John Higham OAM and Don Williams were appointed as Life Members of our club at the Annual General Meeting held 16th July.
Photos: Don with Arthur Whitchell a long time ago, John Higham not so long ago (click photo for full view).
Don Williams joined Essendon AAC in 1955. Commencing in 1966 Don negotiated with Essendon Mayor and Councillors to develop a high standard athletic track in our community. This was in an era when the only quality tracks were at Olympic Park and Melbourne University. With persistence, the Council agreed in 1969 to proceed subject to having a Little Athletics club to share the track. Don arranged the initial Little Athletics meeting with Councillor Neil Clarke who became the first president of Essendon Little Athletics Centre. The track was opened in 1973 and was a showpiece athletics centre for any Melbourne suburb. This track triggered East Melbourne Harriers to merge with Essendon. Soon Essendon-EMH was to become the leading men’s club in Victoria. Don’s foresight for the early development of our suburban track was the foundation for the strong club that Athletics Essendon has become today. Don continued to compete in master’s athletics until the 1990s winning many 400m/300m hurdles titles.
John Higham OAM joined our club when Essendon and EMH merged in 1978. He assisted the club to its first A grade men’s victories for several decades in 1982 and 1983. John was a multiple Australian champion at 800m and was selected for Australia in Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World championships. John became president of our club in the 1990s leading to the merger with Essendon-Aberfeldie. John then continued his athletics administration career as president of Athletics Victoria for five years and also as the continuing president of the Victorian Commonwealth Games Association.
John was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to athletics. In 2012, John returned to our club committee as president and continues to serve in this position.