Vale of Aylesbury Athletic Club began life on the 28th March 1893 when the Vale of Aylesbury Bicycle Club (formed in 1880) altered its name to The Vale of Aylesbury Cycling and Amateur Athletic Club. The alteration was conceived by a H. Bartlett with the idea of extending the scope and influence of the Club for multiple sports. By March 1893 the club had already promoted its first track and field events, alongside cycling races. The club grew to very quickly to 400 members in 1899 out of a population of 9,000 in Aylesbury. Annual membership fees were 18p!
By far the most important annual fixture for the club was the August Bank Holiday Monday Sports on the Vale Ground in the High Street. The ticketed event peaked for attendance in 1897 when nearly 5,000 people flocked to the Vale Ground every year to watch! It was the place to go for a day out before other various competing shows and attractions came to town in the forthcoming decades.
Lord Rothschild (of the world famous banking family) was an active president of the club for 35 years until his death in 1915. The Hon. Walter Rothschild served as chairman for many years and other members of the family served on the committee.
Two World Wars in the early 1900s meant many sports were disrupted and the club went through several periods of becoming dormant and active. The club disbanded in 1916, but local athletics revived in 1920 when the Buckinghamshire Amateur Athletics Association was formed and founded by local athletes. Vale of Aylesbury Cycling and Amateur Athletic Club reformed in 1921 and club colours chosen were navy blue with a light blue band. The club disbanded again in the 1930s but Aylesbury still boasted prominent athletes who competed for other local clubs, such as Wycombe and Halton.
Following several athletics enthusiasts meeting in 1939, including 1912 Olympian Tommy Humphreys, a club was reformed inaugurated as the Vale of Aylesbury Athletic Club. Training took place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings on the Aylesbury Rugby Club's ground in Buckingham Road. This was mainly due to the competition for athletes from local football clubs which were growing in size.
The immediate post war years and 1950's saw a strong revival of the club and the late Pat Sage (Mayor of Aylesbury and a prominent official within the AAA's and later Olympic Team Manager) made a major contribution to the Vale's athletics scene. Pat brought the English National Cross Country Championships to Aylesbury in 1950 and organised track meets with international runners and crowds of up to 14,400 people in those halcyon years. Television disrupted the spectator interests but the club has survived the era of open athletics and the jogging boom and flourishes as a full blown athletic club.
The building of the Stoke Mandeville six lane athletics track in the early 1980's was a boon to the club where it is now headquartered meeting on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the year. A full range of track and field equipment is available for people interested in competing or just trying their hand at javelin, shot, discus, high jump, long jump etc. The changing rooms house a weights room for strength based athletes. The track is to be rebuilt to a full eight lane facility this year with improved flood lighting.