Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Andy Green (September 2014)

Andy Green (Born 26th of November 1942). His brother in law, Mike Tagg (69' European 10k silver medallist and International 'World Cross' Champion) and his wife Mary (Olympic semi-finalist in 400 in 1968). They both made it to the Olympics in Mexico in 1968 but Andy got close to going but was not selected.
     There were reasons Andy Green (1.88 tall) did not make the Olympics in both 1964 & 1968.
     Regarding the Olympics of 1964 the selectors took Bill McKim, who had beaten Andy in a close finish at the White City Stadium, which was after Andy had run very hard some 13 hours before in a race he was committed to do. Had he not done that he more than likely, would have been victorious the next day and been selected for Tokyo . Those were some of the reasons the selectors decided against him going.
     Regarding the Olympics of 1968 there was a much more subtle reason behind the fact that he could not quite, produce the goods to go to Mexico . He had been running really well and even as a miler, he managed ninth in the Southern cross country Championships but like his wife Mary, had been taken on by coach HARRY WILSON, who had such success with STEVE OVETT but, the particular training Harry gave Andy Green of ‘Ever so Short’ recovery work, did not suit him at all that Andy started to dread going down to the track to do it. That also affected him when he sometimes pulled back from the pain of hurting himself in a race. Here I will bring in something that Andy believes applies to him in the British Milers Club News Spring 2014.
It was from an article on page seven where, Martin Jones and John Parker, from the University of Gloucestershire gave their opinion headed  MINDFULNES AND PAIN CATASROPHIZING IN MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNERS.

   "Pain can occur for a variety of reasons during sport participation. For example investigations amongst elite athletes demonstrate that physical discomfort associated with continued energy expending effort is a potential limiter upon athletics performance in endurance sports. The importance of athletes inflicting exertion induced pain upon themselves during training has been likened to an investment, where increased deposits are linked to developing desirable performance outcomes (e.g. speed). Of the cognitive factors that can influence pain perception (e.g. appraisal, fear-avoidance beliefs, perceived control, self-efficacy) pain catastrophizing has demonstrated a reliable association in mediating responses to pain in both clinical and non-clinical populations. Pain catastrophising is an exaggerated negative mental set brought to bear during actual or anticipated painful experience. Broadly, individuals who catastrophize appear to adopt a negative orientation towards pain that leads to deleterious changes in pain perception  (e.g. heightened pain response)". That was the type of thing that Andy felt applied to him.
  Despite that he had many good performances in his life when he was with Salford Harriers, Hadleigh Olympiads and finally Southend AC.

In 1961 he came second in the National Junior 880 yards at Enfield in 1:55.7 behind Terry Nash who did 1:55.0. Andy felt that was his first breakthrough as a young runner. Amongst some interesting results were coming 2nd to Bill Crothers of Canada, the 1964 Olympic silver medallist in a 1000 yards race on the boards at Wembley Stadium. That was a really short track with tight bends. However, on that indoor track, in 1963, Robin 'Ralph' Lingle of the USA ran to a British All Comers Record of 2:10.5 and in the good international field Andy Green was second in 2:12.5.

On the 25th of August 1964 at Blackburn, in a race where Derek Ibbotson, the World Mile record holder of 1957, was the favourite in the field. Andy raced home in 3:59.2 and Ibbotson was 2nd in 4:1.04. That was the first sub-4 minute mile in the North of England.
In 1968 Andy was a medallist in the AAA's Championships mile. The winner was Alan Simpson in 4.01.94, with Andy Green 2nd in 4:02.54 and Walter Wilkinson, the  engine train driver 3rd in 4:02.54. Andy did do another sub 4 minute mile in 3:59.9 but his fastest I will talk about a bit later on in this article. In the World Student Games of 1967, he was a silver medallist in the 1500 Final in 3.46.7 behind 1968 Olympic bronze medallist, Bodo Tummler of Germany (3:43.4).

