Scotstoun and rugby

BMC Grand Prix, Scotstoun, 1999

As we all know the facility first hosted athletics at the start of the 20th century when Clydesdale Harriers held their prestigious 7 miles individual and team cross country event from it.  They also ran 100 yards races to entertain the crowds when the runners were out in the country.  Although Scotstoun Showgrounds was developed by the Glasgow Agricultural Society as a venue for agricultural shows, it was soon being used as a venue for sporting events and as a result the Grandstand was erected.   Located as it was in the country to the west of Glasgow, it was a good venue for cross-country running and the national cross country championships were held there every year from 1903 to 1913 with only one exception (1907 when they were held at Portobello in Edinburgh.

 

The facility underwent a huge renovation in the 1990’s and a further development in 2008 and on completion was re-opened on 14 January 2010 by the Princess Royal.   

That renovation was a great improvement on what had gone before and when it was opened nearby clubs and coaches were invited to a guided tour of the track and facilities – the track was blue and would show up well on televised events, it sloped inwards to aid drainage with drains all round the track on the inside and there were all sorts of modern touches that made it a pleasure to use.   Big events were held there including major international fixtures with Olympic and Commonwealth champions in action.   It followed in the tradition of the great Glasgow stadiums of Ibrox, Parkhead and Hampden.   One of the best in Britain, monthly users groups meetings were held in the main building.   

The history of the venue is impressive   – see this  link   – but the new track  was appreciated by runners from all over Great Britain.   The elite British Milers Club had Grand Prix meetings there in 1999, 2000 and 2001 with athletes from all over the British Isles taking part, setting personal best times, stadium records and BMC club records.   British Olympians ran there as did Irish, Commonwealth and European Games medallists ran there and the best coaches were there too.    The track was very well received.   

 The Scottish Senior Track and Field Championships came to Scotstoun at the start of the new century and stayed until 2007.   The stadium saw Senior Championships, Combined Events Championships (2002), Combined East and West Championships (2005 and 2007), Masters Championships (2006) and Under 20 and Under 23 Championships (2006).    There were three GB international matches – on 2nd July 2000 Great Britain & Northern Ireland took on the might of the USA, on 29th June 2003 it was Great Britain & Northern Ireland v USA v Russia, and on 5th June 2005, the same three nations took part in another triangular fixture.   There were also international meets with stars from all corners of the globe appearing at the track.  

 

Meanwhile the SRU  was competing at Partick Thistle’s ground, Firhill Park, but it was looking for alternative accommodation.   They started training at Scotstoun from 2009 and started playing their matches there from 2012.   Immediately their presence was felt by the athletics fraternity.   There was a feeling among coaches of athletics suddenly becoming subsidiary to the newcomers.   A small example: one coach used to train sprinters inside on a Saturday morning.   Hurdles were used for hurdle stepping, starting blocks were used, etc and in particular the boxes in the store cupboard were used for plyometrics.  Then one Saturday the boxes were no longer there.   On enquiry the coach was told that they had been placed behind the area taped off for exclusive rugby club usage.     There was no question of the athletes being allowed to use them.   A small thing but indicative of the Warriors sense of entitlement.   

Things accelerated to the point where for big matches, ‘temporary’ stands were placed across the ends of the track and encroaching on to the track.   The pitch was extended by corners poking out on to the track.   These were usually done in the April/May period just when the athletes needed to put in serious training for their main competitive season and national championships.   The next demand by the rugby club was for a new surface on the infield to be made of artificial grass.   This would mean that none of the throwing events could be held there – no shot, no javelin, no discus and certainly no hammer!   There could be no full scale international athletics held there from that point.   

The arena still belongs to the local authority but it seems that the local authority simply does the bidding of the club.   The advantages of the club being tenants rather than owners are obvious  but recent developments seem to indicate that the authority has given up all responsibility for management of the venue.   See the article at this link:   

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10163640363905237&set=a.281172240236&type=3&theater    

or this one

https://www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/news/18568851.jordanhill-residents-accuse-glasgow-life-cover-up-scotstoun-stadium-plans/

and note the comment: 

“Plans involve the rugby club entering a long-term occupancy agreement with the council, estimated at 25 to 30 years, with Glasgow Warriors as the primary tenant with exclusive use and management of the stadium.”

It would seem from that that athletics has had its day at the grand old stadium with the patronising remarks from the authority that they were sure they could offer something to athletics.”   

The Proclaimers could maybe come up with new version of their famous song:

Scotstoun No More

Westerlands No More

Meadowbank No More

And as far as athletics is concerned – no more Hampden, Ibrox, Celtic Park ….

Meanwhile, where is Scottish athletics?   Comments on social media and in private emails ask the same question: why has the governing body not asked to be involved in the negotiations, or at least offered some comments on the situation – after all the area is one of the best in the country for competitive runners and jumpers with capacity on the outfields for the throws.     The local authority receives a lot of correspondence on this issue dealing with the concerns of local residents in a tightly packed area which really cannot deal with either increased parking – even big athletics meetings had difficulties parking in the streets around the grounds – or impinging on other local facilities but they seem almost impervious to criticism.   

The picture below says it all – rugby and money.   A car on the track, new stands in the back straight and on the bend making running a full lap difficult and not a runner to be seen.   Let’s hope that the planning committee takes the appropriate decision.

Graeme’s Edinburgh to Glasgow 1967

More of Graeme Orr’s photographs of the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay in 1967.   We have seen some of them before but not this clear, well I don’t think so.   They are also because of the clarity enlarged and we can see more – eg the car doing the dodgy U-turn round the island on the Pat Maclagan photograph.   Remember that he was following mainly the Glasgow University Hairy Hounds so there are a lot of University pictures.   Note the Beaney twins on the first stage.  They were Springburn Harriers and the club had three sets of brothers at the time: the Beaneys, the Pickens and the Lunns (Kenny was running for GUH&H and is also featured here).

Ronnie. Beaney of Glasgow University

A. Beaney of Springburn

J Raeburn of Teviotdale Harriers and I Mitchell of Strathclyde University

J Clare, Aberdeen AAC

A McKean, Edinburgh University

K Lunn, Glasgow University

J Black, Strathclyde University

McFarquhar to McIver for Strathclyde University

Scally to Meneely for Shettleston Harriers

Fergus Murray of Edinburgh Southern Harriers

J Docherty, Strathclyde University

Willie McDonald, Glasgow University

Gareth Bryan-Jones, Edinburgh University

Pat Maclagan, Victoria Park AAC

Graeme Grant, Dumbarton AAC

Bobby Blair, Strathclyde University

X the unknown but I think it’s John Myatt, Strathclyde University, on the 7th leg.

