Mel Edwards: Obituary

He was the Aberdeen athlete who kept racing against the clock, setting new milestones and proving that age is just a number.

And he was also the man with the initials MBE – Meldrum Barclay Edwards – who ended up receiving an MBE for his services to sport and charity.

When his son, Myles, was married just last month, Mel Edwards, who has died of cancer, aged 76, found the inner strength to attend the wedding in Aberdeenshire, where he delivered a “powerful” speech.

Mr Edwards was born in the Granite City in 1942 and graduated in civil engineering from Cambridge University.

He subsequently enjoyed a prodigious international career, locking horns with many of the greatest names of his generation, including Commonwealth medallists Lachie Stewart and Ian McCafferty.

Renowned for his intensive training regimes of around 100 miles per week, his marathon personal best time of two hours, 18 minutes, 25 seconds would still place him high in the contemporary British rankings.

During a running career which spanned half a century, it was estimated Mr Edwards covered more than 100,000 miles and represented his country at distances ranging from six miles to the marathon.

Even when he was diagnosed with Myeloma in 2006, he refused to let the gruelling hospital treatment grind him down and, whether tackling charity challenges, coaching youngsters or pouring himself into new initiatives, his fellow athletes described him as an inspirational figure.

His international athletic colleague, Colin Youngson, a three-time Scottish marathon champion from Aberdeen, said yesterday: “When he became Meldrum Barclay Edwards, Member of the Order of the British Empire (or MBE squared, as he called it) no one could have deserved the honour more. Everyone admired and liked him.

“When he first contracted cancer, I visited him in his hospital ward and we laughed our way through my collection of Alf Tupper – The Tough of the Track – photocopies.

“I could add so many more memories. His tales of dawn jogging at Rubislaw, saying hello to the fox that trained there at the same time; so many charitable ventures into which he poured his heart and soul. The laughs, the exhilaration for life.

“He’s gone at last, but unforgettable. I was very fortunate to know him.”

In 2016, at 73, Mr Edwards raised £8,000 by running 100×100 metres in two locations in his home city.

The money will be used to buy specialist EyeGaze technology for Woodlands School in Aberdeen.

He had set himself the task of raising a greater sum than when he accumulated £7,500 for Friends of Anchor in 2012 by undertaking a 70-minute run on his 70th birthday.

He said later: “It was a very satisfying experience. This will help to purchase life-changing equipment for the wonderful children and teachers at Woodlands School.

“It has been a privilege to be involved. In my life, I would say I had two main challenges. The first was to make the Olympic Games marathon (I missed out by two places), and the second was not to be defeated by cancer in 2006.

“Now there is a third. And that’s to ensure I do my best to provide life-changing facilities for children with severe problems.”

Mr Edwards spent the final weeks of his life at Roxburghe House.

He is survived by his wife Kareen and Myles.

Nethercraigs

Glasgow has always been fortunate in the number of running tracks and athletics facilities available to the population.   The really big ones that held National and other championships plus top class international meetings were of course Hampden, Ibrox and Celtic parks.   The track at Helenvale in the east end of the city saw some top class action, while in the West the two top tracks were Westerlands and Scotstoun which both held Scottish Universities and Scottish Schools championships as well as good invitation international events.   Then there were the tracks that were used for club training, maybe open graded meetings – Knightswood, Barrachnie, Toryglen and Nethercraigs.   That is not a completely comprehensive list but gives a fair demonstration of how seriously the local authority took the sport and provision for it.

Nethercraigs track, located at 355 Corkerhill Road in the south of the city, was a track with a good reputation,  decent changing facilities and handy for bus and train travel.   When I first went there in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s it was used for such meetings as the Ladies Inter District Meetings as well as for inter-clubs organised by Bellahouston Harriers.   At the start of the twenty first century it was described on Tim Grose’s Running Track Directory as follows:

“Cinder, 400m/440y, 7 lanes, 7 lane straight

This red blaes track is in the locality of Corkerhill and was at one time the home track of Bellahouston Harriers. It was considered to be a fast track and staged Inter County and County Championships in the 1960s and 70s. It was well provided with field events facilities, changing rooms and a weights training area but now most of the field-event facilities have been removed. There is a sand pit for the jumps, but the runways are made out of tarmac as opposed to grass or redgra. The HJ area also consists of tarmac. As of Sep 2001 there were faint lane markings but overgrown grass has made the first lane pretty useless. The infield is a rugby/football pitch.”

The ‘redgra’ description is an English one: it was a red blaes track (ie made of small red stones (blaes) packed tight together to make a firm and absorbent surface).   The comment about the runways being made of tar is interesting because that was the pattern on other tracks – a tar approach for long, triple jumps as well as pole vault.   It meant that national track & field matches could be held there.

As can be seen from the advert in the ‘Scots Athlete’ from September 1947, Bellahouston Harriers started off training at the Academy playing fields, but it was not long after that that they moved their HQ.   For many years the home of Bellahouston Harriers was Nethercraigs: it became the venue for many an inter-club match with many of the top Scottish athletes taking part  in league matches: the club was one of the very best in the country and hosted such as Victoria Park, Shettleston and  Edinburgh Southern.  Jim Irvine tells us that “at the start, the track was very good ,and at the beginning there was not any out building just wooden huts were we stripped in no showers . Once the dressing rooms had been added it was very good and I enjoyed training on a very firm track,”    

For inter club fixtures, 1960 was a fairly typical year and although not all matches were reported in the local Press, the following all appeared in the ‘Glasgow Herald’.

Wednesday, 27th April, 1960:   “Bellahouston Harriers beat Shettleston Harriers by 117 points to 82 last night in an inter-club contest at Corkerhill.   R Sykes (Bellahouston) won three events,  the shot putt (41′ 9″), discus (126′ 4 1/2″) and the long jump (19′ 7”) and he was equal first in the pole vault.   Other winners:

100 yards: D Robinson (S) 10.7 sec;   220 yards: A McGaw (B) 22.9 sec;   440 yards: R Cairney (B) 51.6 sec;   880 yards: B Forrest (B)  2 min 9.3 sec;   Mile:   B Dickson (B) 4 min 32.3 sec;   Three Miles: J Connolly (B) 14 min 21.8 sec;   Six Miles:  J Irvine (B) 31 min 7.1 sec; 120 yards hurdles:  G Brown (B) 16.6 sec; 440 yards hurdles: Brown, 60.6.

High Jump: R Santini (S)  5′ 5″;   hop, step and jump: T McNab (B) 43′ 11 1/2″;   Javelin:  D Fraser (S) 149′ 8″;   pole vault: F McDonald and Sykes 9′;   Hammer:  T McNab (B) 79′ 1 1/2″;   4 x 100 yards relay:   Bellahouston (S Watson, R Sykes, S Wineberg, S McGaw) 45.4 sec;    4 x 440 yards: Bellahouston (W Robertson, J Currie, A Forrest, R Cairney) 3 min 35.1 sec.”

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Wednesday, 3rd May: “Bellahouston Harriers beat Jordanhill Training College by 108 points to 84 last night at Corkerhill.   G Brown (Bellahouston) won the 120 yards hurdles and 440 yards hurdles in 17.3 sec and 60 sec respectively.  Another notable performance was achieved by J Connolly (Bellahouston) who won the three miles in 14 min 13.5 sec, 2 sec outside his own personal best for the distance.”  

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Wednesday, 11th May:   “Bellahouston Harriers beat Victoria Park by 82 1/2 points to 78 1/2 points in an inter-club contest last night at Nethercraigs.   G Brown (Bellahouston) won both hurdles events, the 120 yards in 12.1 seconds and 440 yards in 57.4 seconds, and RC Sykes (Bellahouston) won the shot putt with 39′ 11″and the discus with 112′ 10″.   In the high jump, C  Fairbrother (Victoria Park) cleared 6’6″ but failed at three attempts at 6’8″.   

*

Monday, August 22nd:   “Bellahouston Harriers beat Springburn Harriers by 58 points to 32 in their inter-club contest at Nethercraigs.”

Fixtures were held all summer but as time went on and other more up-to-date tracks were laid and opened, training and fixtures gradually switched to these venues. There was an additional problem for Nethercraigs.  A quote from a descriptive brochure:

Nethercraigs Playing Fields used to serve local schools needs for outdoor sports. In recent years, the site had become under-utilised as demand from both schools and the community had reduced. Some of the pitches had become derelict. This project seeks to upgrade and safeguard its continued function as a valued amenity space in the south west of Glasgow, providing opportunities for childrens’ play and outdoor sports in a safe environment.

Under utilised because, with the Commonwealth Games coming to Scotland in 1970, an all weather track was laid at Bellahouston Park: the track was fine but it was open to all the elements with no shelter at all other than the Sports Centre which was just too far away to provide any cover to thse training on the track.   Nevertheless it was used a lot since it was the only such track on the west of Scotland: the east had Meadowbank and Grangemouth but this was the only one in the area.  Consequently most athlete who had formerly used Nethercraigs, went to Bellahouston Park.

