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

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 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.


The Road Runner’s Year

The start of the first ever Tom Scott 10 Miles Road Race

Runners from the recent past, and those who have read and thought about Scottish endurance running, are at least mildly critical of the current programme of races offered to athletes by governing bodies and race/championship organisers.   It takes only a cursory look at the winter programme for any year in the 1960’s (or the 1970’s or the 1980’s) to see that there were cycles of competition where the importance of the events gradually increased, leading the athletes to more and more intense effort and gradually rising standards of performance.  Indeed there were cycles inside cycles.  

For instance, September was pretty well a fallow month as far as competition was concerned and was followed by the short relays (each runner in a four-man team raced two and a half miles).   Road runners spent September (and October) developing a bit more pace, while the half milers and milers were gradually building in a bit of strength.   There were four relays in the sequence –  McAndrew (road),  and three cross-country ones – County, District and (from 1974) National, with a couple of weeks (perhaps including five mile road races like the Allan Scally Relay or the Glasgow University 5) to prepare for the prestigious 8-Man Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relay (with stages ranging from 4 miles to 7 miles).   That was one cycle.   Then the runners went in to the  cross-country championships proper – County then District then National, then, if you were ambitious and talented, the English National, then the International.   Another cycle.  Put the relay cycle and the championships cycle together and that was the winter cycle    It all made sense.  

The same was true of the summer season where there was gradually increasing distance and severity in the races leading up via 10, 12, 14, 15, 18, and 20 miles to the marathon itself.   That was the one cycle.  Then there were the highland games and sports meetings where the races were all different and it was almost refreshing to run the 20 miles at Strathallan or the 14 at Shotts with the fearful climb up past Kirk o’Shotts.  

There was a definite pattern, where the aim was clearly to assist athletes to reach a peak when it mattered; and to raise the standard of Scottish road and endurance running (which could be track 5000m or 10,000m too) across the board.    For example, if there were no 20 mile races, then a member of the Scottish Marathon Club would approach the promoter of a meeting which had a road race and offer to help organise a race at that distance.   I say ‘a member of the SMC’ but many of the committee were also members of the SAAA with Dunky Wright being the prime example.   

In addition a platform was given to these events where the public could see the road runners in action.   The SAAA Marathon was held from the actual track and field event championships – after all they were bona fide  athletes just like the hurdlers and hammer throwers.   The event has now been relegated to a bit part in a massive road race organised more often than not with the prime object of maximising the number of participants.   There was the ludicrous instance for some years of the Scottish national championship being held in England.   

However, the pattern was set for the runners who could use it and there were also many other distances, mainly on the road, that could be fitted in to  a runner’s schedule to help him tweak whatever aspect of his fitness needed a bit more attention at a particular time.   For instance Allister Hutton used to run in the Dunky Wright 5 miles+ in April as part of his programme leading to the London Marathon.    Enough discussion – it helps to see how a good Scottish runner, who usually managed to peak when it counted, shaped his year.   

Lachie Stewart running to work in 1970.  Many, possibly most, road runners ran to work and back again


Back in the 1970s, nearly every road-running Scot was male. [SAAA, SCCU and SWCCU rules did not allow men and women to race together. The only time they might see each other racing was during the SAAA/SWAAA Track and Field Championships – and then only in separate events.] After the advent of City Marathons (starting with Aberdeen in September 1979) could take part in the same races. (The developing Veteran scene was also important in allowing men and women to compete together on the roads.)

Any road-racing specialist would train on a variety of surfaces – track, grass, trails and hills as well as tarmac. In addition, he would almost certainly race on track and cross-country as well as road. Nevertheless, the Road Running Year provided a calendar of events, which allowed the athlete to increase fitness gradually, before peaking for major races like the Tom Scott 10, Scottish Marathon Championship, the Two Bridges 36 and the Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relay.

The very top road runners had the organisation of their year down to  T.   It might be of course that that was the difference between the real top men and the ‘nearly top men’.   I remember after the Shotts race was won by one of the latter, asking one of the former how he felt about defeat and he replied that the winner ‘never won when it mattered.’   In other words he couldn’t peak for the year’s important competitions.   Another very good non-championship medal winning athlete was racing quite a lot at one point and when I asked him why his reply was something like, “Well, when you’re running fast and you don’t know why, you have to make the most of it.”   

One of our best endurance runners who had success on all surfaces – track and country but especially road – at all age levels is Colin Youngson and we asked him to discuss and explain his racing year and how it was planned.    

For example, his best year was 1975 when, representing Edinburgh Southern Harriers, he was training 70 or 80 miles per week and did not suffer injury. No fewer than 24 races were completed that year, and he did peak successfully for the Scottish Marathon and E to G, as well as producing decent performances on cross-country, middle-distance track and (without extra training) the Two Bridges. At the end of such a busy season, he was delighted to be presented with the SAAA Donald McNab Robertson Trophy (for Best Scottish Road Runner of the Year).

                                                                         Colin finishing the last stage of the 1986 E to G, which his team Aberdeen AAC won.