MARK HASKETT

Mark, the son of Charlie Haskett, was a talented, successful young middle-distance athlete, who now, in his early thirties, is showing promise that he can improve personal bests at longer distances. There is no doubt that, over 800m and 1500m, he can claim to be the fastest Haskett yet.

Mark was born in Dundee on the 14th of September 1988; and reckons that he took up running at the age of nine! Certainly, he joined Aberdeen AAC and was coached by Joyce and Ken Hogg for several years.    He raced for AAAC between 2001 and 2016, although from 2006 and 2010, he also represented Edinburgh University (and was coached by Dave Campbell). From 2013 to 2017 he was a member of Thames Valley, before joining Corstorphine in 2017. He has continued to run for the Edinburgh club since then.

Despite strong competition from many precociously-gifted teenage racers, Mark ran for Scottish Schools in the Home Countries Schools International Cross-County; and – at under 13, under 15 and under 17 – competed for Scotland in three London Mini-Marathons.   At 800m, Mark won Scottish Schools under 17 bronze in 2005 and under 20 silver in 2006; as well as under 15 silver in the 2003 Scottish National championships.

At 1500m, he collected Scottish Schools under 15 bronze (2003), under 17 bronze (2005); and under 20 silver (2006). In addition, he was victorious in the Scottish Junior 3000m (2006). Another fine achievement was silver in the 2006 Scottish National under 17 Cross-Country championships. Coincidentally, his Dad Charlie also won silver in the same age group back in 1975!

As an under 20, Mark finished a good 9th in the Scottish Cross-Country championships. At under 23, he was 7th in the Scottish Universities XC, having previously represented SU at the 2007 Celtic Universities event. In 2010, he won a bronze medal in the Scottish under 23 1500m; and was 8th in the Scottish Senior 4k Cross-Country. On the road, Mark was first under 23 in the 2009 City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k (and twice finished third overall in that prestigious event).

Mark remembers taking part three times (2007, 20010, 2011) in the televised January BUPA Cross-Country races in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh. Twice, it was against not only Scottish District opponents but also World Class International Athletes like Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele. They may have looked small, skinny and unimpressive, but Mark was amazed at their speed!

Having (as an under-23) been a Scottish Senior 1500m finalist twice, when he made his debut as a genuine Senior Athlete, Mark improved to 5th place in 2011. This was a particularly successful year, with fourth in the Scottish Indoor 3000m and a very respectable 21st in the Senior National XC.

In 2013, Mark produced one of his finest performances when he won bronze in the Scottish National Indoor 3000m, recording a personal best of 8.29.68. (His 800m PB – 1.53.85 – was set in August 2010 at Linwood; and his 1500m PB – an impressive 3.53.55 – in June 2011 at Watford in the BMC Grand Prix.)

After many years of hard, speed-based track training, Mark Haskett found that he became physically unable to continue that regime. A nagging hip flexor injury made increasing training mileage difficult, which meant less progress than he had hoped for at 5000m, 10k, 10 miles and half marathon.

However, now that he is married to his wife Alex and settled in Edinburgh, a sensible weekly mileage has led to good basic fitness. Since he is self-coached, every session is run on his own, because training with others might lead to strong competitive instinct taking over – and more injuries occurring.

Just before Lockdown, on March 7th 2020, Mark was encouraged by recording a new 10k PB (32.34) at the Jack Crawford Springfield Cup race. He is optimistic that further progress will be made in future – and he may even make a good marathon debut.

He looks back with justified pride at several of his youthful achievements and is content that he fulfilled his potential at middle-distance track running. His father Charlie (who is still running well in his early 60s) has always been a great inspiration to Mark; and it will be interesting to find out how Mark’s career, at longer distances, develops in the near future.

                                                                         Mark and Charlie Haskett after they both ran the 2016 Vienna Half Marathon

Gordy Haskett

Gordy Haskett, centre, with some of his runners

Gordon ‘Gordy’ Haskett is the son of Ralph Haskett, the youngest of the four Haskett brothers who emigrated to America.   Gordon was a talented runner himself before settling in to being a coach in San Diego.   The first race result I saw with his name attached was the La Jolla Half Marathon in 1991 wwhich began at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and ended at La Jolla Cove.  Won by James Sheremata in 1:11.43. John Butler of Long Beach finished second with a time of 1:12:14, and Encinitas’ Gordy Haskett was third, coming in at 1:13:13.   Not bad on a hilly trail in Californian heat.   We now know that he was a runner in the Haskett tradition.   There is more about him as a coach at the following extract from an online article at  

https://www.encinitasadvocate.com/sdea-encinitas-sda-cross-country-haskett-2016sep08-story.html

The Mustangs open the 2016 season on Sept. 10 with the Bronco Roundup, hosted by Rancho Bernardo High at Kit Carson Park in Escondido. Haskett says this event will get the athletes’ feet wet, while it’s the Sept. 17 Mt. Carmel Invitational at Morley Field — the same course the Mustangs will run the section championships on in November — where he’ll really get a gauge on his teams.

The much larger SDA boys squad (there are 60 boys running as opposed to just 25 girls) has talent at the top with senior Ross Urbina and sophomore twins Zack and Conner Edwards. And with a lot of youth making up the rest of the team — Haskett says he has 23 freshman and 12 more sophomores — almost any one of the youngsters could step up as a surprise contributor.

“We have this wave of freshman and sophomores, some of them haven’t even raced cross country before, so we’ll have to see,” Haskett said.

On the girls side, junior Sarah Lavake leads the pack with a trio of seniors in Veronica Ness, Kyra Benowitz and Vicky Van der Wagt also in the mix. However, the Mustangs will be without the top two runners from the 2015 group that posted its best finish ever.

“If the girls can run as a very tight pack, they have a chance to sneak in there,” Haskett said.

Haskett knows of what he speaks as he could have run in college following a stellar career at San Dieguito, but chose to attend a culinary academy instead. Through culinary school, working as a pastry chef and even living for a year in England, Haskett, who was born and raised in Encinitas, never stopped running.

