Maroon and White
College Park and Irish Athletics
An early image of athletics on college park:
In the middle of Trinity College lies College Park, a grassy area of some eight acres that has been used for recreation since it was laid out in the early part of the eighteenth century. St. Patrick's Well, situated in the Nassau Street wall near the Dawson Street gate, was once the most celebrated holy well in Dublin and a place of pilgrimage from all over Ireland. In 1688 a Danish council mound to the west of College was removed and the soil deposited in St. Patrick's Well Lane, the forerunner of Nassau Street, leading to the considerable difference in its level with College Park. In 1722 College Park was formally laid out and a wall was built on the boundary (Nassau Street side) of the Park. The perimeter of College Park was laid out with elm trees, which had to be cut down in the 1980's because of Dutch elm disease. A broad ditch known as the 'ha-ha' that used to intersect College Park was drained in 1813 with further drainage in the 1850's. The ha-ha was ultimately filled in. The water table today is maintained by continuous pumping.
The first recorded athletics meeting took place at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich in 1849, followed by Exeter College, Oxford in 1850. Modern formalised athletic competition in Ireland was inaugurated on the 28th February, 1857 in College Park, organised by the Football Club (now Rugby), as Dublin University Football Club Foot Races. Only five events were held - 150 yards sprint, 440 yards, 3 miles, high jump and long jump. By all accounts these foot races were a loosely organised event with distances and times being arbitrary. So successful were the foot races in February 1857 that foot races were held a month later with the number of events increased to twelve! Clearly the track season began earlier in those days! From that time, with nine exceptions, College Races have been an annual event. A number of the events in College Races of that period would not be found in any orthodox athletic programme today, viz., a long jump with trapeze, a Siamese race, a three mile walk and a cricket ball throw. Up to 20,000 spectators flooded in to view the sports. Indeed the Illustrated London News of 1874 purported that 37,000 tickets were sold over the then two-day event. As many as 10,000 spectators even watched the first Clonliffe Invitation meeting in College Park in 1946. Where has this enthusiasm for athletics as a spectator sport in Ireland gone today?
The early days of the College Races were marked by general vigorous undergraduate celebrations, i.e., heavy drinking. In 1878 these 'celebrations' reached such heights that under the influence of "some cheap claret, beer and stout" a riot ensued. In attempting to quell the riot, three porters were injured and a carpenter's shed was burnt to the ground. This led to cancellation of the Races in 1879. In April 1880 further trouble occurred when the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Duke of Marlborough, was formally leaving Ireland. As his procession passed the front of College, students launched a stream of balloons filled half filled with flour which showered the police and bandsmen. Fireworks were tossed under the horses' feet and into the Lord Lieutenant's carriage. Permission to hold the Races that year was withheld! The races were revived in 1881 with the proviso that only 10,000 tickets were to be sold. The Races were again suspended during the Great War from 1915 - 1919 inclusive to be revived in 1920 by Dublin University Harriers and Athletics Club which has run them ever since. During the Great War troops were quartered on College Park, sheep grazed on the Park and the cricket ground became a meadow. In one of the more bizarre incidents to occur in College Park, the unfortunate shooting dead of a woman student while she was attending an athletic event led to the abandonment of the Races as a mark of respect in 1921. It was a stray bullet which came from outside College grounds on the Nassau Street side, not one from the starter's pistol! College Races were again suspended during part of World War II. The last time College Races failed to take place was in 1996 during the SIPTU dispute which led to a strike of all College security staff.
Although College Races have never again reached their pre-1880 status, College Park has a place in World and Irish Athletics history. In June 1873 at the College Races, A.C. Courtney, a Trinity athlete, set the first recognised World record and the first set by an Irishman for a flat race. He ran 1000 yards in 2 min 23.4 sec. In 1874 in College Park, John Lane of Trinity became the first long jumper to go beyond the 23 feet mark (7.0 metres). A compilation of Irish records and all time best marks covering 1890 - 1970 includes College Park as a venue where many Irish records of their day were set.
The Sports Pavilion was first mooted in 1881, although final permission for its construction was not obtained from the Board of Trinity College until 1884. It cost £1050! The official opening was held in 1885. Dublin University Harriers Club, which was to combine with Dublin University Athletics Club in 1921 to form D.U.H.A.C., was founded in December 1886. However, the University authorities have always recognised 1885 as the year in which the club was founded, as it was in that year that Dublin University Athletic Union became one of the founding members of the Irish Amateur Athletic Association, which was set up to regulate Irish athletics and, possibly more importantly at the time, to keep athletics out of the hands of the G.A.A. founded in 1884. The Trinity team that represented D.U.A.U. was the first team affiliated to the I.A.A.A. and competed as a club team for the first time in a recognised meeting in 1885. Thus, amid some confusion, 1885 actually marked the somewhat difficult birth of D.U.H.A.C. without the formalities. The centenary of D.U.H.A.C., the oldest athletics club in Ireland, was celebrated in 1985.
