Shettleston Harriers: the origins

Shettleston Harriers has been one of the more successful clubs in Scotland throughout most of their long history.   We have commented on some of their most successful years in the section under the ‘Fast Pack’ heading, and many of their athletes such as Lachie Stewart, Graham Everett, Dick Wedlock, Jim Flockhart and others have been profiled in their own right.   This page will look at the origins of the club since their establishment in 1904.   First there will be coverage of the initial meeting to form the club from the official club history, Then an account of the first run from a club magazine of 1950.   Then there will be a history of the club from its inception to 1951, written by Ben Bickerton who was a great club man and about whom there will be some comments afterwards.   The history is reproduced as it was written simply because it is a historical document and in the original format it has a particular significance.   First we have the 

The club history – “One Hundred Years of Shettleston Harriers.   An East End Odyssey” by John Cairney – is an excellent and detailed publication with probably the best statistical section (by John McKay) of any club history produced north of the Border and goes into more detail, starting with the following quote:

“On Friday September 23rd 1904 the Glasgow based sports newspaper ‘The Scottish Referee’ carried the following report.   ‘A meeting for the purpose of forming a harriers club for Shettleston and district was held in Houston’s Academy Tearoom, Shettleston, on Friday, September 9th.   It was decided to proceed.   Mr R Nicol if 6 Balgair Terrace Shettleston was elected secretary.    At a hugely attended meeting held in Shettleston last Monday night 19th September, it was decided to resolve to form a harrier club in the district to be called “Shettleston Harriers”.   Office bearers were appointed.   Suitable accommodation has been secured as headquarters in Gartocher Road and it is the intention to have weeknight runs as well as Saturday afternoons.   Close on 30 have already joined the new venture including such well known names as Kitson and Howieson.”  

The club had its own magazine, called the Forerunner and Volume 1, Number 1 was published in November 195o.    It contained an article about this first run which is reproduced below.


John MacKay was good enough to share the following history of the club which was written by Ben Bickerton in 1951.   There will be some notes about Ben at the end of the article which lays out in some detail the formation and history of Shettleston Harriers.   The photographs were not part of the original article.



That was written by Ben in 1951.   The following comments were written for another page on this site but bear repeating here, I think.

Ben Bickerton ran for Shettleston between 1943 when he joined the club and 1952 when he stopped running. He returned as a veteran in the 1970’s and won more titles but we will come to that. Joining the club in 1943, he won the unofficial Scottish Youth’s Cross Country Championship in 1944 before going on National Service to Aldershot with the Royal Artillery. While there he won the Southern Command Mile Championship and then came second in the British Army Mile championships. He came out of the Army and in 1949 won the SAAA Two Miles Steeplechase Championship and a year later won the SAAA Six Miles title. He ran in five Edinburgh to Glasgow Relays and came away with two gold and three silvers – not bad. The two golds were in 1949 when he ran the fourth stage in the April race and in November he had the fastest stage time on the seventh leg. In 1951, ’52 and ’53 he covered the seventh, first and eighth legs in teams that finished second. He ran in the London to Brighton 12 man relay twice – on the first stage in 1951 when the club was eleventh, and on the fourth in 1952 when they were seventeenth. He only ran the National twice – in 1950 when he was fourth and second counter in the winning team, and 1951 when he was seventh and first counter in the third placed team. He also had first and second team medals in the Midlands Championships and a first, second and third team medals set in the Midlands relays; he had first and second individual medals in the Lanarkshire Championships and won the Shettleston club championship in season 1950-51.