That was the main rewason for the track being unused but the situation was  further complicated by the ‘unsafe’ aspect mentioned above.   it is referred to in this extract from an exchange on a Glasgow community forum:

“QUOTE (Jim @ 25th Jul 2013, 02:27pm)

Cat, I have to agree with you about Pollok Park. You really do feel as if you are in the country. When I was young, the Bellahouston Harriers would use the changing facilities as Nether Craigs on Corkerhill Road then run through the local housing scheme, passed Haggs Castle Golf Club and into the Estate, where mosty of the training sessions were done.
It was at an early age, while looking at the police dog training centre, that I worked out that if ever you run away from the police DON’T jump through tunnels, up wooden planks or jump through fire hoops – they are trained for that! 
 
Jim  –  I remeber it well. I lived in Corkerhill so Pollok park was our play ground and although the golf course was private there was a public right of way. Sadly that is no more as the M77 cut right through it. The people of Corkerhill made many protests but sadly failed. One of the main organisors and community activist was my best friends dad Walter Morrison. The pavillion at Nethercraigs has been named The Walter Morrison pavillion as this was another site he fought to save. (He won that one)
I remember also going to see the Police dogs training (they still do) also the police recreation association is still there. The pond was my favourite place not as big as some but very pretty I think the pond had been part of the private estate. Hence why we called it Pollok estate and the road up through the woods and over the golf course was called the private road.
The highlighting is mine.   As part of the drive to get transport moving through Glasgow from one side to the other, the M77 was created and sliced right through the south side of Glasgow.   There were many protests by the local population – augmented by many protesters from across the city, and indeed across the country, at the fragmentation of this community.   But it happened and made the journey to Nethercraigs more difficult for many and also a bit less safe.

However, the sports complex was still there and had to be used.   From a Glasgow City Council document:

Nethercraigs lies adjacent to the Corkerhill residential area and is largely occupied by the Nethercraigs Sports Complex,[2] which was formerly the home ground to Glasgow Gaelic football side, Tir Conaill Harps and was later used by the Glasgow Caledonain GAA as their home ground and training pitch.

The sports complex, built at a cost of £3.7 million, was opened in 2005 by Sir Alex Ferguson.[3] It has a 3G astro pitch for 11-a-side football or three 7-a-side pitches, a separate 5-a-side pitch, two hockey pitches, gym, dance studio, running track, grass rugby pitch, three grass 11-a-side football pitches and a skate park. There are also areas for various athletic sports such as shot put and high jump. The 11-a-side, 5-a-side, hockey and rugby pitches are floodlit, as is the running track.

 
“Red Bull published a list of ten tracks throughout the UK that were worth a visit and Nethercraigs was one of them.   Their comments read:
This 400m outdoor track may be difficult to brave in the depths of a Scottish winter (or summer, for that matter) but make the journey to the track at the Leisure Centre and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most relaxed tracks in the country.
Open seven days a week (from 2pm on Tuesdays and Friday, and 9am every other day), access is on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning there’s no upfront commitment, other than the one you made to your fitness.
The club also boasts a fitness studio, 5, 7 and 11 a-side synthetic football pitches as well as grass rugby and football facilities – ideal if you want to put your new sprinting power into practice. ”  
Bellahouston Harriers moved on from Nethercraigs but the venue and track are still being used by athletes – the Bellahouston Road Runners train from there all winter every year and the annual Jimmy Irvine 10K Road Race starts there.   You will note however that in the picture above the track now has an all weather surface and is down to four lanes.
 
Bellahouston Road Runners

As a young coach back in the early 1960’s I attended several weekend sessions there to hear more experienced and better qualified coaches from all over the UK dispensing their information.   It is again being used for that purpose.  On one Sunday we saw for the first time a fibre glass bendy vaulting pole – at that point all Scottish vaulters used an alumium one.  Now note this contemporary notice from the scottishathletics website in spring 2019:

Looking to give the steeplechase a go but not willing to jump in feet first?

The Glasgow Athletics Association is really pleased to announce it’s first steeplechase development session will  take place at Nethercraigs in Glasgow on Saturday 13 April.

This session aims to remove some of the myths about the event and encourage more athletes to give the steeplechase a go.

It is good to know that the venue still has a place in Scottish athletics in the twenty first century.

Colin Youngson’s photos

Running is the most marvellous sport at any speed you can manage. Get outside and enjoy fresh air, nature and the joy of moving!
ABERDEEN GRAMMAR SCHOOL – One Mile v Aberdeen Academy 1965 at Rubislaw grass track. 3rd but personal best.
After slow-twitch muscles ensured total failure in primary school sports day sprints, secondary school introduced 880 yards, which was more suitable. Then the Mile, which was even better. Eventually I won the Senior Mile; and competed over the distance for my school versus another, which featured two harder-training, faster athletes. Revenge was to be mine before long, however. Moral: when young, find your event, do some proper training and improvement is almost certain!

ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY HARE & HOUNDS – team photo 1969, outside Kins College Pavilion. Captain.
Although running is essentially an individual experience, physically and psychologically, it can be enhanced by (inevitably competitive) training and socialising with team-mates. But not too often! Learn to train mainly on your own: recovery sessions or harder ones.

VICTORIA PARK AC – Turku, Finland 10,000m 1972. Finished second but personal best.
Pekka Paivarinta in the cap. World XC champion in 1973! Same track where Chris Chataway paced John Landy to break Roger Bannister’s One Mile record in June 1954?
If you are young and running well, but a superior athlete is coasting along behind you, really push the pace and at least make them work harder. Front-running is exciting and you may record a good finishing time, even a personal best. In the future, you may well gain revenge on ‘classier runners’ when, inevitably, they have a bad day. Wait long enough, and anyone beats almost everyone at least once!

EDINBURGH SOUTHERN HARRIERS – after the 1975 Scottish Track 10 Miles at Carluke in the rain. Second but personal best.
Colin Youngson, Doug Gunstone, Martin Craven.
Try to race over all sorts of distances – explore the sport. As your experience becomes greater, you will find the events which suit you best. Do consider having a go at District and then Scottish Championships!

ABERDEEN AAC – Jogle 1982. With Don Ritchie; and team at Land’s End. Event Record broken.
Road Relays, especially utterly exhausting, multi-day events, are tough, surreal, weirdly hilarious and memorable. Team bonding (via individually-experienced but mutually understood suffering) may lead to respect and friendship which can last for decades. Testing physical and psychological limits can be a significant aspect of distance running; although it is a great relief that most races are much shorter!

ABERDEEN AAC: 1982 Scottish Marathon Championship gold – last straight at Grangemouth.
Not many long-distance runners possess a genuine sprint at the finish. However, especially in a successful marathon, even without close competition, a hard push for the tape can be mustered, when a decent time seems possible. Tactical surges in the final quarter of the event can also lead to breaking away (or overdoing the effort and hitting the no-glycogen ‘wall’!)

ABERDEEN AAC – 1985 Aberdeen International Marathon lead group. Finished second.
As a proud Scot, to represent my country in an international marathon, was always important. Never managed an individual victory but counted in several winning teams. It was always good to meet runners from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Eire or the Continent. For Male and Female Veterans/Masters, the annual 5 Nations Cross-Country event is the greatest fun. ‘Reborn’ every five years, with a fresh chance to make the team: what an incentive to get fit!

ABERDEEN AAC.

Even compared to the Scottish Marathon Championship, the dramatic Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relay was my favourite race – I was lucky to take part 30 times, with triumphs, good or mediocre runs and disappointments. This photo is of the last stage – ‘the Glory Leg’ – in 1986, when my age was 39. The baton was passed, along with an uncomfortably small lead, but I enjoyed one of those rare days when everything clicked and, with that year’s fastest Stage 8 time, came home well clear, to ensure Aberdeen’s second victory.

METRO ABERDEEN R.C. / VETERAN – British Veterans XC M45 gold 1995 at Beach Park, Irvine.
Reaching the age of 40 opened a new dimension to my post-peak but still keen running career. It can do the same for anyone. There are Scottish Masters championships in cross-country, track and field and road running. If you do well in some of those, maybe experience British, European or World Masters competition. Just as much ‘tough fun’ as personal best racing, but somehow less serious and therefore friendlier. A runner is a runner, fast, slow or medium: this sport is for everyone! For some athletes nowadays, post-40 (or even post-70) may actually be your peak, especially on the age-graded tables.

FORRES HARRIERS – Scottish Veterans 5000m M60 gold in 2010 during a gale at Pitreavie.
As the decades pass, distances you can actually push hard over (rather than plodding round carefully, trying to avoid injury) become shorter and shorter – maybe 3k, 5k or 6k cross-country. Track events may hurt, if personal worst times are avoided. In a gale-force wind, it can be worth the effort, especially if age-group rivals are ‘blown away’!