While in the process of opening a wholesale bakery in Carlsbad, he also ran for Grossmont College and fulfilled his dream of joining the prestigious San Diego Toads running club. Haskett has run all over the world and raced in more than a dozen marathons.”

Mark Haskett, Charlie’s son, reported as follow about Gordy: “I managed to get in touch with Gordy; turns out he was quite an impressive runner!

His PBs were:
Mile- 4:17

5k-  14:55

10k-  30:47

1/2 marathon-  1:09:23

Marathon-  2:23:57

IronMan World Championships Hawaii- 10:10:58

He said that he has never run the London Marathon, but confirmed he has been a high school athletics coach in San Diego for 18 years. Also said he has been running for 45 years in total now and is proud to be part of the Haskett Clan!”

 

CHARLIE HASKETT

Charlie Haskett running the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay, 1983

Charles HASKETT (born 8.09.57) Dundee Hawkhill, Bolton United.

Personal Bests: 3000m 8.24.0 (1985); 5000m 14.11.9 (1985); 10,000m 29.57.68 (1985); 3000m Steeplechase 9.34.9 (1982); Marathon 2.18.29 (1986).

Charlie Haskett was a Scottish International athlete on three surfaces: cross-country, track and road.

As a Junior, he ran the World Cross twice (1975 Rabat and 1976 Chepstow). He remembers that, in Rabat, he and his older sister Christine both raced for Scotland, as did Ian Stewart and his sister Mary. Two sets of siblings! That was the year when Ian Stewart became Senior World Cross-Country champion.

As a Senior, Charlie ran the World Cross four times between 1984 and Scotland’s last appearance in 1987. The venues were: East Rutherford, USA; Lisbon; Colombier (Switzerland); and Warsaw. Carlos Lopes of Portugal won the first two years; and John Ngugi of Kenya the next two. Both were superbly impressive runners, Charlie remembers. Charlie himself was a team counter in the Nine-Man Scotland collective twice: 6th in Lisbon; and a very good third in Colombier. He ran for Scotland in another six XC events, including: Gateshead (1985) when he was fourth and final scorer for the first team that finished second to England A, but beat Wales, Belgium, Northern Ireland and several other combos; London (1985) when he was second Scot to Nat Muir but in front of Terry Mitchell, Allister Hutton and the B team; and Fermoy (Ireland 1986) when he finished 6th and second Scot behind Adrian Callan but ahead of Eddie Stewart.

On the track, Charlie ran 10,000m for Scotland at a 1984 match in Hungary. He finished second, only ten seconds behind Terry Mitchell but well ahead of the Hungarians. Just as well: although Scotland won the men’s team contest, the women lost – and Scotland beat Hungary overall with a combined score only two points better than the hosts!

Charlie (47) running in the 1985 Glasgow Marathon – in good company with Murray McNaught, Jim Brown, Andy Daly, Donald Macgregor and Evan Cameron

He ran for Scotland three times on the road: Aberdeen International Marathon 1984, when he was fourth but second Scot, 33 seconds behind George Reynolds. The team finished second to England. In the Stafford Half Marathon 1987, Charlie was only two seconds behind the winner, Steve Brace (Wales). The Dundonian’s time was an excellent 65.11 – and he beat his team-mates Graham Crawford and Tommy Murray. Scotland won the team contest against Wales. In the 1988 Livingston Half Marathon, Charlie was fourth, behind Peter Fleming but in front of Hammy Cox. Scotland finished second to England but defeated Northern Ireland and Wales.

10 Senior Scotland vests on the country (plus two as a Junior); one on the track; and three on the road. Charlie Haskett and his illustrious older sister Christine have undoubtedly raced middle or long distance for Scotland considerably more often than any other siblings in history!

Charlie Haskett (aged 12) was a spectator at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh (in which his sister Christine raced). He was inspired by the feats of Lachie Stewart and other Scottish stars and, before long, was running well himself.

Charlie won the East District Senior Boys CC in both 1972 and 1973, followed by East District Youths Cross Country in 1974 and 1975.  

Then in the 1975 National Cross Country, he won a silver medal in the Under-17 age-group behind the peerless Nat Muir. In 1976 he finished eighth junior. Charlie represented Scotland in the IAAF World Junior CC in both years. He also ran for Scottish Schools in the 1974 International in Ireland; and raced 3000m in a Track International.

Charlie Haskett qualified as a Civil Engineer at Abertay University. Between 1985 and 1987 he lived in Bolton and worked in Manchester. Due to intense competition in that area, he ran personal bests for 5000m, 10,000m and 10k, as well as marathon. After that he lived with his young family for several years in Aberdeen – and in fact became Aberdeen AAC President, while always preserving his allegiance to Dundee Hawkhill Harriers.

His consistency in the Scottish Senior National was outstanding: seven successive top ten performances between 1984 and 1990. His best placing was sixth in 1985 and 1986.   

 Charlie in the 1984 Senior Scottish National Cross-Country Championships, leading (left to right) Alex Gilmour, Callum Henderson, Peter Fleming, Eddie Stewart, Alan Wilson and Graham Williamson

On both Country and Road, Charlie Haskett contributed a great deal to Dundee Hawkhill Harriers teams.

In the Senior National XC, Dundee won team bronze in 1990, silver in 1991 and bronze in 1993. Then, in the Scottish XC Relay, Charlie won a bronze medal in 1989 and silver in 2000.

Between 1981 and 2001, he ran the E to G 18 times, including 1989 team gold and 1990 silver.

Charlie finishing the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay in 1988

The Six Stage Road Relay yielded 1989 silver, 1990 gold, 1991 silver and 1994 gold. In 1994 DHH were invited to represent Scotland in the European Clubs Road Races in Porto. Unfortunately, the organisers did not make clear what distance the runners were expected to race – they were assuming 10k or less. It turned out to be a Half Marathon! This was bad news for anyone whose best event was 1500m. Not only that, but the course featured laps of the river-side, up and down steep hills. Nevertheless, Charlie finished first Scot and broke 70 minutes but others had to drop out. Never mind, post-race refreshments helped to cheer everyone up.

On the track, Charlie won the East District 5000m title in 1982 and 1983.

