A very dark cloud hangs over the headquarters of RSCAC and Wyndley Track following the news of the death of one of our club’s founding members, Ernie Eames, on Thursday 14th October 2021 at the age of 89 years. He was surrounded by his caring wife Val and their 3 grown up children
Earlier this year Ernie and Val had celebrated their Diamond wedding anniversary and it was only in July that he was appointed President of RSCAC in recognition of his services to the Club.
Athletics was in his blood and whilst in the RAF he started competing some 70 years ago, competing in track and field, road running and cross country in the winter, sometimes taking part in 2 races in a single weekend. As a result, in taking on a new job, Ernie joined Sparkhill Harriers, but after a number of years he moved to Sutton. When a shale track was laid for the first time on the current track’s location in the early 1970s, a meeting was called shortly afterwards by local councillors to explore setting up an athletics club for the town. And so formed RSCAC, with founding members: Marjory Carpenter (local councillor), Tom Wyer, Doc Campbell (a chemistry teacher at John Willmott School), Conrad Philips and Ernie Eames.
The club was initially given 2 rooms at the leisure centre as changing rooms – it wasn’t until 1989 that we started to rent our now clubhouse. This building started life as ‘The Wyndley Café’ in the 1970s, until it was forced to close in 1974 when Wyndley Leisure Centre’s café was used instead and our clubhouse building was then used by the Wyndley groundsman to store his tools and tractor. Sadly, it kept getting broken into so his tools were moved under the swimming baths and by the time RSCAC took it on in 1989 it was a derelict building.
Ernie helped create the club back in 1973 and was instrumental in growing the club as one of our initial coaches, as well as in getting us an all-weather track in 1984 (replacing the initial shale one) and the track we have at present in 2005, for all of which the club had to raise the necessary funding. As Ernie took on the role of Treasurer in 1994, the planning, fundraising and delivery work for the current track required a vast amount of work from him. This was nothing new for Ernie as a lot of the work required at the club would fall to Ernie to complete himself -whether it was a requirement to strengthen the wood on the timekeepers’ stand or to act as Team Manager. It would be Ernie who would book and organise the bus company to take him and the athletes to an away fixture whether it was in south Wales, Yeovil or wherever else, and it would be Ernie who would telephone parents giving them an expected time that the bus company would return to Wyndley that night. He has been instrumental in growing the Club to its present strength and would enjoy watching his Club members take part in the various leagues that we were affiliated to.
The Club has been a never-ending job for Ernie, who would sometimes spend a vast majority of the day working at the Track. It became a ‘second home’ to him. He would also get his wife Val involved, for example buying food for all the officials on competition day. Even as late as 5 years ago, he was coaching athletes how to Pole Vault, with a group of interested youngsters and adults who always won valuable points for their team when competing.
He had been Club Treasurer for 27 years, and whilst holding other positions on the Management Committee, he could often be found collecting training fees at the Club house entrance, and at the end of the day counting it all up before proceeding to bank the proceeds the following day. He would ensure that all bills were paid in time and the good reputation of the club spread far and wide across the nation.
He always wanted the club to have a good and friendly aspect to it and this he achieved quickly and still the club maintains this reputation for there are many occasions where you will see children and their parents training at the club. You even see parents and their children competing for the club at different events on the same day or possibly even competing in the same event!
One can almost visualise seeing Ernie asking to organise the ‘Heavenly Games’, asking, ‘Who would be up for doing the 100m sprint?’ And, ‘Who is prepared to record the times!’
RIP dear Ernie – we shall miss you very much.