FORRES HARRIERS – after the 2019 ‘Run for Hamish 10 Miles’ in Nairn.
Nowadays, although I am nearly always keen to get outside and try, it all depends on the state of knee, hip, sciatica, lower back, calf, Achilles: niggles or injuries. But after resigned acceptance that any more ‘athletics’ will be shuffling at best, so far I find that ‘hard jogging’ may, now and again, still be possible. Parkrun, 10k, short cross-country or a longer road race. It is always a pleasure to meet old runners and my clubmates from friendly Forres Harriers. So keep going as long as you possibly can!

 

Yasunori Hamada

Hamada first came to the attention of the Scottish running public on 17th January, 1981, at Livingston where he ran in the District Championship.   The individual race was won by Fraser Clyne of Aberdeen with his former teammate Colin Youngson – running for Edinburgh Southern Harriers – second.    Youngson led ESH into first place but a very short way down the field, Hamada was eighth and first Edinburgh AC runner to finish.   The team was third with the other runners being Doug Hunter (9th), Nigel Jones (11th), Steve Laing (23rd), Lindsay Robertson (24th) and Robin Morris 25th.   It was a good run and a fairly successful introduction to the Scottish scene.   

He was further up the field on 7th February when, in the Edinburgh District League, he was second to Ian Elliott (Edinburgh Southern), 50 yards up on Evan Cameron of ESH, to lead the team home again – this time to second place behind Southern.   A week later and Hamada was representing the club in the Edinburgh University 10 Miles Road Race against some of the best that Scotland could put forward.   Nat Muir (Shettleston) won the race in a new record time from Jim Brown.   Hamada ran in third place for most of the race but had to settle for fourth after Jim Dingwall finished strongly.   In the team contest, Colin Youngson in fifth again led ESH to team victory.

These races were leading up to one thing: the national cross-country championships of Scotland to be held on 28th February at Callendar Park in Falkirk.   In a race dominated by the duel between Nat Muir and Allister Huttn (two seconds between them at the finish) with Jim Brown and Lawrie Spence not far behind at all, Hamada was 17th, and third scoring runner for EAC: Alder 8th, Weatherhead 14th, Hunter 20th, Gourley 24th and Robertson 38th were the other counting runners for the team that won from  Edinburgh Southern Harriers with the relevant points totals being 121 and 133.   Had Hamada not been running, EAC would have had to add another 42 points to the total and they would have been second to ESH.   As for his finishing position – the two runners immediately in front of him were Dave Logue (15th) and George Braidwood (16th) and following hard on his heels were Rod Stone (18th) and Colin Youngson (19th).   All considerably good athletes.

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The last major team race of the 1980/81 season was on 14th March and was the  Six Stage Road Relays  Edinburgh AC was second team.   Hamada ran on the fourth stage, the second of the three long six mile stages.   He ran very well to turn in the fastest EAC time for the stage and fourth fastest overall behind Muir, Hutton and Spence but ahead of all the others including such talents as Jim Dingwall.

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Some of us are never clear whether the Tom Scott 10 is the last race of the winter or the first race of the summer but Hamada ran in it on 4th April, 1981. Hamada ran in the classic Tom Scott 10 miles road race at Motherwell and it was reported under the Glasgow Herald headline of  “Jap pips Brown for Treble”  as follows: “Despite a brave effort to score his third successive success in the Tom Scott Memorial 10 Mile Road race from Law to Motherwell on Saturday, Jim Brown (Clyde Valley) was outpaced by Japanese 10000m champion Yasunori Hamada of Edinburgh AC.   The race quickly developed into a two man affair, with the leaders breaking clear of the 185 man field early in the race.   Each took a turn of leading and they were under the course record at half distance but the hot afternoon took its toll of the tiring runners and the pace dropped on the hilly approaches to Motherwell.   As the runners turned into the final 200 yard straight, Hamada was fractionally ahead of Brown.   The Scot sprinted to be repelled by the leader, and the lead changed hands as the rivals passed and re-passed each other.   Hamada’s final lunge gave him the verdict in the closest finish in the 23 year old history of the race.   

Results: 1.   Y Hamada, Edinburgh AC  47:39;   2.   J Brown, Clyde Valley AC   47:40;   3.  C Farquharson, Clyde Valley AC, 49:46.    First Veteran: R McKay, Clyde Valley,  54:43.   Team:  1.  Edinburgh AC 14 pts;  2.  Cambuslang Harriers  32;  3.  Bellahouston Harriers  36.”    It would be his best ever performance and listed as such on the ARRS website.

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His summer season competition diary was also a very full one with competitions at club and championship level.   On 26th May he was in serious action at Grangemouth where he was third in the 1500m in  3:49.5 ( only 9 Scots were faster that year); and two days later at the same venue he was third in the 3000m in 8:07.0  (only Robson, Hutton and Clement were quicker in summer 1981).   In that particular race the winner was Nat Muir won in 8:00.9 and Frank Clement was second in 8:07.0.   

*

Then only two days further on, on 30th May, he stuck to Allister Hutton like the proverbial limpet in the East District Championship 5000m at Meadowbank.   Hutton’s winning time was 13:59.5.   It had been a very hard race and Hutton speeded up considerably in the last four laps –  one in 62 seconds – to shake his rival off. He eventually did so to good effect and Hamada’s own time was 14:13.19.   Nevertheless it had been a terrific week’s racing with season’s bests at 1500, 3000m and 5000m.

*

Of course the biggest championship of the summer was the SAAA on 20th June.   Hamada was there, and in the 5000m against some very good runners.    It was not a day for particularly good times but in a good field, Hamada finished third in 14:16.61 behind Lawrie Spence (14:14.51) and Allister Hutton (14:15.06).

*

The winter season began again in October and Hamada seems to have left the country by then.   He had run well, added to the Scottish scene although it was quite late in his career it did give him one of his personal best times in career terms.   We can finish with some statistics.   First of all, the figures for his year in Scotland.*

Yasunori HAMADA [JAP] (25.03.46) Edinburgh AC  

 Scotstats

1981 15003.49.5

1981 30008.07.0

1981 5000 14.13.19

CR: Sco: 3 5000 ’81.

There is no doubting his quality.   The ARRS website lists his pb’s and venues as

RD 10 mi 47:39 a Motherwell SCO 04 Apr 1981  
RD 30 km 1:32:48.2   Sapporo JPN 11 Jun 1978  
RD Marathon 2:13:04.2   Beppu JPN 03 Feb 1974  
OT 5 km 14:03.0   Tokyo JPN 01 Jun 1974  
OT 10 km 28:27.6   Tokyo JPN 29 Oct 1977  

After his running career was over, Hamada stayed in the sport as a very successful coach in his native Japan.  

 

West Kilbride ASC

West Kilbride was a good, if very short lived, club from Ayrshire.   The picture above shows their first winning of the South Western District Relay Trophy which they were to win again in 1949/50 and 1950/51, they also had a second and two thirds in the period from 1946 to 1954.   The reference to John Park should be developed a bit further.   John had been a member of a very good Beith Harriers team in the pre-war years but when the club’s pavilion was requisitioned for military use in 1940, club activities were paused for a bit.   Soon after that, on the invitation of Fred Graham, he joined Maryhill Harriers and he ran for that club for several years.   He became a road runner of note being ninth in the UK Marathon in 1946.   The youngest of 62 competitors he was timed at 2:56.   The same year, he was third in the 17 miles Stewarton to Pollokshaws road race and then a year later he was third in the SAAA Marathon which was run from Falkirk to Meadowbank.   An Ayrshire man, he joined the new local club of West Kilbride when it was established in 1946 as one of the founder members.   Unfortunately he became ill with a kidney complaint and died on 2nd August, 1948, at the age of 29.   As well as being in on th beginning of the West Kilbride club, he was one of the first members of the Scottish Marathon club.   

The race mentioned above was held on 6th December 1946, at Johnstone and the ‘Glasgow Herald’ report read: “West Kilbride, recently reformed, beat the more fancied Auchmountain Harriers in a keen contest – a matter of only 40 yards separated West Kilbride, Auchmountain and Greenock Wellpark.   As exoected, F Sinclair (Wellpark) ran the fastest time.    Result:   1.   West Kilbride (J Reid, T Reid, G Houston and J Park) 47 min 35 sec; 2.   Auchmountain Harriers (J McKinven, T Downes,  AK McDonald and RG Smith)  47 min 39 sec;  3.  Greenock Wellpark Harriers (F Sinclair, J Lobban, J Rippingale and T Thomson)  47 min 42 sec.”   The team had done well in their first real championship outing.  on 1st February, 1947, the South Western District Championships were held at Ayr and Jimmy Reid won the team race after leading from the very start and the club team was second with the counting runners being Reid, Park tenth, T Reid 11th, J McKie 17th, G Houston 15th and A Wentworth twenty first.   