In 1952, he is reported in the club’s centenary history as feeling that he was becoming “stale” and so he gave up running to concentrate on his career as a photographer – which explains why the pictures in the SA were so good! He made a come-back as a veteran in the M50 class in the 1970’s and finished twenty seventh (1973), covered the seventh, first and eighth legs in teams that finished second. He ran in the London to Brighton 12 man relay twice – on the first stage in 1951 when the club was eleventh, and on the fourth in 1952 when they were seventeenth. He only ran the National twice – in 1950 when he was fourth and second counter in the winning team, and 1951 when he was seventh and first counter in the third placed team. He also had first and second team medals in the Midlands Championships and a first, second and third team medals set in the Midlands relays; he had first and second individual medals in the Lanarkshire Championships and won the Shettleston club championship in season 1950-51.

In 1952, he is reported in the club’s centenary history as feeling that he was becoming “stale” and so he gave up running to concentrate on his career as a photographer – which explains why the pictures in the SA were so good! He made a come-back as a veteran in the M50 class in the 1970’s and finished twenty seventh (1973), fourteenth (1974), twenty third (1975), eighteenth (1976) and twenty fourth (1977) in the Vets National Cross-Country.


West Kilbride ASC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jimmy Reid

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

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

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

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


John Park

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

Clydesdale Harriers: 1885 –

1889 group

Clydesdale Harriers was the first open athletic club in Scotland having been established in May 1885.    So much could be said about the immense amount of pioneering work that they did that it would take more than single webpage to cover it.   It cannot be done like other clubs – there was nothing but a two-club national for competition so progress via the Districts, the Edinburgh to Glasgow, etc is impossible.   How does a club in a competitive sport develop?   Basically they developed their own internal competition – one of the advantages of the sections that they developed around the country.   What we will do is (a) outline the history of the club briefly; (b) look at how it developed via (i) its constitution; and (ii) the club handbook for member’s ticket which was extremely comprehensive; an finally some of the founders not already covered in their own right.

We can begin by re-printing the article from the ‘Scots Athlete’ of December 1946.   It was written by Dan MacDonald from  speech that he had given at the club’s Jubilee Dinner of 1945.   It reads:

The Clydesdale Harriers club officials were gratified with the response to their Youth Ballot Team Race when 57 Under 17’s toed the line on 4th November 1945 at Clydebank.   So much so, they will endeavour to make this an annual event taking the place of an Open Cross-Country handicap which the club formerly sponsored, and which was decided over a seven miles course from Scotstoun Showground, always on the first Saturday in November. 

But flicking over the pages of the history booktheir breezy confidence and flair for doing the right thing is easily understood.   The Clydesdale club has been in “the business” for a long period and for sixty yearshave made a habit of serving up the right dish for athletes and their supporters.   The 4th May, 1885, was an auspicious day for Scottish Amateur Athletics.   On that day a conference was held which resulted in the following notice appearing in “The Scottish Umpire”, asporting journal of that period:-

“At a meeting held on Monday evening, of a number of gentlemen interested iun athletic matters, it was agreed to form an athletic club for Glasgow and the surrounding district, the name of the club to be known as   ‘The Clydesdale Harriers’.   The following gentlemen were elected as office-bearers: President Allan Kirkwood; Trewasurer, AM Campbell; Secretary, Alexander MacNab, 90 Eglinton Street, from whom all information may be had.”

AMcA Kennedy

Sir A McA Kennedy, founder member and chairman at every anniversary dinner up to the start of the 1939 War

That this early band of enthusiasts were not inclined to let the grass grow under their feet, is borne out by the announcement in the same newspaper, dated 20th May –

“Clydesdale Harriers Club.   300 yards handicap under the rules of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association will take place on Wednesday evening, 3rd June 1885.   Open to all amateurs.”

A World Champion

Schools and like organisations had, of course, taken part in the good, old-fashioned type of paper chase but in September 1885 the good people of Mulguy were privileged by being the first ever in Scotland to witness a cross-country run as we know it today.    And it was not a half hearted measure at that, as the hares covered a distance of thirteen miles taking around two hours to do the journey.   A touch of colour was lent to the procedings in these days by the Whip carrying a hunting horn, and we never heard of anyone not having sufficient breath left to executehis duty when necessary.