Here is a list of his 1974-1975 races, with road races in bold.   He himself takes over  the story:

“The Road Running Year may be said to start (or in the case of marathons, end) around 1st October. In June 1974, I returned to Scotland after ten months teaching English as a foreign language in Sweden. There, I was slowly improving as a runner, despite having to do all training on my own in a flat part of the country. The opposition, apart from a few tough athletes, was nothing like as strong as in Scotland, let alone Finland and England. My marathon personal best was 2.22.28.

Having reached my home city of Aberdeen in early June, I raced the Scottish Marathon on the 22nd, finishing a tired third (2.21.36). By mid-August, I had moved to hilly Edinburgh, started teaching English at Craigmount High School, had become a member of Edinburgh Southern Harriers, and proper 70 to 80 miles a week training had resumed, including Sunday Runs (16 to 25 miles)hill reps and long and short interval work with a number of good runners. How would this fresh regime affect my speed and stamina?

 On 25th August 1974, in a slow time, I won a very windy Scottish 10 Miles Track title at Meadowbank. On September 28th came the first road running fixture of the Winter season: the ESH Fernieside Relays. Our team won, I posted the fastest time – and it was the only occasion that my brilliant young clubmate Allister Hutton let me finish a few seconds in front of him.

5th October: We finished second to Edinburgh Athletic Club in the McAndrew Road Relay in Glasgow. I was third-fastest behind Andy McKean and Gareth Bryan Jones.

19th October: Kingsway Relays, Dundee. ESH first team. I was third-fastest behind Alister Blamire and Craig Douglas.

26/10/74: Harlow Marathon, Essex. 8th. Although I chipped a few seconds off my pb with 2.21.06, I was disappointed not to get closer to the 2.20 mark.

16/11/74: Delighted to come home first (outsprinting Willie Day due to the uphill finish) on Stage One of the Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relay. ESH won this legendary race after a very close battle with EAC.

23/11/74: ESH third in the Scottish XC Relay. I took over third and finished there but felt a bit stale.

7/12/74: A poor run on a bumpy, muddy course during the SCCU v SU v Northern Ireland contest.

There was absolutely no doubt that running on the road suited me best. What would 1975 bring? Could this new training regime allow me to build up for important races and produce new pbs for 10.000m, 10 miles and, especially, the Scottish Marathon Championship?

Nigel Barge Road Race, 1984 

There followed four weeks hard training, totalling: 71 miles, 80, 100 and 80, leading up to the first race of 1975.

4th January – Nigel Barge Memorial 4 and a half mile race, Glasgow – 4th.

12th January – East District Cross Country League (final race), Livingston. 6th.  ESH won team title.

18th January – East District CC Championships, Fernieside, Edinburgh. 4th. ESH first team.

5th February – Scottish National CC Championships, Coatbridge. 19th. ESH second team.

1st March – Edinburgh University 10 mile road race. Third. ESH first team.

5th April. After release from hospital (for a minor face operation) a poor run in the Tom Scott 10. Only 20th, but got fit again surprisingly fast.

26th April – AAA National 12-Stage Road Relay, Sutton Coldfield. ESH second team against the cream of English clubs. I was third-fastest on the short stage – a hilly 3 miles 100 yards in 14.16.

3rd May – Scottish Athletics League, Division One, Meadowbank, Edinburgh. 5000m (B race): 1st in 14.32.

10th May – SAAA Ten Mile Track Championship, Carluke. 2nd in a lifetime best 49.00.8.

17th May – Drymen to Scotstoun 15 mile road race (Glasgow Highland Games). 1st.

.31st May – East District 10,000m at Meadowbank. Second in a lifetime best 29.33.4. This very hard run led to selection for Scotland v Iceland 10,000m.

8th June – Pye Gold Cup 5000m, Meadowbank. 1st in 14.37.6 (despite fall on first lap).

28th June – Scottish Marathon Championship, Meadowbank. Won in 2.16.50 (Championship Best Performance). Best race ever. Led to selection for a GB two-man team in an International Marathon.

29th June ESH (unsuccessful) attempt on 100 x One Mile world track record, Meadowbank. 4.29 mile, the day after the marathon. (A long warm-up was essential.)

Scottish Marathon leaving Meadowbank Stadium, 1981.   Colin Youngson leads (and won).

5th July – Forres Highland Games. Ten Miles. CY 1st.

19th August – Scotland v Iceland Athletics match in Reykjavik. 10,000m: second to team-mate Allister Hutton.

23rd August – Two Bridges Race, Dunfermline. 36 miles 158 yards. Second in 3.29.44, almost three minutes behind Cavin Woodward (World number one ultra-marathon runner that year.) This run probably clinched the Robertson Trophy award.

Friday 12th September – 6th Internationale Berchem Marathon, Antwerp, Belgium. Second, 17 seconds behind Danny McDaid (Eire), with GB team-mate Max Coleby just 9 seconds further back. We beat the Irish on countback as well as several Continental pairings.

McAndrew Relay changeover, 1979, 

4th October – McAndrew Road Relay, Scotstoun, Glasgow. 6th fastest. ESH won.

12th October – Coatbridge 5: fifth in a classy field.

25th October – Allan Scally Road Relay, Baillieston, Glasgow. 6th fastest. ESH won in a new course record 90.45.

