Sam (Soapy) Palmer, Mitcham Athletics Club and the Glory Years, 1936 to 1939

Mitcham AC was founded when Sid Coleman, Dennis Griffin and 2 others met under a lamppost in Mitcham and decided to set up an inaugural and formal meeting at the Bucks Head Hotel in September 1920.
The officers were Sid Coleman General Secretary, Norman Gunn Men’s Captain,
Lt Col Bidder President, E Siviour Treasurer.
In 1923 the News of the World opened the track at Mitcham and the club started to use it as their centre.
Ladies and Youth Sections were formed in 1926.

The men’s distance team was boosted in the 1930s with an influx from Wales.
Several had moved to London for jobs in the Tooting Bec Hospital Institution.

The men’s team went on to win many national events and international vests were won,

1936 to 1939 Successes

The team wins London to Brighton road relay in 1937, 38 and 39 – at that time it started at the Mitcham News of the World ground. Mitcham took over from Belgrave who had won the previous 3 times.

The News of the World London to Brighton Relay was first staged in 1925 and started at Westminster with 10 stages. From 1937 until 1953 the race started at the News of the World ground in Mitcham before reverting to a Westminster start from 1954. Mitcham AC competed from the latter part of the 1920s

Team win National Senior and Southern Senior CC Champs in 1938 Sam (Soapy) Palmer wins Essex and Southern Senior CC in 1938

Denis Brickwood wins South of Thames Junior in 1937 and Senior CC in 1938 MAC team win Surrey Senior and Junior CC in 1938

Bob Thorogood wins Surrey Senior CC in 1938

MAC team win Southern Senior and Surrey Senior CC in 1939

I Brown wins Surrey Senior CC in 1939

Many men from team gain CC international vests – Eric Williams, George Fox, Elwood Jones, Tom Richards, Dai Morgan and Soapy Palmer

The 1938 winning MAC team in London to Brighton
Sam Palmer hands over to Laurie Taitt in 1938 London to Brighton
Soapy on right after winning Southern Counties CC (in Essex Regiment shirt) in 1938

The 1939 winning MAC team in London to Brighton

IAAF World Cross Country Championships

Sam Palmer was AAA Six Mile champion in 1939

Inter-Counties CC champion in 1939, Southern CC champ in 1938 and track international


8.1.38: Sam won Essex Cross Country Champs

15.1.38: won London Business Houses CC Champs representing Tooting Bec Hospital – the team won.

That hospital was just across the road from the Tooting Bec track.

The hospital team were all members of Mitcham – many had moved into the area from Wales for jobs at the hospital.

22.1.38: Inter-Counties CC Champs. Sam was 5th and represented Essex

26.2.38: Southern Counties CC Sam was 1st & MAC second in team.

12.3.38: Sam was 3rd in English CC Champs. MAC won team and also won cup for first Southern team in the English Champions

19.3.38: Ilford Road Relay MAC won team in record time. Sam was first on first leg with a record time

25.3.38: Sam was selected as Captain of Wales team for International CC Champs, first international medal for Wales:

2 Apr 1938, Belfast NIR (14.5 km)
49:57 John Emery (ENG) GOLD
50:16 Jean Chapelle (BEL) SILVER
50:36 Sam Palmer (WAL) BRONZE  

2.4.38: Sam was 3rd in International CC, Belfast.

7.5.38: London to Brighton Relay Sam set a record for the 7th stage. MAC won the team.

6.7.38: Sam wins Silver Medal for 10 Mile at AAA Championships.

7.1.39: Sam won Essex CC Champs

21.1.39: Sam won Inter-Counties CC running for Essex

28.1.39: Sam won London Business Houses CC and Tooting Bec Hospital won the team

25.2.39: Sam was second in Southern Counties CC & MAC won team

11.3.39: Sam was 10th in English CC champs with MAC team third

1.5.39: Sam 14th in International CC champs running for Wales

8.5.39: Sam in winning MAC team in London to Brighton Relay

7.7.39: Sam wins Gold Medal for 6 Mile at AAA Championships.

1940: Sam made Life Member of Mitchum Athletics Club.



1938 (10 Mile)

GOLD: Reginald Draper 52:40.6

SILVER: Samuel Palmer 52:47.0

BRONZE: Arthur Penny 52:52.0

1939 (6 Mile)

GOLD: Samuel Palmer 30:06.4

SILVER: Reginald Walker 30:09.4

BRONZE: Jean Chapelle BEL 30:40.4

In December 1939 Sam was mobilized back into the Essex Regiment. He went to France until May 1940, did home service until 1942 and then shipped out to India where he served with the Cameronians (The Scottish Rifles) as WO2 and then 1st. Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers as WO2 Company Sergeant Major until his death at Mogaung, Burma with the Chindits on 18 June 1944.