100 Years of Voluntary Coaching and Counting!

Long_Service_Awards_Sept_2011_025-300The South of England Athletic Association is pleased to be able honour Tony Bateman, Ernie Chambers and John Miller with the SEAA Long Service Awards for their service to athletics over so many years.  Accredited voluntary coaches, Tony, Ernie and John, have logged up over a 100 years of athletic coaching, and spent over 50,000 hours coaching at an estimated total personal cost £400,000. All are life members of Winchester & District Athletic Club which was founded in 1976.

Ex-Olympian Christine Benning gave the address, "Coaches are a vital element of or sport.  The first people that our Gold medalists in the World Championships gave tribute to, was their respective coaches.  We value coaches who coach athletes to world and Olympic medals but we equally value the coaches who turn up day in/day out, rain or shine to coach young athletes in their local club or in Ernie’s case, two clubs."

Chris Carter -  Honorary Secretary of the South of England Athletic Association added, "I do not know Tony or Ernie personally but I was a member of Steyning A.C. in the late 1950’s when John was an outstanding race walker and I bought my first track suit, an unwanted race prize, from him for 10 shillings.  Those were the days!"

Tony as an active athlete has had an illustrious career, represented Middlesex in the High Jump over a period of 10 years and in 1960 jumped a career best of 6ft 5ins representing the AAA against Wales.  In the same year he gained a Great Britain ‘B’ International vest.  As a Veteran athlete he was twice European Indoor Champion in the high jump and silver medal in the long jump, also silver medal in World Championships, 1999, bronze in 2001 and gold in 2003. Holder of 6 British Veterans records and past holder of the British Master, M 65, 100m hurdles record.

Tony started coaching informally at his first club Ealing and Southall AC in the 1960’s and attended his first coaching course in 1975 after his job moved him to Scotland. The course was run by Frank Dick who was later to become British National coach. After coaching with Greenock AC for a few years he moved back to Hampshire in early 1979.

Coached Winchester/Hampshire athletes from 1979 – 1992 before moving to Scotland again where he became National Long-jump coach for Scotland and Group Coach for Jumps 1992-1994. He was also team coach for Scotland’s Senior International Team during this period. On returning to coaching in Hampshire, 1994, first at the Southampton track and now at Winchesters he has coached an impressive number of County, South of England and English Schools Champions many of whom who have gone onto to achieve International honours. Tony is a qualified Official who regularly officiates at County Championships and League matches. He is also part of the team that coaches the newly formed Winchester University Track Team.

Ernie had a very successful Ulster Schools career being High Jump Champion in 1954, 1956, 58, & 59. He was all Ireland Junior Champion in 1958 which gave him a UK ranking of 9th. Selected for N.I team against Australia and West Indies in 1958 following the Empire/Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.
He has been coaching and officiating in Winchester for the past 27 years and has helped Andover A.C. as a Jumps Coach when required. In 1966 whilst in Guyana, was long jump coach at the Teachers Training College.  Ernie works very closely with Tony and is part of the Winchester University coaching team.

John represented his school in Sussex at Athletics, Football, Cricket and Boxing, reaching the semi-finals of the Sussex Championships. In 1950 he played Football for Brighton Boys in the National League and Cricket for Sussex School Boys. From 1951 to 1961 he represented Sussex at athletics and in 1958 became the first Sussex athlete to win County titles at every age level. Competed in 10 National Championships. In 1951 he was one of 4 founder members of Steyning AC and served on their committee until 1956. On moving to Winchester in 1960 he retired from serious athletics. Played football for the Red Triangle, cricket for Hyde Ramblers and captained them in Division 1 of the Hampshire League, also played for Hampshire Club and Ground and Hampshire Maniacs. 1970 – 1976 he was a member of Winchester Sports Council committee. In 1975 as result of a Rotary organized sponsored run at River Park, Winchester & District Athletic Club was born, replacing Winchester Harriers which folded 10 years previously, John was its founder member and chairman for the first 10 years, during which time Winchester won many titles and produced a number of Track and Field International athletes. John was again chairman from 2002-2005 when the decision was taken to build the all weather track at Bar End. Since the club’s inception in 1976 he has coached International athletes who have competed at Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic Games. Notably Olympians Simone Laidlow nee Gandy and Mark Rowland, bronze medalist and also World silver medalist, Mark is now Head Coach at the Oregon Track Club Elite, USA. From 1990 – 1992 John was National and Great Britain Junior 400meters Hurdles Coach, from 1992 – 1995 was South West Group Hurdles Development Coach and 2001 – 2005 was Technical Consultant to the National Steeplechase Squad. Also hurdles coach to the Junior and Senior Southern teams for 20 years. John was visiting coach to Millfield School from 1988 – 1994.

It takes 10-12 years to acquire sufficient experience and knowledge to coach at the highest level in these technical events and by the same token athlete development is of the same time scale, patience is of paramount importance! Coaching for life and not just athletics is the philosophy. The maxim being “athletes aspire, coaches inspire”!

All three coaches’ intentions are to give back to the sport some of their time and expertise to help youngsters achieve their potential as others had done for them.  Congratulation to all three, and to all other coaches out there who give of their time so freely.  Over the last 10 years the Association has honoured nearly 200 such stalwarts for their dedication to our sport.  Any affiliated club or county can send a citation for a member who has served the club or county in any way other than as a competitor.  Awards of a specially struck lapel badge and certificate for service over 20, 30 or 40 years will be sent for presentation at a time most relevant to the club or county.  For further information contact the SEAA at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, Ledrington Road, London SE19 2BB or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..