Lagan Valley AC | Club History
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Lagan Valley AC, based at the Mary Peters’ Track in Belfast, was formed in 1989 by John Glover and a  small group of twelve, mainly female, dissatisfied athletes from an already established club. That group was soon joined by a sprint group, led by Billy Black, and on August 28 1989 an inaugural meeting was held in the Dub Pavilion at which John Glover was elected Chairman, Alison Armour Secretary and Alex Best Treasurer.  The elected Committee consisted of Ossie  McAuley, Billy Black, Heather Mairs, David Shirlow, Ann Cunningham and Barry Thompson.


From very small beginnings they quickly established themselves as the major female club in Northern Ireland Their early success was built in no small measure on athletes like Karen Mills, Jane Hale and Vicky Jamison all of whom would achieve British International status, and Judith Rodgers who became the first club member to achieve Commonwealth Games representation.

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Within four years of its formation the club had 180 active members covering all age groups, both genders, multi-racial, disability athletes  and competing in all disciplines of the sport.

In 1991 the Lagan Valley girls won the Northern Ireland Young Athletes League a feat which they replicated for the next nine years. In 1995 the Boys emulated their female counterparts and won the Northern Ireland Young Athletes League and became the first team from the Province to compete in the UK Auxiliary Final. Despite winning locally on a regular basis it was not until 1997 that the girls were invited to the National Finals thus starting an eight year consecutive run taking runner up spot in 2001 ahead of Birchfield.

The Seniors were also hugely successful becoming  the first Northern Ireland club to send a team to what was then the Jubilee Cup with the men competing in the GRE competition. They also entered the All Ireland League and have been consistent in appearing in the National Finals.

The club has, from the beginning, been innovative in its approach with promotions like Winter Floodlit Meetings, Lagan Valleys Trail races and Annual Charity runs. We were awarded a Royal Mail Sports Club Award to promote what was then the only Club Standards Scheme in the Province and hundreds of Primary School children were introduced to the sport through the Commonwealth Mini Squads.

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In 1991 the club introduced a series of  Young Athlete meetings on Thursday nights during the summer under a Best of Belfast banner. Twenty six years later the Series is now a Super Six with Firmus Energy its seventh title sponsor and well over a thousand athletes from eight years old up to veterans competing annually. The Series can look back with pride at having provided an initial springboard for a number of Northern Ireland and Irish Internationals.

It is not only in Track that the club has excelled having won a number of local cross country team titles and in Angie McCullagh and Suzanne McCormick two outstanding marathon runners both of whom competed in the World Cross Country Championships. The spread of disciplines within the present membership means the Sky Blue and Navy can boast internationals in not only Track and Cross Country but also in Orienteering, Mountain Running and Modern Pentathlon.

Like most clubs the coaching and administration staff has  primarily been drawn from parents of members pulled across the fence to help out. Over the years there have been many with Bryan McCorkell, the 2015 ANI Volunteer of the Year,  Eric Montgomery and Grace Mills being the most resilient. Most recently the formation of a Junior Endurance Squad by Michele Scott and Jim McKeown, ably supported by a great bunch of other parents, has breathed new life into the club and once again success is breeding success. The club sadly has also not been without tragedy with three leading figures David Shirlow, Eric Armstrong and most recently Brian Downing succumbing to illness far too early in life.   

In 2016 the club is looking forward to its second quarter century with enthusiasm and confidence with an introduction of a new website and new training and competition livery. As in the past the club will strive to be all inclusive and aim to encourage all its members to achieve their potential.

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