The First 50 Years in Summary (1885-1935)
1857 Dublin University Football Club Foot-Races (College Races) inaugurated
Trinity's Brightest Stars (1885-1935)Dan D. Bulger (1885-1892)
War and Peace (1936-1949)
1935 Irish Amateur Athletic Union (I.A.A.U.) formed and D.U.H.A.C. affiliated to that body
D.U.H.A.C. Stars of 1936-1949R.H. Wallace (1932-1938)
The Fifties1950 D.U.H.A.C. & Oxford University v. Q.U.B.A.C. & Cambridge University Track and Field Match College Park took place on June 21st (Trinity were on the losing side)
1951 D.U.H.A.C. participated once more in the Irish Universities Championships. Displeasure of athletic officialdom led to further ban for many years.
1951 D.U.H.A.C. won eight I.A.A.U. titles
1952 D.U.H.A.C. won Inter Club Relays, but lost blues match against Queens
1953 D.U.H.A.C. lost Inter Club Relays for first time in many years
1954 Tom Maguire, who was Club Coach for 30 years, died
1954 Jack Sweeney becomes D.U.H.A.C. coach
1955 D.U.H.A.C. finish 4th in British (U.A.U.) championships behind London, Oxford and Loughborough
1956 D.U.H.A.C. won all inter university matches and again finished 4th in U.A.U. championships
1956 D.U.H.A.C. won G.V. Ryan Trophy, the then unofficial team championship of the I.A.A.U.
1957 U.I.E. and F.I.S.U. Re-Unification (World Student) Games Paris - four Trinity athletes, H.G. Reynolds, R.T. Taylor J.B. Lawson and G.R. Mason, represent Ireland
1957 D.U.H.A.C. recorded victories in matches against Crusaders, Donore Harriers, Aberdeen University and Civil Service
1958 D.U.H.A.C. won the Londonderry Trophy for the first time since 1942
1959 D.U.H.A.C. athletes win 5 titles in the A.A.U. and N.I.A.A. (then All Ireland) championships
1959 D.U.H.A.C. retain Londonderry Trophy - 4x400 yards relay squad broke Irish record - and blues match against Queens
D.U.H.A.C. Stars of the 50'sR.D. Miller (1951-1953)
The 75th Anniversary
The 75th anniversary of D.U.H.A.C. was celebrated in the 1960-61 season. The season began well with wins against Clonliffe, in the Inter Club Relays and against Queens. At the U.A.U. championships the club achieved its best ever placing, third behind the giants of London and Loughborough. In the process T.T. Lunde won the high jump and pole vault, C.J. Shillington set a new meeting record in the 880 yards of 1:51.5 and R.H. Taylor was 2nd in the shot putt and 3rd in the discus. The match against Cambridge University was also won. In the Londonderry Trophy D.U.H.A.C. retained the title in style by winning every event on the track except the 3 x 120 yards hurdles and holding their own in the field. This was followed by a win in the G.V. Ryan trophy. In this event R.H. Taylor, who had left Trinity in 1960, thought he had set a new Irish record in the shot but it was found to be 1 oz.(28.4 g) underweight! C.J. Shillington ran the half mile in an open meeting at Santry and clocked 1:49.8 which equalled the qualifying time set by the British Board for that year's Olympics in Rome. The A.A.U. championships saw club members win 9 titles in all, amongst them the mile won by C.J. Shillington in 4:06.4, the third fastest time ever by an Irishman at that time. R.H. Taylor got his new Irish record (49' 7" = 15.11 m) in the shot putt (by insisting that the shot be weighed before he threw), so depriving another of Trinity's great athletes Dave Guiney of his Irish record which had stood since 1948. The climax of the season was a jubilee match against the rest of the A.A.U. in College Park in which D.U.H.A.C. were narrowly beaten. It was certainly the club's best year in competition since its foundation in 1885!
The highlight of 1961 was undoubtedly the first colours match against U.C.D. After much toing and froing behind the scenes in order to oil the bureaucratic wheels, permission was finally granted by the I.A.A.F. to the holding of a closed meeting with U.C.D. This event took place in College Park amid some frantic preparation on 1st June, 1961 before a large crowd of some 4000 spectators. The match by all accounts was a closely fought affair, Trinity's victory being very much a team effort.
If the overall results in 1961 were very much a tribute to team spirit, one must nonetheless highlight the performances of one athlete if any have to be picked out in the 1961 season as having contributed to the Trinity's overall success, namely T.T. Lunde's competitive record. Of the 30 events this Norwegian participated in wearing the D.U.H.A.C. vest during the season he won 19 and came second in 10!
If today's students wonder how their predecessors could devote so much time to athletics, it should be pointed out that in those days the annual examinations in TCD were held in September.
