THE HISTORY OF WEST COAST ATHLETIC CLUB

(This text is copied from the old WCAC website. This new site will, in time, contain a comprehensive & dynamic visual account of all aspects of the club’s history, developed through research and compilation of various sources.)

The idea of a local running club in the Table View was first initiated by a couple of men who at that time, were running for Spartan Harriers – located in the Diep River / Bergvliet area.

Roy Krossyski, Garry Thomson and John Bell who were the driving force behind the idea began what was then known as the Table View Chapter of Spartan Harriers. This small group were responsible for organising the 1984 Table View 30km race – hosted by Spartan Harriers – which began at the Theo Marias Park in Milnerton.

Due to the strict guidelines laid down by the then WPRRA, It took another two seasons for the club to become a reality. Prior to applying to WPRRA, the new club needed a clubhouse. A clubhouse was then granted by the local Milnerton Council who offered the sports facilities at Theo Marais Park. They were however adamant that the name of the new foundling club had to include the word ‘Milnerton’. By this time two new members had joined the Table View chapter of Spartan Harriers, namely Jan La Cock and Don Mackenzie.

At an ad-hoc meeting held at Jan La Cock’s house many names were proposed for the new club. Jan La Cock suggested Milnerton West Coast Athletic Club and it was agreed upon by the other members that as the club was situated in the West Coast area it was only right that West Coast be incorporated into it’s name. Garry Thomson was then tasked with the responsibility of meeting with then Milnerton council and proposing the new name. The council persisted with the desire for the club to be called Milnerton Athletic Club (MAC). However, the new members argued that this would be in direct conflict with the Milnerton Aquatic Club (MAC) and eventually the council relented and the name Milnerton West Coast Athletic Club was accepted. In August 1986 the Milnerton West Coast Athletic Club was accepted under the umbrella of Milnerton Sports Club with their official home at Theo Marais Park.

The new executive committee of Roy, Garry and John were tasked with the application for affiliation to the Western Province Amateur Athletics Association (WPAAA) and the WPRRA. Application was granted the club became affiliated with the WPRRA on 16th September 1986.

Facilities at Theo Marais Park were good and consisted of good size change rooms, a large hall which could be used for functions, and a small room upstairs at the back which was used for social gatherings after the time trail. The bar was situated on the ground floor and was the domain of the Rugby club. This meant that the Milnerton West Coast Athletic club often felt like they had to accept second best and had to bow down to the Rugby club.

Weekly time trials were held every Tuesday evening, the first of which was held on 2nd September. The trials started from one of the sports fields and ran along the back road of the racecourse, then turned back – a very straight fast course. Later the course was changed due to development in the area and the route ran past the new stables that were being built there at the time. It was fondly reffered to as ‘Stable View’. The first pack run started from Don McKenzies house in Disa Road, headed to Bloubergstrand via Perlemoen and then back – approximately 12km. The first long pack run started from the clubhouse at Theo Marais to the top of Tickey Draai and then back to Theo Marais Park – an impressive 21km.

Interest in joining the club grew at a rapid rate. On Friday the 29th of August and open day was held at the club, to allow new members to get acquainted with each other. Ian Nienaber, the first club captain and the area manager of Total Sports was pivotal in canvassing runners in the Table View area and getting them to join the new club. Ian was also monumental in getting a mock up of the club kit, which was presented at the open day event. Ian designed the club vest base on the well known USA Running Club colours of the Santa Monica Athletic Club, which was the home of Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis. Ian however reversed the blue panel (putting it on the back) and red panel (placed at the front). A local female employee from Koeberg Nuclear Power Station was there to model the new kit – and the new club kit was born. The kit was only available to purchase in mid October, just in time for their inaugural appearance at the Foot of Africa marathon.
West Coast Athletic Club Committee 1986

Chairman John Bell
Treasurer Garry Thomson
Club Captain Ian Nienaber
Vice Captain Keith Morgan
WPAA Rep Danie Human
Milnerton Sports Club Rep Roy Krossynski
Social Captain Fred Rautenbach
Cross Country Gerald Hammond
WPRRA Reps Jan La Cock
Newsletter Editor Rickie Miller

