The Spence Boys

George, Cammie, Lawrie, Jim and Gordon Spence.

No account of the importance of families in Scottish athletics could be done without covering the five Spence brothers from Greenock.   As you see from the picture above, three of them ran for Greenock Glenpark Harriers and two of then wore the colours of Greenock Wellpark Harriers.   Jim was the first to appear in the national rankings in 1964 and Cameron was the last in 1988.   They covered distances from 800m through to marathon, they ran track, road, cross-country and hill races.   The five between them produced excellent runners, good coaches, quality officials and top grade administrators.   They had been brought up in a sporting family – father was a very good football player who turned down the offer to play as a professional – but oldest brother Jim was the one who started running first and, although Cammie did play football for a while, the five were all involved in running.   Jim is the oldest with George just two years younger.   Then comes Gordon with Cammie almost five years later and finally there is Lawrie.  We can look at them individually in order to start with.

Jim ran in all the events and all surfaces in the country in the 1950’s and 1960’s He ran in at least 15 District championships, his first run in the national cross-country was in 1957/58 as a Junior Man and his last run out in the event was in 1969/70; he ran in 14 Edinburgh to Glasgow relays on 6 different stages.   His main successes however came in the longer road races and he was a member of the Scottish Marathon Club and the following information has been gleaned from the club’s Minute Book.

JA Spence of Glenpark Harriers joined the Scottish Marathon Club in early Spring 1968. By 19th August, Committee Meeting minutes confirmed that, in his first season, Jim Spence had become Club Champion!   The Championship consisted of a member’s best three runs from four races which had to include the SAAA Marathon Championship,   The others were the Cambuslang 12, the Clydebank to Helensburgh 16, the Strathallan 20 .  

Jim did not compete in the 12 mile event at Cambuslang on 20th April, and Andy Brown (Law and District) was first SMC man home, gaining six points.   On 27th April, Jim Spence finished fourth, and second SMC, in the 16 mile Clydebank to Helensburgh race, which gave him four points. His time was well inside SMC First Class Standard. However Andy Brown was second and first SMC – so far his total was 12 points for the season.   The 1968 SAAA Marathon took place at Grangemouth on 22nd June.   Jim ran well to finish fourth in 2.39.42, which was inside the SAAA National Standard and SMC First Class target. He was second SMC man home and gained another five points, which gave him nine points so far.   On 3rd April the final counting race took place: the 21 mile Strathallan Highland Games road race. After a very close battle with his SMC club rival Don Turner (Pitreavie AC), Jim finished fourth, just eleven seconds in front of Don, which gave him another five points as first SMC.

The final SMC Championship positions were: First Jim Spence (14 points); Second Andy Brown (12); and Third Don Turner (10 points).   In addition that season, Jim Spence showed his strength by finishing well up in further races over 14 miles (Babcock & Wilcox, Renfrew); 18 miles (Bute Highland Games); and 20 miles (Largs to Irvine).   Don Turner was a very good runner indeed with lots of good victories to his credit.   Scottish marathon man Colin Youngson has this to say about Jim’s SMC win: “1968 was arguably Don Turner’s best year ever.   He was a close third behind Don Ritchie’s tired second in the SAAA marathon and in August came through strongly to win the Two Bridges.   So Jim did well to outkick him or  fend him off in the crucial Strathallan 21 miler and thus secure the SMC title.   If Don had beaten Jim that day, I believe that Don would have been the SMC champ.”

He remained a member of the SMC and continued to run well in its fixtures but this was his only club championship.   When he stopped enjoying his running, Jim retired but he was also a coach.   I remember going to the West District Track Championships at Westerlands in Glasgow and meeting up with him again after many years.   He was, he said, coaching his young brother Lawrie.  He had however worked in that capacity with all his brothers at one time or another.

Cameron was the only one who followed his father’s football example and left the sport to play football for four years.    He came back in 1970 and trained with Jim to start with before deciding to train according to his own methods.

A group photograph with George Spence third from left in the back row, Jim Spence second from left in front row and Gordon Spence fifth from left in front row.

Photograph from club website

George  was a cross-country runner for the club, and first ran in the national cross-country championship as a Youth in 1958/59 when he was sixty sixth, as a Junior in 1958/59 and 1960/61 when he finished down the field.    George is better known as an official by the present generation.   He was an administrator with the SAAA and the Cross-Country Union.   As a competitor he had done some long jumping on the Games scene so it was no surprise to see him involved with the “Heavies”  at many Highland Games both as an official and as convenor. A Greenock man, he specially enjoyed Bute and Cowal as well as the local one at Gourock.   He had had to stop running because of his knees. He was very active in the district events.   He had a particular involvement in the anti-doping and drugs control issues.   Latterly he gradually stepped down from his various posts. The last of these were Bute and Cowal.  