8th November – Glasgow University 5 miles road race. 3rd in a PB 24.57.

15th November – Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relay. 1st ESH 3.33.32 (new course record). I set a new Stage One record of 26.00. Second-best ever run.

29th November – International Cross-Country, Gateshead Riverside Bowl. Scotland (1st team) v England v Rest of World v Gateshead Harriers. Reality check! Horrible circuit with vicious little anaerobic hills. Ended up 27th ex 32, in front of two Scottish team-mates.

(N.B. After such an outstanding year, Colin trained too hard (100 miles per week), got sciatica, had to reduce mileage and was never quite as good again, although between 1977 and 1985 he ran eight more sub 2.20 marathons and had a long, often successful career as a Veteran/Master up to the age of 70.)

Comments on 1975

Important training ingredients included: long fairly hard Sunday runs; speedwork (short and long repetitions plus hill sessions, short road relays, 5000m races); easier, recovery training runs; track 10,000m events (there very were few road 10ks back then); cross-country; ten and 15 mile road races. This produced fitness for a fast, competitive marathon and the stamina to complete 36 miles steadily before finishing strongly.”

What other possible races featured in the calendar?

(The Scottish Marathon Club provided an excellent fixture list.)

(Originally 13.6 miles but this was changed to 14.1 miles in 1983.)

Month Race Distance Month Race Distance
January 1st Morpeth to Newcastle originally 13.6 now14.1 March Balloch – Clydebank 12
District CC Championships 6 miles Clydesdale Harriers Road Race 5+
Springburn Cup 5+ Fife AC Race
End of January Scottish Inter-Counties CC Championships Scottish 6 Stage Relay 6 or 3 miles.
Month Race Distance Venue Month Race Distance
April ESH Club 10 Edinburgh May District Champs 10 000..
Renfrewshire 10 Greenock Edinburgh to North Berwick 21.8 miles.
Glen Nevis Race 10 Fort William Gourock HG 14 miles
Clydebank to Helensburgh 16 miles Strathkelvin Half Marathon 13.1
Month Race Distance Month Race Distance
June Bearsden Highland Games 10 July .Perth to Dundee 22
Lesmahagow HG 13 Carluke HG 10 Miles
Month Race Distance Month Race Distance
August Cambuslang Harriers 10 Miles September Shotts Highland Games 14
Strathallan HG 14 Dunblane Highland Games 14
Bute Highland Games 10 Miles. 18 miles in the 60s lowered to 10 Livingston road race
Cowal Highland Games ESH road relay

 Then it was back to the winter cycle of 

  October: McAndrew Relay

Mid-October: the Kingsway road relay in Dundee

End of October, the Scottish CC Relays.

Early November, the District CC Relays.

In format

Early December, County CC Champs.

SCCU v Scottish Universities.

East Kilbride road races.

Queen’s Drive road race, Edinburgh.

Colin being congratulated by the Lord Provost in Glasgow after finishing the last stage of the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay for the winning Aberdeen AAC team in 1988

The outline is clear and then you can see the races that Colin added in to trim and tweak his progress through the year.   For instance in May he added the tough Drymen to Scotstoun race instead of the quicker Gourock HG 14 miles.   At the end of May and the start of June he fitted in a 10,000m on the track followed by the even shorter and quicker 5000m on the track in the lead in to the fast-paced marathon.   Without labouring the point too much, the season now is a bit different.   

First, there is a proliferation of 10K road races.   No one in the governing body is tasked with asking some of these organisers to alter the distance of their race to help the runners in their preparation for the major championships.   Instead, the governing body dishes out permits to all who want them – or maybe they have completely stopped trying to control the flow of races by permits or by any other method.      

Second, there does  not seem to be any concern about races being dropped from the programme.  For example, the Strathallan 20 became the Strathallan 14, then the Strathallan 10 before being dropped; other races such as the Dunky Wright 5K have just been dropped.   No one has enquired of the organisers why these events have been dropped or offered to assist in their restoration.   It is impossible to imagine such as Jimmy Scott or Dunky Wright not acting.   The road racing scene seriously needs examining by the governing body.

The Scottish marathon championship is now run as part of a mass marathon – the last five have been enmeshed in the Inverness, London and Stirling marathons.   These in no way resemble a marathon championship race.   For two years it was not even run in Scotland.   It is a proper Scottish championship and should be treated as such rather than as an add-on to a glorified fund raising exercise.   

The last five championships have been run on 27th September 2015, 24/4/2016, 23/4/2017, 29/4/18 and 28/4/2019.    How can any serious marathon runner build up to a peak for the very start of the season?   

The once excellent Scottish endurance running organisation has been deprived of the proper stepping stones to success, as used by such as Colin, Donald Macgregor, Fergus Murray and all the other genuine national marathon heroes.



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.   




