Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

On Track for the Future

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

On Track for the Future

Article excerpt

Byline: Andy Ward

Clairville Stadium is set to close its doors to athletics events for the next few months.

Middlesbrough Council has given the go-ahead for major refurbishments to be made to the 42-year-old stadium.

This will be the most significant upgrade to this venerable and well loved stadium since the laying of the first synthetic track surface more than 30 years ago, when the reopening ceremony was performed by Olympic champion and world record holder Mary Peters.

The stadium had been opened originally back in 1963 by the Duke of Edinburgh.

The driving force behind the building of Clairville in the early 1960s was Roy West, who was a police officer, and by a curious quirk of fate, Ray Mallon, the Mayor of Middlesbrough, who has been overseeing the proposed works, also served in the police.

In its heyday in 1969, Clairville played host to a wide variety of international events, the most memorable being the women's match against France when Lillian Board raced and twice beat Collette Besson, her conqueror at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

This was shortly before Lillian's tragic death from cancer at the early age of 22.

Other major events were the 1991 British Isles Decathlon and Heptathlon Championships, the final event organised by the AAA before its replacement by the late but unlamented British Athletics Federation, as well as scores of national, Northern and North-eastern fixtures.

Sadly, with the stadium being in decline in recent years, most of the major fixtures have gone elsewhere.

But the newly refurbished facility could see the return of the North-east Counties Relay Championships and the North of England Athletics Cup competition to the stadium as early as this summer.

There will also be the resumption of National Young Athletes and National Junior competitions in the arena next summer.

When all the work is completed at the stadium, located next to Clairville Common and Park Road South, it is hoped to arrange a reopening ceremony in the form of an open athletics meeting. …

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