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Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers

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NeilsYard
Coventry
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31 of 48  Wed 26th Jun 2019 9:57am  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2347

Hi Harrier Wave Not certain of the date but guessing mid to late '50's, this is my lovely dad wearing Godiva kit - as mentioned previously he was in the Harriers. Obviously taken at the Butts track. Not quite sure why the boneshaker is there either but interesting nonetheless! Also not really any brilliant images for you here but I have shared this collection before in relation to Coventry's music and the Rock Against Racism gig at the Butts in 1981 - there are a couple if you scan through the pages of elements of the track and banking though. Festival against racism Edited by member, 26th Jun 2019 9:57 am
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Dreamtime
Perth Western Australia
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32 of 48  Wed 26th Jun 2019 1:35pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:3358

Bet you were not even a twinkle in his eye then, Neil. Shame someone forgot to put the litter bins out for the Festival (probably would have today).
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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33 of 48  Fri 28th Jun 2019 4:06pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:188

Thanks for that photograph, Neil - by the look of the Adidas shoes, it would have been late 50s/early 60s, by which time, branded sportswear was starting to make an impact. With athletics being a minority sport, sales would have been low with only four manufacturers making a serious attempt in marketing. In addition there was the cheap dreadful red-coloured spikes with leather soles and individual spikes inserted rather than a foot plate, the result being that the wearers were in agony as each spike could be felt poking into the soles of the feet, made much worse in wet conditions or conversely, if the track was bone hard. I will do a 'Yardley' search and let you know what I can find. Certainly there was one competing regularly in the 1880s! I will try to get some information about why the bike was featured. Godiva has a problem with its history … a very long story. Suffice to say that in the late 1970s, much material was collected to be utilised for a History to be written in time for our Centenary. This was never done and many items were never returned to the club. A simple search on e-bay TODAY will reveal at least 7 postcards (photographs) from the period 1924 to 1934 for sale. These came from one of the albums lent to the club at the time and then went walkabouts. For the last 20 years I have been trying to buy back the more important relevant items - not a cheap hobby!!! The 'Festival' photos were interesting with some of the views of the track. Before Godiva moved to the facility on the Westwood Campus of Warwick University in 1984, the council hired the track out to all manner of organisation. Most caused no problems (schools and local football clubs for example) BUT the Dog Shows left the ground and changing rooms in a disgusting mess from both humans and animals while car racing and stunts left glass from the vehicles on the grass infield, the track and the approach paths, rendering the whole facility out of bounds until the council finally got around to a having a clear up.
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
NeilsYard
Coventry
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34 of 48  Fri 28th Jun 2019 4:38pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2347

I'm sure we have some other images somewhere - I will add when I come across them. My mum's loft is a bit of a time machine! Dad's birth name was Laurie Yardley but everyone called him Jack so may have been registered as that. Edited by member, 28th Jun 2019 4:40 pm
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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35 of 48  Sat 29th Jun 2019 9:40am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3136

Hi Neil, I remember going to a big cycle meeting at the Butts, mid fifties, that bike was on show. But someone fell off their bike at the front, one hell of a pile up, several got nasty injuries. I think a lot of events were cancelled, maybe Harrier knows?
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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36 of 48  Sun 30th Jun 2019 10:02am  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:188

I will try to answer both Neil and Kaga but .... Christian names are always a help as are places of work. Information, particularly dates, can be found via the apprentice scheme which engendered the Apprentices' Sports in which most apprentices were engaged. Dates of birth can give a fix on the range of time when a particular athlete might have competed which leads to the use of athletics programmes for further details of the athlete. These bits of information lead back to Godiva Club minutes (where they exist) and voila!! Simple? Well not really. The problems with locating information about your dad's bike picture, Neil, and Kaga's pileup is such things would not have been recorded in club level reports which were more interested in times and distances of individual performances, so there is a reliance on newspaper reports of such happenings - is the photograph a family picture or is there a commercial stamp of the photographer on the back? Two problems arise here - was either event considered newsworthy by the local editor, and if it was, did either report / photo only make the 'Pink', in which case, finding information becomes almost impossible because most archives, local and the National Newspaper Archive, kept few copies of the local sports paper and the local editor assumed that most sport reports would have been read by local interested readers in the Saturday edition, so considered a repeat sports report in the Monday paper a waste of valuable space. The second problem concerns the simmering dispute between the governing bodies of the respective athletics and cycling sports. Events at the Butts, like elsewhere, had cycle racing and athletic events at the same meeting, but were governed by the rules of each sport - often different and conflicting. For example. Most events were handicap races (very few field events!) and the value of prizes strictly controlled with athletics having an upper limit of 7 guineas and the cyclists 12 - a cause of friction between competitors especially if an athlete participated in both sports, or a club like Godiva catered for both disciplines. This was exasperated further by the cycle officials being a little less rigorous than their athletic counter parts in interpreting the rule and also allowing semi or full professional riders to compete at the same meetings as their amateur counterparts, while the athletic officials often interpreted the rule as meaning the manufacturing cost was 7 guineas which of course, hiked the value of the prize considerably while 'strictly' enforcing the amateur code! And conflict could also arise as to whether it was an athletics' meeting with cycle racing or a cycle meeting with athletic races. And through all this muddle, records / information was not kept or lost and historians have to try to wade through the detritus. So Neil and Kaga, don't hold your breath ..... but I will try.
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
NeilsYard
Coventry
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37 of 48  Mon 1st Jul 2019 9:42am  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2347

