Sadly, in the last few days we have learnt of the sudden death
of one of our former coaches, and friend George Seeber.
George, as a competing athlete was a member of the now defunct Bedlington Harriers in the 50’s,
and during that period, which also included him having to complete his National Service in Germany,
where he acquired most of his coaching ideas.
These ideas were well put into practice when he returned from Germany,
as he renewed his relationship with athletics, and began coaching budding candidates, one of whom,
was the man who himself went on to coach some of Morpeth Harriers outstanding youngsters, Brian Simpson.
Brian himself admits, that George was very much the one who taught him to train properly,
and with a bit of hard work from himself, and George, he achieved excellent national standard.
George, eventually, along with Brian, linked up with Morpeth Harriers in the 70’s and early 80’s,
and honed some very useful talents for the club, amongst them, a young lad called Albert James.
Albert was part of a group of young lads who trained at Stakeford on a weekly basis,
and he describes George as very much a father figure to him in the absence of his own
and was very much a role model to him and his fellow training partners.
He describes him as being totally honest and very trusting and loyal, and he felt honoured to dedicate the 800m Youth’s title that he won at Cleckheaton in 1983 to George, for the coaching and invaluable help he had provided and afforded him in his preparation, for one of his greatest personal achievements.
James, who was eventually to become very much a part of the Seeber family, in that,
his sister Terry married George’s son Martin, who along with his sister Wendy,
was also a member of Morpeth Harriers, goes on to describe George as a colourful character,
and was very much a disciplined person.
In one weekly session, Albert and his training partners, decided to use a local residents garden
as part of their warm up route. Unknowingly, the residents garden was seeing the erection
of a brand-new greenhouse, and panes of glass to be used for that, were laid flat on the grass.
What happened next was that James and his compatriots managed to run over all of them,
smashing them to mere fragments. George was confronted by the resident, and clearly showed his anger
at what had occurred, but insisted that the training session continued as if nothing had happened.
Albert describes another occasion where George’s temper was severely tested,
was when the group had managed to puncture a keg of beer, he came over to see what was amusing us,
and managed to get soaked in the process, not amused was George.
25 years on, one day in Durham however, George chose to muse at both incidents,
which clearly showed that he did have a sense of humour.
The strange thing is, Albert recalls, that as individuals, at the time we didn’t have
to pay a penny from our own pockets in retribution for our misdemeanours, in either case.
So, in that light, George will always remain a generous man.
Another athlete to benefit from George’s expertise is North Shield Poly’s Tommy Brannon.
Tommy describes himself as having three relationships with George, two of them as an athlete,
and one of them as a true and honest friend.
In the mid-1980's he allowed me to train with his group at Stakeford, despite being a Poly athlete,
and never once asked that I change allegiance to his own club Morpeth.
In 1986, he helped Tommy to become the North East Counties 800m Champion and a year later,
he finished a disastrous 7th at the North East Cross-Country Championships at Darlington
having been 2nd with less than quarter of a mile to go when the wheels came off.
So, devastated by that, didn't get back into training until after that year's inter-counties event.
Following Tommy’s departure to University, and a life thereafter he returned to the North East in 2001.
Several years later, George became aware of his return somehow,
and subsequently contacted North Shields Poly to get word to him,
that he merely wanted to say hello.
After meeting up again with Tommy, George devised a 4-year plan to get him back on top:
two years endurance, and two years of speed.
In the November of the second year, Tommy won the Heaton Harriers
Memorial Road Race on the Town Moor, aged 38.
The following spring and start of the third year, Tommy and George had a minor clash and parted ways.
Years followed, and Tommy heard about the death of George’s wife, Audrey.
He attended Audrey’s funeral and saw George was being unhappy about the proceedings,
the music not playing correctly and so on.
Thereafter, Tommy remained in touch with George on Saturday morning track sessions,
where he brought his beloved Sophie along, and giving his opinion here and there, which Tommy always valued.
It was during these sessions that George began to reminisce about Audrey and their life together travelling during summer months, explaining that as she neared her end, he didn't want to be away from her.
He apologised for ending their coach athlete relationship, but felt he had no choice,
it was very clear that Audrey was very much everything to him.
Over time, George’s visits became less frequent, and so Tommy would sporadically call him
on the phone or make unannounced home visits, send Christmas cards and the like.
Weeks ago, Sophie contacted to say that George had had a heart attack and was in hospital.
That Sunday, Tommy rang Ashington General and was told George had been released.
Tommy rang George at home and asked if he could call round, the reply being “Of course,
Tommy you're a friend of mine just come in any time”.
Tommy took his Wife Karen and Son Zac with him and spent some time with him.
George hinted he was hungry, so they heated his tea and gave it to him.
As they departed George said, “thank you for coming Tommy, I find you to be a friend
and I'm grateful for that”. So, we left him to his tea.
In closing, Tommy says he will be forever grateful to George, for getting the best out of him,
and for the many stories he told, and for allowing him to introduce his son Zac,
who also is beginning to make his way in athletics, which undoubtedly continues
a pride that Tommy and George shared for many years.
Many older members of Morpeth Harriers will also have countless memories of George,
and the club on this sad occasion, would like to offer sincere condolences to his immediate family and friends,
sadly his wife Audrey passed away a few years ago, and he lived the last few years of his life alone in Hepscott,
on the outskirts of Morpeth.
George Seeber's Funeral is scheduled to be held at West Road Crematorium
in Newcastle on Tuesday 18th December 2018 at 1.15pm.