Aberdeen YMCA : Pre First World War


The selections below are taken from the excellent Aberdeen Press and Journal dealing with the club in 1913 to give an idea of how active the club was over a hundred years ago.   It was well before many of the YMCA Harriers clubs came into existence.   Club runs, club championships, inter-club runs and jont functions were all undertaken in an enthusiastic well organised fashion.   Unfortunately the state of public transport and the propensity of the national governing body to hold the championships exclusively in the central belt of Scotland meant that they were seldom in evidence at national cross country championships.  The dates are dates of the sampling of press reports..

30th January, 1913: “A special meeting of the Aberdeenshire Harriers Club took place in the club rooms on Tuesday night:- Mr W Russel, jnr, presiding.   Accompanyinghim was Mr W Jamieson, hon president.   The chief business before the meeting was to come to a decision as to the route for this year’s annual marathon race.   Several routes were proposed and after a close vote, Inverurie was selected.   This will be the second occasion that the route has been run from the northern town, the previous occasion being two years asho when 21 runners finished out of an entry of 23.   The probable date of the race will be Saturday, 29th March.   It was unanimously agreed to invite the YMCA Harriers to take part in the race on certain conditions.”

3rd February, 1913: “The members of the YMCA and Aberdeen Harriers Clubs held an inter club run on Saturday from the headquarters of the ‘Shire, the Lily Hall, School Road.   Both clubs were largely represented and several of the old ‘Shire members turned out for the first time this season. The large pack lined up in front of the starter and timekeeper, JC Watson and went off at a brisk canter.  ….   “

6th March, 1913:  Extract from the ‘Shire Harriers notes in the P&J: “A  letter was read from the YMCA Club inviting the club to take part in a run.   It was agreed that the club hold a 12 mile run from the YMCA Headquarters at Mannofield on Saturday 15th March.”

7th April, 1913: “In former years the race had been confined to members of the Aberdeenshire club, but on this occasion the members of the YMCA club – which has recently been formed, having been made honorary members of the Aberdeenshire club, in accordance with the requirements of the Amateur Athletic Association – were invited to compete and several entered.”   So that was the condition referred to in the January meeting.   The race was won by A King in in 1:30:54 from A Stewart, W Reid, J Slessor, JUE Barron, with J Rose 13th – no clubs were given for the 17 runners who finished by Rose and Barron were both YMCA members.   

17th October, 1913:  “The YMCA Harriers will hold a pack run of about three miles tomorrow afternoon from the club room, Keppleston, starting off at 3 pm sharp.   The route will be by way of Skene Road, King’s Gate and then along Fountainhall Road until Queen’s Cross is reachedand home by Queen’s Road.   The pack will be in charge of Eric Wilson and whipped in by John Rose.   The result of the Novice’s Race held last Saturday afternoon was as follows:- 1.   John Milne (time 8 min 5 sec); 2. Anthony Joss (time 8 min 30); 3. Robert Whitelaw.   The distance was a little over 1 1/2 miles and 14 members toed the line.’

24 October, 1913: Tomorrow afternoon there will be a club run of about five miles by way of Skene Road, Hazlehead, Countesswells, Mannofield and home by way of Walker Dam, starting off from the club rooms at Kepplestone at 3 o’clock sharp.   Two packes will be sent out …   The slows will be given ten minutes start of the fasts and the run will finish up with the usual 220 yards run for places.   Last Saturday afternoon, 11 members turned up and a distance of about 6 miles was covered.”   

7th November, 1913:   Alexander King of the ‘Shire Harriers, winner of the ‘marathon’ at the end of March emigrated to Canada and a presentation was held for him in the club rooms.   Members of the YMCA were also present as he had coached several of their ‘successful’ runners in that marathon.

Monday, 29th December:   From the ‘Shire Harriers notes in the P & J: “Owing to the inter-club run with the YMCA being too near the festive season, the event has been postponed until Saturday, January 10th.”

YMCA Notes in the P & J:  “The result of the badges competition under the auspices of the YMCA Club is:- 100 yards: 1.  John Rose 12 2-5th secs; 2  John P Taylor; 3. Forbes Morgan.   440 yards:  1.  James UE Barron 1 min 17 sec; 2. Robert Smith; 3. C Watt  and John Rose.”