Cheshire Tally-Ho Hare and Hounds Club is one of the oldest cross country running clubs in the world. Founded in Wilmslow in 1872 the club had its origin in the interest in paper chasing runs of that period.
The Tally-Ho formalised the sport with a set of rules and became the leading club in the North. This naturally led to them becoming founder members of the Regional and National Cross Country Associations and Championships.
The Tally-Ho wanted these championships to be held over open country but the body of opinion favoured the use of horse racing circuits with large crowds and on course betting. The fields were small and negotiated seven or eight laps of the steeplechase circuit complete with fences.
Because of the gate money and betting on the outcome the sport began to take on a shady perspective. Professionalism and underhand tactics became common and were an anathema to the ideals of the Tally-Ho and they gradually withdrew from competition. They were vindicated later when the AAA was formed and brought the sport back to its amateur basis.
The club has continued very much as in those early days running for sheer enjoyment and fellowship. Runs are held fortnightly from September until May. The hares set off about an hour before the hounds laying a marked trail of 8 to 10 miles over pleasant and varied country. The hounds are organised into three or four groups depending on ability and attempt to follow this trail. For those venues which cannot provide showers we use the traditional tin bath which was common to clubs of that period.
Some changes have of course taken place such as the sing-song after the meal while they waited for the transport back home. Today after the meal members only linger for a short time as they mull over the highlights of the day and discuss the merits of the trail.
The club hold three competitive events, the Championship in December, the Steeplechase in April and the Fell Race during the Lakes weekend. Many of the members also take part in the Cambridge Hare and Hounds Roman Road Race with sister club Thames Hare and Hounds. The running season ends with a Point to Point of around 16 miles followed by a dinner to which friends and family are invited.
Tally-Ho are believed to be the only club to carry on the traditions of the early paper chasing days and every run is recorded in leather bound volumes and in the National Sporting Library.
Written by Joe Park