Dorchester AC has had a number of "homes". Training has taken place at the recreation grounds at King's Road and Weymouth Avenue, at the site of Thomas Hardye School when it was Castlefield School and at Hardye's School at Barnes Way. The Club's strongest period was when it was at the old Hardye's School. The school generously made a series of clubrooms available to us, we were one of the dominant clubs in the region at both track and field and cross country and our female teams were promoted in successive years to Division 3 and Division 2 of the Southern Women's T & F League. The Club developed what is now its tradition of serving the wide community of west and central Dorset with members travelling from Wareham and Lyme Regis and from as far as Swanage and Sturminster Newton.
Since the sale of the Hardye's School Barnes Way site, the Club has had no home. Uncertainty as to whether community facilities would be provided for athletics in West Dorset has meant that the decision to site a clubhouse has remained on ice for several years. Equipment is stored by members of the Committee.
The enormous local talent and enthusiasm for athletics has ensured the continued success of the Club over recent years. We have excellent support from local schools. Summer training has been at St Osmund's Middle School in Dorchester since Hardye's School closed. Winter training has been at several venues, including The Prince of Wales School and a village hall in addition to use of the Thomas Hardye Leisure Centre. Dorchester Middle School gym has been a valuable additional winter venue recently.
THE EARLY YEARS
The successes of the first twelve years of the Club were researched by past Secretary, Chris Cherrington, and published in the first Athletic Track Feasibility Study of 1987. Mike Furse, Club Statistician has provided a detailed history of the first two years of the Club.
1976: Two Dorchester athletes won Couny Championship Track and Field Gold medals and another won the Senior Ladies Cross Country Championship.
1977: Seven girls gained high placings in the Dorset County Cross Country Championships and in its first year's competition the Club was placed third in the Avalon League and third in the Southern Counties Women's track and Field League (Division 4).
1978: The Junior Ladies (U15) won age group trophies at the Dennett Trophy Meeting (at Yeovil) and were overall winners in the Avalon League (T&F).
1978: Facilities: Dorchester Town Council suggested the club may like to use land alongside the children's play area at the end of Mellstock Avenue for a track.
1979: Club Secretary (Garth Ridgers) was awarded the Echo Rothmans Service to Sport Award. The first Dorchester athlete to do so, gained a place at the English Schools National Championship.
1980: Two girls achieved 5th places in the English Schools Championships at 400m and Discus.
1981: A Dorchester Athlete gained fourth place at the English Schools Championships and at the Women's AAA Championships won a silver medal in her age group. The first ever Dorchester Mini-Games were staged at Piddlehinton; these have since become a very poipular annual event. The Club came second in the Avalon Track & Field League.
1982: A Dorchester Athlete gained a third place at the English Schools Championships and was later selected to represent the England Junior International Team at Meadowbank. Dorchester AC's Boys' Team won two age group trophies in the Westward and Avalon Track & Field Leagues. Five Dorchester Athletes were placed in the National Ranking Lists.
1983: Honours were very high during this year when achievements from Club Athletes were:- English Schools Boys' Champion Javelin Thrower; Southern Counties Boys' Champion Javelin Thrower; Top Ranked Boy Javelin Thrower in the Country and Dorset Sports Personality of the Year (Justin Rubio).A female Athlete gained a second place at the English Schools Championships (400m) and second place at the Womens' Southern Counties AAA Championships (400m) and another became British Colleges Champion at Shot Put. Team efforts saw Dorchester win the Westward League Competition, picking up several age group trophies. Seven Club Athletes were placed in the National Rankings Lists with two first place rankings: for Javelin and Long Jump.
1984: A female athlete placed 4th in the Womens AAA Championships (Shot Put). There was first place again in javelin at the English Schools Championships followed by selection as a Junior International. 1st and 3rd places were won in the Southern Counties AAA Championships at javelin. Dorchester was second overall in the Westward and Avalon Leagues. The Junior Ladies team won their age group trophy in the Avalon Cross country League. Membership numbered 121.
1984: Facilities: Chris Cherrington wrote to WDDC Planning Officer on behalf of the Club's Development Committee to object to development of the Brewery Sports Field for housing. To this date the club had used the Avenue Recreation Ground, King's Road Park, Castlefield School and Hardye's School. Chris wrote:"The lack of facilities under our control mitigate against the club in several ways. For example it has only been possible to stage one track and field meeting a year, for under 13 year olds, because of conflicting demands for Hardye's sports field. As a consequence all our league matches are away from home. This not only deprives many people of Dorchester from watching their athletic club compete but it also involves the club with the extra burden of fund raising to sponsor the high cost of travel." The application was approved.