 

 

Greenock Glenpark Harriers Youths team that did so well in the National Championships of 1964:

Tom Dobbin, Ronnie Arthur, Gordon Spence, Teddy Walker and Clive Turner

Picture from Glenpark website

 Gordon, born in 1945, showed talent as a school boy when he was runner-up in the school championship in second year then, a year later, was third year champion winning all the running events including the hurdles!   He followed this with the Renfrewshire schools Under 15 half-mile title.   With Glenpark Harriers, Gordon first appeared as a Boy in the District Championships in 1960/61 when he was third, leading the team to second place.  Two years later as a Youth (U17) in 1963/64 he was third behind team mates Tom Dobbin and Ronnie Arthur to provide the winning team for Glenpark on a day when Jim was a member of the winning Senior team.   Later that season in the National Championship, Tom was seventh, Teddy Walker 39th, Gordon 42nd and Ronnie 45th to be fifth team.   It was a really good team – Tom was one of the best half-milers in Britain in his age group, Ronnie was another half miler and a solid club runner and Gordon had a great deal of potential as these results showed.    After winning the Greenock District Junior Cross-Country Championship but after that problems with knee and leg injuries he dropped out of the sport.  

All the brothers, except Lawrie at that time, joined IBM(as it was known at the start – it later became IBM Spango Valley) athletic club in 1973.    Started as a result of local athletic politics, it attracted a lot of interest locally.   Gordon raced occasionally for IBM.   WHe was a good club runner but kept getting injured.   Knees were the problem, as Cammie says, it was a bit of a family trait.    Gordon stopped altogether in the ’80’s. but bas been cycling to keep fit and has been averaging about 5000 miles per year.

 In 1961 Cameron appeared in the District results for the first time, being ninth in the Boys one and a half miles and part of the second placed Glenpark team, launching a great career in the sport as runner, organiser, administrator and coach.

 Cammie running in the Six Stage Relays

Cameron, known to everybody as Cammie, was born on 19th July in 1950 and ran for five Scottish clubs (with an affiliation to one Irish outfit).   The Scottish clubs were Greenock Glenpark Harriers, Greenock Wellpark, Spango Valley, Inverclyde and in the summer of 1973, Shettleston Harriers.   On the track he was ranked nationally from 1972 to 1988 in 3000 m, 5000m and 10000m with personal best times of 8:22, 14:10 (at the RAAA Championships) and 30:00.84.   On the road there are times of 64:18 for the half-marathon and 2:28 for the marathon.   All good times and he was really competitive whatever the surface.  He hated the track because “it was so bloody hard” but he did run it in championships and in Highland Games.  Nevertheless, he is better known as an international cross-country and road runner.   

He started as a boy with Glenpark between eleven and fifteen years of age, then departed to play football.   It was not really surprising given that he was living in the West of Scotland where football is almost a religion, and that, probably more important, his father was player.   He played at the top level as an amateur before coming back into athletics in 1970.   His first national was in 1960/61 when as a Junior Boy he was fifth in the District championships and 63rd in the national.     After the football period, he came back to athletics in 1970 and trained for a while with younger brother Lawrie, coached by big brother Jim.   With encouragement from brother George and his wife Pat he joined Greenock Wellpark Harriers.   His first run in Wellpark coours was in 1970 at Bute Highland Games.   It was in the Mile Handicap,  he was the back marker.  Jim and George complained to the handicapper because Cammie was a novice. It was his first race in 5 years and he shouldn’t be the back marker. The handicapper would not change his mind. Cammie, however, finished 4th. At the following weeks Cowal Games he finished third on the Friday and, it being the age of the amateur,  won a plaque. He still has it.

 Cammie became a senior athlete in 1971/72 and Lawrie in 1976/77 – by that time Lawrie was attending Strathclyde University and racing for Shettleston.   Both quality cross-country men, they had some real battles over the years with Lawrie generally coming out on top.   For instance in the national of 1979/80 Lawrie was fifth with Cammie tenth.   The following year Lawrie was fourth with Cammie 12th, and so on with the gap being about 200 yards at the finish.   When Lawrie finished at Strathclyde Unversity he returned to Greenock and joined Cammie at Spango Valley AC.   Spango was a new club, formed in 1976/77 which included the former Greenock Wellpark Harriers formed in season 1973/74- you can read its story here

Lawrie (78), in Strathclyde University colours, racing Lachie Stewart and Alistair Blamire

The brothers were both international cross-country athletes but Cammie was running for Ireland in the World Championships while Lawrie wore the dark blue of Scotland.   Asked how the Irish connection came about, Cammie said: 

It started in 1979 when I fell out with the Scottish selectors.  I won the International race at Stirling University grounds running for Scotland in 1978.  Won it quite easily and was picked to run in Belfast  (which was cancelled due to the Troubles), and San Sebastian on the back of that win. Then went to Spain and picked a bug up (likely on the plane) and ran poorly. When I got home I had a chest infection. Missed training for a number of weeks and as a result missed the National but asked the selectors to consider me for the Worlds.   They didn’t.  