The object of the club as always embodied in its constitution was the promotion of amateur athletics in general and cross-country running in particular, but in the early excitement of a new adventure, the committee was not hidebound by convention in their interpretation of this rule.  Thus it occasions no surprise to find, in an early copy of the annual report, that the 20 mile cycling championship of the club was won by the famous RA Vogt.   Shortly after this, boxing was embraced in the list of club activities, and not only had Clydesdale Harriers the honour of introduycing open-air boxing to the Glasgow public, but had under their wing the late Ralph Erskine, a world amateur champion of his day.

1081  Fully Paid Members

The whole of the West of Scotland was combed in an effort to enlist recruits under the amateur athletics banner and amongstothers in the very early days we find such well-known erformersin the Clydesdale colours such as, James Henderson of Chryston; Jimmie Campbell, Helensburgh; James Logan, Vale of Leven; William Thomson and John Clelland of Larkhall; AP Findlay and R Dickie, Ayr; and Andrew Hannah and Charlie Pennycook, Glasgow.  Of course the path of progress was not exactly strewn with roses at the outset, and in 1886, a break-away from the club resulted in the formation of the West of Scotland Harriers club.   Just before this time, Edinburgh Harriers Club had been founded by the late David S Duncan, and these were the ‘Big Three’ in amateur athletics in this era.  

In 1888 Clydesdale gained a slight edge on their rivals when they took the decision to form sections  in Ayrshire, Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire and Stirlingshire.   Each section possessed the advantages of a district club whilst enjoying the support and assistance of the parent body.   Enterprise had its own reward and in 1893 the membership of the club had risen to its peak and the astonishing total of 1081 fully paid members – a remarkable achievement.


Charles Blatherwick of Row, founder member and first Honorary President

Clydesdale Sports Day Meant A Rainy Day

The club, in its early ventures as Open Sports Meeting Promoters, introduced many notable performers to Glasgow, but for a long period Clydesdale Harriers Sports Meeting and bad wether were synonymous terms.   So much so that we hearof a guarantee fund being called up and members paying £2 per head to defray expenses.   

Clydebank Becomes Headquarters

In 1910, the National Cross Country Union ordained that sections were not admissible and in consequence activities were confined to Glasgow, but thanks to an energetic committee, from that date until 1914, the club entered one of its most prosperous periods.   The opening run at Clydebank in 1912 drew over 100 runners, whilst in 1911, 1912 and 1913 sixty competitors was an average field in the club novice cc championship.   During the track season, the fortnightly confined competition attracted more competitors than the average open sports meeting.   

Then August 1914 – operations were suspended sine die and the club funds distributed among war charities.   Withe a nucleus of members in Clydebank, it was decided after cessation of hostilities in 1918, to restart in this centre, and as a result the ship building town became the headquarters of the Clydesdale Club as we know it today.   From that date, the glory of the ‘C’ uniform was dimmer than in days of yore, but the Clydebank pioneers never gave up trying.   The name of the late Matthew Dickson will be familiar to an oder generation .   Matthew Dickson was SAAA Treasurer for 19 years.   Alex McGregor, Willie Gardner, John Kirkland, Charlie Middler and Tom Millar all have ‘Clydesdale’ for their middle name.   Over the last quarter of a century there have only been five occupants of the Club President’s Chair.   In 1932 Mr JC Gray, CA, became treasurer and still executes this duty most effectively.   Two old members, now settled overseas, John D Semple, successful marathon runner in the United States and Archie Gourley in South Africa are never backward in sending subscriptions, both monetary and in kind.

Come On, Jean

Season 1930 saw a big increase in club membership and that year it was decided to form a Ladies Section.   There was no lack of volunteers and in time no lack of talentin this latter force, as evinced by their record.   In 1935 Jean Tait brought fresh honours to the old club when she was chosen to represnt Scotland in a cross-country international, and during the following three seasons, 1936/7/8, the club annexed the Ladies Scottish CC Championship title.   On the track, also, they had their successes and Allison Ritchie was a good winner of the 880 yards event in 1937.

