Alastair Shaw

Alastair on the left from ‘The Scotsman, August 1st, 1988

Despite being in the sport of over 50 years covering competition, officiating. administrating the sport al all levels up to the international, Alastair is not a well known or easily recognisable figure even to those who have benefited from his work as competitors.     We asked him for some detail of his athletics career.   

He started as a teenage athlete, a sprinter, at Victoria Park AAC and ended it as an 800m runner coached by the legendary Jimmy Campbell.   At the age of 19, in  mid 1975 , he was injured with a back problem and offered to coach at Glasgow AC whilst he was incapacitated. He was asked to take on the throws as that’s where the club had most need.  Following the old  adage of  ‘doing what your club needs you to do’. he started helping with judging, team management, announcing, etc.   Already he had a wider experience than most, and he took this with him when he moved to  Tillicoultry and joined Pitreavie) in 1983, and later Dunfermline in 1987.   His involvement in athletics was gradually reduced as family life developed and children grew up before ending his involvement in the sport in about 1991.

The back injury referred to above effectively ended his racing career, although he did return for a bit,  running a few half marathons – namely Falkirk and Alloa (twice)

We asked about career highlights and he replied: 

  • Club Coach awards in shot, discus, javelin, sprints and middle distance 
  • Coached Lynne Marshall in shot from junior age to Scottish International
  • involvement with visually handicapped athlete coaching around 1979/81 inc. organising their UK Championships at Coatbridge
  • Occasionally involved with Ass. Club Coach training for JCC
  • Grade 1 field official in Jumps and Throws (Including Scottish Internationals, Commonwealth Games 1986 (jumps), European Indoor 1990 (athlete assembly and marshalling)).
  • SWAL secretary for 6 years mid 1980’s
  • I/c Watering Stations for the 1982/83 Glasgow Marathons and continued assisting with the finishing area until 1984/85
  • Committee member of Pitreavie for a few year

Some comments are maybe appropriate about the above.   

  1. First of all, the coaching qualifications are seriously good.   At the time there were three awards: Assistant Club Coach, Club Coach, and Senior Coach.   For Club Coach, the candidate had to spend two weekends at Inverclyde, sit a written exam and be assessed via a practical.  He had four of these.   
  2. Lynne Marshall was a very talented shot and discus athlete whose Scottish Championship record includes 2 firsts in the Shot Putt (1981 and 1983), 1 second (1985) and 2 third places (1982 and 1984) and she was ranked in the first 3 in Scotland on 4 occasions.
  3. The field of disability or para athletics was just becoming established and he was maybe a bit ahead of the games in being involved and any championships at UK level is a difficult task with a wide range of disciplines and administrative matters to be dealt with. 
  4. The JCC was the Joint Coaching Committee which was made up of 5 members from around Scotland and was responsible for coach education.
  5.  Officiating is different from administration in that the officials are those who do the work on the day, dealing with the athletes as well as performing all the tasks associated with the event in question.   There were Grades 1, 2 and 3 with Trainee officials also being recognised.   Only the best of these are chosen for international duty.
  6. To be any League Secretary is an onerous task – not just keeping things running smoothly (eg getting the results of the meeting sent out quickly after a meeting), but also helping staff the meetings, keeping committee meetings running smoothly and working with a whole range of different personalities.

It can be seen that his talents, industry and experience was wide and that the sport suffered a serious loss when he ceased being a major participant.  

Alastair also took lots of high quality photographs, many of which we have on the following pages, and he worked as hard at the photography as he did at athletics as can be seen from those displayed.    Links below.

The Officials      1986 Games     The Glasgow Marathon 1985        The SAAA 1500m 1981   The Field Events 1985 and 1986