|* Wooderson in 1945 and GEC's sports grounds in 2016 - together again!|
|* GEC Recreation Ground pavilion - in 2016.|
BTH merged with Metropolitan Vickers in 1959 to become known as AEI (Associated Electrical Industries) and although AEI was taken over by GEC in 1967, the AEI name lives on through the rugby club. The old sports ground is still there, although the running track is long gone and there has been some encroachment by new housing.Hillmorton Road sits on the eastern edge of town in a relatively peaceful spot. On an overcast morning, two elderly ladies walking their small frisky dogs were presumably completely unaware they were pottering around on the very spot where Sydney’s front-running generated roars of approval from a lively crowd some 70 summers ago.
On that day he took an early lead and was never headed. The dramatic late finish he'd been famous for before the war was not needed as he won at a canter in 4:20.8. It was well short of his lifetime's best, but comfortable enough to beat Midlands rivals Brown and Reid by more than 20 yards.The outcome filled Sydney with great heart for the summer ahead, and indeed for the resumption of his top-flight career, and saw the press begin painting him as a real gutsy hero. His poor eyesight had prevented service overseas in the regular Army during the war, but he’d done his bit in other areas – and now he was ready to take on Europe’s best on the running track again.
* ‘Project Sydney’ is more than just my forthcoming book about the forgotten British hero Sydney Wooderson. It also incorporates my 60th birthday ‘challenge’ – which was to visit and run at 60 of the places where Sydney raced during his remarkable career - all to be done while I am 60! This blog records the progress of that challenge. Conveniently, it should also help keep me fit and assist with research for the book!