Meanwhile Rod Stone (Cambuslang Harriers) from NI asked Lawrie and I if we would like to run for Annadale Striders at the NI Senior Cross-Country Championships. We had Irish qualification through our father who was born in Belfast (and how did they find that out?).  We both agreed and joined the Striders.    Lawrie finished second  and I was sixth. They offered us places in the NI team for the Worlds. I said yes and Lawrie said no.  I got International clearance quickly. I went to Limerick for the Worlds and beat half the Scottish team. I had proved a point. It was the best move I ever made.”   

But the story doesn’t end there.   In reply to a query about whether they ever raced against each other at international level and if they did, how often, He went on to say

” Yes – at the Worlds and various other events. I have stories about us and our battles over the country. Now here is a question for you. Who are the only brothers to captain different nations at the World Cross-Country Championship. And what year and place? Yip, Lawrie and myself were the captains of Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively at New York in 1984. What a honour for us. Pity our dad had died two years previously.”

In the 80’s the marathon was the thing.   Everybody ran the event – young people, old people, very old people – and there are no prizes for knowing that Cammie ran the event.   He says:

 “I hated marathons. 20 miles and body switched off. Every time except…………………in 1984. Ran at the Cowal Games on the Saturday in the 5K. 2nd to Lawrie in 14.53. Then it was 8 pints of lager and Chinese meal after. The wife got me up at 9.30am on  Sunday morning saying you had promised to run the Inverclyde Marathon with Terry Wilkie. I just remembered after the 5K he asked me. So I had a cold shower to wake and sober up and get a entry on the day(morning)and got to the start line just in time. Off we went. Time passed by in a sort of blur. We stopped for water, we stopped for sponge fights, we stopped to get our picture taken. Our last stop was just before the mile to go mark.

“Terry was struggling. I wisnae bad.   Didn’t have a clue about time, but there were two  Kilbarchan runners coming and I said to Terry we can’t let them beat us. He told me to go away. He just wanted to lie down. I wouldn’t let him, Got him going. And we finished with a time of 2.35. I couldn’t believe it. Could have been 2.34 but we stopped again to pose for pictures before the finish. There is no justice. Didn’t train for it. Raced the day before. Drank too much the night before. Still don’t know how I managed it.”

Clearly a quality athlete with that wonderful story about captaining Ireland in the World Championships with his brother captaining Scotland.   What about Lawrie?

Lawrie Spence is by the best of the brothers competitively and many consider hiim the most complete Scottish distance runner ever with best times ranging from under 4 minutes for the mile  to  2:16 for the marathon.   He has also captained the Scottish team in the world cross-country championships succeeding the great Jim Alder.    He won his first cross-country championship as a Senior Boy in 1967/68 when he won the South West District championship and he finished sixth in the National championships at Hamilton that year too.  The cross-country career was quite outstanding and led to Lawrie having no fewer than eight appearances in the world championships, as well as many really excellent domestic races – eg in the national, although he never won it, he had several races where he was second, third and fourth.

He was coached by big brother Jim and says   I was coached by my brother Jim who took me from the boys’ age groups through to senior international level..   During the break through years I was lucky to have Lachie Stewart as a mentor which gave me a great foundation in the sport.  In the early eighties I had a spell with Stan Long who was Brendan Foster’s coach but due to him being based down in Gateshead, the distance proved to be difficult before the age of our modern communications like email and mobile phones.   As time went by I became more in control of the detail of what was in the sessions and what the  plans were to be, but always keeping Jim as a rock in my training.”   

On the track Lawrie had many successes and his list of personal bests is impressive.

One Mile:   3:58.8

2000m:   5:03.8

3000m:  7:52.82

5000m:   13:37.73

10000m:   28:11.85

Marathon:   2:16:01

Lawrie has won medals at the AAA’s championships, has 7 gold and 2 silver medals from the SAAA championships, run in the Commonwealth Games and was ranked almost every year from 1970 to 1986 inclusive.   Over the country he has run 8 times for Scotland in the world championships as well as in many smaller representative teams.  For the complete story of his fine career in the sport, follow the link at the top of this section, just below his photograph.   

There is one more Spence to be mentioned: not a boy and not a Spence by birth but Pat Spence was very much a member of the family.   As Pat McCluskey she was second to Dale Greig in the SWCCU Championships in season 1959/60, and won it from Dale in 1960/61.  In ’61 she followed the Scottish run with 9th of over 200 runners in the English national.  In each year she was in the winning team – Tannahill Harriers in ’60 and Greenock Rankin Park in ’61.   Pat married George Spence and they have two daughters, Gwen and Lorna.   She was the life and soul of Greenock Rankin Park Harriers and helped develop them into one of the top cross-country clubs in the country.  Rankin Park came from nowhere to being one of the top cross-country clubs in the country during the 1960’s – eg. first in the National in 1961, second in the National in ’64, and in ’65, third in ’66.   Pat herself was a talented athlete winning District as well as National cross-country titles.  She was just as much at home on the track: in 1959, aged 19, she was ranked seventh in Scotland in the half-mile with a time of 2:30, in ’61 she was fourth in the Mile with 5:31.1.   