Jean Tait chaired by team mates after winning Scottish women’s cross-country championship

Jean snow

National Champions 14 Times

It happened in the good old days, but Clydesdale are still proud of their letter heading which reads “National Champions 14 Times.”   And well they might be.   In addition, on 18 occasions they supplied the individual winner of this cross-country event.   Track championships from 880 yards to ten miles were also won in Clydesdale colours by such “old timers” as D McPhee, S Stevenson, DW Mill, W Robertson and Andrew Hannah.   Nevertheless season 1938/39 gave promise of better things to come.   Third place was taken in the National Junior Team Championship, while the “big’uns” earned the most improved team medals in the Edinburgh to Glasgow team race.   

Clydesdale Harriers is steeped in tradition – previous achievements stand out as a guideand an inspiration to present-day members.   Patience and enthusiasm on the part of current officials is doing much to restore the old club to its place of former glory.

Bellahouston Harriers : 1892 – 1914

Bellahouston Gp 1910

Bellahouston Harriers, 1910

As with the other clubs in this section – Aberdeen AAC, Victoria Park AAC, Hamilton Harriers, etc – this is an account of the beginnings of a club that has achieved a great deal, produced some very good athletes and served the sport well.   It is not a history which is too big a subject for a website and in any case it’s not our place to do that.   Bellahouston Harriers club centenary history, “From Long Shorts to Short Longs”, written by Robin Sykes was published in 1992 and it was one of the main sources of information for this profile.

Robin tells us that “The club was founded in and around the Govan area of south-west Glasgow and credit for the actual founding goes to John R McDiarmid who was, at the time, Registrar for the neighbouring district of Kinning Park.   What is not so clear is the origin of the name.   The above named Govan and Kinning Park were districts joined to both Ibrox and Bellahouston.   The first training grounds were in those 2 districts before the club moved to the Ibrox area.   Since the Bellahouston district, up to this time, seems to have had ‘no part of the action’ it could be that it was finally rewarded with the name.   Certainly Govan Harriers, Kinning Park Harriers or Ibrox Harriers just couldn’t compare with BELLAHOUSTON Harriers!

Early training quarters were at Govan Baths for road and cross-country (though occasionally the club made use of Pollok Juniors Football ground at Newlandsfield) and Plantation Street, Kinning Park for Track & Field.   The cross-country section remained at Govan Baths until 1929 when they moved to the more up-to-date Pollokshaws Baths (opened in 1925) to be nearer to their traditional training ground of Pollok Park (or Pollok Estate as it was popularly known then.   After a few years the track squad moved to Ibrox Station and shortly afterwards moved again, this time to Ibrox Park.”

Since 1892 was the club’s first year, we can start with winter 1892/93.   The first cross-country race of any consequence was always the Clydesdale Harriers Seven Miles Cross-Country Individual Handicap and Team Race on the first Saturday in November but the new club did not take part, instead the ‘Glasgow Herald reported that “the five mile handicap of Bellahouston Harriers which fell through some weeks ago owing to the trail being indistinctly marked was brought to a successful issue on Saturday afternoon.   The trail layers were Messrs J Allan and W McGuigan, and leaving Ibrox Station at 3:30 they ran out along the Paisley Road, over Bellahouston Estate, skirting Blackwood, on to Bellahouston Home Farm and home by Birnie’s estate and Dumbreck.   The competitors were then put in line and set off to a good start.   The pace throughout was very hot and the leaders passing and repassing each other time and again.   The order in which they passed the judges was:- 1st J Anderson; 2d J McDiarmid; 3d JB Thomson; 4th J Gray; 5th MF Grindlay.”   The race referred to was to have been run on 15th October and the occasion was reported in the ‘Glasgow Herald’ which pointed out that the race did start at the Two Mile House on Paisley Road but the runners went off the trail and so the event had been declared ‘null’.