Andy Green worked hard as a teacher in metal work, after being a PE and woodwork teacher to begin with and after his spell in insurance. Obviously, quite often, as a school teacher, he was still either competing abroad or at major meetings in the UK, particularly when he came down South. He can remember saying to the Headmaster at the start of his teaching career, about getting away to run a race. 'Sir I need to go half an hour early to-day for a race!' The Headmasters turned round and said "Mr Green, I hope this will not be a common occurrence"
As a small boy of 11/12, before he lived down South and was up at Manchester, his father Richard Green coached him successfully. His Father and Grandfather Tommy were runners and, if work had not been a very strong priority in those days for his Grandfather to earn a living as he was so talented, he would have been close to making the Olympic selection. Andy Green was at Ducie Secondary High school for boys, in the middle of Mosside. Andy won the Victor Ladorum three times at school.
         Andy was in insurance for a while with the Guardian Royal Exchange and twice achieved the double (880/Mile) in the Insurance Championships which was well supported in those days. That was before he decided teaching was something better to do and, even in his 70's he now helps as a technician in metal work at a Special Needs School
         Looking back to when he was a school boy. He was a Great fan of Roger Bannister and later Herb Elliott.  He said to some boys at school, when he was quite young 'I want to run a 4 minute mile one day! And his school mates looked at him in total disbelief!
Now for Andy Green's fastest ever Sub 4 minute mile. It was achieved in a loaded field of internationals. It was the first time ever 8 runners in one race were inside 4 minutes and it was at the famous White City Stadium in an Invitation race held in conjunction with the WAAA Championships on July 3rd 1965. Result:- 1 Josef Odlozil (Czechoslovakia 2nd in the 1500 Olympic Final of 1964) 3:56.7; 2 John Davies (NZ) 3rd in the 1500 in the Olympic Final of 1964) 3:56.8; 3 John Whetton (GB) 3:57.7; 4 Andy Green (GB) 3:57.7; 5 Tony Harris (GB) 3:59.0; 6 John Boulter (GB) 3:59.7; 7 Peter Snell (NZ double Olympic Champion of 1964) 3:59.7 and 8 Bill McKim (GB) 3:59.9.
           Andy Green won the AAA's Mile Championship in 1967 in the fastest a time ever recorded for a AAA's mile Championships, since the history of the event started in 1880. His time was 4:00.61, ahead of double Olympic Finalist, John Whetton (4:00.74) and Alan Simpson who was a close fourth in the Tokyo Olympic 1500 (4:01.06). The night before Andy was in trouble, because he had some long hold ups on the train, then ran from White City underground to the stadium for the heats and in actual fact there was only 15 minutes to go before the heats when he arrived at the White City Stadium but fortunately they allowed him to run. However let us see what happened in the Final the next day Andy Green comes in "The first lap was 60 seconds with Walter Wilkinson leading, the next 65 then, Witold Baran (Poland, the 1962 European silver medallist over 1500) took off with 500 to go."

'Down the back straight 4 got away. I thought I had blown it. The front group then, although well ahead slightly slowed. I gradually made up the large gap in the back straight. I was then in the mix with 180 to go and as we entered the straight Whetton, started to go for home and I raced up the straight and managed to take him before the tape. I ran about just under 56 seconds for my last lap.'
It was interesting to note that in 1980 they had a Centenary Celebration AAA's mile and the result in a tactical race was Steve Ovett 4:4.10, 2 John Walker of New Zealand, another World record holder, 4:4.62 and 3rd steeplechaser Colin Reitz 4:06.43. Andy's AAA's Championship record still stands!
           Andy Green had a break from racing at 28, to earn a living and help look after his family. He did not take up racing again till he was 40. He entered the British Masters Championships in 1983 at Melkesham in the 800 and the 1500 the next day. In the 1500 he felt, because he was a AAA's Champion he should show the flag and run into the lead from the gun but in veteran competitions, often someone who never reached the dizzy heights of being amongst the top runners before being a Master athlete, could be some sort of danger. It proved so, as Andy led all the way till the last straight when, Mike Wrenn, the double Masters European Champion, came by and won in 4:11.7 with Andy 2nd in 4:12.8.
In the 800 good times were set up by the Over 40's. The first three runners were 1st J. Wood of Blaydon 1:57.9; 2nd Andy Green 1:58.3 and 3rd Mike Wrenn 2:00.1
However, I would like to point out that Andy was an Essex Veteran Champion for three years and came out at 50 and won an 'Over 50' Essex Veteran Champion.
         Andy Green lives with Mary at Leigh on Sea and has two sons, Michael and David (Ex-Essex Junior 800 Champion) and four Grand children and a scrapbook of memories.

Alastair Aitken

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