The First 50 Years: 1896-1945

The club was formed August 31st 1896.  It was put together by former members of Sheffield YMCA. Harriers together with “runners and supporters of cross-country and flat running.” The original team colours were black with gold facings.  The now familiar red vest with a white “H” was not introduced until about 1911.  Membership fees were set at 4/- for adults (20p) and 2/6 for juniors (12½p).

The club quickly established itself as force on the Yorkshire Cross Country scene, achieving second place in the Junior competitions for both of the first two years, and providing the overall winner with F. Clarke.This was followed by a second place in the Senior competition in 1899.

The Club Badge

The early 1900’s saw the beginning of the club’s rise to fame.  1904 brought the Yorkshire Senior XC Championship to Sheffield for the first time, an achievement which was to be repeated every year from 1907-1914 and nine of the twelve years from 1923-1934.   The National XC Team Championships were added for the years 1908, 1910-1912, 1927.  In 1909, 1913, 1927 and 1929 HH athletes also took the individual honours: Joe Murphy (1909), Ernest Glover (1913) and Ernest Harper (1927, 1929).

These golden years also brought international success for a number of individuals.  HHS provided six Olympic Representatives during this period.James Murphy was 10th in the 5 mile at the London 1908 Olympics. Harold Wilson won Silver for Great Britain in 1500m at the 1908 London Olympics.  He was also a member of the 3×3 mile team.  He is pictured below (2nd left).

Harold is enshrined in history as the first man to break the 4 minute barrier for 1500, which he did running 3:59.9 in London, 30th May 1908. Ernest Glover was chosen for 5km, 10km, and XC at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, winning a team Bronze in the latter.   Although qualifying for the finals of both 5km and 10k he lined up for neither. William Cottrill won a team bronze at the 1912 Stockholm for his part in the 3x3000m: he also competed in the 1500m at the same Olympiad. Joe Williams finished 7th in the 10km at the 1924 Paris Olympics.  Joe went on to become a Club coach in 1940, and the Club President from 1968-1975. Norman Biddulph finished 10th in the 3000m Steeplechase at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

The above culminated with probably the best known pre war Harrier – Ernest Harper. He had represented GB at the 1924 Paris Olympics, finishing fifth in the 10km and fourth in the 10km Cross Country race.  This was at a time when distance running was dominated by the Finns.  Indeed, the 10km track was won by Ville Ritola and the 10km XC by Paavo Nurmi.In 1928, he again represented  GB at the Amsterdam Olympics, finishing 22nd in the Marathon. An illustrious career was crowned with a Silver medal in the Marathon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics Marathon, behind the famous Korean Sohn Kee-chung, running under the occupying country of Japan’s flag.

The 2nd WW put paid to many activities and competitions, including serious athletics.

Ernest Harper running alongside eventual winner Sohn Kee-chung in the 1936 Olympic Marathon. Ernest suffered from a bad blister on the day, ending the race with a shoe full of blood.