In the last championship race of the season, the national championships, there was no team out but Jimmy Reid was sixth and was selected for the Scottish team for the international where he finished 43rd.   


If you want to know anything about athletics in Ayrshire, your first port of call has to be Kenny Phillips of Beith Harriers (above).   His comments on West Kilbride ASC were :  

“West Kilbride Harriers were started up by Jimmy Reid, who grew early potatoes at Thirdpart Smallholdings.   Jimmy and his brother, Robert, originally were members of Beith Harriers before the Second World War.   After the War Jimmy became the Scottish Mile Champion and was back marker in many of the half mile handicap races.   It was rumoured that, at one of the Scottish mile championships won by Jimmy, the timekeeper had to stop his watch early to allow Jimmy to qualify for the Standard Medal time of 4min 30sec. Jimmy retired to Stewarton to live near his daughter.

Jock Park was a close friend of Jimmy and lived nearby in Fairlie. He too had been a Beith Harriers and persisted in 10 mile and marathon races despite kidney problems which precipitated his early death.
Gibby Adamson became (I think) British and Scottish Junior Cross Country Champion.   He was a baker to trade and I had a theory that both he and Ian Harris (another baker) of Beith Harriers benefitted from working in a hot atmosphere early in the morning and being able train over the country during daylight in the winter afternoons. Gibby emigrated to Australia shortly after being fined for poaching rabbits.
Danny Lapsley displayed early cross country talent as a youth.
Trevor Coleman became a Junior Mile Champion. His father was a Police Superintendent and they moved to the south of England.

I think that West Kilbride Harriers owed their success at that time to Jimmy Reid’s middle distance and cross country experience and his wily coaching.     Janitor Richardson of the Primary School also helped with the coaching.”


The second season’s competition started on 22nd November 1947 at Pollock Estate in Glasgow, where the club took part in the National Novice Championship.  They finished 15th of the 27 clubs competing. The runners that afternoon were a young Gilbert “Gibbie” Adamson who was 11th, followed by runners placed 80th, 83rd and 103rd.   Then the District Relay Championships were held on 6th December in 1947.   Greenock Glenpark won the race in a time of 59 min 05 sec from West Kilbride, the holders, whose quartet of Adamson, T Reid, G Houston and J Reid was times at 59 min 30 sec with Auchmountain fifth. Jimmy Reid had the fastest time of the afternoon with Adamson third fastest. On 20th December that year the club had a home run when the Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association held their 10 miles relay from their headquarters. The home team won with a team of T Reid, G Houston. Adamson and J Reid won by 12 seconds from Kilmarnock.The first big championship of the season was the South Western District Cross-Country event held on 7th February 1948 from Kibble School in Paisley.  In his preview of the race in ”The Scots Athlete”, Emmet Farrell said: “In the South West District, I fancy Greenock Glenpark have the all round power to win the championship held by the other Greenock club, Auchmountain Harriers, who of course suffer the usual depletion of the winning team rising to senior status. West Kilbride, last year’s runners-up, should have a steady team but they will lack the leadership of last year’s individual winner Jimmy Reid, now of course a Senior, whilst they may not take the risk of running young Adamson over a testing 7 miles course in view of his youth.”   

The result for West Kilbride was that the team was fourth, led home by T Reid in 11th with other runners placed 12th, 23rd, 27th, 30th, and 46th. It should be noted that these were called the District Junior Championships, the designation ‘Junior’ referring not to the age of the competitors but to the fact that the runners had not won any championship. When they won such a championship, either as a team member or as an individual, they were ineligible and could not run the following year. Hence the absence of Jimmy Reid. The next race was the top competition of the year – the national cross-country championship of Scotland held at Hamilton Racecourse at the start of March. Jimmy Reid had run in the international at Ayr the previous year but was unable to run this time round and the club had an incomplete team in the senior race with Paton (68), Houston (70), Wentworth (73), T Reid (89) and Houston (113). However in the Youths race, young Adamson was second finisher, 14 seconds behind Harry Fenion of Lochwinnoch: he was the only club runner in this event.

West Kilbride ASC is regarded as basically a distance events club which had as its main focus the country season but the truth is that they had several very good track athletes who would come to the fore over the next few years. At this point Jimmy Reid was the top man and “The Scots Athlete” had this to say at the end of the 1948 summer season: “Jimmy Reid of West Kilbride, not quite fit at the time of the SAAA championships, reached his season’s peak late and scored several victories and places off low marks in invitation and open handicaps. Indubitably his best performance was his win in the Police half-mile off the low mark of 12 yards in 1 min 55.4 sec. Since his return from Paris on the occasion of the cross-country international in April 1947, Reid has been somewhat under a cloud, but he told me recently that he felt he was now running as well as he did in 1939.”

A Typical Ayrshire Harriers Championship race in Benwhat – this one from 1938 but it would not have been much different.  The white vest with the black A was Auchmountain Harriers

One of the ‘must-run’ events of the cross-country season for many decades was the McAndrew Relay organised by the Victoria Park club at Scotstoun, Glasgow. It marked the start of the winter season and almost every club turned out a team. Therefor on 3rd October, 1948, West Kilbride was among the 41 teams taking part. It was a creditable performance with the club finishing 16th and comfortably in the first half of the field. Not only that but young Gibbie Adamson had fourth fastest time of the day.     It was another two months – until 4th December – before the next big relay which was the District Championships, held this time at the Greenock Wellpark Harriers territory.   The club this time finished third. With T Reid and G Houston on the first two stages, they were well out of the first three teams but then G Adamson and Jimmy Reid came into play and the team pulled up far enough to be a comfortable third.   Another two weeks (18th December) and there were 14 teams forward in the AHCA relay championships at Benwhat which was won by Irvine YMCA from West Kilbride by 47 seconds. Individually Adamson had won the prestigious Clydesdale Harriers Youth Race fairly comfortably. Then team- and individual titles were on the line on 5th February in the District Championships at Kilmarnock. The rules said that they could not use their top men but nevertheless the club was third with G Houston 10th, T Reid 11th, R Paton 16th, D Armstrong 22nd, W McCall 32nd and A Wentworth 33rd.

On to the National when everyone was eligible. Gilbert Adamson was the star with a victory in the Youths Championship pretty well how he liked by 40 seconds from John Stevenson of Wellpark Harriers. Better yet, he led the team to first place – the other runners being T Coleman 4th, J Butcher 19th, B McLaughlin 45th.   The day was not a good one for distance running: as Emmet Farrell said: “One of the talking points was the gruelling nature of the conditions – acccording to some, the worst in 30 years … there must have been few occasions when competitors finished with so much wear and tear with some bleeding profusely from barbed wire entanglement  …..  perhaps if it is impossible to get permission to have barbed wire fences cut they could be liberally covered with sacking ….  the stream encountered mid way round each lap  ruined the chances of many …  swollen and in spate and with both banks a sea of mud from which no take off could be had this natural hazard meant immersion each time.”    That’s enough to give the nature of the course on which the West Kilbride runners performed well.   The full story is in the April, 1949, issue of ‘The Scots Athlete’.   Later that afternoon, Jimmy Reid was one of the large field in the Senior Men’s race. He couldn’t quite make it a club double first but after a torrid duel with Jim Fleming of Motherwell he had to be content with second place. Emmet Farrell was third and Tom McNeish of Irvine YMCA was fourth. The good news for him was that he had been selected for the international. The senior team finished 8th of the 15 that started. It was probably the best ever performance in the National by the club. “The Scots Athlete” commented on the race as follows. ”Adamson leads his team to fine double. After a remarkably close race, Gilbert Adamson of West Kilbride showed that wee bit extra fire to beat J Stevenson of Wellpark for the Youths title and help his team to an equally narrow victory over Garscube. Endowed with a great racing temperament he may prove a senior star of the future with careful nursing. Fonder of country and road running than of the track, it is in the former that he may concentrate.”  and later “Jim Fleming of Motherwell YMCA ran a splendidly judged race to win the title from Jimmy Reid who ran the race of his life in an epic attempt to bring off a West Kilbride double.” The international was held in Dublin that year and Jimmy was a scoring runner for the Scottish team when he finished 48th.
We have already mentioned the track running of Jimmy Reid, but there was more than that to the credit of West Kilbride. Emmet Farrell in his ‘Running Commentary’ column, wrote as follows under the heading ‘West Kilbride Stars’ in September 1949. “The Ayrshire club may be modest in numbers, but they are strong in enthusiasm and they have three stars in Jim Reid, Gilbert Adamson and Trevor Coleman. After his epic race and narrow defeat by Jim Fleming in last season’s cross-country championship, it was almost poetic justice to find Jim Reid winning the mile championship. Admittedly the time was slowish, but this was hardly Reid’s fault as the race was run to suit him. Actually, having trained primarily for the half mile, he employed sound tactics in trailing his field and coming away with a fast last lap. Subsequently he has showed as in his recent defeat of Fleming that he is a much better miler than his Hampden running appeared to show.
Gilbert Adamson ran prominently in the steeplechase championship, just losing second place by a last minute bid from nowhere on the part of W McMillan of Springburn Harriers. In the Rangers steeplechase, where incidentally he was treated over-generously in the handicap, he won with consummate ease.
Trevor Coleman proved himself a strong and tenacious miler by winning both the Inter-Scholastic and Scottish Junior championships at the distance. I have a feeling that he might prove even better over the country.   Now that Scotland has come into line with England, with the institution of 3 separate National championships, Youths (Under 18), Junior (18 – 21) and Seniors, I would not be surprised to find Coleman, Adamson and Reid strong contenders for individual titles in their respective spheres.”

