Middlesbrough - Ironopolis Football and Cricket Club

Eston Road - South Bank : TS6 6TY
Ironopolis* Cricket Club was founded in 1880 and based in Eston Junction next to the ironworks in the South Bank area of Middlesbrough. The bicycle track was six laps to the mile.

The first Ironopolis Cricket Club amateur athletic sports were held on April 28th 1833 in front of 1,000 spectators. There were two bicycle events, a 2 miles handicap race for members of the South Bank Amateur BC and a 3 miles open handicap race. As well as the usual flat and bicycle races, the sports included a sack race, a quoits handicap, a "half-hour go-as-you-please" and a metal carriers' race with a prize of a pair of trousers for first place, and a ham for the runner up.

Also in 1883, the South Bank Amateur BC held their first annual sports on September 23rd. There was a 1 mile race, open only to the South Bank workmen of Bolckow, Vaughan & Co. who were the local coal and iron producers. There was a 2 miles open handicap race and a 5 miles professional handicap race. The sports at Ironopolis were unusual at that time in allowing betting betting and professional races.

Bettings seems to have affected the sports and Catherine Budd comments that despite the large number of local races that were reported in the press, the Northern Review's ‘Rambler' suggested that "the racing world is so exceedingly shady that I cannot help feeling glad that racing, pot-hunting etc. are not the pursuits of our local cyclists".

The 1884 Ironopolis Cricket Club annual sports featured the same race program as the previous year. The Athletic News of May 14th carried a report of the 3 miles handicap race. "In the final heat, Sedgwick, of the Middlesbrough CC came a cropper, and brought down Crawford of Darlington, along with him, whilst Orrick rode over the pair, and, coming down, cut his head severely. Drs Glen and Nixon having to be called in to sew up the wound. The winner of this race was the scratch man Alec Crombie, of Middlesbrough, who, I believe, rides a Coventry Machinists' Club racer."

The 1885 Cricket Club sports attracted 16 entries for the 1 mile handicap race and 14 entries for the 2 miles handicap. The bicycle races seem to have been somewhat spoiled with ‘several dark riders being unearthed.'

The Cricket Club's annual sports in 1886 were held, but this seems to be the last bicycle racing at the Ironopolis ground.

*Ironopolis was the 19th century nickname given to the Middlesbrough area, Iron from the material and opolis meaning city. Manchester had the nickname Cottonopolis.


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