R.H. Taylor who left Trinity went on to become the first Irishman to putt the shot over 50 feet (50' 6" = 15.39 m). J.O. Oladitan who had left Trinity in 1960 won the AAA's long jump title in 1961. The Jubilee year also saw the emergence of H. Kennedy-Skipton as a javelin thrower following in the footsteps of Trinity's two other javelin masters R.D.W. Miller and J.B. Lawson.
The Sixties (1961-69) Excluding the 75th celebrations1961 In Cross Country, the Harriers won matches against Crusaders and Avondale, suffered defeats to Donore, Clonliffe and Queens, and were 3rd in the A.A.U. Novice Championships
1962 D.U.H.A.C., readmitted to Irish Intervarsities, won the P.J. O'Sullivan Cup for the first time since 1936
1962 2nd ever Colours Match against U.C.D. saw the honours shared on 86 pts
The season after the 75th celebration was not a vintage one except for the winning of the Irish Intervarsities Track and Field and the Inter-club relays. In both triangular matches against Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities and against Glasgow and St. Andrew's Universities D.U.H.A.C. came 2nd. The match against the A.A.U. combined and the G.V. Ryan were lost.
1962 In cross country, the Harriers won over Aberdeen University, were defeated by Donore and Clonliffe, lost to Aberdeen and St. Andrew's Universities on tour, and lost the Quuen's match.
1962 First Colours cross country against U.C.D. ended in a tie
1962 D.U.H.A.C. won quadrangular match against Queens, Bangor and Aberystwyth in Phoenix Park
1963 Inaugural Intervarsity Cross Country match against three colleges of the National University won by D.U.H.A.C. for the 'Green Fox Trophy': D.U.H.A.C. = 31pt, U.C.D.A.C. = 59 pts, U.C.C.A.C. = 111 pts, and U.C.G.A.C. = 143 pts.
1963 D.U.H.A.C. won the Inter-Club relays
1963 D.U.H.A.C. won quadrangular match against Queens, Bangor and Aberystwyth, but lost Intervarsity Track and Field to U.C.D., lost Colours Track and Field to U.C.D., and lost match against A.A.U.
1963 D.U.H.A.C. completed successful athletics tour of England, Holland and Sweden
1964 D.U.H.A.C. scored wins over Aberdeen and St. Andrew's on Scottish tour and defeated Queens and Edinburgh at home
1964 P.J. O'Sullivan Cup (Intervarsity) lost to U.C.D., but Colours Track and Field won
1965 Track and Field matches against Birmingham and Aberdeen Universities were won, but those against Queens (at the then new Malone track) and Glasgow were lost
1965 D.U.H.A.C. won Inter Club Relays
The remainder of the sixties was not noteworthy for club performances. The lack of success was not due to a lack of outstanding individual performances rather than to the absence of any depth of talent. It became clear that the second man to score was all important to the outcome of the Irish Universities Track and Field Championships which D.U.H.A.C. were not to win again in the '60's.
1966 C. Butterworth in the match against Queen's in College Park threw the javelin 196' 7" (59.92 m). M. Bull of Queens cleared 14' 6" (4.42 m) in the pole vault!
1966 2nd May, 1996 written into the minute book of D.U.H.A.C. as "probably one of the blackest days in the club's history" as U.C.D. trounced D.U.H.A.C. in the Irish Universities Track and Field, compounded latter by the loss of the Colours match to U.C.D.
1966 In National Championships J. Rees won the 220 yards in 22.6, J. Russell took the high jump with 6' 4" (1.93 m), and A. Thunerke the javelin with 211' 6" (64.47 m), who went on to represent Ireland against England
1967 Sunday 23rd April D.U.H.A.C. affiliated to Bórd Lúthchleas na hÉireann
1967 D.U.H.A.C. club funds reach all time low £11.3.7 (£11.18)
1967 D.U.H.A.C. lose match against Queen's, the Inter-Club relays and lose Irish University Championship to U.C.D. = 135 pts; U.C.C. = 104 pts; D.U.H.A.C. = 57 pts
1967 In 104th College Races notable figures such as Noel Carroll won the 880 yards and Tom O'Riordan, the two mile invitation
1968 Colours match and Irish University Championship lost to U.C..D. - Intervarsitoes was held in College Park and saw the return of a full Queens team for the first time in some years
1969 English athletes banned from participation in College Races
1969 D.U.H.A.C. men's vests changed to maroon in colour because "white was not distinctive enough"
1969 Queen's won Intervarsities Track and Field at Malone grounds - the organisation left much to be desired despite the lovely grounds which Queens made the most of
1969 John Dillon, one of Trinity's finest ever athletes, made debut in Intervarsities coming 3rd in 440 yard hurdles, 3rd in the 200 m and 2nd as part of D.U.H.A.C.'s 4 x 110 yards relay team behind Queen's
D.U.H.A.C. Stars of the SixtiesColin J. Shillington
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