All three had indeed won medals in their respective SAAA championship events.
SAAA Senior One Mile: 1. J Reid 4:31 ; 2. W Lennie (Vale of Leven); 3. J Smart (Edinburgh Southern).
SAAA Senior Two Miles Steeplechase: 1. B Bickerton (Shettleston) 10:55; 2. W McMillan (Springburn); 3. G Adamson.
SAAA Junior One Mile: 1. TC Coleman 4:44.3; 2. T Lambert (Springburn); 3. AC Ross (EUAC)

Jimmy Reid in the 1949 National: Tom McNeish (Irvine YM) on left, and Jim Fleming (Motherwell: race winner) centre.

At the start of every winter season, Emmet Farrell had a look ahead to the coming season and as the season progressed he looked ahead to the major championships as they came up. In 1950 he mentioned Trevor Coleman. “The youths will contest their national test over 3 miles country at Stirling on December3rd in and with careful nursing will be a real star of the future. stead of March as hitherto. The field will undoubtedly include some classy runners, yet, I feel confident that Trevor Coleman of West Kilbride can take over that championship vacated by club-mate Gilbert Adamson. Coleman, the present youths mile track champion, ran some judicious races over the distance during the summer, yet I believe that this strong-going runner may prove even better over the country.
In the recent South Western Relay championship Coleman played a prominent part in West Kilbride’s victory and returned third fastest time, faster than such established runners as Tom McNeish of Irvine YMCA and Willie Williamson and Ale McLean of Glenpark Harriers, Chief danger to his chances might come from J Finlayson (Hamilton Harriers) who recently ‘walked’ away with the Lanarkshire youths championship over a 3 mile course at Wishaw having over 100 yards to spare from the much fancied J Lambert of Springburn Harriers who was runner-up in the youths mile to Trevor Coleman.”
Further down the column he wrote …
“The West Kilbride club are a remarkable lot. Though not strong in numbers, they are strong in quality and in Trevor Coleman, Gilbert Adamson and Jimmy Reid (champions all) they have a trio with a sporting chance of winning respectively the youths, junior and senior championships of Scotland, Of the three I fancy Adamson’s task hardest, even harder than Reid’s. For despite his present grand form, as witness his recent fastest time in the South Western relay, he faces Walter Lennie, the brilliant Vale of Leven boy, one of the hottest favourites to win this new junior championship of recent years.”
The reference to the District relays refers back to 5th November when West Kilbride won the South Western Relay from Greenock Glenpark, Irvine YMCA and another 14 teams. Fastest time on the day was that of Adamson who was 12 seconds faster than Wellpark’s Tom Stevenson who was 13 seconds quicker than Coleman. Jimmy Reid was fifth fastest. The club had three teams out that day – the others finished 7th and 13th. However, we should go to the youths championship for which Emmet fancied Coleman. George Dallas reported on the meeting for the magazine and commented that West Kilbride were not so well placed because one of their number, and he actually named the boy (J Butcher), was failing to keep pace with his club-mate T Coleman. Coleman actually finished fourth, 25 seconds behind the winner, J Finlayson. The team was 7th out of 20 with the runners being Coleman (4), Robertson (34), B McLaughlin (53), and N Roberts (63), H Dick (69) and J Butcher (66) also ran. In the South Western Championships in February 1850, there was no club team out in the senior championship although J Reid won the race and was accompanied by Adamson 5th, Roberts 15th, T Reid 23rd, and J Palmer 51st.
In February 1950, Emmet Farrell was looking ahead to the Junior Cross-Country Championships and he was forecasting one of Walter Lennie (who he really fancied for the title, W Williamson from Glenpark and Adamson. On the latter he commented: “The brilliant Lennie, sound in stamina, devastating in finishing powers and a stylist to boot, is the form horse to win the title, that is, apart from West Kilbride people who declare that their boy can win. Adamson not so stylish but perhaps more rugged in his make up is a real cross-country type and should at least be a worthy contender.”
Emmet did not get it right about Trevor Coleman in the Youths title race, nor did he in the Junior event!    Adamson won the Junior Championship, to go with the Youths title that he had won previously. Colin Shields in his official history of the Scottish Cross-Country Union simply said: “Gilbert Adamson (West Kilbride) ran a brilliant solo race to become the first winner of the 18-21 Junior Championship, winning by 44 seconds from the pre-race favourite, Midlands Champion Walter Lennie.”   But the Glasgow Herald gave a bit more detail: “In the Junior Six Mile Championship, the favourite Walter Lennie (Vale of Leven) had to give best to G Adamson (West Kilbride) who put in a powerful last half mile run and raced clear of his rival by fully 250 yards.   Lennie, it transpired, had been suffering fom the effects of influena.”
Came the senior national and the club had only one senior out on duty and that was Jimmy Reid who finished 13th.   The ‘Herald’ only commented “Two former internationalists who disappointed were J Reid (West Kilbride) and J Flockhart (Shettleston.”

Jimmy Reid

That summer there was only one medal in the senior championships, and that went to Adamson who was second to the quite outstanding Tommy Tracey in the 3 Miles event although he challenged him all the way. His finishing time was 15 min 02.9 sec. In the Junior Championships at Meadowbank at the start of July Trevor Coleman again won the One Mile title from the outstanding AD Breckenridge of Victoria Park who would go on to one of the stars of Scottish athletics setting records and winning titles. Coleman’s race was described as being run “with all the aplomb of a seasoned athlete. It is a common saying in athletic circles that trainers can do everything for their charges but run the race for them: but this Ayrshire schoolboy has got everything necessary to the attainment of success, and his conservation of energy in his preliminary heat, and the perfect timing of its release in the final stage evokes the fullest admiration.”
The new cross-country season started as usual with a road relay – the ever popular McAndrew 4 man relay: well liked because of the organisation that always went well, the nature of the course which appealed to the runners and to the spectators who wanted to jog around and see the runners at various points, and because it was the start of the new season. West Kilbride had a team out on 7th October, and it finished 12th of 50 that set out on the journey. Adamson was up among the fastest times as usual – equal fifth fastest with Eddie Bannon of Shettleston.

In the South West relays in 1950, West Kilbride were again first team to finish with a team consisting of Coleman, Robertson, Reid and Adamson from Irvine YMCA by a huge margin of 63 second. Adamson was fastest on the day, Reid was 4th and Coleman 6th. For reasons unknown, there were no teams out in the District championships in early 1951 – only Adamson who won the race and R McIntyre in 39th place. There were no seniors at all out in the national but there were teams out in both Junior and Youth championships. In the Junior event, Adamson was second to Eddie Bannon of Shettleston, Butcher was 30th, Reid 82nd and McIntyre 84th. The Youths team was 5th with the very promising Danny Lapsley leading them home when he crossed the line in 3rd place. J Robertson (8), J Butcher (39), H Dick (45) and J McCallie (67) completed the team.

Lapsley, 132, Finlayson, 56, and Connelly, 46, after the 1951 Youths National

Lapsley was a very good runner and even at this early stage of his career was having real head-to-head battles with more experienced athletes. In the Clydesdale Harriers Youth race he finished second to Bob Wotherspoon of Glasgow YMCA who would go on to be stalwart member of Shettleston Harriers. There were only 3 seconds between them. Lapsley was clocked at 15:00 exactly for the course: previous winners had been W Young (VP) in 15:26, H Fenion (Lochwinnoch) in 15:22, G Adamson in 14:57.5, R Steele (Vale of Leven) 15:13 and J Finlayson in 14:50. He was drafted into the club team for the District Relays and running on the third leg of the race, with a team of Butcher, Roberts and Coleman helped them win third place medals.
The South Western District Youths 3 Miles and Senior 7 miles were held at Paisley on 2nd February 1952. In the Youths race, Lapsley won in17:44 from K Alexander Irvine YMCA who was timed at 17:58. The West Kilbride team won the team race with I McKay 4th and B McCreadie 6th. In the senior race, Jimmy Reid was 4th and the supporting cast was T Coleman 14th, C Roberts 17th, but unfortunately J Butcher, H Dick and J Palmer failed to finish. On the subject of Lapsley, Emmet Farrell commented, when writing about youth talent in the country, that surely D Lapsley of West Kilbride must be a remarkable youth to win the Ayrshire senior title recently. The National was as usual the big one but there were very few club members running and those that were were not in the best of shape. In the Junior race, Adamson was 25th and Butcher was 45th; in the Youths race, McCreadie was 22nd, I McKay was 32nd and J McCallie was 65th.   