He won silver medals in the Scottish Marathon championship in Dundee 1984 (only 25 seconds behind Don Macgregor); and, on a very hot day in Dundee 1987 – Terry Mitchell won.

Charlie’s PB in London 1986 (2.18.29) earned him a place in the Scottish team for the Glasgow Marathon – but he had to prefer the British selectors’ invitation to compete (with Terry Mitchell) and represent Great Britain in an International Marathon that started in Buffalo, USA and finished near Niagara Falls, Canada. In heatwave conditions (95% humidity), Charlie ran sensibly and,  despite being hampered by a cold, finished in a very respectable 7th place, with Terry 4th.

As a veteran, Charlie continued to feature prominently in Dundee Hawkhill Harriers teams. In the Scottish Masters Cross-Country, he won individual bronze (M45) in 2006. Dundee Hawkhill Masters finished third team in 1999; 2000; 2002 (when Charlie was 8th overall); and 2006.

After 2007, apart from his Civil Engineer occupation, Charlie was doing a lot of officiating for Aberdeen AAC, so that he kept on training but only took part in a few local races like the Baker Hughes 10k and the Proms 3k series. Then he and his wife Fiona moved to Edinburgh in 2011, since their son Mark and daughter Lia had settled there. He started training a bit harder in that hilly city and returned to Masters racing in his early 60s.

In both 2018 and 2020 he finished third M60 in the Scottish Masters Cross-Country. The latter was a particularly good run behind the peerless Colin Donnelly and past champion Eddie Stewart, but in front of World Veteran 10k champion Alastair Walker (having overtaken him with 800m to go).

Charlie and Fiona enjoy a yearly holiday which includes a foreign half marathon. For example, they have been to Prague, Toronto, Vancouver and Eindhoven. Recently, Charlie ran 86.14, which is certainly a good time for someone in his age category – and now his target is to break 86 minutes!

On the first Friday of every month (unless Lockdown is in force) Charlie Haskett enjoys a beer or two with former London Marathon victor Allister Hutton and Allister’s Edinburgh Southern Harriers team manager during that club’s glory years, Ian Mackenzie. The venue is either Edinburgh’s Café Royal or Milne’s Bar (The Poets’ Pub). Memories of races past are sure to feature in the conversation!

Looking back at his peak racing years, Charlie Haskett states that: his favourite event was cross-country; he was someone who trained hard but raced harder; and that he always tried to do his best for Dundee Hawkhill Harriers teams and Scotland. Well, there is no doubt that he was – and continues to be – a true stalwart, who has enjoyed a long and successful running career.

 

Alex M Donnet

The Haskett family presence in the Dundee athletics circles in the 1930’s started as four brothers but before long had spread to the Donnet family.   Three members of the family were runners in the 30’s and 40’s – AM, E and C.   Alexander Mitchell Donnet was a very good runner indeed and won many medals and trophies both individual and team with the Dundee Thistle club.   His connection to the Hasketts was that his sister, Chrissie who was also a runner, had married Charles Haskett

In 1935-36 in his first run in the National he was first Thistle man home when he was 12th and the team was fifth.   A year later,  in 1936-37 he was eighth, second counter for the team, when they were second.    In 1937-38 he was  ninth and there was no club team that year.   In 38-39 he was ninth again for the team that was fifth and was finally selected for the International fixture in Cardiff where he was 47th finisher for the Scottish team.  A total of three top ten finished in the senior national, one gold team medal and an international vest is not a bad haul for four years!  There were many other medal winning performances both individual and team in East District and open races for Alex Donnet.   In the Edinburgh to Glasgow eight man relay, he ran in 1936, ’37, ’38 and ’39.   He ran the first stage for the winning team in 1937 and the first stage for the team that finished third in 1938, winning his stage and setting a record for it.   He also ran the second (1936) and sixth (1939) stages.   

 He was a good Committee man at club , District and National level.   He helped the club set up the Kingsway Relay and served on the East District Committee of the Cross-Country Union,   became Vice-President of the national governing body in 1946-47 and President in 1947-48.   

He was also a good Committee man in the Trade Union Movement.   Born on 26th June 1916, he attended Harris Academy in Dundee.  He joined the National Union of General and Municipal Workers in 1935 and, in 1959, was appointed as the union’s full-time regional officer for Scotland, and from 1970 until 1976 was also the union’s national chairman.   Donnet became active in the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), and was elected as its president for 1970/71.   In 1972, he was for the first time elected to the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), serving for four years; he also served on the Commission on the Constitution, Scottish Economic Council, Forestry Commission, Price Commission and Scottish Transport Group.   In 1978, Donnet retired from his trade union posts and received a life peerage which he accepted under the title of Baron Donnet of Balgay.   He retired in 1982 and died three years later.

The Haskett Family

The Haskett name is well known in Scottish athletics circles.   It is equally well known that the family hails from Dundee and that they have been stalwarts of the Dundee Hawkhill Harriers for almost a century.   The family contribution to Scottish athletics locally and nationally has been considerable.   It is perhaps only right that we look at this contribution and the people involved.

In the 1930’s there were four brothers  – George (the oldest), Charles, James and Ralph.   George, Charles and James were all runners; all four were members of the Boys Brigade and all liked to take part in outdoor activities.     George married Janet (Nettie) Fransen, another member of Hawkhill Harriers, and Charles married Christina Donnet who was also a member of the Hawks.   Christina’s brother Alex was a member of Dundee Thistle Harriers.   George was also a loyal member of the Dundee Thistle Cycle Club and was in fact secretary for several years.   They passed this love of the outdoors to their children.   

Charles, always known as Chick, had five children – 3 daughters and 2 sons.   Only the oldest of the daughters, Chris, took up running and she was a really outstanding athlete.  Read her profile from the link below and you’ll be in no doubt about that at all.   Of the boys, Charles, always known as Charlie, was the younger son and better known in athletic circles but his older brother Scott was also a talented athlete who was also a good football player .  He decided that that would be his sport.   He played for the Harp and emigrated to Canada in the early 1970’s.    Chick’s youngest brother  Ralph did not do much running in Scotland and emigrated to California   He has two sons, one of whom, Gordon (Gordy), runs and coaches out there.   

The next generation was also involved in the sport and Charlie’s son Mark has been ranked nationally at 800m, 1500m, One Mile and 3000m.  Read about them all – each has his own part in the story of the remarkable family. 