On the first of the intervening weeks, Saturday 22nd October, there was a run from the Two Mile House.   The Hares were JB Thomson and J McDiarmid and they set off at 2:55.    They laid the trail along the Paisley Road to the Halfway House,  then round by the fields to Bellahouston Station, and home by the high road.   The slow pack was sent off five minutes later under the guidance of Mr Mal Campbell with Mr J Caldwell as whip.    They were followed five minutes later by a fast pack led by Mr E Biggar with Mr W McGuigan as ‘whipper-in’.    About a mile from home, the packs were got together and a race for home was organised.   First three were Biggar, Grindlay and McGuigan.   The running time for the fasts was about 45 minutes.

With very few organised races on the calendar, clubs organised inter-club runs on many of the ‘free’ Saturdays and the first such run noted for this first cross-country season was with Whiteinch Harriers in the west of Glasgow.    “Bellahouston and Whiteinch Harriers held a joint run from the Whiteinch Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon.    At 3:55 the Hares, Messrs Gray, McDonald, Harley and Yorston, went off with the paper which they strewed down through Scotstoun, along the riverside, up by Scotstounhill, on to Great Western Road, thence to Garscadden Road and home by Dumbarton Road.   Two packs were formed and went in pursuit, the slows paced by Mr JW Rice and whipped by Mr JF Grindlay, and the fasts by Messrs W Lauderdale and W McGuigan.   The ground was heavy and the going in consequence slow the two packs arriving in a cluster.   Time:- hares 41 mins, fasts, slows 43 mins.   Distance 6 miles.”

It being Scotland the weather was not always the best and at times it was definitely unhelpful.   On 10th December the report read:

“The run on Saturday afternoon was from the Halfway House, Paisley Road, and owing to the very heavy nature of the ground, it was resolved to run in one pack after the trail was laid.   The Hares were Messrs Skinner, Rankine and Hall and, setting out at 3:15, they marked out a course of ten miles skirting Blue Bell Wood and Pollokshaws Road, through Torwood and Blackhall, thence home with a straight spin on the Paisley Road.   Fifteen minutes later the push started under the guidance of Mr A Glasgow, Mr W McGuigan acting as whipper-in   On entering Paisley Road for home a race ensued and the following passed the finishing post in order named:   Messrs A Glasgow, HF Grindlay, W McGuigan, Gavin Brand and L McDonald.   Times:   Hares 80 mins, Pack 70 mins.”

17th December, 1892: “Met at the Two Mile House, Paisley Road on Saturday afternoon to run a trial for the inter-team race next Saturday.   At 3:20 the hares, Messrs HF Grindlay, Allen and Anderson, set off with the bags and marked off a representative cross-country route of about ten miles by Netherton Quarries, on to Cardonald Estate, through Williamsburgh, skirting Barrie’s and Pettigrew’s farms, and home by Pollokshaws and Dumbreck.   To put all on an equal footing, the intending competitors went off all in one pack under the direction of Mr HM Grindlay, Mr J Gray acting as whip.   The first arrivals were Mr J Topping, J Gray, J Robertson, HM Grindlay and G Brand.   Time:- Hares 73 minutes, pack 75 minutes.   The committee afterwards met and selected the team to represent the club next Saturday as follows:- Messrs K Biggar, J Allan, A Glasgow, J Anderson, W McGuigan and HF Grindlay (captain).”

 The report mentions the hares setting off with ‘the bags’… These runs were usually marked by the hares who carried a crescent shaped bag filled with shredded or torn paper  tucked under one armpit with a strap over the shoulder to hold it in place.  There was an opening at the front from which the paper was extracted and strewn in handfuls over the path that the hares decided to take.   The pack, or hounds, was led by a pace who wore a distinctive sash and who had to be give three yards clearance from the pack; the whip, or whipper-in, was at the back of the pack and communicated with the whip informing him to slow down if one of the pack was struggling, or speed up if the pack was finding the pace too easy.

