History of how the Club was founded

History of how the Club was founded

Together Barry Thompson and Martin Thompson were instrumental in starting the Traralgon Harriers Amateur Athletic Club.  Under the Victorian Amateur Athletic Associations (VAAA) rules clubs were not able to hold an athletic meeting on a weekend where there was an interclub meeting being conducted by their local centre The Latrobe Valley Amateur Athletic Centre (LVAAC).  In order to overcome the problem of transporting more than half the athletes competing at a LVAAC athletics meeting, a Traralgon Amateur Athletic Centre was formed so Traralgon based competition could occur.

The foundation clubs were the original Traralgon Amateur Athletic Club (AAC), Traralgon Harriers AAC and the Achilles AAC.  Traralgon Harriers were first formed and then shortly afterwards the Traralgon Amateur Athletics Centre was formed.

Moves were also being made to form a Glengarry/Tyers AAC, St Michaels/St Pauls AAC and a Yarram AAC.  As Women’s and Men’s Athletics Associations were separate State organisations TWAAC were not considered a part of the Traralgon Centre by the Victorian AAA even though they competed alongside the men.

Traralgon Harriers was the smallest club with Martin Thompson, Leigh Thompson, Chris Collins, Wally Phillips and a few others.  The Traralgon Harriers Club members were generally the distance runners not the sprinters, middle distance or field events athletes.  The Traralgon Centre also conducted Little Athletics meetings on Saturday mornings.

As only one LVAAC athlete came from Sale, moves were made to define the boundaries of the Traralgon Amateur Athletics Centre by extending it east and calling it the East Gippsland Amateur Athletic Centre.  The LVAAC boundaries were to be from west of Traralgon to east of Dandenong.  The VAAA in its “wisdom” decided that the boundaries of the Latrobe Valley Amateur Athletic Centre would extend from east from Warragul (or Drouin or Dandenong) to the NSW border and its name be changed to East Gippsland Amateur Athletics Centre.  While the Latrobe Valley Amateur Athletic Centre may have been pleased that this boundary decision effectively eliminated the Traralgon Amateur Athletic Centre, the inappropriate and unwanted name change meant the that considerable sum spent in designing and making a die for award medals was wasted.  This decision put an end to the Traralgon Athletic Centre and eventually led to the demise of all local clubs except the Traralgon Harriers.

At a subsequent VAAA delegates meeting the renaming of LVAAC was later reversed with the support of Traralgon based clubs.

In the 1960 Rome Olympic Games New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard, trained two gold medalists Peter Snell (1500m) Murray Halberg (5000m) and bronze medalist Barry Magee (Marathon).  The main feature of Martin’s training for Traralgon Harriers was to run 100 miles a week as Arthur Lydiard’s runners did.  The black uniform was influenced by New Zealand’s Olympic uniforms.  The distinctive T originated from St. Pauls Catholic College Traralgon and was worn by TAAC (white tops) and THAAC (black tops) athletes.

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