She retired from competition  after marrying George Spence but kept the club running and performing at a high level.  But when she came back in 1970/71 she was maybe even better – certainly she won several SWAAA championship medals – second in the 3000m and third in the 1500m in 1971 and third in the 1500m in 1972.   In ’71 she also won the West v East 1500m, and was second in the East v West 3000m and in the West 3000m.   ie in 1971 she won the West 1500m, and was third in the national 1500m, was second in the West 3000m, the E v W and the National 3000m.  In that year she was ranked 7th in the shorter distance and fifth in the longer 3000m event.   

On the country she was seventh in ’71/72 and 16th in ’73/’74 but the real achievements in the early 70’s was the development of the club team: 5th, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd with runners in every age group.   eg in 1971/’7 the Seniors were third, , the Inters ninth, the Juniors twelfth and the Minors ninth.   Names like Duncan, Langan, Brown, Lafferty were becoming known as the started to move through the ranks.   In the national rankings for 1974 Alison Brown was ranked 14th in the 800m and 9th in the 1500m, Lesley Langan was 26th in the half mile and Pat herself was 16th in the 3000m.   Note: that was the Senior rankings and the younger women had come up through the age groups.   

With things going so well, it was tragedy in every sense of the word when she died in hospital in September 1976.   Most of all for George and the entire family but also for Scottish athletics.   A very popular, talented athlete with a great future in the sport taken from us.

 

The Scally Dynasty

Allan Scally (extreme right) with the winning McAndrew Relay team of 1945.  The runners were Barney Cairns, Harry Howard, Willie Connor and Charlie McLellan

The Shettleston Harriers Centenary History says “It is impossible to overestimate the importance of Allan Scally to Shettleston Harriers.”  The information that follows is from the Shettleston Harriers Centenary History by John Cairney.    Allan – who was born in 1904 which was the year that Shettleston Harriers was founded – had two sons who took up the sport, Bill, Frank, and a third son, Allan, who emigrated to America.   Allan’s son, Sean, competed at High School in America at long jump.    Bill had two children, Brian and Elaine, who were very good athletes in their own right, and Elaine had a son and daughter; Allan who was an international shot putter and discus thrower and won the Scottish shot putt title in 2008, and his younger sister, Nicola, who won age group national titles at shot putt.   Four generations between them winning honours at club, national and international level.   Bill’s wife was also involved in the running of the club – if you can’t beat them, join them!   She herself started running in her 40’s and became one of the first female members of the club in its centenary year in 2004.

Nicola, the youngest of the dynasty

Allan was born in Camlachie in the East End of Glasgow and his family moved to Broomhouse soon afterwards.   At Broomhouse, his father and later Allan and his three brothers all worked in the local pit.   He was a good runner, a fact not missed by his workmates, and he was sponsored by them to compete at various sports meetings.   His first Powderhall race was in April, 1925, when he won the mile handicap off a mark of 125 yards in 4:32.    Running as ‘Scally of Broomhouse’ he earned enough to donate some of his winnings to provide food for miners’ families, especially during the strike of 1926.   Part of his training was done on a track on the banks of the Clyde.   His major successes include

  •   The Powderhall 10 mile marathon in 1927, ’28, ’29, ’30, ’31, ’32
  •    World Professional 10 Mile Championship in 1931 and ’32
  •    The Red Hose race at Carnwath: the oldest footrace in the country. 

Allan also had a second (1933) and third (1934) at Powderhall.   It was at his point that he really became focused on coaching.  He had been appointed as a coach to the club in January, 1928, while he was still running and racing at the top of his game,  but now that his running career was over he could devote his time and energy to the club, to the schools I the locality and to Scotland.   He could not become a club member since he had been a professional runner and Shettleston was an amateur club.   

Allan Scally with the women from Lewis’s in 1947

As a coach he was at least as good as he had been a runner.   Among his top distance men were Jim Flockhart, international cross-country champion, and Joe McGhee Empire Marathon champion in 1954.   In addition to his coaching at club level, he was an official acting as a starter at several meetings, and a coach with Scottish teams for several years.   When he was invited by Tom Millar, Clydesdale Harriers secretary, he was delighted to go and give a lantern show, talk about training and take questions.   He also followed up with a letter of appreciation for the reception that he had received.   A wonderful and successful coach wit top class athletes working for and with him, he also continued to work in the community.

