The Formation of Nightingale Harriers

At the opening of the 1885/6 season Hull Harriers appeared to be in good health. The September AGM recorded a balance of £2/1/11d and Mr W.H. Pearson was elected President whilst George Lidiard was confirmed as Captain. 

However, the following months saw a marked decline in enthusiasm and it proved difficult to turn out sufficient runners to hold many proper paper chases. By the end of the season the club was all but moribund. Ironically, this was the very season when cross-country running really took off in the town and many new clubs were formed. The most notable, from our point of view, was Nightingale Harriers. Others included Stepney Sunday School Harriers and Hull Collegiate House Harriers, the latter largely a team of young scholars. Nightingale Harriers soon established themselves as a "young and flourishing club" turning out on Saturday afternoons from venues such as the Haworth Arms and the George down Spring Head Road. In February 1886 they took the Humber ferry and ran from the Pelham Inn, New Holland.

Such runs were by no means easy jaunts, especially as opportunities for training, given the long working day, were much more limited. Yet there was always room for humour. On one of these outings, a member of the pack took a hansom cab back to base whilst his team mates struggled through the mud from Anlaby and then had the temerity to claim a place in the first three, which is one alternative our club's current present short cut specialist hasn't tried - yet. The Nightingales also turned their hand to rugby on a couple of occasions, taking on the newly formed Newland RFC. To the chagrin of Newland, the Nightingales triumphed in the first of these encounters held in November 1885. The return, won by Newland in March 1886, was steeped in acrimony. Accusations were leveled that Newland had fielded up to nineteen men whilst it was claimed that the rugby players were disgusted by the harriers' obscene language!