From Monkland Harriers to Clyde Valley AAC

Jim Grant (Stage 3) to Tom Callaghan (Stage 4) of the Edinburgh to Glasgow, 1963

There were several amalgamations of clubs in the 1960’s – several Edinburgh clubs came together to form Edinburgh AC, Ayrshire clubs came together to form Ayrshire AAC, there were a couple of failed attempts to merge some of the Renfrewshire clubs but arguably the most successful club from the word go was Clyde Valley AAC.   Several old established clubs such as Motherwell, Airdrie, Monkland Harriers linked up and produced some quite astonishing results.   Two questions arise immediately:  why did established, traditional clubs discard their identity in the first place, and how did the merger come about?   Tom Callaghan of Monkland describes the motivation behind the amalgamations, the setting up of the new club and also lays out the reasons for the ultimate failure of the club to last.   It is a fascinating story of hard work, disillusion, hope, success and disappointment.   This is his account in his words.  Thanks Tommy for setting it out so clearly.   Read what he has to say.

During the ‘50s at both primary & secondary schools I participated in any sports, mainly sports day & the school football team.   Shortly after the start of the new term in 1958 the school received a letter from Monkland Harriers inviting them to take part in a road race in September.   The P.E. teacher at the time, Alex Robertson, was keen for the school to take part. The team was made up of four runners in the 13/15 year age group. A trial was to be held in the West End Park in Coatbridge, with the first four to be selected to represent the school. I was a clear winner.

The  subsequent Monkland Harriers schools race was run over a course of about one & a half miles, close to the club pavilion at Morven Street in Coatbridge. The race was won by Jim Grant of Kildonan High School, he was also a member of Monkland Harriers. Second was a lad called McNaughton, third was George Kay of both St. Patrick’s H.S  and Shettleston Harriers. I finished fourth, about six seconds behind. I thought `not bad for my first road race.’ The club asked me if I would like to join and I agreed.

I ran several races during the ‘58/59 season in the senior boys category, the most successful of which was our second place in the ‘59 National, 3 points behind George Heriot’s School.   I left school in December ‘58 and shortly after started a job with William Bain & Co., Structural Engineers ,as an apprentice.

As a youth there were not too many races for me during the summer. However, there was next season’s cross country to train for & what a season that proved to be for Monkland Harriers.   At some point in 1959, J.T. Finn joined the club.  He came from Mount Ellen (Gartcosh) and was a few months older than me. For the ‘59/60 season we would be competing as youths.   Most of the races in that age group, relay or race, required a team of three, except for the National, which was 4 to count.

Our three for most races was Jim Grant, Jim Finn and myself, with Tommy Gallagher  as fourth choice. During the two seasons we ran as youths we were almost unbeatable in relays. I would run first, Grant second and Finn on the final leg. Our one regret was that we never won the National as a team despite J.T. Finn winning the individual title twice in 1960 and ‘61.  I think it was in ‘61 that Finn was beaten in the Midland District cross country at Renton, after which one of the senior members of the club said to him “What happened today?” Finn replied, “Wait till the National.” In those days the National was held at Hamilton Race Course.  Finn allowed whoever wanted to make the pace do so, until the final hill where he just ran away from the field to score a convincing victory.

Tom Callaghan at the start of the 1964 Edinburgh to Glasgow: second from right, back row, behind Alex Brown

In season ‘62/63 the three of us would be running at junior level, which allowed us to run in certain senior events. I will use the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay to illustrate what happened to the team who were so dominant in the previous two years as youths:

Edinburgh-Glasgow Relay 1962, club finished 14th

J.T. Finn: Ran stage 1, finished 12th.

  1. Grant: Not in team.
  2. Callaghan: Ran stage 8


Edinburgh-Glasgow Relay 1963, club finished 16th

J.T. Finn: Not in team.

  1. Grant: Ran stage 2.
  2. Callaghan: Ran stage 4.


Edinburgh-Glasgow Relay 1964, club finished 13th

J.T. Finn: Not in team.

  1. Grant: Not in team.
  2. Callaghan: Ran stage 1, finished 11th.

J.T. Finn was an outstanding talent as a youth who was able to perform to the level he did with a limited amount of training, he seemed to have so much natural ability he should have been a top performer at 5000m on the track. Perhaps the natural ability wasn’t enough and the work ethic was missing.

Jim Grant was a strong forceful runner (John Graham reminds me of him.) I don’t know what happened to him, he just seemed to disappear off the radar.

Tom Callaghan remained with the club, served as secretary, running days were over by 1983.

While the youth team had a successful spell during the ‘60 and ‘61 season, another young runner was making a name for himself, J.R. (Jimmy) Johnstone. He was two years older therefore classed as a junior, able to run in senior events. In the ‘63 E-G Jimmy ran stage 1, finishing first in the time of 27:20, which I believe was a course record at the time. The following year he ran stage 6, recording a time of 33:29, a time only bettered by Ian McCafferty’s fastest leg of 33:15.

Despite Jimmy’s best efforts, the rest of the team was made up of club runners of various standards. We always managed to field eight runners, however the results of 1965 – 15th and ‘66 – 19th., said it all.

For me, the problem emanated as a result of no schools races, members doing their own thing and the club secretary being non-existent. 