For instance, the photograph of Allan with the women employed with Lewis’s, tells a story.   Lewis’s store in Argyle Street in Glasgow had an athletics club for its employees.   The Lewis’s chain throughout Britain had an annual competition between them and the Glasgow store was keen to do well.   They asked Allan to help them train for the big match and after he had been training them for two afternoons a week, realised that they were not the most talented.   His solution was to ask the management to employ some club members, including some who had just come back from the Forces.   The suggestion was taken up.    The result was victory at Belle Vue with the Victor Ludorum trophy brought back to Glasgow.   Always active in the community, he also trained the St Bridget’s church running team and worked with local schools.   If we look back at his early days as a pro and his actions in donating hard won prize money to the miners, his whole record in this regard is exemplary.   

Bill Scally (left) passing the baton in the Edinburgh to Glasgow to Les Menelly

Although he could not himself run for Shettleston Harriers, his two sons could.   Bill was the better known and ran in club colours

  •  in the National cross-country championships 15 times between 1959 and 1984, running in gold, silver and bronze winning teams;
  • in 16 Edinburgh to Glasgow races between 1963 and 1986 winning 3 gold and 2 silver team medals and running fastest (1969) and second fastest (three times) on his stage;

  • in the District championships winning many gold, silver and bronze team medals.

Over the period in question the club was extremely strong with many international runners turning out for the club.  eg in the 1959/60 national team were Alastair Wood, Graham Everett, Joe McGhee and Eddie Bannon; in the 1970/71 team were Dick Wedlock, Lachie Stewart, Norman Morrison and Tommy Patterson.   It was not just in Shettleston that the quality was high – the three Edinburgh clubs of Southern, Athletic Club and University were outstanding for most of this period – and it was in this context that Bill ran some of his finest races such as the fastest time on the on the fifth stage of the Edinburgh to Glasgow.  

Although he is best known as a road and cross-country runner, Bill was no mean track runner.   Although he never won a Scottish medal on that surface, he was nationally ranked twelve times between 1964 and 1984 in six events.  

The track events were 3000m steeplechase (best of 9:45.2 in 1972), 3000m (8:44.2 in 1969), 5000m (14:40.8 in 1969), 6 Miles (31:33.2 in 1965) and 10000m (31:11.0 in 1970).   Bill was born in 1941 and became a veteran in 1981 and his best two marathons were as a veteran.   Having run 2:31:21 and 2:35:08 before his 40th birthday, he then ran seasonal bests of 2:32:59, 2:25:00 and 2:24:05 in 1982, ’83 and ’84.

Bill had a very good career as a veeran runner too.   in 1988 and 1992 he was second in the 25K event at the World Vets championships.

Peter McMahon, Jo and Bill Scally, Brian, Elaine and John MacKay

Bill was an out-and-out one club man.   I remember in the 1970’s when many Scottish clubs were using ‘second claim’ runners from other clubs to bulk up their teams for league competition Bill and I were always on the same side.   I remember one year in particular when we sat together in the Meadowbank cafeteria before the meeting agreeing to move and second opposition to the notion of English runners being regarded as ‘first claim in Scotland.’   He was adamant that it should be one man, one club.   Everything he did was with the interests of Shettleston Harriers in mind.   He ran for the club, he managed club teams, he coached club members and was club president between 1989/90 and 1992/93.   Even as team manager for club teams, he was at times seen running an event to complete the team.    He was also an excellent administrator whop helped organise national championships, convened open graded meetings and was treasurer, as well as a founder member, of the Glasgow Athletic Association.   For his work in the sport he was awrded life membership of Shettleston Harriers and of Scottish athletics.   A great club man, a hard runner and the right kind of club man.   You can read more about Bill’s running at http://www.scottishdistancerunninghistory.scot/shettleston-harriers/

Bill running in the Scottish Veterans Cross-Country Championship in 1985

Bill had an older brother, Frank, who ran for several years but although he did what Bill didn’t and won a club (junior) championship, he never ran in the Edinburgh to Glasgow teams.    He was nevertheless a good runner who was, perhaps, unfortunate to be running in a club with an abundance of top quality runners such as Eddie Bannon, Clark Wallace, George Craig ,  Joe McGhee, Hugo Fox and Ben Bickerton.   Just missing out on Edinburgh to Glasgow selection, he was nevertheless good enough to run in no fewer than three London to Brighton races.   He ran in most races on the Scottish circuit.   Frank ran in the National as a Junior in 1952, and in 1953 when, finishing ninth, he was part of the team than was second.   Slightly further down the field in 1954, he again won team silver.   As a first year senior in 1955, he was not a scoring runner for the winning Shettleston team, but he was in good company – neither was Harry Howard!   Frank ran in the National in 1956 and in 1957 he was, for the first time, a counting runner for the club team when he finished 49th, but unfortunately they were fourth and just out of the medals.   That was to be his last run in the cross-country championship.   In the District championships he was part of the second placed team in 1953/54 as club third scorer ahead of Hugo Fox and Tommy Walters and that was to be his only medal despite running in the event throughout the 50’s with his last recorded run there in 1960.   It was a similar tale with the relays – with Shettleston usually turning out four teams, and on one memorable occasion there were teams down to Shettleston Harriers H team, Frank ran as often as not in the B team with a couple in the C team.    The standard at the top of the club was very high indeed and at a time when Scottish distance running was on a real high with the great Victoria Park road and country team (Forbes, Binnie, et al) and Bellahouston Harriers challenging everything, Frank was unfortunate.   At another time he would have had his share of the spoils of victory! 