 

John Park

The Youths 3 mile and Senior/Junior 6 miles championships for the South Western District took place on 31st January 1953 at West Kilbride and the club had teams in both races. In the Youths race, J Barr was second, 22 seconds behind Ian Harris of Beith and the team (Barr 2, A Richardson 16, D Butcher 18) was fifth. Lapsley ran in the senior/junior race and finished fifth, first West Kilbride runner home. That team was also 5th with Coleman 8th, J Reid 25th, J Butcher 23rd, R McCreadie 40th and D Adam 53rd. Came the National on 28th February and, like the year before, there were no senior men from West Kilbride taking part. In the Junior race, Lapsley was 8th , Coleman 10th and McCreadie 38th with no fourth runner. It was an incomplete team. In the Youths age group, there was again an incomplete team. J Barr was 27th, J O’Rourke 40th and A Richardson 74th.
As Emmet Farrell pointed out more than once, numbers were short in West Kilbride and this was most evident in the turnout at cross-country races. The West Kilbride contingent was not as numerous at those races where it normally competed. He District relays on 7th November, 1953, they did turn out a good senior team – Lapsley 16:31, J Reid 17:41, G Adamson 16:20 and T Coleman 17:07. Quite a range of ages represented there. Lapsley handed over a 20 yard lead to Reid, who a few years earlier might have stretched it beyond catching but this time dropped to 8th, Adamson running third pulled the club from 8th to 5th and Coleman dropped one place for the club to finish 6th. Adamson had third fastest time of the day. In the District Championships, there was another incomplete team – Lapsley was 4th and Adamson 6th and that was it. There was a good Youths team which finished third in their event – Barr 3rd, J Bryant 16th, A Richardson 19th and A McLardy 23rd. In the National, there were no seniors, in the junior race Danny Lapsley was 8th and in the Junior race F Barr was 22nd. The following year (1954/55) Danny Lapsley was 2nd in the District championships, in the National he was 14th, the only club runner in any age group in either of them and that was the sum total of West Kilbride involvement that season. The last year that they had a team out in the relays was season 1953/54.
The club seems to have just disappeared after about 1954. It was almost certainly due to lack of numbers: the senior group in 1946 left and were not replaced. The club did prove th truth of Arthur Lydiard’s dictum of the 1960’s: You can find champions anywhere. When a small club like West Kilbride ASC can produce talent like Gilbert Adamson, Trevor Coleman and Danny Lapsley in such a short period of time, then that club has contributed to the life of these individuals, to the community from which they came and to the wider world of Scottish athletics which is the better for the existence of West Kilbride.   Two of the club stalwarts – G Houston and T Reid – are below.

Who’s Who of Distance Running: I & J


Nigel Jones to Brian Kirkwood

Kheredine Idessane (1.12.69) Edinburgh Southern, Cambridge University, Arizona, City of Edinburgh, Clydesdale Harriers)

800m: 1.48.62 1991; 15000m: 3.48.06 1991.

Kheredine was a very talented young runner, who became a Scottish International athlete at 800m and 4x400m. In the 1996 Scottish Indoor Championships he won 800m silver and 1500m bronze. He featured in the annual Scottish rankings between 1988 and 1998. Kheredine was more than a track runner – he also ran well cross-country and on the roads. After his racing career, it was a natural sideways step into sports broadcasting.

Robert Inglis, Cambuslang Harriers

Bob was a good club standard runner who represented Cambuslang in all the major road and cross-country races in the programme.  winter and summer he represented Cambuslang.   In the Edinburgh to Glasgow, he had six appearances – 1970, 72, ’73, ’74, ’75 and ’76 being a member of the team that won the Most Meritorious Medals in 1972.

James P Irvine [Bellahouston Harriers] – see full profile

6 Miles: 31:07.1 1960; Marathon: 2:36:52 1969

Jim featured in the annual Scottish rankings between 1960 and 1974.

With Bellahouston, he won Junior National Cross-Country Team medals (1954 bronze, 1955 silver, 1955 gold); plus Senior National team silver medals in 1957 and 1958 as well as bronze in 1959. In the E to G, which he ran 13 times between 1955 and 1974, he secured team gold in 1958 and silver in 1957. As a veteran, he won many medals in the Scottish Masters Cross-Country championships, from M40 bronze in 1974 and 1979 (when Bellahouston finished second team); to becoming M50 champion in 1987 (and adding silver and bronze in that age group); plus M55 silver in 1991. For Scotland in the British and Irish Masters Cross-Country International, he contributed to M60 team gold in 1995; and M65 team silver in 2000.

Leslie Irvine [Cambridge University, Corby Town]

1500m: 3:57.2 1970; 3000m: 8:37.0 1970; 5000m: 14:47.8 1971; 10000m: 31:47.8 1971

Sam Irvine [Glasgow Police]

10000m: 31:54.0 1972

Robert Irving [Bellahouston Harriers] – see full profile

Scottish Cross Country International three times, in 1959, 1960 and 1962.   The story was that Bert, who lived down in the far south west of Scotland and trained on his own, ran only three races in the winter: the E-G, the national and the International.   As a club runner, Bert won several team medals in the Scottish Senior National Cross-Country: 1957 silver, 1958 silver, 1959 bronze (when he was first home for Bellahouston in third place) and 1960 silver (5th individual). He ran for Scotland three times in the International Cross-Country Championships (1959, 1960 and 1962). In 1959, he was part of the team which won the Midland Cross-Country Relay. In the E to G, Bert won team silver in 1957, gold in 1958 and silver in 1959.

Harry Fenion (A1) to Jim Irvine (A7)

James Jack [Teviotdale Harriers]

One Mile: 4:22.4 1959; Three Miles: 15:18.0 1959; 3000m S/chase: 9:45.6 1960

In the E to G, which he ran three times, James was in the Teviotdale team which finished 6th and won ‘most meritorious’ medals in 1959.

George Jackson (Forth Valley, St Modan’s)

George was a good athlete but never seemed to reach the heights for which his talent suggested he was destined. A hard, tough runner he ran for Forth Valley in the summer and St Modan’s in the winter, later changing to Falkirk Victoria.

Adrian Jackson [Edinburgh University]– see full profile

Mile: 4:14.4 1959; Two Miles: 9:28.8 1959; Three Miles: 13:52.2 1959

Adrian was a top-class athlete, who ran very well on track, road and country. He wore the Scottish vest twice, racing over One Mile and Two Miles. He won the Scottish One Mile title in 1954 and the 3 Miles championship in 1956, as well as gaining 3 Mile silver medals in 1958 and 1959. In the E to G, his finest performance took place in 1956 when he smashed the record on prestigious Stage Two. In the International Cross-Country Championships, Adrian ran for Scotland three times (1958, 1959 – when he finished 30th – and 1961).

Jimmy JARDINE, Octavians AC, Lochaber AC
Jimmy was a Scottish hill-running legend who completed countless races, including the Ben Nevis Race 40 times. The last time was 2013, when he was over 70. In 1974 he won the first downhill-only race from the summit to the foot of the mountain – beating Bobby Shields and Eddie Campbell in an amazing time of 23 minutes! He acted as race starter; wrote memorable humorous poetry about the race; composed a Scottish dance tune (“Up and Down Ben Nevis”); and in 2006 put together a fascinating book (published in aid of Cancer Research) called “Up the Ben wi’ Eddie” (Campbell).

C. F. S. JARVIE Cambuslang, Lochaber

1966 6M 31.12.6

Charlie was a good cross-country and hill runner (including the Ben Nevis Race) who eventually settled in Fort William. Much earlier he put in good performances in Cambuslang club championships. He was Junior club champion in 1964 and 1965 and Senior champion in 1967 and 1969. He ran the E to G in 1970; in 1972, when 12th place won Cambuslang the ‘most meritorious’ medals; and in 1973.

George JARVIE ,Springburn Harriers

George was one of noted coach Eddie Sinclair’s excellent runners at Springburn with many individual and team successes to his credit. He was a team counter (32nd) for Scotland in the 1969 Junior International Cross-Country Championships. This was after two successive team silver medals in the 1968 and 1969 Junior National Cross-Country, where his best finishing position was sixth. He ran the E to G for Springburn in 1968.