On the 16th. July 1966 I at the age of 22, married Sarah, a girl I had met two years earlier. The only club member invited was Jimmy Johnstone, who I had trained with for most of the time I had been a club member and also gone on holiday with on two occasions. At the wedding Jimmy met a friend of Sarah’s, Jane, who he married in February ‘68.   At a night out in early ‘67, while the girls were chatting, Jimmy and I discussed the dire state the club was in and agreed on our strategy to improve matters. The secretary must be removed, not only from his position, but also removed from the club. We were confident we would have enough support, and we did. Willie Drysdale, Willie McBrinn, Davie McKirdy and several others backed the plan.   

A few months later the A.G.M. was held in the club pavilion. The secretary arrived, his usual confident self, not knowing what lay before him. During the early part of the meeting he was asked some pointed questions concerning club membership and the financial position of the club, both of which he had great difficulty dealing with.     You could see he was no longer the confident person who opened the meeting. However worse was to come. 

When we arrived at the point where members were asked to vote for the election of club officials, the first vote was normally for the position of club secretary & treasurer. However, it was proposed that there should be two votes, one for secretary and another for treasurer. This was approved. As a result, Willie Drysdale was appointed secretary and Davie McKirdy as treasurer. The first step on what we knew would be a long road had been taken. A small committee was formed which I was a member of.   Plans were drawn up with a view to being prepared for the ‘67/68 winter season, these included primary as well as secondary schools races, contacting lapsed club members and encouraging parent involvement.

The schools races went well and we managed to recruit quite a few promising runners. The only lapsed member as far as I remember we managed return was Andy Arbuckle, past competing but with a lot of experience of distance running.

At the first parents meeting, one suggested that we should endeavour to obtain support from Coatbridge Town Council and suggested the name of a young councillor, Tom Clarke. (Later to become Provost of Coatbridge and Member of Parliament for the local area for over 20 years.)    A meeting was arranged in the club pavilion to which club members and parents were invited. Tom was pleasantly surprised at the numbers in attendance. He listened to our plans for the future of the club, answered questions from members and parents, after which he gave assurances that he would endeavour to assist the club to achieve its objectives.

We changed the format of the schools races to a league system, two races prior to Christmas, two after the New Year. We also had to move away from using the club pavilion to St. Ambrose school across from Drumpellier Park, which was later to become a major attraction for many road and cross country events.   Within a few years we had built strong teams at youth and junior level, winning National championships, both individual and teams.

The names I can remember, most of whom came through the schools races were: MacDonald, Brown, Devlin, Small, Preston, Agnew, Paterson, Nee, Gribben, Burns and Ashwood.   In 1971 the club were back in the E-G finishing in 9th place, five of the eight man team had come through the school races.

At some point in the late ’60s, Willie Drysdale married and moved away from Coatbridge to live in Carluke, he still remained a member of Monkland Harriers but resigned as secretary, at which point I was appointed to replace him.

Jimmy Johnstone married Jane on the day of the National Championships in 1968 and moved to Carluke. I should point out that three years earlier his family had left Coatbridge and moved to New Stevenston due to his fathers employment, Jimmy remained a member of Monkland and represented Scotland in the ‘64 & 66 International Cross Country Union Championships.   Before the start of the ‘68/69 season Jimmy resigned from Monkland Harriers and joined Law & District A.A.C.   I was furious at what he had done, it felt like a betrayal. I reminded him of our discussion in early ‘67 when we planned the downfall of the secretary and the way forward for the club. After all the years we had trained together, went on holiday, met his wife at my wedding, to walk away when you are needed is unacceptable.   I could have understood if he had decided around ‘62/63 when Jim Finn and Jim Grant had not fulfilled their earlier potential and he was left as the only class runner. Jimmy could have been a first choice for almost any team in the country at that time.

In the summer of 2015 I met up with him for the first time since he left the club. He explained his reason for leaving was that it was more convenient for him, as it was only just down the road for him, to train with Law & District. Judge for yourself if that was a good enough reason, bearing in mind the circumstances I have explained.

Despite our success at mainly youth and junior level, we couldn’t recruit enough former members to return and give a little of their time to help with the training of the younger boys. Those seniors who were regulars at the club were working, had families and were there to train, youths and juniors just had to join in.

I think it was in the early summer of 1969 I stayed about a mile away from the track at Rawyards Park in Airdrie. One evening I jogged over intent on doing a bit of repetition work, only to find Ronnie MacDonald on his own. He had jogged to the track from his home in Coatbridge to use what at that time was the only 400m track in the Monklands.

I enquired as to what he was doing and if anyone at the club was advising him. The answer was no one. Here we had the best young runner by a long way at the club being left to “do his own thing.” I offered to help him if he wanted and he agreed.

I am not a qualified coach, I worked out my own way of training for middle distance and road running from the mistakes I had made in previous years. When Jimmy Johnstone left Coatbridge to live in New Stevenston I mostly trained on my own. No more running at racing pace on road runs several nights a week, nothing left for Saturdays, no more running to the watch on the track. My view was your body tells you what you can do. In ‘67 Ian McCafferty gave me a piece of advice “Treat your training like eating, do it regular and also be able to do more than you have done.” This advise was given to him from Ron Clarke.

I watched Ronnie in a few races and I knew at his age, 1500m was his distance. I started by explaining my philosophy, training and racing are two separate things. Training is preparation for racing. Racing is about winning.