1985: The Club had a third place in the English Schools Championships (Javelin) and a seventh place in the 100m. There were second and third places in Javelin in the AAA Championships and SEAA Championships respectively. The Club was second overall in the Westward and Avalon Leagues. Two athletes were ranked in the national lists.Membership rose to 144.
1986: Dorchester had its first International representative at cross country. Four athletes went to the English Schools Championships. Dorchester athletes were at the Southern Counties AAA Championships and gained two third places. At the Women's AAA Championships Dorchester was represented in the 400m Hiurdles. A Dorchester athlete represented Barclays Bank at an International event. The Club rejoined the Southern Women's Track and Field League and finished in second place in Division 4 to gain promotion to Division 3. The Club had 5 qualified club coaches and 7 qualified assistant club coaches.
1986: Facilities: Dorchester and District Sports Advisory Council produced a questionnaire for sports clubs to inform the Dorchester Town Council what land requirements they had. The Duchy had made available a five acre site at Fordington Farm. The Club made a bid for a grass track which would be alongside the club room which had been made available by Hardye's School. Through a variety of grants the Club now had adequate equipment. After the press had reported that a track would not be incorporated, Mike Furse wrote to the Town Council: "Of the popular playing-field sports, athletics and football are the least well served in Dorchester and most in need of support. Our proposal to the Dorchester SAC seeks to provide a scheme which integrates both these needs to the detriment of neither. Other sports, for which you are prepared to make provision at Fordington, already have some acceptable facilities in the town, even if these are not optimal."
1987: Dorchester finished runners up in both the Avalon and Westward T&F Leagues. The Club also gained promotion to Division 2 of the Southern Women's Track and Field League: the second year running the Club had gained promotion in that league. Two athletes won South West Counties Cross Country Championships. The Junior Ladies Team won their section of the Avalon Cross Country League. The Senior Ladies Champion was a Dorchester athlete. Two sixth places and a ninth were gained in National Track and Field Championships and four athletes broke County Records. A Dorchester athlete was Southern Counties WAAA Under 19 800m Champion. Highest National Ranking was sixth in Under 13 High Jump. The Club hosted the South West 20K Road Race Walking Championships and the County Cross Country Championships.
1988: Nine athletes represented Dorset in the South West Championships. Dorchester AC won the final Avalon League match to come second overall; the Club won all the female age groups. The Club entered the Southern Men's League and won the division to be promoted at the first opportunity. Five members took part in the English Schools National Championships and returned with a third place in the Senior Girls' 100m and a sixth place in the 400m Hurdles. Club athletes won two County Cross Country Championships.
1989: A Dorchester athlete represented England in the World Cross Country Trial and three other female athletes were South West Counties Champions. Dorchester took first place in the Avaloin Cross Country League Senior Women. The Club's Inter Ladies Team was invited to the National Cross Country Relays and placed ninth. The National Under 20 Indoor 3000m Championship was won by a Dorchester athlete as was the British Universities 800m Championship. Seventeen gold, twenty one silver and twelve bronze medals were won by Dorchester athletes at the County Championships, three wins being Championship best performances. Three gold medals were won by a Club member at the Somerset Championships. The Southern Men's League Team were again promoted. Inters and Girls Teams were first in the Avalon League and the Ladies Team was first overall in the Westward League. In the World Veterans Championships a Dorchester athlete won silver in the 400m hurdles and ninth place in the 1500m. The latter athlete was first in the UK (35) veterans 400m hurdles in a new English record. National Age Group Rankings included a third place for 400m hurdles and an eleventh for high jump.
1990: Four Club athletes represented South West Counties, three in a meeting against Wales and Southern Counties. A member won two gold medals at the British Colleges Championships. Eight Club members were ranked in the top three of their events for the South West of England. A second place was won in the high jump at the Southern Women's AAA Championships. Three athletes competed in the English Schools Championships: another competed successfully for the British Universities Cross Country Team. A Dorchester member was nominated for a Southern Men's League Athlete of the Year Award. Female athletes were ranked nationally seventh (high jump) and twelfth (javelin) in the under 17 age group.