BTW Harrier, I'm sure my dad had those same shoes at the bottom of his bedroom cupboard right up until the late 70's! I remember trying them on - despite us both being over 6ft we both only had/have little size 8 feet. Thankfully I trust the long legs helped with the running - we were both fast!
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Dr Phil 1949 to 1956
Ware Herts & Puerto Mogan Gran Canaria
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38 of 48  Mon 28th Oct 2019 11:45pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2019  Total posts:51

Remember it well as The Butts Velodrome seeing Reg Harris beat Arie Van Vliet in a championship meet. Can't remember when tho! 1953?
cov

Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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39 of 48  Tue 29th Oct 2019 11:50am  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:188

Interesting Dr Phil that you refer to the Butts as a Velodrome. Like Coventry's first banked track, the Butts was built also for cycling. Athletics was very much an after thought at both venues with only a very few running events if any at all - there were certainly no field events. And the running races took place inside the cycle track so the surface used by the cyclists was not damaged. The event you saw would have almost certainly have been only cycling as by 1952, the sports of cycling and athletics had gone their separate ways because the athletic governing body would no longer tolerate pro and semi-pro cycling at the same meeting as athletics. For Godiva the consequence was dire as it was with other mixed sport Harrier clubs'. Albeit a friendly split, the Godiva cycling members were required to leave the club, forming their own cycling club called the Godiva Road and Path Club - the 'path' referring to a cycling track. As an example to illustrate the authorities fear of 'contamination' of professionalism on amateur athletics, a local Coventry rugby player suffered. Like many rugger players, Coventry's rugby players joined Godiva to compete in the summer on the track as a means of keeping their fitness ticking over for the next winter season. One such was Frank Castle who was a regular at the Butts on a training night and often competed for us in inter club matches and in handicap races. He signed professional forms for Barrow Rugby League club - he was immediately barred from the Butts and Harrier Club members forbidden to train with him upon threat of being expelled from athletics. The consequence was that Frank used to wait under the railway bridge in Albany Road for the lads from the club to come out for their run and then join in - he was welcomed of course. When the penny dropped with some senior club officials, there was a bust up which ended with people [athletes'] power winning. Frank was still not allowed to enter the Butts nor compete in athletic races!! Reg Harris was popular locally with the crowds but not so with the sports' organisers. At one local meeting at Wootton Wawen, he refused to ride because the track was too bumpy for his liking but still demanded his expenses and the prize he was promised. The tickets for the sports had been sold on the promise of Harris competing. When he didn't, there was almost a riot amongst the crowd of 3 to 4 thousand.
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
NeilsYard
Coventry
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40 of 48  Tue 29th Oct 2019 12:53pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2347

Harrier - I posted this on the Butts/Albany thread a while ago - I used to go to the Butts for the cycling a lot in the early 80's as my sister’s hubby and his family were all massive bike racers. There were lots of events and cycle meets on even as late as then. The track and those stands were virtually unchanged from that film! He rode for Coventry Olympic Quo Vadis who wore black and white sponsored kits backed by the restaurant in Barker Butts Lane - complete with their Roman Coliseum logo. He rode for GB as a junior - Adrian Jackson for anyone into Coventry cycling Deano also added this one which is worth adding here in case you had not seen it -Midlands News: 11.06.1958: Cycling at The Butts Stadium, Coventry Edited by member, 29th Oct 2019 12:53 pm
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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41 of 48  Tue 29th Oct 2019 4:50pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:188