The Haskett Family in the 1930’s      The Haskett Family in the 1940’s       Janet Fransen   . Alex M Donnet 

Christine Haskett Price  .Charlie Haskett   Mark Haskett   Gordy Haskett

Janet Fransen

Janet Fransen was a good runner for many years and a member of Dundee Hawkhill Harriers when she met George Haskett.   She was not just any member of the club – she was one of the best track athletes.   It was not a small section – look at the photograph above – and she seems to have been one of the best they had on the track.   Nettie is in the second row, fourth from the right.    

Running as early as 1931, she ran on 1st June at Dundee Lifeboat Sports in the 220 yards. Miss N Fransen (off 6 yards) won.   She must have been running well since 6 yards in 220 is a very short mark.   A year later on 4th June 1932, at Dens Park, she ran in the Dundee Sports Association meeting in the Ladies 100 yards handicap open with both ladies running from 6 yards.   She also ran in the relay where the team of Fransen, Laird, Christie and Robson was second to Aberdeen.   Two weeks later, on 20th June, at Midmill Sports, in the 100 yards handicap, N Fransen (5 yards) won in 12 seconds.   

The following summer saw her on 5th June competing in the club sports when the photograph below was taken.   Two days later the report on the meeting held at Constable Park in Dundee was published.   In the 440 yards championship,  N Fransen was first in 74 seconds.   In the Overall Championship to that point the leader was the same N Fransen.

The reports on the Ladies events were few and far between but  on 19th July 1934, the report on the Broughty Sports 100 yards handicap included 3rd Miss J Fransen.   Jump to 1935 and on 20th May, the Hawkhill v  St Andrews University match was held at the UCD grounds where for the first time a women’s contest was held.   N Fransen was third in the long jump and third equal in the high jump with Mildred Storrar, the cross-country champion.  And then another year on we see that she was still running well when 0n 16th July 1936, at the Broughty Sports Carnival, the 100 yards ladies resulted in 1.   Miss C Donnet, 2 Miss N Fransen, 3  Miss M Storrar.   Chrissie Donnet was to be Nettie Fransen’s sister-in-law before very long, when they married two of the Haskett brothers.   Nettie would go on to marry George, the oldest brother, and Chrissie would marry Charlie (Chick) Haskett.

Unfortunately, as was the practice in the 1930’s and 1940’s marriage – for a woman – usually meant an end to sporting activity.   It had however been a very good career in a sport which she seemed to enjoy very much. 

Haskett Family in the 1940’s ….

‘Chick’ Haskett

When the War started the SCCU set up an ad-hoc cross-country governing body  for the duration of the War.   Events were organised to keep the sport going but given the number of men on active service, and the number posted to different parts of the United Kingdom, they were not recognised as national or district championships.   Many athletic careers were disrupted or terminated at this time.    In Dundee Chick Haskett married Christina McLaren, daughter of Mr and Mrs A Donnet on 21st June 1940.   Among the many differences in the world of athletics at the time, there were fewer fixtures, there were fewer runners available to clubs and newspapers were greatly reduced in size.   The latter of course affected the amount of coverage of all sports – for instance the report on the McAndrew Relay in 1942 was not printed on the following Monday but on the Tuesday Glasgow Herald in four lines in a paper of only 6 pages.   All the weekend sport was in one column on the back page.    

There was also a major change in the city’s athletics scene when the war started though.   From the Dundee Hawkhill Harriers website: 

“Dundee Hawkhill Harriers and Dundee Thistle Harriers were struggling to maintain member numbers, with so many heading off to the armed forces. In 1940, the Luftwaffe bombed the Thistle Harriers clubrooms in Abbotsford Street.   With both clubs struggling, they amalgamated into the “Dundee Harriers”, becoming the only functioning Harriers club in the East of Scotland during the war.”

The result was a very strong club indeed – relative to the other clubs in the area that is.   However, the joint clubs had their losses due to the war too.   Three of the top Thistle men were moved to Glasgow where AM Donnet, A Hay and AL Hay joined Garscube Harriers.

The East District Cross-Country League started up again – unofficially.   The results of the war-time series of league contests are not recorded officially.   But there was a competition that followed the league format and rules and it was reported on 16th March, 1942 that Dundee Harriers had won the East District League final race.  Chick  Haskett had finished eighth.   Into the summer that year and the Perth six-lap relay was held on the North Inch with Chick in the club C team which was unplaced.   In May, Morgan Academy took on a Dundee Harriers team with Chick competing and were well beaten.    One week later the match against St Andrews University took place despite the War and an RAF team was invited to compete.   Where teams had previously been selected with named runners for each event, the club now listed the events to be contested and asked 12 or 14 runners “and all others” to report early.   There was also a match with the Boys Brigade at the YMCA grounds which was described as the Brigade’s first athletics inter-club since the war began.      

The winter season began with a trial to pick the teams for the McAndrew 4 man road relay in Glasgow. Held on 21st Sep 1942, there were 20 runners in the race.   The first two finishers were RAF men Higgins and Holmes with Chick Haskett third.   The race itself was held on 2nd October – it was always on the first Saturday in October – and the preview read: 

The Dundee team which ran in the race was J Brannan (missed the trial because he was running in a road race at Forfar), C Haskett, Cpl Holmes (RAF and Derry Harriers) and A.N. Other.   There were two teams entered and the A team finished fourth in the race which was won by Maryhill with two internationalists in their foursome.   

This was followed a week later – 9th October 1942 – by another fourth place in the second annual Kingsway relay.   It had been started the previous year with an entry of ‘about a dozen teams, most of which came from the Services.’   Garscube won that year from Maryhill.   In 1942, it was a   Maryhill victory, Garscube was second Shettleston third and Dundee fourth.   There were seventeen teams forward – quite remarkable given the wartime situation.  Chick Haskett was on the third stage for the Dundee A Team.   The club had three teams forward with the others finishing 6th and 9th.    One of the talking points was the Garscube team that finished second.   It contained three Dundonians in AM Donnet, AL Hay and A Hay.   Jim Brannan was quoted as saying that they didn’t mind Garscube finishing second as “we regarded them as the Glasgow branch of Dundee  Harriers.” 

