HISTORY

The present Club was formed in April 1964 when it was part of the West Hill Boys Club. In December 1966 it was decided that athletics in the town would be better served by renaming the group as Hastings Athletic Club. The Club started the Hastings New Zealand Namesake Trophy meeting, which was the first Club meeting held on the newly opened track at William Parker School, and this was promoted by the Club until 1996 when the pressure of league and other competitions forced its end.In March 1969 the Boxley Trophy Road Race, using a 6 mile course, was run in Alexandra Park. In 1970 a Youth/Boys race was started and in 1971 a Colts 2 mile race was introduced. In July 1969 the Club staged a Ladies open meeting to encourage the ladies section to improve on their previous seasons best performances. In the same year Hastings AC joined the Division 4(SE) of the Southern League and, by coincidence, metric distances were also introduced on the track in this year.

In May 1971 the Club Started the Town Race, a cross country event for non-specialist runners, while in August the Men’ team won the Sussex Inter-Club Trophy for the first time. The men followed this up the next year by winning the Barker Trophy, the McCaffrey Trophy and once again the Sussex Inter-Club Trophy. Quite a year for the men.In April 1973 the men’s team repeated the success of the previous year by again winning a hat trick of trophies. During the next year the Club really started to grow and by 1977 the men’s Cross Country section was winning Bronze medals in the County Championships, finishing third in the Sussex League and competing in the National Championships for the first time.During 1978 Hastings won the Boxley Trophy and ladies races were included for the first time. It was also the first year that the ladies team competed in the Southern Women’s League. In October the Club organized the 1066 Sea Front Races as part of ‘Hastings Day’. This year the Club was awarded the Elca Hillier Shield by the Sports Council.

In 1982 the ladies won the Barker Trophy. In 1983 Derek Stevens became the Club’s first international athlete. He ran a marvelous Marathon that year in America recording 2 hours 12 minutes 41 seconds, which still remains a Club  and County Record. In 1985 Derek won the inaugural Hastings Half Marathon, a feat which he repeated in 1986 in a time of 1 hour 6 minutes 6 seconds. From 1987 – 1990 the Club went through a difficult period, both financially and physically. Only a strong lead from the Chairman of the day kept the Club on the go. This period was not without its successes, but it did see teams sliding down the leagues. It is worth noting that through the last ten years of the Club’s history a poor athletics track was quoted as being the reason for much of the failure to succeed at the highest level of competition.In 1988 the Club founder, John Barker, was awarded the Elca Hiller Shield  for his contribution to Hastings AC, both on and off the track. This was a richly deserved award to a man who gave so many hours of hard work to the Club, which he did for many more years.

In 1992 both the men’s teams in the Southern League were promoted. This saw a reawakening of interest in the Club as a whole and was due in no small way to the effort that is being made to encourage the youth of the town to get involved with our Club and to take up the sport of athletics. During 1994 the Club recorded more success when both teams in the Southern Men’s League were promoted again.  The ladies won the Barker Trophy and Boardman Trophy. A Veterans team entered the Sussex League for the first time and did very well, as did the youths who were coming through to the first team in number. Sadly we lost the services of our long time President, Bill Eaves, in November of this year. He had been a great servant to the Club and to sport in general. In 1995 the Young Athletes won their league, but missed out in the promotion play-offs.

1996 proved to be a very successful year with the Senior Men being promoted to Division 1 of the Southern Men’s League and our Senior Women promoted as champions to Division 3 of the Southern Women’s League. The men also won the Sussex Senior Shield and the New Zealand Namesake Trophy in what proved to be its final year. The Ladies Veteran team won the Sussex League for the first time. Individual performances continued to improve and the Club had Sean Baldock selected for England at 400 metres. After a less than convincing time in 1997, 1998 was more successful with the ladies team once again winning their league with a convincing six wins out of six to go back to Division 3 and the Veteran Ladies winning the Sussex League to start a remarkable sequence of league wins which was still ongoing at the end of the 2008 track season.

1999 was a very special year as the new synthetic track was at last a reality and we were able to welcome other clubs to a facility worthy of our status. The men celebrated this in style by winning promotion back to Division 1.2000 saw the Young Athletes at last gaining promotion to Division 1, which they did in style by winning all their fixtures. This was also the year when Hastings saw our first Olympian as Sean Baldock ran against the mighty Michael Johnson in Sydney. Sean ran a best time of 45.20 seconds  that year, which is still the Sussex County Record. 2001 was another memorable year for the ladies who gained promotion to Division 2 of the Southern Women’s League for the first time. 2002 and 2003 were times of consolidation for all our teams, apart from the Veteran Ladies who were still winning the Sussex League. 2003 saw the girls competing in the Young Athletes League for the first time.

In 2004 the ladies bounced back again to achieve promotion to Division 2. In 2006 they went one better to go up to the heady heights of Division 1, whilst the Veteran Men at last emulated the Ladies by winning the Sussex League.2007 saw the Young Athletes gain promotion to the Premier Division for the first time, but the Men’s ‘B’ Team and the Ladies were unfortunately relegated. A new venture this year was entry into the National Junior League for under 20 athletes. In order to get a reasonable team we combined with Eastbourne Rovers and competed as the Sharks. This was followed in 2009 by the ladies also entering a combined team with Eastbourne Rovers for the Southern Women’s League. It remains to be seen whether the long term future of the Club lies with the eventual joining of the two clubs as one unit as has happened with many other Clubs in the country over the years.

At the time of writing in 2009 the following athletes were Sussex County record holders in addition to Derek Stevens and Sean Baldock :- U15 800m, 1:59.40, Harvey Gordon; U17 300m hurdles, 43.41 and U20 400m hurdles, 61.9, Cara Pain; U15 high jump, 1.84m, Michael West; U15 hammer, 50.60m and U17 hammer, 43.58m, Louisa James. Whilst the main objective of the Club has always been the achievement at the highest level possible of the Senior Men and Women in their respective track & field leagues, it is pleasing to record high achievement in Road & Cross Country by individuals and teams at local, county and national events. The Club has had many County Champions and a number of National Champions in track and field as well as cross country with many representatives over the years, including winners, in the English Schools events.