We would discuss training several times each year, summer and winter were different of course, however the principle remained the same. In April we would decide what were the objectives for the season. The main aim was the championship events. The races that were selected were intended as preparation and would be 800m or 1500m and only one race at any event. These races were not only designed for fitness, but also learning how to win. The best runner in the field does not always win the race and races are not always run the same way, therefore the person on the track has decisions to make. That is why the preparation races are important, they are part of the process of learning how to win. 

One example of getting your tactics right or in this case, wrong. As a junior we decided to run the senior 1500m at the National Championships, followed by the same distance at the junior event a week later. The senior 1500m was run at such a slow pace that with 150m left you could have thrown a blanket over the whole field. At that point Ronnie burst to the front, tied up 10m from the line and was beaten by Craig Douglas. His closest rival for the junior race was Frank Clement, who had won the senior 800m. Up to this point Frank had not beaten Ronnie over 1500m. He would have seen what happened today and I was sure he would change tactics next week. We add to plan for that. One other point I had to consider was that Jim Brown had entered the 1500m. I was of the view that Jim could take third place, therefore the tactics had to be worked out, not just how Ronnie was going to win, but also how Jim will secure third place. The three of us met and I explained my plan.

Frank normally leads from the start, Ronnie follows and out-kicks on the race to the line.

That’s not going to happen this time, here’s what we do:

Jim takes the first lap at a good pace with Ronnie on his shoulder in second, Ronnie takes the second lap, at some point Frank will move onto Ronnie’s shoulder, with Jim in third place. Somewhere between the end of the second lap and the bell, Ronnie was to use whatever ploy he could think of to to ensure that Frank is in the lead, which is what transpired. Ronnie was on Frank’s shoulder, exactly the place I wanted him to be, normal service was resumed. Ronnie pressed him all the way until the finishing straight, out-kicked him near the line to win, Jim finished third, plan perfectly executed.

I asked Ronnie what he had done to get Frank in front of him down the back straight. He replied “I started breathing heavily and slowed slightly to make him think I was struggling, and he just went past me.”

At the finish Frank came over to Ronnie, they shook hands and Frank’s comment was: “You big b*****d, you conned me that time.”

By 1970 in some respects we were moving in the right direction, we had a group of young runners who had won individual and team events and Jim Brown had joined us from Bellshill Y.M.C.A. The following year, Ronnie and Jim finished first and second in the junior National. In third place was a face I didn’t recognise – Ian Gilmour. I thought he must have Scottish connections so I spoke to him and asked if he would like to join our club, pointing out that the first and second finishers were members. The deal was done, Ian agreed he would run for us in the main events and in return we would pay his expenses.

Despite the success the club had achieved, we could not attract sufficient support from members or former members to assist with the training of young runners or events such as the schools races. One example, John Mulvey had won one of our schools races and the rest of his team had finished in high places. We had no one at the finish to find out if they were members of a club. I later discovered that they had all joined Shettleston. When I asked John how that had happened, he told me that Alex Naylor had come to his house on the Sunday after the race, asked if he had joined us – no he hadn’t – and signed him, followed by the rest of his team. John subsequently won three individual National titles at junior and senior boy age groups.

We also had some of the young boys give up running, two in particular I remember, Ian Doole and Kenny Ashwood in the early ‘70s. The schools races never again provided us with the same quality.

The loss of Johnstone, Finn and Grant in the ‘60s in my view denied us the opportunity to challenge the best teams in the E-G and National, if you add MacDonald, Brown and Gilmour.

In the early ‘70s Ronnie and Jim were the only two outstanding performers. There was sufficient quality among the club runners to finish 8th or 9th in the E-G, yes this was better than the early’60s, however we did not want to return to those days.

Coatbridge Town Council had become a major sponsor of cross country and road racing. Thanks to them we had four schools races each year, the county road relay and cross country championships, the district and National cross country championships, a women’s international event, highland games and of course the Festival 5 mile road race and by 1975, a new 8 lane all weather track.

Most of these events came to Coatbridge due to my connections with Coatbridge councillors.

The exception was the National cross country championships from 1973 to 1976, the credit for which must go to Bob McSwein who was at that time an employee of the council.

All of this was lost after 1976 due, but not entirely to, the S.C.C.U. not honouring their acceptance of an offer by the council to host the International cross country championship event in 1978.

I have given a full account of the facts leading up to the S.C.C.U. decision previously. However, it did have an affect on Clyde Valley, which I will explain later.

In 1975 local government boundaries were changed, Coatbridge together with Airdrie and several surrounding villages became part of Monklands District Council. A number of new departments were set up, one of which was Leisure and Recreation with Mike Barron as director. You can read my views on this period in an earlier article “Coatbridge cross country and Festival road race.” All I would add is that substantially more money was invested in major track events to the detriment of local events and the community. One example, Airdrie Highland Games, this event had been taking place for around ten years. I found out through the local newspaper that they were not to be held, they were previously organised by Neil Taylor of Airdrie Harriers.

