Stalwart to compere JAFFA get-together

IPSWICH JAFFA stalwart Clive Sparkes was chairman when the club arguably enjoyed its most productive ever spell.Sparkes was at the helm when JAFFA lifted the National Today's Runner Cross Country title for five years on the bounce during the first half of the 1990s.

By Carl Marston

IPSWICH JAFFA stalwart Clive Sparkes was chairman when the club arguably enjoyed its most productive ever spell.

Sparkes was at the helm when JAFFA lifted the National Today's Runner Cross Country title for five years on the bounce during the first half of the 1990s.

And this Saturday he will be compering the 30-year reunion evening with fellow Jaffa lynchpin David Smith.


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“It's going to be a great double act, with the Rugby World Cup Final and the Ipswich JAFFA reunion on the same evening,” enthused Sparkes.

“The club has gone through many different phases over the last 30 years, but it's ridden through them and is just as strong now, especially amongst the women.

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“It was just a coincidence that I was chairman when we won the Today's Runner League five times.

“Membership numbers were actually beginning to fall a bit, but we had so many strong runners, like Tom McKeith (holder of several club records), David Salter and David Laing.

“Now, though, is the best era for our ladies. In the past , we tended to have one or two good ladies, like Kathy Barfield, Sarah Barrett (formerly Gould) and Val Jennings, but now we have so many of them.

“I think that running went through a lull in the mid-1990s, but it's picked up again in recent years.

“New blood has come through since the turn of the century, replacing us older guard like Paul Turner, Brian Rogers and myself.

“The club is buoyant, and I think the coaching structure is the best that we have ever had,” added Sparkes.

Joining JAFFA in 1983, just six years after its formation, Sparkes has enjoyed a long and fruitful association with the club.

He was chairman for seven years, and after being forced to give up running due to knee problems, he has since taken on a new role of coaching the ladies.

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