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Vale Royal Athletic Club

Thanks Brian!!!

All The Way From Canada

Brian Hall who is a Winsford and Vale Royal Borough Councillor is fighting for a track for Vale Royal Athletic Club and has spent many years in this capacity.  Brian met up with an old friend and runner earlier this year, who came all the way from Alberta, Canada.

Now a fitting tribute from a friend who lives in Alberta, Canada who met with up Brian after many, many years, please read!!!!

This summer, while on holiday in England, I had the opportunity to attend the U.K.Young Athletes Camp at St. Mary's, Twickenham.  It was a great experience that was shared by a couple of your athletes. 


Living in a relative athletic backwater here in Alberta, Canada, it was a real thrill to rub shoulders with some athletic greats such as Ben Limo and Craig Mottram.  By the end of the week I was able to be a real "name-dropper" - Limo, Mottram, Radcliffe (Pat not Paula), Rob Denmark, Wendy Sly, Mike Keino etc.  We even got a glimpse of Linford Christie putting some sprinters through a typical sprinter's workout - sit around, talk for a couple of hours, stretch a little, run a 150, sit around, stretch, go home (is my bias as a distance coach showing through?)


But the most important name for me during the week was "Shaun McGrath" (and no, he didn't pay me to say that).  We got talking about mutual acquaintances and the name of one very special man came up - Brian Hall.  I was delighted to find out that Brian was living in Winsford and was going to be at the track for the Sport Relief run that weekend.  So, why was Brian so special to me?


When I was at school in Manchester, some time before dinosaurs ruled the earth, I used to go to a place called Fallowfield to watch cycling and, occasionally running races.  At times like Easter there used to be big meets with lots of Europe's best track cyclists and many of Britain's best middle distance runners.  Among the best of the runners was Brian Hall, then a member of Manchester & District Lads Club Harriers.


Fast forward a bit and a day arrived when I decided that I was interested in joining an athletics club.  Together with a friend, I went to a club (not M & D) and did a training session.  Other than the coach telling us what to do, not a single person spoke to either of us.  Needless to say, we didn't return.  Some time later, a school friend persuaded me to try a different club, M & D. 


My first race was a mid-week Manchester League meet and I finished 5th out of 6 - not a great start.  Imagine my surprise when, as I was cooling down,  up jogged Brian Hall to run a couple of laps with me.  He talked to me and told me that I had run really well against tough opposition (Sale were especially tough in those days).  I left the track feeling great - an international athlete had taken the time to talk to me and encourage me.


After that I got to know Brian a little better and never once saw him without a smile on his face.  He was always "up", always encouraging.  When we trained on the banks of the River Mersey, Brian would make sure that us "lesser lights" never got too badly dropped.  At every bridge we would hear him shout out, "Hang on fellas!" and he would turn around with the front runners to run back to where we were struggling to catch up.  Then we would be off again, as a group, heading for the next bridge.


Brian was an extremely successful runner on the track as well as leading M & D to about 6 successive Northern Cross Country titles.  He truly was, and I hear still is, a real leader.

Thanks to the meeting with Shaun, I got to meet up with Brian again and found he still has that incredibly positive attitude - and that big grin.  I know he has not been well but, from what I saw, his spirit is still as alive as it ever was.


So, my point?  A couple of points. 


I never went on to have a great track career, though I did become a fairly big fish in a small pond over here for a few years.  But, I never lost my interest in athletics or my feeling that this sport has the most incredible people involved in it.  A little over 20 years ago I started a club here in Edmonton because no club that existed was interested in providing a program for young kids.  Since its formation our club has helped hundreds of members have a satisfying experience in the sport and, through races we organize, has involved many thousands of young athletes. 


My first involvement in club athletics was a discouraging one, no one likes to be ignored.  Luckily my experience at M & D was completely different.  If it had been similar to the first, I might not have got involved in the sport as I have done.  A huge part of that positive experience was thanks to Brian Hall.


I'm sure Brian doesn't remember talking to me after my first race - but I sure remember it.  Probably many people have been influenced by a word of encouragement, whether from an international athlete, a coach, or a volunteer perhaps raking the pit at the long jump.  Sometimes we have no idea of the long term effects of what we say.  Maybe we all could be a bit more encouraging at times.


Finally, and most important, I hope that Vale Royal and Winsford appreciate what a very special character you have in Brian.  Without wanting to sound too sentimental, if you value what he has done for you individually or as a group, tell him - or anyone else who has helped you along the way.  I believe that Brian is very involved in your efforts to get a new surface for your track.  If you all have the same kind of energy and enthusiasm as he does, I'm sure you will get it.

Thanks, Brian.


From Phil Booth, Alberta, Canada


That was a huge thank you from Phil Booth, who is now a athletics coach in Canada and wished to thank Brian Hall for his help many, many years ago.  Brian Hall is currently a Winsford Town Councillor and a Vale Royal Borough Councillor who is pushing for a track at Knights Grange In Winsford.

If you wish to help Brian in his fight for a new synthetic track at Winsford, please contact the club and let us know…...