Doncaster Athletic Club celebrate a decade at their Keepmoat Stadium track this month.
All the claims about what modern facilities would do for the sport in a town where athletes were training on dangerous outdated cinder tracks have been more than justified.
Without question the club has been one of the success stories on the local sports scene in recent years and membership is constantly around the 500 mark.
“We’ve lost senior members who have gone off to university but we are getting new members through at the bottom end – the Saturday academy is helping to bring a lot of youngsters in,” said chairman Kev Lincoln.
The Pacers, a dedicated road running section introduced several years ago, continues to go from strength to strength and several new courses are scheduled for this year.
Over a dozen new coaching positions have been created in order to meet the growing demand of the various groups and disciplines at the club.
With fewer and fewer top athletes having to join other clubs to fulfil their potential, Doncaster have become one of the strongest clubs in the region.
That progress saw them successfully apply for a place in the British Men’s League last season and they will again compete in Division Four this year despite finishing bottom.
“We found it a struggle at times and were not always able to field our strongest team, but we feel we’ve learnt from the experience and also believe that our athletes benefit from competing at British League level,” said Lincoln, who says the availability of experienced 200/400 metre runner Anthony Brown will help boost the squad.
“We don’t know the full line-up in our division yet because several clubs have dropped out of the league, but we know Reading will still be there, and probably City of Portsmouth,” he added.
Competing in the respective leagues is a considerable expense and like the rest of the Doncaster board Lincoln is angry that a cut in funding to the grassroots has resulted in a substantial increase in affiliation fees this year.
Reflecting on the last decade, Lincoln said: “It has probably exceeded our expectations but getting the lease of the track has been a big advantage.
“We get clubs ringing up all the time asking how to go about it as we’ve proved a good role model in that sense because the vast majority of tracks are owned by the local authority and having the leasehold gives us an advantage.”
It comes at a price, however, and the club are financially responsible for the upkeep of the complex and last year had to find £46,000 to re-lay the final straight.
They’ve also installed an office/meeting unit on the site.
“It is proving very useful as it enables us to be more business-like,” said Lincoln.
It promises to be another busy year for the club for in addition to their popular road races they will be hosting an Open track meeting on April 1.
They will also be running a throws and jumps events night in May for the first time in addition to a third sprints/endurance meeting in September.
For more information about Doncaster Athletic Club visit www.doncasterathleticclub.com.
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