In January 1969 Canterbury AC and Thanet AC merged to form Invicta Athletic Club - the kit of the new club was red vest. Invicta (meaning 'undefeated') is the motto of the county of Kent and dates back to the 1066 invasion of England by William I, known as William the Conqueror who did not "conquer" Kent on his way to London. The new club had no formal headquarters and admin meetings were held either at Dennis Townsend's home or in the Royal Dragoon pub in Military Road : the total membership, fewer than 50 (mostly male), comprised mainly middle and long-distance runners.
However, in the 1970s, what the club lacked in numbers was more than made up in quality with many outstanding track, road and cross-country performances by the Senior Men both as individuals as well as in team events at county, national and international level.
British Athletics saw a boom period in the late 70s and early 80s, feeding off success of Coe, Ovett, Cram, Foster, Wells, Sanderson, Whitbread and the irrepressible Daly Thompson at the Olympics in Montreal, Moscow and Los Angeles. This led to increased participation in all forms of athletics at club level with Invicta AC's membership rose to over 200, bringing a demand for a wider range of competition, accentuated by the appearance of big city marathons. Local interest was particularly stimulated by Archbishop schoolmaster Mike Gratton's splendid bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games marathon in Brisbane (1982) followed by his superb marathon victory in London in 1983.
The club found itself unable to satisfy the new demand within the existing setup of mainly distance runners : the decision was therefore taken in 1984 to amalgamate with East Kent AC (a predominantly track & field club) which was based at a cinder track on the campus of the University of Kent, overlooking the City. The colours of East Kent AC's were blue vest with gold sash and gold shorts : the newly-amalgamated club went for red vest (Invicta) and East Kent AC's contribution was the gold lettering of the club's new name on the vest. A decade of outstanding success followed in all aspects of athletics, during which time we had to move HQ in the University grounds - twice.
First, it was clear that the rather run-down set of changing rooms of the days of East Kent AC were increasingly inadequate for the growing membership and it was decided to raise £25,000 to build our own wood-hut HQ, which was completed in 1987 in the area now developed as housing on Parkwood Road. However, within 3 years, the rapidly growing university meant that land on which the track and Clubhouse were located, was reclaimed by the University for student accommodation.
In compensation, in 1992 the Club HQ was moved with a "peppercorn rent agreement" to a new sports pavilion across the road, adjacent to Parkwood and overlooking a newly laid cinder track. Although the adjoining sports fields and woods provided superb training facilities (and good cross-country terrain) the new red shale track was unsuitable for legal competition because it was oversized, it sloped and had strangely positioned facilities... The curb was exactly 400m meaning the minimum running distance for a human was actually 402 metres - great for training, but totally useless for official competition.
More....... it sloped.
An under-sized long jump sand pit was located 3-4 metres behind the 100m start line, requiring long jumnpers to run form halfway down the straight BACK toward the start line, taking off where sprinters normally plant their starting blocks and then land almost at the clubhouse door. Somewhere between the move from wooden hut to the brick clubhouse, East Kent AC's gold lettering on the vest was replaced by white lettering, and most people now called the club "Invicta", unaware of the major contribution made by East Kent AC to our impressive track and field heritage.
For much of the 80s and 90s there was talk of Canterbury building a modern synthetic athletic track. Various proposals and locations were considered, but it was the government's PFI initiative which finally brought together the required £3 million lottery funding and a location, The Canterbury High School.
In 2000 a new facility comprising a 6-lane all-weather track, an indoor sports hall and a gym was completed : as the principal athletics club in the area, IEK AC was involved from the outset, raising £45,000 to relocate to a new Clubroom within the new complex.
Since moving to the new complex, we've had regular access to good indoor facilities and also to a regulation size track as a home for official competitions as well as for training : membership (across all age groups, from juniors age 7 up to veterans over-65) has grown to just over 380, covering all track & field areas involving running, jumping, throwing and hurdling.
There are about 20 coaches across all athletic disciplines, each contributing to the club's ethos of developing potential at all levels. The pursuit of excellence enables both those capable of achieving county and national honours to flourish, as well as providing a professional base for those wishing to get the best out of themselves, even though their limit might be just short of getting into one of our league teams.
Membership, and access to good coaches, is not restricted just to those with known pedigree, or even to those with long-term potential - ALL Invicta members and ALL newcomers have equal access to good athletic training and practice.
We are proud to live up to the motto of "Sport fitness and fun".