It was Dundee’s turn to travel at the start of 1943 when the Maryhill Harriers 5 mile road race was coming up with a new trophy – the Nigel Barge trophy – and the team of four would select itself.   The chosen four were C Haskett, WJ Holmes, W Bannerman and D Cockburn.   Held on 2nd January the winning team of three was Garscube Harriers with Donnet and AL Hay counting runners, Maryhill was second and Shettleston third.   It was back to Glasgow on 5th March for the Garscube Harriers race at Westerton – teams could enter up to 8 runners but only 4 were to count.   Chick Haskett was in the team of course and Garscube won from Dundee Harriers.   

Rules were all over the place at the time and on 5 March 1943 the Midland District ‘Championship’ took place at  Westerton, the Garscube Harrier HQ, with 8 to run, 4 to count.   Chick Haskett was in the team for the race which was won by Dundee’s Jim Brannan.   The winning Garscube team contained AM Donnet and AL Hay.   Another month and it was a home race for Chick and his team mates.   The Around Dundee Relay was held on 2nd April.   Garscube had two teams, Shettleston 1 team, Maryhill 2 teams and Dundee 3 or 4 teams.   Three of the Garscube team were Dundonians – Donnet, A Hay and AL Hay.  Result and report.

The winter season could have been regarded as a success – carrying all before them in the East District, the club was competitive nationally with the good second place, beaten by only 13 seconds in the Round Dundee race and with Shettleston third.

The following winter the team travelled to the McAndrew Relay on 2nd October and finished fifth behind Maryhill, Shettleston, Garscube and Bellahouston missing third place by just over half a minute in a close run race.   This was followed by the Kingsway Relay on 15th October with the ever-present of the year before, Chick, again on duty.   The result was very close: 1st  Maryhill Harriers 53:20; 2nd Garscube H 55:12;  3rd Dundee Harriers 55:32;  4th Shettleston Harriers 55:34.   The other Dundee teams were 8th and 12th.   These were both road races and it should not be forgotten that the Eastern District League matches were continuing and at the end of January Chick was third at Arbroath on a course of four and a half miles over field, road and path.   In the final match, both A Donnet (2nd) and C Haskett (4th) were in the winning Dundee team.    

The Round Dundee was held again in April 1944 and again Haskett was listed in the team but after the organisation had been praised so highly the previous year it was not quite so efficient this time round:

You would expect the Maryhill protest of course but the Daily Record in Glasgow suggested that there should be a ‘lead bicycle in front of the front runner to obviate such errors.   Chick was not mentioned very much for that year but at the end of 1944 and start of 1945 Harrier coverage was scanty but we saw this in January 1945.

On 19th February 1945 the report on the sixth and final match of the East District League indicated that Dundee Harriers had won the League for the fourth successive year and Chick was fifth finisher, third Dundonian.  In April the club team was second in the 5 lap relay round the North Inch in Perth but the team was not given in either of the local papers.   There were the usual track fixtures in summer 1945 – the match v St Andrews, the Football Supporters match at Arbroath, the Arbroath Police match at Gayfield but Chick did not run in any of those although he was listed as a judge in the Football Supporters fixture, and in the latter AM Donnet won the Two Miles in a Garscube Harriers vest with AL Hay third, also Garscube.   

Came the winter and the Glasgow clubs again dominated the Kingsway Relay  which was won by Shettleston.   The War over, the days of Dundee Harriers came to an end with Thistle and Hawkhill runners now being opponents rather than team mates, and the two teams finished fifth (Thistle) and tenth (Hawkhill).   At the NCCU AGM at the end of the year AM Donnet (Thistle) was elected Vice-President and P Henderson (Hawkhill) was elected as one of the East District representatives to the General Committee.   Hawkhill won the East District Championships in 1946 but it was an unofficial championship and as such  has not been recorded official.   The National Cross-Country Championships were held in February but there were no teams or individual runners from Dundee.   It was a difficult time both locally and nationally.   Chick Haskett was now, in 1946,  30 years old and this was before the veterans movement had started.  The cartoon below was drawn after the 1946 relay and the Hawkhill team was sixth.   Chick ran the fourth stage, was third fastest and picked up one place.    

The final stage times for the first ten teams:In the East District Championships the last counter for Hawkhill was G Haskett.   The team was sixth.   

The following winter, 1946-47, had George Haskett placed  43rd, in the East District Junior Championship when Hawkhill Harriers were third with the Thistle winning again. 

There is a reference to Chick in Youngson and Cline’s book ‘A Hardy Race’, concerning the September 1948 Perth to Dundee race, which that year was also the Scottish Marathon Championship, and  read –

  Charles (Chick) Haskett, father of well-known runners Christine and Charlie, remembered that era well. During the War, Dundee Hawkhill kept going, and joined up with Thistle athletes, since the Thistle club hut had been bombed out! Perth to Dundee was the big event – occasionally a full marathon. Chick used to sell race programmes along the route, while the competition was actually on.”

 Clearly a man of resource!   The following cutting came from the Fifeshire Advertiser’  Auchterderran column on 10th January, 1948: 

Chick’s son Charlie tells us that his Dad did two tours abroad as a plumber with Wimpey.   One was to Kuwait and the other to Borneo.   While abroad  he organised all the company’s sports activities.    This was certainly the last sporting reference to him in any online versions of the Courier, Evening Telegraph, Scotsman, the Fifeshire Advertiser or any of the other local papers.   

There is no doubt at all that the family was seriously involved in sport in the town for at least two decades in 1949.   Of the four brothers, three were members of the Dundee Hawkhill Harriers club.   Two of them married fellow harriers and AM Donnet of Dundee Thistle Harriers was Charles’s brother-in-law.   The fourth brother, Ralph, was younger than the rest and emigrated to America where his son, Gordy Haskett, is involved in athletics.    Back at home Chick had five children of whom two were international athletes and another had been a runner before settling on football as his sport.   If ever the expression  “all in the family” applied to athletics, the Haskett family in Dundee exemplified it.

The Haskett Family in the 1930’s ….