The team race referred to was run on December 24th:    “Two Miles Inter-Team Contest.   This match, which was down for decision on Saturday, caused considerable interest, as the teams entered were considered to be very  evenly balanced, and seeing the race was to be run on the track, it was anticipated that this would enhance the interest as the competitors would be in sight all the time.   Four teams competed: Clydesdale Juniors, Greenock and Paisley Juniors.   [The runners in all four teams were listed]   The race was held at Underhill Park, the ground of Abercorn and, as the track was under repair, only two teams could compete at a time, so the race was run in heats.   1st Heat:  Paisley Juniors v Clydesdale Juniors was won by the former by 15 points to 23.   The second heat was much slower than the first and was won by Bellahouston with 13 points against Greenock’s 21.   The final tie will be run about the end of the season. ”   

There was a club five mile run on 15th January and it was a simple pack run from the Two Mile House.

The club did not turn out a team, or indeed any representatives, in the SCCU Junior Championships at the start of February, but the club seven miles open handicap on 25th February but not on any home ground.   The report said that they held their 7 miles handicap from the same place as the Queen’s Park Harriers.   The Queen’s Park Harriers held their four miles open handicap at Whiteinch.   It went on “The trail was laid over fields and water jumps and along the banks of the canal, finishing with a mile on Dumbarton Road.     The result was as follows:-  1st Paton 44 mins 55 secs; 2d McKay 45 mins; 3rd McGuigan 45 mins 15 secs;  4th Anderson (scratch) 45 mins 30 secs.   The distance would only be between 5 and 6 miles.”

Bella Shorts

 That first winter was fairly typical of a cross-country season in the 1890’s/early 1900’s.    There was no Bellahouston Harriers team in theNational Cross-Country championship on the first Saturday in March because most clubs did not enter teams – only four clubs (Clydesdale, Edinburgh Harriers, West of Scotland and Edinburgh Northern) had entered and in 1895 only two teams competed.    There were three major races – the Clydesdale Individual and Team Race, The SCCU Junior Championship (later to become the Western District Championships) and the National.   The remainder of the winter was taken up by inter-club (or joint) runs, club runs and club championships.   Newspaper coverage was variable.   The big races were covered and included the English championships, but otherwise it was down to the clubs to submit a short report on their Saturday runs.   These ran up to a maximum of about four paragraphs and were printed in a single column under the heading ‘HARRIERS’.    Not all clubs used this facility but most submitted reports with a segree of frequency.    The regulars in the Glasgow Herald were Edinburgh Harriers, Clydesdale Harriers Greenock Section, Clydesdale Harriers Dumbartonshire Section, Clydesdale Harriers Juniors, Dennistoun Harriers, Paisley Harriers Senior, Paisley Harriers Junior, Whiteinch Harriers and so on.   Bellahouston was a fairly frequent poster in this column.

In winter 1893/94 the pattern was much the same except, as you might expect, that there was more interaction with established clubs.   The reports up to the end of 1893 had the following on the club fixture list.   Only some will be quoted.

October 7th Bellahouston Harriers had their run from Queen’s Park Cafe, Crosshill.   Pack of 20 over five miles.

October 16th Joint run with Whiteinch from Half Way House – about 60 members turning out.

October 28th Bellahouston Harriers Five Miles Handicap.   The report read: “The rendezvous of the B.H. on Saturday for their first handicap of the season, was Harvey’s Half Way House, Paisley Road.   The hares were Messrs W Sinclair, W Wark, T Graham, WA Campbell, RT Morrison and JR Thomson who, setting out at 3:30, showed a distinct trail through Pollok Estate, along the banks of the Cart, skirting Crookston Castle and home by Corkerhill Road – a course which included thoroughly representative country for a race.   A quarter of an hour afterwards the competitors were sent on their journey in handicap order, and the scratch men went off at a racing pace, and had got their men about a mile from home.   The racing then became very keen, and the first to pass the judges (Messrs James Wilson and J Anderson, vice-captain) were EG Biggar (scratch), Mr W McKay (11 sec) 2d, and Mr W McGuigan 3d.   Messra J Madden and W Millar were the first  novices in the race, the former with 30 sec start and the latter with 2 min 15 sec.   Mr G Brown officiated as starter and timekeeper.”