Thanks NeilsYard, I hadn't seen that clip. Because the tracks in Coventry were purpose built for cycling, a running track had to be fitted on the inside of the tarmac, on the grass. This meant that no serious running event could be promoted in Coventry because the track was not a standard 440 yards - a mile race for example had to run four and three quarter laps. Now some bright spark in the 50s decided that it would do Godiva's image a power of good if the 440 yards hurdles was included in an inter club…. think about slapstick, think about Laurel and Hardy for a minute. Read on.... The hurdles in those days were big heavy contraptions which took a crane to lift them and a number 10 bus to knock them down!! So far so good.... Because the hurdles are equally spaced around the track, and the Butts 440 yards is a whole lap and a quarter of a lap, the hurdles on the last section of the race could not be set up because the first part of the race required to use that part of the track when they started. The gun goes, the runners set off and an army of hurdle shifters have to wait for the last athlete to pass the finishing post for the first time before two sets of hurdles in each of the five lanes before the finish line have to be lugged out of the way to be replaced by another two sets of five further back down the track so the race could be completed using the correct spacing and the stipulated number of hurdles. As this race was very labour intensive, the event was never repeated. Surprise, surprise. If you look at 29 seconds into the clip you can see the thin strip of grass that separated the tarmac cycle surface from the cinder running track which went around the whole arena - where the cyclist has come off his bike. In 1953, the Coventry City Council decided that the city should have a cinder track! Fantastic news. Coventry sport enters the 20th century…. but wait, what did the recreation department do? Yes they built a 360 yard cinder track inside the cycle track, which meant that the elephant wasn't even white!!! Still no important events could be held in Coventry. And what is more, the cycling fraternity demanded a strip of grass (the one you can see at 29 seconds) to go around the arena so that when a cyclist came off a bike and slid across the tarmac, the severe grazing was not compounded by embedded cinder in the wound!! This idea didn't last too long because as the athletes were supposed to stick to running on the strip of grass in training rather than spoiling the cinder surface, which turned to a quagmire whenever it rained more than a drizzle. The grass was dug up and a half lane of cinder laid down. Still no important events could be held in Coventry. Act 2 scene 3: How can I leave a lasting legacy for future generations of athletes?? I know, I will build a tunnel under the track so athletes don't have to cross the track and risk being knocked over by an inconsiderate cyclist. And so it came to pass, o children mine, that the Coventry City recreation department decided to build a tunnel underneath the track. Three problems. Where the tunnel emerged on the inside of the track, meant the inside of the arena could no longer be used for important schools and local football matches as the pitch was now too small. Problem two was the entrance was built across the whole of the pathway on the back straight and no one could get around it!! The entrance is at the far point of the stand you can see on NeilsYard's old cycle photo [in those days this was the home straight], or just to the right of where his dad is standing on the other photo. Then there was the problem of water. The pit (read tunnel) soon filled with water to above head height and could not be baled out because of the sheer volume of water involved. So it was sealed up after a couple of meetings at which the cyclists had not been too happy about having to manhandle their precious machines down a flight of stairs, along a concrete corridor, getting their feet wet in the process, and then up another flight of steps to get onto the infield for their race when they could have just hopped over the barriers. Fast forward 50 years… The staff of Coventry Rugby Club who had moved into their new stadium at the Butts Park Arena were having a little problem with their pitch after a couple of dozen games. Someone had told them that I might be able to help them with their problem. During work to rectify the pitch problem the contractors had come across a concrete war time bomb shelter, did I have any details!!!! I am not joking Forum members, after all, you couldn't make this up. It transpired that when the Rugby Club had had the stadium built, the contractors were not aware of the concrete tunnel and had just built the pitch on top of it, their building surveyors had not discovered its presence in the mandatory prebuild searches. Edited by member, 29th Oct 2019 5:00 pm
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Midland Red
Cherwell
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42 of 48  Tue 29th Oct 2019 6:59pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:5428

Oh my Oh my Oh my
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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43 of 48  Tue 29th Oct 2019 8:07pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:188

Apologies…. NeilsYard's dad is on the other side of the track near the start/finish of the cycle track!!! I am getting carried away with my enthusiasm!!
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
NeilsYard
Coventry
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44 of 48  Tue 5th Nov 2019 9:25am  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2347

As per this image from BFA dated 1927 - the large sports pavilion was already there before the current college building which went up in 1935. Anyone know who owned and ran the pavilion and sports grounds? I have read pre Technical College the organisation was called the Coventry Institute. Presumably it was because of this and the land they chose to build the 1935 college? Harrier? Edited by member, 5th Nov 2019 9:25 am
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Prof
Gloucester
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45 of 48  Tue 5th Nov 2019 2:35pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:1128

I believe the Institute (precursor of the Tech College) originally stood in High St opposite the present Council House possibly close to Palace Yard.
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers

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