In 1987 the club standards were drawn up, based on standards set by clubs like Celtics, VOB and Spartan Harriers. These standards are set a high level but are attainable and something to be proud of by aspiring members.
In 1988 the club held is first Awards Evening Michelle’s Restaurant in Bloubergrand with Ian Nienaber as master of ceremonies. It was at this time that a competition was held for the design of the club’s new badge. The design proposed by Sue Botes, the club secretary, was chosen as the official club emblem. The emblem consisted of a Pelican with outstretched wings, coming in to land. This original badge was then re-designed in 2001 to the current, more streamlined pelican badge.

In November/ December of 1994, the club moved to the shared space at the Big Bay Life Saving Club. It was also around about this time that the word Milnerton was dropped from the club name. There was no official reason for doing this apart from being a very long-winded name and the fact that the club had moved to Big Bay. The walls at the BBLSC were very sparsely decorated and the West Coast Athletic Club (WCAC) put in a huge effort to change that. The club put up wooden display boards recognising club members, office bearers achievements etc. Both West Coast and the Lifesaving club continued to prosper over the years, which was very beneficial to both clubs and enabled several upgrades to the furnishings and facilities at Big Bay to be completed.

Our first 10-year anniversary was celebrated with a Spit Braai function held at the clubhouse at Big Bay on the 27th September 1996 and was attended by some 150 guests including members past and present. Chairman Philip organised a few marquee tents, courtesy of the Defence Force, that were set-up in the grassed area behind the Clubhouse next to the braai facilities.

1997 saw the first ever ‘Bum Run’ which was conceived after seeing a photo at Fish Hoek Clubhouse of naked runners – taken from behind. The idea was to have nine club members as volunteers to do this. The reason for nine members being that each member could have a letter on their back signifying WEST COAST. Too many members wanted to be involved and we ended up having two teams. Jeff Perry was our official photographer we organised to meet early one Saturday morning at the Clubhouse. The start of the run however had to be delayed after a lone lady walker was spotted heading the runner’s way.
In December 1998 the club held its first Pub Run, which was organised by Graham Hough and Jane Hoskyn. 6 club members participated, which is a far cry from the number who join us each year to date. The last few years have seen the Pub Run become a charity event in which the club collects thousands of Rands which is donated to different needy causes.
In 2006 the Big Bay Life Saving Club was demolished for re-development. Whilst the construction was taking place the WCAC relocated to the Clubhouse at the Milnerton Aquatic Club.
The club celebrated its 21st anniversary in 2007 by throwing a party at the new Club House. This milestone was celebrated by many of the Founder members, members who have been involved with the club for many years, and new members alike. Our 1st Club Captain Ian Nienaber travelled from Barrydale, ex chairman Paul Corbett travelled from Durban, also present were Kieron Kent, Geoff Ethrington, Osborne Renecke, Garry Thomson, John Bell, Flippie van Dyk, Willie Venter, John Maritz and Chris Walker. The music and food ensure that the party remained in full swing late into the night. The next anniversary party – our big 30th is bound to see more of the same.

THE PEOPLE
The West Coast Athletic Club is home to experienced runners and novice runners alike. The club is known for is warm, friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We have 278 licensed members. This number is growing year upon year. Our club members run Two Oceans, Comrades and a huge number of local and national races. Many members have achieved their illustrious blue and green numbers for Two Oceans and Comrades alike. The club holds an annual monthly awards evening on the first Tuesday evening of each month. Here we recognise members who have achieved club standards, personal best times and we acknowledge the runner of the month.
We are passionate about running, but are just as passionate about people. The club host a number of social events throughout the year, which we encourage members to bring their partners and family along to, such as our Comrades Family Day, Annual Awards Evening
Whether you are an Ultra runner or a just beginning runner, West Coast Athletic Club is the place for you.

Heartfelt thanks to Don McKenzie for providing a detailed and thorough account of the club’s history.