4 November, 1893,   30 members in a run from the ‘mustering place’ of Harvey’s Half Way House over about 5 miles.

25th November: “MARYHILL HARRIERS: The club had a regular field day at Maryhill, where they had for their guests the Edinburgh Northern (holders of the national junior championship), Western, Queen’s Park, Bellahouston and the Coatbridge section of the Clydesdale Harriers clubs.   The rendezvous was the Old School Room, Maryhill, where accommodation was taxed to the utmost to provide stripping room for the large attendance.”      Four packs were run with the hares setting out at 3:30 for a trail round the banks of the Kelvin, Acre Road and ending up along Canniesburn Road.

9th December: Joint run with Cairns Harriers from the Gardener’s Hall, Cambuslang.

23rd December: A home run from the Half Way House and two packs ran over seven miles.

30th December:   No run was noted but there was a large joint run organised by Queen’s Park and the club may have been represented in that.

6th January, 1894: About 20 members took part in the run which, owing to the snow on the ground and the lack of coloured paper to lay the trail, was done as a single pack along the road to Paisley and back.

13th January: A record attendance covered a trail of about ten miles in two packs.

20th January: The  members of B.H. travelled to Crosshill on Saturday for their weekly run, and when they arrived found it would be useless laying a trail as the Clydesdale and the YMCA had both laid paper in the district, so they followed the pack of the latter.”

27th January:   “The event on the card for Saturday was the team race, Captain versus Vice-captain, and it turned out a veryclose and exciting event.   ……  a very good course leading from the inn across the fields to Cardonald Station, skirting Renfrew towards Crookston, and finishing with a mile and a half on the road.   The conditions were:-  12 to run in each team, first 6 to count ……….. on the points being added the vice-captain’s team was found to be the winner with 39 points to the captain’s 41.”

17th February:   The Western District Cross-Country Championships.    Scottish athletics was notionally divided into two groups – the senior clubs (the oldest clubs such as Clydesdale, West of Scotland, Edinburgh Harriers, Edinburgh Northern, Motherwell YMCA) and the Junior clubs (the rest who were not thought to be of  a high enough standard to contest the national championship.   The Western District had just been formed and set up these championships for the junior clubs.   In this, the first event, Bellahouston Harriers were the winning team.   Ten clubs ran over a trail of seven miles and Bellahouston’s first runner was EG Biggar in fourth place.   The other runners were W McGuigan sixth, J Anderson ninth, W Sorbie tenth, JR McDermid twelfth, J Paton.   These are the actual places as the runners crossed the line, for team scoring places those contestants who did not have a team were discarded and so the actual scoring positions were lower.   Nevertheless, the club probably was not too concerned about that since at the age of only two years they had won a championship!

24th February: only 14 runners turned out for a run over a six mile trail.

This brought us back to the national championship at the start of March in which only 4 clubs took part.   It had been a good winter for Bellahouston Harriers with the best performance being the victory in the new Western District race with some good packing – five of their six being between fourth and twelfth.    The pattern had been as before with more joint runs being included, numbers seemed to be growing and the very young club was gaining in confidence and experience.    The continuing habit of having only four or five teams running in the National Championship continued with no signs of it becoming really open in the near future.

Picture from A Wilson

AAA’s Mile 1907.   McGouch front and ventre between Robertson (8) and Deakin (9)

Picture from A Wilson

The really big successes for the club over the next few years were individual however rather than team and we can look at some of them now.