Elaine at European Uphill Championships

The Scottish team finished second

Just as Bill ran for the club, so did his two children – Brian and Elaine.   Elaine was a year older than Brian and was a good all round athlete.   Before the age of 18 Elaine was ranked in Hurdles, High Jump, Javelin, 400 Hurdles and Pentathlon.   After a gap of nine years she returned to athletics and was ranked at 800m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m at various times.   On the country Elaine ran well with the best years maybe being 1993, when she finished seventh of 200 finishers, and 1994 when she was eleventh with Shettleston Harriers Ladies winning the team race.   This allowed her to compete in the European club championships events in Portugal.   She also won the Scottish half marathon title by over a minute  in 1993, won silver over 10 miles in the same year, and silver over 10K in 1994.   At that time the club had a very strong hill running section and Elaine also competed for Scotland in European Uphill Running championships, s well as on the road and over the country for Scotland.   

 

Brian, second from the left, in the SAAA 1500m final, 1985.   Other runners include Alistair Currie (37), Adrian Callan (1), and John Robson (17).

Brian was the second family member to win a Senior Scottish national title when he won the marathon in 1998 but he had been known on the Scottish running scene since the early 1980’s.   His career had two phases.  Initially he had successful career as a young athlete from 1980 to 1989 running distances from 800m to 300m on the track, and then after a gap of several years he was ranked at national level in distances between 5000m and the marathon between 1996 and 1999.

As a young athlete at club level, he won every cross-country age group title from the Junior Boys in 1980/81 through to the Junior Men in 1985/86 for a total of six in all.   He ran in the National championship in 1980 and in every following title race through to his second year as a Junior Man in 1986 winning gold, silver and bronze team medals and finishing in the top six individuals no fewer than five times.  He ran in the Senior race in 1987 and 1989 when he was first scoring runner in the team that finished third.  

On the track at this time his best performances were 1:54.4 for 800m in 1988,  3;50.7 for 1500m in both 1984 and ’85 then dipping below 3:50 with 3:49.33 in 1989,and  8:21,33 for 3000m in ’85 and 8:19.46 indoors in 1989.   As a youth he had won the West District 800m and 1500m in 1983 but his biggest championship win was when he won the AAA’s indoor 1500m in 1985.   His first Scottish championship medal in 1987 when he was second in the indoor 3000m.   

When he returned in 1996, he immediately ran a 10000m in 30:36.2 which ranked him sixth in Scotland and then in his marathon debut at Inverclyde was third in the national championship in 2:31:37 for ninth best time in the country at a time when the standard in the event was high. Over the next few years he won and performed well in many distance events, eg he won the Newtonmore 10 miles, he won the Argyll Half Marathon and finished third in the Speyside Way 50K in the excellent time of 3 hours 21 minutes.   As a team runner he was part of the sextet that won the Scottish six stage road relay in 1996 and also ran in the team that was second two years later.   His best year at the longer distances was 1998 when he won the Scotttish marathon, again held at Inverclyde, in 2:29:32 which ranked him seventh in the country.   He also turned in times of 30:58.33 for 10000m and 14:55.9 for 5000m.   There was another championship medal the following year when he was third in the Scottish indoor 3000m in 8:38.58.

Currently a very active Over 50 veteran, Power of 10 lists 20 events for 2016 between 800m and 10K, he competed in the World Vets in South Korea this year (2017) and won bronze in the individual 3000m with a time of 9:41.89 and team gold in the cross-country event where he was fifth individual.   

Scottish 6 stage road relays, 1985.   Brian (84) fifth from left, in leading group

It was another distinguished career by a member of the Scally dynasty – surely more than just a ‘family connection’ by now – in the blue and gold colours of Shettleston Harriers.   As runners Frank, Bill and Brian had all run for the club and there was a rather unique record here too: Frank ran in the London to Brighton Road Relay in 1952, ’53 and ’55, Bill had run in it in 1961 and Brian turned out in the AAA 12 stage road relay in 1998.   

