Penistone as a settlement can be dated back to the Century of Alfred the Great and was founded somewhere between 800 and 900AD. Its early name was usually spelt Penigestun and it became well known in the sheep trade, boasting its own brand of sheep and a market which was granted a Royal Charter in 1699.
Penistone Footpath Runners & AC cannot claim to be as old as this but has now established a firm base and a high reputation on the local running scene.
Its location on the eastern slopes of the Pennines make it ideal running country. The Moorlands are just over three miles from the town centre and its proximity to the major towns of South and West Yorkshire mean club members can enjoy a wide range of terrains – fell running, cross country running, road, track and orienteering.
The club was founded in late April/May 1982 at the suggestion of Cubley resident Doug Carr and a hardy band of local residents, who decided that they were unfit and needed to take up some form of exercise. It was agreed that they would meet at Castle Dam on the outskirts of Penistone one Tuesday at 6:30pm. 12 people turned up and proceeded to labour over a 3-mile jog taking in public footpaths in the Cubley area. Several of these original 12 are still with the club today.
In the course of the next few months, these runs continued, still on footpaths but gradually increasing in length as the running bug began to bite. Meeting places were generally pub car parks, churches or other such points, and as well as the enjoyment of running, the club took an interest in local history landmarks and ornithological sightings.
During the course of these runs, the hardy band eventually met up with other local runners who were already members of established running clubs and from these more experienced runners they began to learn that there was more to the running game than just jogging along on footpaths. However, these runs continued into 1983 and because the numbers had now risen to 40, a more organised system of meeting had to be devised. From then, they met at Penistone Sports Centre. Since August 2002 the club has had its headquarters at Penistone Church Football Club.
In August 1983, the group entered the Famous Barnsley 6 Road Race as an unattached team called "Penistone Footpath Runners". The name was suggested by Doug Carr and someone else suggested that they run in white vests and black shorts as these were the colours which Penistone Grammar school were wearing at the time. It was also suggested that they adopted the Grammar School badge for the front of the vest. In this manner, the Club’s future name and colours were established. The team excelled themselves, coming second in the unattached team event with another Cubley resident, Bryan Hague, taking the honours as the first local unattached finisher.
Following on from this success, it was decided to form a club and a meeting was arranged and a Constitution drawn up. Doug Carr became Chairman, John Wright Secretary, Graham Morrison Treasurer and Keith Brown President. So the club came into existence in October 1983 and became affiliated to the Northern Counties Athletic Association, Northern Counties Women's Cross Country, Fell Running Association, South Yorkshire Amateur Athletic Association and the Yorkshire Cross Country Association. The club quickly grew to boast over 200 members with a thriving and successful junior section led by David Holladay and Willie Gibbins.
Despite being a relatively new club, they quickly gained fame. The first athletic success came just after the formation when George Lilly, David Cartwright and Andy Barrett won the first team prize in a fell race organised by Longwood Harriers. David Cartwright became their first Champion when he took the English Veterans Fell Running title in 1986. Dave had been running throughout his life and left the successful Holmfirth Running Club to join his home town club on its formation.
The Club is very active in organising races. The races have thrived thanks mainly to sponsorship from local companies and residents. The Penistone Hill Race is supported by many local people donating prizes and all proceeds from the race and fun run are donated to a local charity. So far, over £6,000 has been raised since the race was first held. In 2005 the Hill race was superceded by the Hartcliff Hill Race, but it was revived in 2013 and both are now run annually, although the Covid-19 pandemic and administrative issues have prevented a few recent racesb. Past races that are not currently run include the Penistone Tough Ten Mile, Penistone Boundary Race and the Broomhead Chase.
The Penistone 10K road race has benefited from several major local backers including Bridge End Garage, Lavender International NDT, Livingwell, Dearne FM, Penistone Electrical & Mechanical Services Ltd, John Crawshaw's Butchers, Cubley Hall, Bespoke Precast Ltd, Dransfield Hodkinson & Lofthouse, Northern Power Tools, PB Heating, Romely Plant Maintenance, A Bedord light sheet metals and ACS Electrical.
After being Club President since the club’s formation, Keith Brown stood down in 1996 to be replaced by Steve Lavender, who continued in the role for 27 years. Keith Gordon, a long-standing member of the club and former chairman, took over as president in 2023. Recent Chairmen of the club are: Dave Lindop (1994–1999), Andy Plummer (1999–2010), Keith Gordon (2010–2014) and Steve Dickinson (2014 to date).
The club was awarded the prestigious Club Mark award in February 2008. This was a cross-sport quality accreditation for clubs with junior sections and shows the club's commitment to the training and welfare of its young athletes.
The Club Badge
Upon its formation the Club adopted the badge which is the Penistone Coat of Arms. It consists of a shield on which are 6 martlets – birds which are used in heraldry to denote a title without foundation, ie a title which is bestowed on someone rather than one which is passed down.
The birds originate from the time of the Crusades. Apparently, the Crusaders thought that swifts had no feet because they always seemed to be flying and never landed. The legend was built from there and in 1392 when Penistone Grammar School was founded, they also adopted the birds as their Coat of Arms. The badge has survived until today along with the school, which is amongst the oldest in the country and still has the motto Never stop flying.