Looking Back
Memories from the past

Pre-1999 Club Arrangements

Long ago in the distant past, our Club had an arrangement with the Cockfosters Cricket Club to use their clubhouse on a Tuesday and Thursday evening. In those days there was an ancient wooden building on the site of the present hockey centre which had served as a sports changing facility for Trent Park Teacher Training College.

Before 1999, the Club met formally on a Tuesday and Thursday evening and a Saturday morning. Some of us also ran on the track at Donkey Lane on a Wednesday evening.

On the Saturdays after training, we would wash in the toilets near the café. They were cold, damp and the floor was invariably wet and you washed up using the sinks. Then, we would have a drink in the café – to warm up!

Before training on a Saturday, we would set off together down the Pineapple, round the obelisk at the end of the drive (with a pineapple on top, hence our nickname) and jog back to the area near Go Ape. There, one of the older members, such as Hugh McCaffrey, would conduct a stretching session. Then, announcements were made, and groups detailed. We would then set off for the session we had chosen.

After training on a Tuesday or Thursday evening, however, we had the luxury of changing inside the cricket clubhouse. Females had the left changing room and males the right one, with the bar area and kitchen separating them.

There was only one set of showers with three nozzles on each side. Sadly, the adjustment didn’t work, so you had to settle for the temperature set.

One week the women showered first and the following week the men. As the 30-minute allotted time was nearing its end, the group waiting behind the dividing curtain began warning the incumbents that their time was fast coming to an end. The last evacuee, having dried themself quickly, called out that it was clear for the other group to enter.

One female member was more forthright and, after her longer run on a Thursday evening, would step into the showers regardless of which group was in there….

One year when we were hosting the Sunday Cross-country League mob match (where both divisions competed on the same course), a male runner from another club ignored the warnings coming from the females that time was up, with the rest of us having already vacated, and remained in the showers. The women poured in and we waited on the other side of our curtain to see what would happen. Soon, he appeared, slightly blushing. On being asked what had prompted his removal he answered, “A part of me started to show interest….”.

We would meet in the bar and order drinks from the cricket club barman. His name was Mike, and he was pretty miserable. The beer used to go out of date and sometimes there were mice running about the floor. 

Then, one day, we were asked if we would consider sharing this new clubhouse that had been built with the help of National Lottery money. To receive half the loan (£600k of the £1.4m total), Southgate Hockey Club had to show that they were sharing the facilities with another club.

There was more to the offer. Our subscription would need to be much more than previously. Our annual subscription had been £12 and had just been raised to £20; the proposal necessitated us moving to a £90 annual sub immediately.

We were invited to go over and inspect the new premises, which were bare walls at that stage. A large group of us met there (early 1999) and wandered through what were the bare breeze blocks of the future building.

The move would lead to a big increase in our subs and for some it proved too much. Moreover, it took two Special General Meetings to finalise our agreement to move.

We had enjoyed our time with the cricket club, even playing a match against them. We also catered an annual barbeque, where everyone accepted a job to help run the occasion.

In those days, our AGM was a tense affair: one year the motion was to change the name from Trent Park Trotters and the next it was to adopt new colours. And this was repeated over following years with impassioned speeches from the proposer and seconder and serious discussion coming freely and with passion from the floor.

It was a small friendly club like a family but had a social reputation about it unlike Barnet, who were mean, lean runners – how things have changed!

Contributed by Peter and Jack

With our Saturday base being at the café, the Handicap started on the Pineapple roughly where the current ‘u’ turn is made. We ran anti clockwise to the bottom of Cottage Hill and then turned right up through the woods to finish at the back of the café.

With the transfer to SHC the Handicap route that we now run, (under normal circumstances), was introduced with the start and finish initially being opposite the tennis courts, which was closer to our HQ and equipment.

The Triffic Trail began life in 1984 and, until 1989, men & women had separate races one hour apart. The programme for the 10th anniversary 10k in 1994, reports that running two separate races was a ‘logistical nightmare’, and therefore from 1990 until 1994, the race was held for women only. Since then it has been ‘fully inclusive’. The start was originally on the Pineapple, but in 1999 it was moved onto the field in order to accommodate the growing number of entrants for this very popular event and the support teams & equipment.

The club, (or more particularly Tony Lear) also arranged a number of November trips in the late 90’s to the ‘Lanzarote International Challenge’ based at Club La Santa. The Challenge consisted of a 6 mile road race on the first day, an 7/8 mile ‘hill’ race on the volcanic landscape on the second, a 3 mile beach run in soft sand on the third day, and an across island 14 miles on the 4th day, when you were transported to the other side of the island and ran back to Club La Santa. Yes, and that was 7 miles up and 7 miles down!

It was as close as you would get to being a professional athlete, because all that you did other than race was chat, rest, eat and drink – and did we party in the evenings….!

Contributed by David Arnold

Nov 2020