I spoke to Mike Barron and asked why the games were not going ahead, “No one to organise them.” he replied. I offered, having previously organised Coatbridge Highland Games in 1973 and ‘74 and also the opening meeting at the Coatbridge track – “Too late, the decision has already been made.” was the answer.

I only found out a few years ago that Bob McSwein had applied, along with Barron, for the post of Director of Leisure and Recreation. This information was told to me by a senior Coatbridge councillor who had supported Bob. However, Monkland District had been formed, therefore the vote was not restricted to Coatbridge councillors and Bob was not successful in his application.

Had Bob been elected to the position I’m sure things would have worked out differently.

In the early ‘70s the time I was spending organising events for club and council while still working in full time employment left little time for training and family life. The schools races which was our source of recruitment was not providing the same standard as the late ‘60s.

We were a small provincial harriers club, with most of our members resident in the Coatbridge area and had achieved reasonable success, not too far off the big Glasgow and Edinburgh clubs, how long would this continue, could we improve to challenge them or would we slide back into the bad times of the ‘60s? I hadn’t come this far to allow that to happen.

I decided to look at the history of several local clubs from the ‘60s to see how they had performed in distance events.

Tom Callaghan running at Hamilton Park in the national cross-country Championships

Motherwell Y.M.C.A.: Probably the most successful provincial club in the country for most of the ‘60s, until the defection of most of their top performers to Law & District. Their one promising young runner was John Graham.

Airdrie Harriers: No recent history in distance running. They were not members of the S.C.C.U. and in the late ‘60s only had a decent 1500m runner, Jim Graham, who ran in a few road relay events for Monkland Harriers.

Bellshill Y.M.C.A.: Did not have a history in distance running, couldn’t make up a four man senior team, that was the reason Jim Brown joined Monkland Harriers. Ian Moncur was a decent club runner and Roy Baillie a prospect at 800m and 1500m.

Lesmahagow: Track club with little history.

When I evaluated my research the only club similar to ourselves was Motherwell Y.M.C.A. They had an outstanding team in the ‘60s until the split when most joined Law & District. They had shown that they could unearth several young distance runners. If they could replicate that it would be an asset. The other three clubs were much more in the way of athletic clubs. However if they could find the occasional quality distance runner perhaps that would sustain the standard at all levels, boys, youths, junior and senior.

By casting the net wide we could perhaps form a club that would be competitive in all areas of athletics.  

At Monkland Harriers we did not have anyone with knowledge of sprint or field events, we would have offered such athletes membership, allowed them to use our facilities and advise them to contact Tommy Boyle if Bellshill joined.

After several meetings in 1974 five clubs agreed to amalgamate and a club to be known as Clyde Valley A.A.C. was born. Each club would have two committee members, ours would be Eddie Devlin and myself, who was elected as club secretary.

Within a few months the club had won their first national trophy, the inaugural Scottish cross country relay championship held at Bellahouston Park. The team in order of running was Baillie, Brown, Graham and MacDonald, recording a comfortable victory over Edinburgh A.C.

An impressive performance for a new club you may have thought. However it did not appear to please all club officials according to Alan Dunbar’s report on the race.

“The Clyde Valley officials are disturbed that people still refer to them as Monkland Harriers which was one of the five clubs in the merger. Although three of their top runners in Jim Brown, Ronnie MacDonald and Ian Gilmour were members of the old Monkland club, the Clyde Valley supporters are quick to point out that the new club is by no means a monopoly of ex Monkland athletes. In the winning team last Saturday were Roy Baillie ex Bellshill and John Graham ex Motherwell.” 

For club officials of Clyde Valley to make such a statement was quite concerning to me. Had they forgotten why the club was formed? Could they not see that all four wore a red vest, were they not pleased that the club had won a major event so soon after being formed and that the club was in a position to challenge the best clubs in the country? I would not need three guesses to as to who the anti Monkland culprit was, I will reveal that later.                

As far as a monopoly was concerned I should point out that in the ‘74 E-G the Clyde Valley team was made up of Baillie, Graham and six ex Monkland Harriers to finish in third place, the same position was secured the following year with Baillie, Graham, McKay and five ex Monkland Harriers.

The cross country season was always going to be the time when our section could make the best contribution to the club, however in Brown and MacDonald we also had the two best track performers at that time.

It had been decided that at the end of each track season an award would be made to the person considered to have produced the best individual performance. My view was that there were only two to consider, Ronnie MacDonald’s sub 4 minute mile or Jim Brown’s 10000m time of 28:00.6, the words were hardly out of my mouth when Roddy Devon (Motherwell) said “That has to be Jim Brown.” No one made any other suggestion and that was agreed.

It may well be that that was the right decision but the manner in which he said it indicated to me that his preference was for a Bellshill boy rather than one from Coatbridge.

Bob McSwein running in the Central Park 10K, New York

At the 1975 National in Coatbridge, Bob McSwein informed me that at a General Committee meeting a few days earlier it had been decided that the 1978 International cross country was to be held in Glasgow which Bob Dalgleish confirmed.

I have previously given a full account of what happened resulting in an S.G.M. being held in the 14th February 1976 in Springburn, the same day the National was being held in Coatbridge.