George Haskett is third from the left in the back row

The above picture is of a group of Dundee Hawkhill runners in the 1930’s, almost certainly taken at a sports meeting, some of them wearing their Sunday best, some wearing a jacket over a running vest and one showing his running gear.  Unfortunately the emblem in the middle is not clear – but it was a picture of a Hawk.   Quite different to the current club vest.   At the turn of the century there had been no fewer than 12 harrier clubs in Dundee but by the 1930s the two big clubs were Dundee Hawkhill Harriers and Dundee Thistle Harriers which had been founded in the same year.   The Haskett family was always affiliated to the Hawks though.   The family members were all very active – George in particular was a member of the Dundee Thistle Cycling Club winning trials and handicaps and became its secretary at the AGM in 1937.   The Cycling Club had started up in 1929 at a time when the great Clarion Cycling Club, established in 1895, had seen the sport of cycling grow to the point where the Scottish cycling clubs formed a loose association named the Scottish Amateur Racing Association (SARA).   The family were also active in the Boys Brigade movement and all four boys were members of the Dundee 3rd (YMCA) Company and it is in connection with this organisation that they first appeared in the local papers in the 1920’s.

The running and the BB came together in fact in July 1928 when at the annual camp in Monikie, George was second in the 220 yards race at their sports day.  Athletically the Harriers did not take part in the National Cross-Country for most of the 1930’s which was probably due to the fact that they were held mainly in the West of the Central Belt at Hamilton Park Race Course for many years and transport would have been a problem.   Indeed it was a time when almost all men worked on a Saturday morning as a matter of course.   Travelling down, even in a private hire bus after a morning’s work would have been difficult.   The Boys Brigade was still active however and in 1930 on 6th June at the BB Battalion Sports at Dens Park, the finals of all the athletic events were held and J Haskett with L Fairweather was third in the three legged race.   The next Haskett to appear in the Courier as a member of the Brigade was 14 year old L/Cpl Charles Haskett who, in June 1931 was awarded his three years service anchor and a Discharge Certificate    

Then on 12th January 1932 there was the annual Harriers  v  Cyclists Race with a big entry of 19 harriers and 25 cyclists.   There were two laps, one of three and a half miles, one of two and a half, and both included stretches of ploughed fields.   Teams were selected by ballot and consisted of 2 runners and 3 cyclists.   The winning team was C Moncur (cyclist), J Haskett (harrier), R Colville (cyclist), A Imrie (harrier) and W Sloggie (cyclist).   The following winter, 1932-33, saw the Hawkhill Harriers win the East District Championships.   

Into the summer of 1933 and the Hawks ‘carried through a sports meeting’ at Caird Park on 5th June in which the Hasketts had an interest.   George won the 880 yards race and the future Mrs George Haskett, Janet Fransen, running from scratch, was second in the Ladies 100 yards; she also finished the meeting as part of the winning mixed Medley Relay team (2 men and 2 women.)    Two weeks later at the Midmill Sports, George Haskett was second in the half mile and the very next day, 20th July, another of the four boys, James this time, was second in the half mile at the annual Broughty Carnival.   George was the most successful in terms of results at this point.  He ran for the Hawks and was reserve for Dundee selects in contests such as the Carrie Cup inter-city cross-country match against Aberdeen.   Hawkhill were all running well at this time and it was difficult to get into their teams – George had been reserve for the East District Championships the previous winter and was again in 1934.   However when the club road championship was held on 19th March 1934 he was third behind Charles Smith and George Rudd.   Times showed that he was less than a minute behind the winner – 26:06 for first, 26:58 second and 27:05 for third.   

Chick’s silver East District Team Medal

The club’s annual prize giving was held on 3rd May, 1934 with the Ladies Track Champion being Miss J Fransen and no fewer than three awards going George’s way: winner of the 6 mile handicap, second in the Novice Championship and third in the Road Championship.   The track championships started on 20th June with three Mile races and the Senior Mile was won by George who at that point was fourth overall in the championships.   Came July and the BB Camp was held at Monikie and Lance Corporal J Haskett was noted as a member of the cricket team and as finishing third in the 80 yards race.   That winter the club had a runner in the National for the first time that decade – young George Keiller was third in the Youths, which was won by George Craig of Shettleston.   Keiller was an interesting runner – only one year younger than the second of the brothers, Chick, he would be one of his rivals within the club for several years.    Chick’s moment came on 30th December when he won the club’s New Year Race.   An interesting feature of this one was that the handicapper had both Chick and George down to run from the same mark of 2  min 45 sec!   There was an annual track and field match between the Dundee clubs and St Andrews University and on 17 May 1935 it was George who represented the City in the Mile.

In January 1936 Telegraph preview of championships tipped Charles and John Suttie Smith for first and second with Chick Haskett a possible for third place but in the event it was the three Smiths (C, Js and G) who filled the first three places of the 20 runners with Chick in fourth.   Charles was often called Chick but, although the two local papers of the time always referred to him as Charlie, we’ll stick with Chick.   Both brothers represented the club that winter but when the East District Championships came around in February, Chick was in the team but the paper noted that George would not be running as he couldn’t get the time off work.   This was fairly common in the mid 30’s and there was a report of another runner who had good news: he had a job but unfortunately for the club it was of the Saturday kind and he was unavailable for club teams.   George was usually available but on this occasion they had to do without him.   In the championship proper the club was third team with Charlie 21st finisher.     Then came the bad news – on 26th February the club championship preview mentioned that there would be no J Suttie Smith (injured) or C Haskett: “Haskett has been in the hands of the dentist the past fortnight and will be out of action for some time.”  

It was George’s turn to uphold the family honour, and he was fourth in the club Five Mile Championship at Invergowrie as a runner.   Roll the calendar on to April and George won the first handicap in the Dundee Thistle CC road trial as a cyclist.

The annual match with St Andrews University was held in May and, because of the illness of his mother, neither J Suttie Smith nor his brother were available for the team.  So the younger members were enlisted to fill the gap – “Keiller is only 17 years of age, and Haskett is but a year his senior but both have proved their ability in cross-country circles.”    Keiller was selected for the three miles while Chick was picked for both the Mile and Three Miles races.   Chick was placed third in the Three Miles, ahead of Keiller, who was unplaced in the Mile.   

The following month was a fairly active one for the club with another annual meeting – versus the Boys Brigade this time – and Chick represented the Hawks and finished third in the 880 yards.   Not only did he compete on the track, when called on he did other events and on 19th June in the Club Championships he was third in the Novice High Jump with a clearance of 4′ 3″.   When it came to the Novice half mile however “C Haskett had an easy win.”   In the Mile he was third behind C Smith and Keiller.  The events were a week apart.   Then came another interesting event.

