ONE of Hartlepool’s “finest ever distance runners” has died.
Arthur Dennis joined Hartlepool’s Burn Road Harrier’s in the early 1950s and went on to become one of the club’s best ever runners over long distances.
Today, his friend and former running partner Ken Lupton paid tribute to the born-and-bred Hartlepool man, who passed away in hospital aged 76 last Wednesday, describing him as a “hearty lad with a beaming smile who will be remembered always”.
Arthur, who grew up in the Chester Road area of town and attended Jesmond Road School and then West Hartlepool Grammar School for Boys, is well remembered for his achievements on the track, but also the way in which his running career ended in June 1964.
He and Ken were warming up for the Northumberland and Durham Athletics Championships at Billingham Synthonia Stadium when Arthur’s leg was smashed by a hammer from a hammer-throwing field event which was taking place at the same time.
“We were warming up when a hammer thrown by one of the hammer-throwers burst through the top edge of the cage, flew through the air and smashed into Arthur’s leg,” said Ken.
“I couldn’t believe what had happened. Arthur never raced again and I lost my greatest running rival.”
Dad-of-two Arthur, who worked in the printing industry all of his life and moved to Milton Keynes in about 1970 with his wife Winn, continued to work for the Harriers as secretary and sports writer. He also coached two of the club’s best young middle distance runners, Dave Camp and Ian Foster.
Ken, of Meadow Drive, Hartlepool, said: “We had a great time Arthur and I. I miss our running days. When we used to train we used to stuff brown paper up our vests because we didn’t have lots of warm clothing in those days, or fancy gear to keep you warm.
“The brown paper kept the cold wind from biting, it really worked. Artur used to stuff so much up the brown paper weighed more than he did.”
He added: “Arthur was a joker and always had a lot to say. I missed him when he moved away and I will continue to miss him.”
Funeral details have not yet been released.