladejo, Stuart Storey, Mike Farrell, Mike Rawson, Sue Reeve, Clova Court, Sally Ellis, John Sherwood, Howard Payne, Ray Smedley, David Cropper, Pat Cropper, Ruth Martin-Jones, John Cooper, Pat Jones, John Morbey, Blondell Thompson, Lorraine Hanson and Robert Weir are some of the Perry Barr club’s more illustrious alumni, many of whom are still involved in the club in one way or another.