On 23rd July 1936  Arbroath FC Supporters Committee Sports were held at Gayfield  before a crowd of 5000.   The Courier contained this short paragraph: 

And further down the column both results were given.   Chrissie won the half-mile off 30 yards in 2:38.4 from Miss N Fransen (off 50 yards), and AMD won the open one mile handicap off 80 yards from C Haskett who ran from the 160 yards mark in 4:28.2 .   The interesting thing for us here is that Charlie would later marry Chrissie Donnet and his brother George would marry Janet ‘Nettie’ Fransen.    AM Donnet, noted here as a Hawkhill runner was actually a Dundee Thistle runner.    Later in the season, in August, Chick Haskett turned out for the Hawks in Aberdeen at King’s College grounds against Aberdeenshire Harriers, Aberdeen YMCA, Aberdeen University and Gordonians.

While Chick was running so well, George was still a racing member of the Thistle CC and at their Presentation at the end of October, 1936 in front of 300 club members, he was presented with first prize as the Club All-Rounder of the year, the first handicap for the Open ’50’ and second handicap in the Open ’25’.

The team was running well and in 1935 had been second in the East District cross-country championship; in 1936-37  they went one better and won the championship.  The National Cross-Country Championship was held on 5th March at Hamilton and there the team finished ninth.  The Evening Telegraph report is below.

There was no Dundee Thistle team out on the day but brother-in-law Donnet finished ninth.   There was another wedding however and the club made the headlines in the Courier on 10th August.

The winter of 1937-38 started with the sad news conveyed by the Courier on 19th Nov 1937 that “Charlie Haskett has not yet commenced training and therefore drops out of the Hawks team.”  Less than a  month later, on 10th December 1937, George was elected Secretary of the Dundee Thistle CC but this was followed in the Evening Telegraph round up of the various sports clubs on 31st December where they said that “Ernie Kay, Charlie Haskett and Dave Stibbles are not now running”    

That he was back in action by February was indicated, when the reports in both papers had a look ahead to the East District Championships, which had been won by the Hawks the previous year.   This meant that it would be a seriously weakened squad that contested the event since all of the previous year’s team were now ineligible.   Chick and Dave Taylor were not able to run as they had missed the event last year.    In the event they lost the title but were third with Chick finishing 18th.   After the District came the National and there the team finished sixth.   The Telegraph commented on the club’s ‘many misfortunes both before and during the race.   Charlie Smith had a bad day finishing 17th, his worst yet.   Shoe trouble forced John McIntyre to retire, while George Rennie just couldn’t get going and finished over the 100 mark.    Keiller (35), Haskett (43)  and Bradley (44) were the Hawks who excelled themselves.’   

The headline and a major part of the article was devoted to the non-selection for the International team of Alex Donnet who had finished ninth.  The team selected had included 38 year old RR Sutherland of Birchfield.   It had been Donnet’s third senior national and his progression had been 18th in his first run, 11th in his second and now ninth.   His time had come though because he was first reserve for the team and when there was a call off, he was drafted into the Scottish squad and finished 47th in the event which was held at the Balmoral Showground in Belfast.   

 

At the end of March the club held its annual 5 miles road race which was won by J Suttie Smith but there was a new trophy for the Junior Champion and that was won by Chick Haskett.   The first three finishers were Suttie Smith, then Haskett with G Keiller in third.   The new trophy – seen above being presented to Chick by Mr PD Henderson – was called the Canada Cup and had been donated by Mr Henderson.      

The cross-country season was well and truly over by then and the first track event was an inter-club match at Dundee on 30th May.   It was the annual match between the Dundee clubs and St Andrews University which became a quadrangular meeting when the Dundee City Police had a team forward.   St Andrews won the competition comfortably.   Chick was selected for the Mile and the Three Miles.   Unplaced in the former, he was third behind Ewan and Gowans of Thistle in the latter.   He was also listed as part of the possibles for the medley relay.   There were other inter-clubs of course and at the start of June the match between  Hawkhill, Thistle, Robert Gordon’s and the RAF took place at Montrose Aerodrome.    Chick was third in the 3 miles behind Alex Donnet and A Hay of Thistle,  Donnet also won the half mile in 2:12.2.   The result of the 3 miles team race was a win for Thistle while Chick led the Hawkhill team into second place.   

The first appearance in the sports pages for George after his marriage was on 28th July when he was the starter at the 3rd BB (YMCA) Company’s sports at their annual camp in Monikie.   

The cross-country season came along and the newspapers previewed the teams for the East District relay: Chick was only a reserve for the Hawkhill team although Alex Donnet was a sure starter for the Thistle.   He was picked though for the Dundee v Aberdeen match but had to withdraw through injury.   The National Cross-Country Championship was held on 4th March 1939 at Lanark Racecourse but there were few Dundonians on the starting line.   There was no team entered but George Rennie was 18th and George Keiller was 135th.   Dundee Thistle were 5th team with Alex Donnet again placed ninth.    The season finished as had the previous one with the Hawks 5 miles road championship.   GL Strain won the Canada Cup for the first Junior – Chick Haskett who had won the first race for the cup, did not run.

There were articles in both local pagers in the middle of May saying that the season would start the next week.   There were two new trophies to be won for the Hawks championships.    Mr JD Poustie (referred to as the fastest sprinter ever to run for the club) donated one for the club novice championship, the other was presented by Mr WR Rennie, father of George Rennie, for the junior cross-country, and was to be called the Melbourne Cup.  

The Courier also noted that Hawkhill had permission to run a medley relay at the match between the Harp and the Violet  East End Park.   It was not the first time for them – and they had run medley relays at half time at other grounds – the intention being to hold a collection for the club funds at half time.   Chick Haskett was to run the 880 leg for the A team.   This was followed a week later by a similar event at North End Park to raise money for the Infirmary’s funds.   Chick ran for the ‘Royal Blue and White’ team against the ‘Whites’ and the ‘Dark Blues’.   In both cases he was probably running the 880 yards stage. 

Chick was running well but, like many others, he found his running career interrupted by the War which started in September 1939.    Running – cross-country, road and track went on but there were no championships at all: some races were called championships but they were not recognised as such officially.