Elaine and John

The dynasty continues.   Elaine married international track runner John Mackay from Clydebank and both their son Allan and daughter Nicola are Scottish shot and discus internationalists, and national title winners.   Allan and Nicola won titles as noted above, and Nicola competed in the London Olympic Stadium in the UK Schools Games and in the Celtic International.   Elaine’s husband John (just in front of Brian in the photograph above) went on to win the first stage that afternoon.   First Elaine and then Nicola have followed grandfather Allan and father Bill into coaching making it four successive generations involved on that side of the sport.

Above is Allan Mackay in 2008 and to finish where we started, we have a photograph of the man who started it all with two of his star athletes, Graham Everett and Joe McGhee.

 

The McPhee Family

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Alex McPhee, 1910, SAAA 10 Miles champion

Clydesdale Harriers uniform: White Vest with black trim, club crest on left breast

Students of Scottish miling in particular and middle distance running in particular will be familiar with the name of Duncan McPhee who dominated the distance in Scotland in the 1920’s.   Few will know that his brother was a Scottish champion on the track and over the country, and only a very select few will know that their father was also a top class athlete.   They formed probably the first Scottish distance running dynasty spanning more than one generation.   The Vallance brothers (Tom and Alex were Scottish champions and record holders, Tom and Willie Maley were also great sporting brothers and along with brother Alex all became football managers, and there were other noted siblings but none of them had parents or children who followed in their footsteps.

Alex McPhee, senior, and Flora his wife had nine children: Alexander was a blacksmith of Nethercraigs, Paisley.  The smithy was on Corsebar Road next to the toll house.  All his elder brothers including Alex were evidently in the  blacksmith trade.   His dad, Alex, was himself a well-known runner in his day and competed against the likes of Robert Hindle, Cutty Smith and William Park; some of the biggest names in Scottish pedestrianism.    

Alex Wilson pointed out an article in the ‘Glasgow Herald’ of 8th April, 1872, of a race involving Alex McPhee, Snr.

 KILMARNOCK ATHLETIC SPORTS.  

On Saturday a number of foot-races took place in the Cattle Market.  The weather being very favourable, there was a large turnout of people, the majority of whom were from the neighbourhood.   …   The chief feature of the meeting was a Six Mile race which was very well contested, and excited considerable interest.   The following were the prize-takers:  

Six Mile Race:   1st William Smith, Paisley;   2nd Alex McPhee, Paisley;  3rd Allan Strachan, Galston.  

Two Mile Race:  1st Robert Hindle, Paisley;   2nd William Smith;   3rd Alex McPhee.”

 

 

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Alex McPhee with the 1908 International Cross-Country team

Alex, junior (born in 1887) won two Scottish cross-country titles (1909, 1910) and  Cross-Country International vests in 1909, 1910 and 1911.  He first appeared on the national cross-country scene in 1907 when he won the District championship in the colours of Paisley Junior Harriers.   Colin Shields in “Whatever the Weather” says: “McPhee, running for Paisley Junior Harriers, won the Western District title.   After this success, McPhee was quickly signed by the powerful Clydesdale club to strengthen their team and he won two National titles in their colours.”   He showed that this running was to be expected of him when he finished second in the National on 8th May 1908.   Shields again: “Alex McPhee looked the likely winner, only for Jack to catch him on the final lap of the cinder track in the Stadium and snatch victory by less than six inches.   McPhee had the satisfaction of winning the Junior title.”   Tom Jack was one of the all-time great Scottish athletes – seven 10 miles championship titles to his name, six were consecutive and be slipped back to thir before winning his seventh title eight years after his first.      He also won national cross-country titles and represented Scotyland Britain in international competition.  It can be seen that McPhee was running well against the best.   In 1909 he went one better and won the Scottish championship by 130 yards from Templeman of Bellahouston Harriers with Jack third.   In the international that year he had a bad fall at a water-jump and fell back winded to finish 34th.   The following year, 1910, he won the national by 70 yards from Duffy of Edinburgh Northern Harriers and Tom Jack again in third.   Contemporary description was that Alex McPhee was

“One of the best runners Scotland has given to amateur athletics”

In the international that year he was first Scot to finish when he was eighth.In 1911, he dropped out of the national championship but was nevertheless selected for the international where he was thirty first.

Not just a cross-country man,  he also competed in Scotland’s first ever “marathon” race, the Scottish Marathon of 24th October 1908 from Linlithgow to the National Exhibition in Edinburgh.   He finished the 15 miler in 21st place of the 60 runners who finished the race.   In winter 1908/09, as well as being Clydesdale Harriers captain, he won the SCCU Championship and also won it in 1909/10

Despite all this success over the country and prowess on the roads, he was more of a track man who was second in the 1909 SAAA 10 miles at Ibrox on 3rd April in 54:04.0, beaten by a yard by the great Tom Jack.    In 1910 he again finished runner-up to Jack, this time finishing 5 yards adrift in 53:47.4, and ahead of GCL Wallach.    Two silvers were good but in the shorter track distance of four miles, he won two gold medals.   On 26th June 1909 at Ibrox he won the four miles in 20:36.6 from Tom Jack and on 25th June 1909 at Powderhall he won again, again from Tom Jack, in 20:35.0.   Note that in 1909 and 1910 he won two cross-country championships, two SAAA 4  miles titles and had two silvers for the 10 miles.   Not bad running at all.   For these and other races, he was selected for the match against Ireland on 9th July 1910 he won, again from Tom Jack with the two Irish runners unplaced, in 20:29.4 helping Scotland to a win by 9 events to two.

