Your memories of English Schools’ Athletic Association Championships

We’d love to hear your English Schools’ memories; whether you’ve been as a competitor, supporter, coach, teacher, official, organiser or volunteer, you can share your memories with us by sending them to

Memories of English Schools’

Jill; Competitor

I competed in Manchester in 1955, coming third in the senior girls 220 yards. The track was so hard, just a thin layer of cinder on concrete and I couldn’t get the nails for my blocks in very well. I won the same event the following year in Plymouth. All the home counties shared a train and I can remember going “into the sea” at Dawlish Warren on the way down, with a thunderstorm raging out at sea. I also remember The Duke of Edinburgh arriving on the centre of the track by helicopter.

Al; competitor

1999 at Bury St Edmonds, finishing 3rd in the senior boys pole vault! Second place finisher went on to be my son’s godfather and my best man and so best memories are of great times and making lifelong friendships. Advice to current competitors: enjoy the competition, cherish the friendships

Image credit: Alan Richardson

Martin; competitor

English Schools’ Race Walk Champs. If at first, you don’t succeed try and try again.

1977 21st

1978 21st

1979 dq

1980 16th

1981 4th

1982 2nd

1983 1st !

Image credit: Martin Rush

Andy P; Teacher, Team Manager, Coach

I was a primary school teacher, and a Birchfield member since a kid. Was never quite good enough to be an English Schools athlete, but through Birchfield got the opportunity to be a team manager.

English schools is the first chance to go to a proper championship. Not with mum and dad sorting out breakfast and organising you. It’s a learning experience. Not just for the race but for being away at a champs. Did you bring the right charger for your phone? If its going to be cold, did you bring a blanket? Whatever happens at this event, win or lose, you will learn and you will take that forward with you.


Andy; Parent

My middle daughter, Samantha’s first English Schools’ was Bury St Edmunds in 1999. She did 75m hurdles.

Bury St Edmunds was a smaller venue, they built temporary stands around the track. I’d been the week before and there was nothing there except the track, then suddenly there was a stadium and I was probably the most stressed person in it!

Jill L; Official

I was a track judge at every ESAA Championships from 1977 at Hendon through to probably 1994.  I met both Princess Margaret and Margaret Thatcher at Hendon in 1977. Being an official in those days was good fun as we stayed in accommodation, often university campuses, for the whole weekend and they were  usually very sociable affairs!

Phoebe; Competitor

300m and 400m, 2012 – 15

It’s good because it’s the first champs that imitates a major champs, the team morale is great and you get to meet new people.

Enjoy it, use the experience to you advantage.

Andy D: Coach

I had 15 continuous years between 2000 and 2015 of having an athlete competing at English Schools’, from Gateshead to Exeter, and all points in between. I had sprint hurdlers, 400m, high jumpers…in fact the only ones I didn’t have was pole vault and triple jump. It was always the highlight of the season.

George; Competitor

I took part in the English Schools in 1946 and 1947.
The 1946 event was the first after the War and was held on grass on Eton College  playing fields. Each team had a very smartly dressed young man I think with a top hat who guided us to the toilets etc.  He looked a lost soul…

There were no heats for the 880 yards. Just every one on the track (at least 25 runners ) to fight your way through.  I came Second after quite a rough battle.

The 1947 event was held in Hull.  I was a year young and came the 880 yards

Lyn; Competitor

Shot putt, 1966 – 1970

We stayed in people’s houses in those days, not hotels. They were people we didn’t know, but we were well looked after.

My last ESAA Championships was a home one, at Solihull. I stayed on an extra year in school so I could compete at my home stadium.

Cleo; Competitor

Shot putt, 2019 – 2023

My favourite English Schools’ memory is probably my first English Schools’ in 2019. I was really excited to have my county vest. I really nervous but I was able to win the shot putt in the fifth round. After that I though, “maybe this is something I’m good at”, so I invested more time into it and became more confident in myself to win on a larger scale; I went on to win the European Under 18 Championship two years after that.

Shani: Competitor

1988 – 1993

I went to six English Schools’ in total. I started as a high jumper and then a long jumper and I always ran relay.
We used to stay in people’s houses rather than hotels. I remember one year it was so wet and I ended up so muddy on the first day. I only had one tracksuit and I was staying with a grandmother. Bless her, she washed my kit and dried it on the radiators over night for me so I was ready for day 2.

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