Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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In 1896 EJ Nicholls of Blackheath Harriers presented a cup, called ‘The Nicholls Cup’ to be awarded for a cross–country race between Blackheath Harriers and South London Harriers. Through the years there have been some notable winners of the Mob Match. In 1901 it was won by Alf Shrubb (SLH). During his heyday in the very early years of the 20th century, he held nearly all the British running records from 1½ miles to 10 miles. It took 49 years for the last one to fall and in fact, he won the first ever two International cross countries, now called the World Cross country, in 1903-4, amongst other things. Gordon Pirie (SLH), that amazing runner won with a hat-trick in 1952, 53 and 54. The most wins was by Stuart Major of SLH with over 9 wins and then in total came John Roberts of the same club with 7 wins. One of those with Roberts was Bob Gevers of SLH in an incredibly fast time and, another one to win the event was International, Blackheath harrier runner Dave Taylor amongst others.

On the 31st of January, 2015 South London Harriers won the historic Mob match duel for the Nicholls Cup.
It now reads 56 annual wins to SLH and 48 to Blackheath.
A senior official of Blackheath & Bromley Ladies AC, pointed out that they are more interested, these days, in being a good Track & Field club. However, the Mob match is still a popular event that gets quite a lot of support.

South London’s, Liam Hatcher, in his third race in seven days, led all the way with only Fintan Parkinson of the ‘Heath’ any real challenge.
After a mile in the strong winds on Farthing Down and before they went down the treacherous pathway to Happy Valley Hatcher, was already 20 metres up with Parkinson a clear second. Behind that a quartet of Billy Casserley, Robert Drake, Simon Manning and Dan Kennedy all running together and the only change was that Casserley came away from the group at the half way stage. Hatcher said “I only started running in 2012 and except for a Park Run it was my first ever win which has given me a lot of confidence.”

Second in the race Fintan Parkinson (36) said "Conditions were very tough to-day, very muddy".
Over the years what did he consider his most outstanding performances “Recently I ran the Bedford half marathon and ran under 75 minutes. (1:14.49). I have run Comrades before, which is a 56 mile marathon (in South Africa) - It was in 2011 and 2012. I did 7½ hours.”
Further down the field was Jim Phelan (M65) running in his 80th Mob Match did 73:56. As a matter of interest John Fenwck of Blackheath was the first over 65 in 68:35.
The first woman, who was 23rd overall out of the 77 runners, was Carole Penlington, the Kent Veterans Cross-country Champion. She did the Beachy Head Marathon and was second in that. “I only started cross-country the year before so, I have been running 18 months with the club. It was when I first went to watch my children at the club. I had to go to the club to watch them run. Taking my daughter to the cross-country races and standing there in the cold so, I thought I must join and run.
That was when I decided I wanted to run myself. The reason I actually joined the club was because I wanted to do the Beachy Head Marathon’
‘It was always a dream of mine to do the Beachy Head Marathon. I started training for that and that was how I got into cross-country”

First 6 Men - 1 Liam Hatcher, South London 49.26; 2 Fintan Parkinson, Blackheath (V35) 49.38; 3 Bill Casserley, South London 50.00; 4 Robert Drake South London 50.41; 5 Simon Manning, South London 51.22; 6 Daniel Kennedy, Blackheath & Bromley (U23) 51.41.
First 3 Women were Carole Penlington (V40) in 58.37, 2 Ruth Hutton (SLH) (V45) in 60.00 and 3 Natalie Gentry (SLH) 61:23

Alastair Aitken

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