Birchfield Harriers is the UK’s premier athletics club in the Midlands and has been represented at every summer Olympiad bar one since 1908.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 front of a home audience in London in 2012.
The last quarter of the nineteenth century witnessed a most significant period of sporting history in England and in particular 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 Kelly Sotherton, Ashia Hansen Nathan Morgan, Mark Lewis Francis, Daniel Caines and numerous other international athletes including 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, Helen Karagounis and Jean Ndayisenga.
The club is extremely proud of the achievements of it’s disabled athletes spearheaded by teenager Mickey Bushell who is the World’s Number One ranked Men’s Under 18 100m and 200m sprinter.
Olympic Heptathlon champion Denise Lewis, Paralympic gold medallist Deborah Brennan, World Champions Ian Stewart, Daniel Caines and Ashia Hansen; Katharine Merry, Phil Brown, Ainsley Bennett, Robbie Brightwell, Geoff Capes, Diane Leather, Carole Quinton, Peter Radford, John Salisbury, Lincoln Asquith, Judy Simpson, Peter and Mary Stewart, Derek Redmond, Aston Moore, Stewart Faulkner, Eric McCalla, John Graham, Rob Harrison, Du’aine Ladejo, Stuart Storey, Mike Farrell, Sue Reeve, Clova Court, Sally Ellis, John Sherwood, Blondell Thompson 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.