The Clyde Valley representative at S.C.C.U. meetings was Roddy Devon (Motherwell) who in my opinion was the source behind Alan Dunbar’s report on the Nation relay in 1974. That, together with his anti-Monkland attitude at Clyde Valley meetings meant that I could not confident of his support at the forthcoming S.G.M. concerning the 1978 International event.

At a Clyde Valley meeting in January ‘76 I raised the subject of the forthcoming S.G.M, explained the commitment of Coatbridge Town Council to Monkland Harriers and our sport and pointed out that as Monkland Harriers no longer existed, they were a part of Clyde Valley and asked that the committee mandate our representative to support the Coatbridge position.

This was rejected, the view was that it was a Monkland Harriers problem, nothing to do with Clyde Valley and the club delegate should vote as he decided. Those who expressed that view were Tommy Boyle, Bert McKay and also the anti-Monkland member, Roddy Devon.

Perhaps I should have reminded them why Clyde Valley was formed and what were the conditions. To establish a club that could be competitive with those from Edinburgh and Glasgow, each club would continue to operate as at present and would be responsible for their own expenditure. In short, everything remains the same except that when you compete, it’s for Clyde Valley.

Perhaps they were not aware that when Jim Brown ran in the ‘74 National relay he had to fly from London where he was at college. His flight was paid for by Monkland Harriers. When Ian Gilmour travelled from Birmingham on a Friday, required accommodation Friday and Saturday before returning to Birmingham on Sunday, again paid for by Monkland Harriers.

Clyde Valley were never asked to contribute to these costs.

I decided after the January meeting that my position as secretary of Clyde Valley was untenable and that I would resign at the next meeting. How could I continue to work for a club who would not support a member club and a generous sponsor to our sport?

The S.G.M. duly took place on 14/2/76 and the vote was lost 29 to 28, and as I predicted, Devon voted against us. Had he been mandated the numbers would have been reversed.

At the February Clyde Valley meeting I resigned as secretary and gave them a month to consider who would replace me. I decided at that point not to resign from the club.

I had then to consider what what the future was for me and also the club. The first decision was easy, I would never be a member of the Clyde Valley committee again. To think that the club was only 18 months old and in that short time had achieved considerable success, despite a committee who could hardly agree on anything and were hostile toward the Monkland Harriers section beggars belief. 

The next consideration was whether we remained as Clyde Valley or withdrew the Monkland Harriers members and reformed the original club. I decided we should remain as Clyde Valley because I was still of the view that a strong Lanarkshire club was in everyone’s interest. From the list of names I have who made up the four man relay teams and the E-G teams when I was secretary only Monkland Harriers could have fielded a team, the addition of a few top runners from the other clubs made a huge difference and produced a successful team.

I decided we should remain at Clyde Valley as that would be in the best interest of the active members. What I believed when we formed Clyde Valley had not changed. The one problem I could foresee was the problem with the committee. I cannot remember who became secretary, but hoped they could change attitudes. Surely this committee would not last and some fresh blood would be found.

The results that Clyde Valley achieved during their short existence proved to me that the idea of several small clubs merging was the right one.

Best results in team events:

National Cross Country Championships: 2nd in 1980 & 1982, 3rd in 1981.

National Cross Country Relay Championships: 1st in 1974, 1977 and 1979, 2nd in 1980.

National 6 Stage Road Relay Championships: 2nd in 1979 & 1980

Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Relay: 1st in 1979 & 1980, 2nd in 1981, 3rd in 1974, 1975 & 1983.


The results in the later years were achieved with a mixture of experience and youth. Brian McSloy, Peter Fox, Colin Farquharson, Steve Marshall, David Marshall and several others from the Motherwell section together with Neil Agnew, Greg Paterson and Joe Small being the best from the Monkland section.

Five 1st places, six 2nd and four 3rd, a total of fifteen in major events.

Joe Small, Ian Moncur, Neil Agnew

Why did Clyde Valley cease to exist in 1984? I do not know the answer to that as after the events of 1976, detailed earlier, I took no part in the administration of the club, my priorities would change. In August Ronnie MacDonald and I opened a small sports shop appropriately called Monkland Sports. In 1977 I became works manager in the company I had started my working life in as an apprentice in 1959. I was also trying to keep some level of training, added to all that I had a young family. My priorities had to change.

I had spent the last 25 years running cross country, road and track, helping to regenerate Monkland Harriers, organising events for Coatbridge Town Council, setting up Clyde Valley, fighting the injustice perpetrated by the S.C.C.U. in not awarding the 1978 International event to Coatbridge, organising the many events previously mentioned and turning Coatbridge into a popular destination with good facilities and well organised events.

My one regret is that shortly after Clyde Valley’s departure it was followed by Monkland Harriers. I had to let it go, I couldn’t spend the next ten years trying to repeat what I did in the ‘60s and ‘70s. However, I do accept that had I not gone down the Clyde Valley route Monkland Harriers may well have survived.

As far as athletics is concerned since, I had two nights at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and Joe Small and I went to Falkirk for the National cross country on two occasions recently. Ronnie and I retired from the sports shop in 2013 and I now keep myself fit by walking most days.