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Gateshead Games

Witness a world record-beating race on home ground by Gateshead’s local sporting hero, Brendan Foster.

Amateur film 1974 8 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


Sporting a magnificent pair of sideburns, Brendan Foster grimaces through the finish line to set a new world record in the men’s 3,000 metres at the 1974 Gateshead Games. The track star wagered he could do it and help win international publicity for the city’s new stadium. “You know how it is when you’ve had a few drinks, you promise the world!” That day, the sell-out crowd of 13,500 were there to cheer on their local hero, ‘Big Bren’, future medallist at the Montreal Olympics.

The Gateshead Youth Stadium rested in a reclaimed chemical dump down by the River Tyne. Its cinder track had seen better days. In winter 1973, Brendan Foster had to travel to Edinburgh, or to London, to train. Gateshead Council Leader William Collins “knew that we were breeding a champion” so decided to invest in a new synthetic track. On 3 August 1974, the Gateshead Games were staged to reopen the stadium, with Foster promising to make it a landmark athletics meeting. In September that year, Foster stylishly won the 5,000m gold at the European Athletics Championships in Rome and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He would go on to found the world’s biggest annual half-marathon, The Great North Run.