David Jeffrey [St Andrews University]

Three Miles: 14:49.6 1961

Archie Jenkins [Mid-Annandale, Morpeth, Edinburgh AC, Hunters Bog Trotters] – see full profile

800m: 1:1:55.5 1976; 1500m: 3:58.2 1976; 3000m: 8:17.6 1984; 5000m: 14:29.3 1976; 10000m: 30:42.5 1976; Marathon: 2:29:37 1982 3000m S/chase: 9:02.95 1984

Archie, a hard-training and racing, very sociable enthusiast, and a fine team man too, appeared in the annual Scottish ranking lists between 1970 and 1997. In 1968 he was second to David Jenkins in the Scottish Schools 440 yards. In the E to G, which he raced many times, he won 1982 silver with EAC – and gold in the 1984 Scottish Six-Stage Road Relay. With the Trotters, he secured a ‘most improved’ medal in 1990 and bronze in 1996. After moving to Alnwick and joining Morpeth Harriers, he won a bronze medal in the North of England 3000m Steeplechase; then ran his personal best guesting in the England v Spain v Sweden International at Gateshead. He won the 1987 North East Counties track 10,000m title.

Archie had tremendous success as a Veteran (or Master), winning a great amount of Scottish and British titles, as well as European and World medals, breaking Scottish indoor track records, and running the 5 Nations Masters International for Scotland, year after year. In addition he has put a lot ‘back into the sport’ as a British Masters official and team manager.

Robert C Jenner [Aberdeen University]

Marathon: 2:38:11 1967

Bob, a good cross-country runner, trained hard on his own for the 1967 Shettleston Marathon (in which he finished a very respectable 6th). In preparation, he completed the AU half marathon course twice in a single unaccompanied run, which included a lap of the King’s College field (next to the changing rooms) at half way, before dourly heading out again. He was part of the AU 1964 E to G team which won ‘most improved’ medals.

Alistair Johnston [Victoria Park, Strathclyde University] – see full profile

Two Miles: 9:19.6 1968; Three Miles: 14:24.0 1968; Six Miles: 30:23.4 1968; 3000m: 8:37.6 1969; 5000m: 14:11.8 1972; 10000m: 29:59.4 1970; Marathon: 2:19:31 1970

Babcock’s Sports: Alastair Johnston (53), leading Bill Stoddart and Joe Reilly, Ian Leggett 26, Allan Faulds 27, then Cyril O’Boyle

Ian Johnston [Falkirk Victoria, Enfield]

800m 1.54.16 1987; 1500m 3.48.3 1990; 3000m 8.13.84i 1991; 3000m Steeplechase 9.31.7 1991; 5000m 14.34.0 1995.

In the 1991 Scottish Championship indoor 3000m, Ian finished second. He was a Scottish International athlete at 3000m and One Mile. In the E to G

Much later he became a very successful veteran athlete.

Victor Johnston [Dundee Hawkhill]

Marathon: 2:37:19 1982

Ian JOHNSTONE

Aberdeen, Cambuslang, Inverness

1977 5000m 14.50.1; 1977 3000 Steeplechase 9.41.0.

Ian ran the E to G for Aberdeen in 1977. He trained very hard and suffered many injuries but made an impressive comeback as a Veteran, winning Scottish age-group titles.

Hamish Johnstone [Heriot Watt University]

800m: 1:56.5 1972; 1500: 3:58.5 1972

James R Johnstone (Monkland Harriers, Law and District AAC]

880y: 1:58.0 1961; One Mile: 4:11.2; Two Miles: 8:58.0 1966; Three Miles: 13:43.6 1966; 5000m: 14:59.2 1969

He ran for Scotland twice in the International XC Championships: 1964, when he was a team counter; and 1966. His highest position (for Monkland) in the Senior National XC was 6th, in 1966. He ran for both his clubs in the E to G; and in 1963 was fastest on Stage One, setting a record. In addition, he was a good long-distance road runner.

RC Johnstone [Greenock Wellpark]

Marathon: 2:49:21 1976

Raymond Johnstone [Pitreavie]

1500m: 3:59.1 1971

Ronald Johnstone [Victoria Park]

Marathon: 2:37:18 1982

Nigel Jones: [Edinburgh AC]

800m: 1:53.59 1982; 1500: 3:46.2 19881; One Mile: 4:03.0 1982; 3000m: 8:25.21 1982; 5000m: 14:23.6 1982; 2000m S/chase: 5:55.6 1977; 3000m S/chase: 8:25.81 1982

SAAA 300m S/chase: 1st 1981, 3rd 1982, 3rd 1983

Nigel was a very talented young athlete who was successful on track, road and country. He won the 1981 Scottish Steeplechase title and, in the same event, two bronze medals in 1982 and 1983.

He ran for Scotland in the 1978 World Junior XC Championships. On the track he ran eight times for Scotland, in 1500m, 3000m, and 3000m Steeplechase.

In the E to G, Nigel ran in eight races and won three silver medals. In the Senior National Cross-Country, he contributed to 1983 EAC team bronze. He was also a valued member of team in other relays, helping his team to gold and silver : in the Scottish Cross-Country Relay and in the Six Stage Relays.

Campbell Joss [Bellahouston Harriers]

10000m: 33:20.4 1978; Marathon: 2:28:34

Consistent 2.30 marathon runner 79-82. A very good clubman he supported the club in every type of race. For instance, Campbell ran in 9 consecutive Edinburgh to Glasgow Relays between 1973 and 1981, then when it looked as though he was out of the team altogether he was picked to run in 1990. A good veteran runner who works hard as an official with SVHC.

Philip Judge [St Andrews University]

One Mile: 4:16.8 1961

Aberdeen YMCA: 1935

From the Press & Journal, 2nd December, 1935.

16th February, 1935: HARRIERS RACE FOR CALEDONIAN CUP.  Six teams to compete in stiff test.   The fifth annual race for the Caledonian Cup will be held inder the auspices of the North Eastern Harriers Association today at 3:00 pm.   The competition is open to all amateur clubs within the area covered by the NEHA.   Teams are of twelve runners each with six men home counting for places.   Teams are forward from ‘Vatsity, ‘Shire, Aberdeen YMCA, Gordon Highlanders (2 teams) and Elgin YMCA Harriers.   The course is from South Esplanade West to Craiginches to Harper’s Works, striking off to the left to take the fields over to the road at the railway cabin, and thence back to the finishing point in South Esplanade West.”    Club teams were listed, with the Aberdeen YM squad being J Youngson, J Young, J Findlay, S Kennedy, J Crombie and G Duthie.   

18th February, 1935: “TEAM TITLE FOR ‘VARSITY.   YMCA Man first home in Harriers Event.   Varsity won the NE Harriers Association three mile junior team championship which was decided over a course at Torry on Saturday afternoon.   A field of sixty runners took part. … From the start AR Hewitt and NR McLean (Varsity) forced a stiff pace with J Youngson (YMCA) five yards in the rear.   Taking the country, McLean went to the front with Hewitt and Youngson on his heels.   Midway over the country the three leaders were having a tousy duel, the Elgin team being well bunched together for the team award.   Coming on to the road again, McLean was clinging to a three yard lead from Youngson and Hewitt, with H McDougall (Varsity), J Riddell (Elgin) and M Grant (‘Shire) ten yards behind.   

In the last 200 yards Youngson came away with a terrific burst of speed to pass McLean and carry on to win his first individual honour by twenty yards in the good time of 16 min 35 1-5th sec.   An exciting duel took place between McLean and Grant for second place, the former just getting the verdict by inches at the tape.”   The result of the team race was a victory for Varsity from Elgin YMCA with Gordon Highlanders A team third.   The YMCA did not have a counting team.    There is also a very good picture of the start of the race in that edition of the paper. 

7th March, 1935: Not strictly relevant but at an Elgin YMCA fund raiser, the speaker “congratulated the Elgin branch on their enterprise and sportsmanship in sending a Harriers team to Aberdeen for the first time in their history.   They had – to the honour and glory of themselves and the city of Elgin – taken second place.”

13th April, 1935: “The YMCA Harriers will decide their four miles handicap for the vice president’s cup this afternoon.   The start is at 3:00 pm and the course is:- Start on the South Esplanade West, and out to Bridge of Dee via Abbotswell Road, and in Riverside Road to finish at Victoria Bridge.   The following are the runners and handicaps:- A Milne (scr), G Milne (2 sec), A Walker (13 sec), A Lobban (15 sec), Geo Brown (20 sec), F Warman (25 sec), JA Walker (48 sec), G Smart (1 min), W Craig and J Meldrum (1 min 32 sec), G Mathers (1 min 54 sec), K Gray (1 min 56 sec), S Kennedy (2 min 30 sec), Wm Brown (4 min 5 sec).   Officials:- Starter and Timekeeper: CG Howie; judges: A Silver and D Yule; Handicapper: D Yule.”