 I have a 9:48.8 2 miles at Hampden on 18th June 1910.    At  Hampden on 18th June, in the Queen’s Park FC Sports 2 miles  team race on 18th June he ran 9:48.2 – and a J McPhee, jnr, of Paisley Junior Harriers, was second to T Jack in the handicap half-mile.

That the junior Alex McPhee was a top level runner is in no doubt – track and cross-country champion, international victor and cross-country internationalist who led the Scottish team home, able to take on such as Tom Jack and GCL Wallach on equal terms and a series of good victories in handicap races.

 

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Duncan McPhee, 1914

According to the 1901 census, Duncan was at the time the second youngest of 9 children.   Brother Alex was six years his senior and all his elder brothers were in the  blacksmith trade.   But the 1911 census reveals that Duncan was earning his crust as a clerk in a threadmill, the Ferguslie Mills Thread Works of J&P Coats being just a few streets away.

Duncan McPhee was the dominant 880 yards/1 Mile runner in Scotland in the 1920’s.   He won the SAAA  880 yards in 1914, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, the mile in 1913, 1914, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923; AAA’s Mile Champion 1922, and represented Britain in the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp in the 1500m and 3000m team race.   A considerably good record.   He came from a good athletics background and was in many ways the best- or atleast most successful of the trio.   If there was any chink in his armour, there seemed to be a propensity to avoid difficult races.   He was maybe just highly strung.   Judge for yourself at the complete Duncan McPhee profile at www.anentscottishrunning.com/duncan-mcphee/   In any case in 1913/14  both Alex junior and Duncan moved from Clydesdale Harriers to West of Scotland for reasons unknown.

Be that as it may, it was a very talented family and it may be that others of the 9 siblings were good runners, but even if it were not so the three mentioned here were enough to make them contenders for Scotland’s top athletics family.

All in the Family

Bellahouston Craig

The picture above is of Archie “Baldie” Craig, Bellahouston Harriers – a great athlete, a loyal club man and a long standing servant of the sport in Scotland who was also father of two sons, Archie junior and George who both ran for Scotland.   There have been several families that produced top class athletes and they should may be recognised here.    The Craigs have been covered individually and the links will be included but we can start with the McPhees – father Alex ran in the 1880’s and his eldes son Alex was a member of Clydesdale Harriers who ran prior to the first world war and his younger son Duncan ran initially for Clydesdale but switched to West of Scotland Harriers after 1918.   Others will be covered as time goes on, the criterion is simply that there are three or more runners (male of female) from two or more generations.   ie the Hasketts from Dundee would be included because there are three runners from two generations – Charlie and Christine and their father Charlie, but the Robsons would not be because there are only two of them and they are of the same generation.   The exception is the Spence family – all of the one generation but there were no fewer than five of them, and in addition George’s wife Pat was a noted runner in her own right.

[ The Craigs ]   [ The McPhees ] [ The Spence Boys ] [ The Wrights ] [ The Scally Dynasty]

The Craig family

A-Craig-founder0002

Archie Craig, senior, founder of the dynasty. 

The Remarkable Family Craig have all been profiled elsewhere and this page provides a guide to these pages.   It does not make them any less noteworthy but they can’t be omitted from here.

Archie Craig was a Scottish cross-country runner from 1913 to 1924 – it doesn’t take a genius to note that he lost several of his best years to the 1914-18 war, but nevertheless he was good enough to captain the team and to run well on the track, over the coumntry and on the road for Bellahouston Harriers and he went on to become the president of the national governing body for the sport.   His profile can be found at

www.anentscottishrunning.com/archie-craig

His older son, also Archie, ran for Shettleston Harriers and also ran for Scotland over the country in 1938 and 1939.   Again, like his father he missed out on a very good career because of the War – in his case the Second War: the family had good reason to resent these goings -on on the continent.   His career is the subject of a profile at

www.anentscottishrunning.com/archie-craig-junior

George was the younger of the sons and also a very talented athlete, but one whose career was not blighted by any war.    Running just before and after the Second War, he won the Scottish AAA 6 Miles championship in 1947 and ran cross-country for the country in 1948, ’49 and ’50.    His career is detailed at

www.scottishdistancerunninghistory.scot/george-craig