23rd May, 1935:   NE HARRIERS MILE TEAM RACE AT LINKS.   Duncan M Annand of the Aberdeen University Hares and Hounds created a new record in the North Eatern Harriers One Mile Team Race which was decided at The Links last night.   Annand’s time was 4 mins 30 4-5th secs, compared with the previous record accomplished four years ago by HM Gray, University Hares and Hounds, of 4 mins 33 1-5th sec.   From the start W Whyte, WE Fraser  and DM Annand forced a hot pace.   At half distance they were joined by the brothers Milne and F Yeoman who were running with grim determination.   About 400 yards from the finish, Annand went to the front, being closely pursued by A Milne and Yeoman.   In the last 100 yards, Ananand came away brilliantly to create a new record.   There was a great duel between Milne and Annand for second place with the former winning by a yard.”   The team race was won by ‘Shire from Varsity with YMCA in third (2, 4, 11, 14).

30th May: 1935:  “Teams from Aberdeen University Athletic Union, Aberdeenshire Harriers, YMCA Harriers and Aberdeen City Police took part in a series of inter-club track and field events at King’s College Ground last night.   The outstanding men were WG Brown (Gordonians), AR Hewit (‘Varsity) and JA Robbie (‘Varsity).   The best event was the two miles team race.   Four men , WE Fraser (‘Varsity), G Milne (YMCA), L Davidson), and J Youngson (Gordonians), ran neck and neck until the last 300 yards, when Youngson took the lead, and although stioutly challenged by Milne and Fraser, won by three yards from Milne with Fraser a similar distance behind for third place..”   The results followed and YMCA runners placed were 880 yards: T Craig 3rd; two miles team race: G Milne  2nd, Team Race  YMCA – Milne, A Walker and G Mathers;  hurdle race: R Riddell 2nd, F Warman 3rd;  high jump: A Lobban 3rd; Relay Race: YMCA 2nd.   

13th June, 1935: NE HARRIERS ONE MILE RELAY.   ‘Varsity retain Coronation Trophy. The ‘Shire Harriers won the trophy, contested over a 4 x 440 yards relay, for the ninth time in succession with the YMCA team third.

19th June, 1935:  Athletic Meeting in Polo Park, Hazlehead.   Placed YMCA athletes:  100 yards:  3rd  D Yule;  220 yards: 2nd J McFarlane, 3rd D Yule;  880 yards  2nd C Raich; Two Miles: 2nd team.  Relay Race  2nd team;High Jump:  1st J Findlay, 2nd A Lobban.

20th June, 1935: “A large crowd attended Boroughbriggs Park in Elgin last night when the Elgin YMCA held their first sports meeting since the inauguration of the club.   The feature of the sports was the five-a-side tournament in which five Highland League clubs took part.   Runners from Aberdeen University, Aberdeenshre Harriers, Shamrock and Aberdeen YMCA also played a prominent part in the success of the sports.   WG Brown, Aberdeenshire, won every event for which he entered.”   In addition to the five-a-side and the cycling events there were seven running events and the YMCA placed athletes were as follows:- Inter club relay race:  1st Aberdeen YMCA; Two Miles Race:  2nd J Youngson.

1st July, 1935:  “It was rather unfortunate that the competitors for the first and second class standard awards in the NEHA trials meeting at King’s College Grounds on Saturday had to contend with a strong headwind.   Only three men gained first class standards – WJ Brown (Aberdeenshire Harriers), WJG Meldrum (Aberdeen Grammar School) in the 440 yards,  and JA Robbie (Aberdeen University) in the high jump.    It must have been disappointing to the twin brothers, Alex and George Milne (YMCA) , who in the one mile gave a thrilling display, to discover that their time was four seconds outside second class standard 4 min 45 sec.”

22nd July 1935:Forres Amateur Athletic Association’s annual sports before a few hundreds.   Cycling and heavy events as well as running.   There were good performers from Elgin YMCA and  Inverness YMCA. 

5th August 1935: Just as Glasgow had the Rangers Sports on the first Saturday in August, Aberdeen had the Pittodrie Sports which were also a big occasion.   “Annual amateur sports held under the joint auspices of Aberdeen Football Club and the North Eastern Harriers Assoication at Pittodrie Park on Saturday.   Stan Johnston (Heaton Harriers gained victories in the 880 yards and mile events.   Johnston, who hails from Newcastle, is thefirst English runner to compete in the amateur sports at Pittodrie.   In the Mile he had a thrilling duel with A Hay, North of Scotland Two Mile Champion.   Entering the last two laps Hay had a slight lead, but 400 yards from the tape, Johnston put in a great finish to win by 5 yards.    The meeting attracted and entry of over 100 competitors and, favoured by ideal weather conditions, the sport generally was of a high standard.   It was disappointing therefor that the crowd numbered only 4000.”   The YMCA results were: G Milne  two miles  2nd; D Yule  440 yards Final  3rd;  Putting the Weight  3rd.   

October 1935: “PITTODRIE RACE WON BY A FOOT.   Before the start of the football match at Pittodrie Park on Saturday, the North Eastern Harriers Association decided their annual two miles open novice championship.   Twenty runners faced the starter, and right from the pistol HR McDougall (‘Varsity) forced a hot pace, closely followed by R Milne (YMCA) and AR Kellas (‘Varsity).   These three held together for over half a mile, when Kellas went to the front with McDougall and A Walker (YMCA) about two yards in the rear.   At half distamce Kellas was holding to a lead of 10 yards from Walker, who had displaced McDougall for second place.   The latter seemed to be feeling the effects of the gruelling pace he had set in the early stages, and it was no surprise when he retiredshortly afterwards.   At the end of the mile and a half stage Kellas was grimly clingig to a3 yards  lead from Walker, who appeared to be keeping a trifle i hand for the latter stages.   Third place was occupied by W Grant (‘Shire) who was 15 yards behind the leaders.   Entering the last lap Kellas had a two yeards advantage, and coming down the back “straight” tried desperately to shake off Walker, but the latter was not to be denied, for, coming away strongly, he got onlevel terms with Kellas 100 yards from the tape.   It was a thrilling sight to see these two battling for supremacy, the crowd yelling encouragement, and when it looked as if the race would finish with a dead heat, Walker in the final two yards, managed to ease away to win by a foot in the splendid time of 10 min 48 sec.”

23rd December, 1935: Unique Event In Aberdeen Five Miles Race.   YMCA CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT.   For the first time in the history of amateur athletics in the north of Scotland twin brothers – Alex and George Milne of Aberdeen YMCA Harriers – finished in a dead heat in a club championship event.   This unique performance was accomplished in the YMCA’s five miles road championship which was decided on Saturday afternoon.   The course started at the foot of Menzies Road, thence past the prison at Craiginches to Nigg Church, striking off to he road that leads to Bridge of Don, thence to Riverside Road, finishing at a point near Victoria Bridge.    .

From start to finish the twins engaged in a grim struggle that ultimately ended in a dead heat.   Although their time was over a minute outside the course record, consideration must be given to the treacherous ice bound road that prevailed on Saturday.   One of the competitors who competed, RGG Milne, sustained nasty cuts to the hands and shulders when he slipped heavily on the road coming down to the Bridge of Don.   Another feature of the race was the welcome return to form of KA Gray who finished 40 yards behind the brothers Milne.   Result:-  1.  Alex and George Milne; 2.  KA Gray; 3. A Lobban.”

Start of Race on 16th February: See above

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.”

 


 

 

The O’Boyle File

Cyril O’Boyle was a quite outstanding runner who was celebrated in Ireland before he ever came to Scotland.   He came here in theearly 1950’s and joined Victoria Park AAC, returned to Ireland, then ame back to Scotland again to run for Clydesdale Harriers.   His Daughter Moira was also an international runner, first of all as an age group runner for Scotland then as a senior marathon runner for Ireland.   nspired by Moira’s success, and encouraged by Cyril’s enthusiasm, wife Noreen took up running and ran for several Scottish select teams.   What is here is s simple collection of photographs, mainly but not exclusively, of Cyril himself.

A young-ish Cyril in his Finn Valley days, he is second right in the front row.

A Tyrone cross country team in 1950: Cyril is 145 on the left

.As a member of Victoria Park AAC, he is on the left in the back row, with Syd Ellis and Johnny Stirling; Ian Binnie in front.

In the Balloch to Clydebank 12 miles road race, leading Alex McDougall at three miles

.

In the Edinburgh to Glasgow late 1950’s

Handing the baton to Bobby Shields in the Edinburgh to Glasgow, mid 1960’s

 

At the start of the Babcock & Wilcox 14 miles road race about 1970: Cyril on left next to team mates Ian Leggett (26) and Allan Faulds (27).

Moira running for Ireland, 1980’s

Moira winning a marathon in Ireland, 1980’s

Cyril and Noreen on his 90th birthday in 2016

After Cyril returned to Ireland in the 1980’s he was visited by some of his old friends from Scotland:   here he is outside his farm cottage with Pat Younger.