The most notable of them all was probably John McGough.     There is a proper full-length profile of him available if you click the link buit he was the country’s most outstanding middle distance runner of the period.   McGough won the SAAA Mile title in six consecutive years from 1902- 1907, he won the half mile three times and the Four Miles once.   In 1903 he actually won all three in the same championships.   He represented Scotland in many internationals on the track and ran in the London Olympics in 1905.

The club history claims JV Paterson, Scottish cross-country champion in 1898, ’99 and 1900 as a club member – and he undoubtedly was for several years – but the records (official history, newspaper reports) list his club as Watsonians when he won the three titles.   Check the link.

Over the country, several club men represented Scotland in the period up to the war – PC Russell 1905, ’06,  JW Templeman 1910, ’11, ’13 and ’14, GR Stevens 1912, ’14,  G Cummings 1914, J Lindsay 1914.

JW Templeman was the most prolific.   In 1910 there was no Bellahouston Harriers team in the West District championships and there were no runners placed in the first 20 but when the National came along on 5th March Templeman was fifth.   The first six placers were :  A McPhee (Clydesdale), J Duffy (Edinburgh), T Jack (Edinburgh Southern), G Templeman (BH) & George McKanzie (West of Scotland  and  A Mann (Clydesdale).    The international was to be in Belfast on 26th March and Templeman was fifth Scot to finish for the team that was third.   Other Scots were McPhee 8th, Duffy 15th, MacKenzie 16th, Cuthbert 19th, Templeman 20th.   Wallach, the top Scot, dropped out.   For all his ability, Templeman did not contest the WEest District Championships on 4th February, 1911, at Carntyne Racecourse where the club finished third with the scoring runners being A Craig 3rd, JY McAdam 16th, G Stephen 17th, E Rodger 18th, D Honeyman 51st and W Law 77th.   Unfortunately there was no Bellahouston team in the National at Sheep Farm Park, Pollokshaws but Templeman was third to finish nd was selected for the international at Newport later in the month.   It was a pity that there was no team from the club on what was pretty well a home trail but the practices of the time prevailed.   This time though, Templeman failed to finish on a day that was dry underfoot but with some slight snow falling.

In 1912, 28 teams were entered for the Western District Championships and Bellahouston Harriers went two better than the previous year and won the team race.   They had previously won this event twice – in 1896 and in 1901.   Again, no Templeman but, again, Archie Craig led the team home in  third place with the others being Rodgers, Stephen, Honeyman, McAdam and Law.    In the National at Scotstoun, Templeman led the field at the start of the race but faded and the first club runner to finish was Stephen in sixth place followed by Rodger in 12th, Templeman in 18th, Little in 21st, Honeyman 30th and McAdam in 33rd.   The team was fourth – 15 points behind Edinburgh Harriers in third.   Stephen wasselected for the international and finished creditable 14th and was a scoring runner for the team.   In 1913 the Western championships were postponed owing to a heavy snowfall at Scotstoun and they had to be redated.   In the event on 15th February, there were no placed runners from the club and the clubitself was not in the first four.   But the National Championships in 1913 were to be savoured by Bellahouston runners, friends and supporters – 1st March 1913 was the day they won the national team title.   The report read:

“Under favourable weather conditions the cross-country championship of Scotland was decided under the auspices of the National Cross-Country Union of Scotland.   The usual five mile course from Scotstoun was selected, beginning and finishing at the Glasgow Agricultural Society’s show grounds, the circuit being covered twice.   Seven teams, or one more than last year, were entered, the list being:-   West of Scotland Harriers (holders of the team championship), Bellahouston Harriers, Clydesdale Harriers, Edinburgh Harriers, Edinburgh Southern Harriers, Gala Harriers and Monkland Harriers, but Edinburgh Harriers had only two representatives and these ran as individuals, bringing the number of starters in that section to seven.   An excellent start was effected and for the first round of the track the men kept together but in the second round they opened up considerably.   Passing out of the grounds the lead was taken up by JC Thomson and SS Watt, Clydesdale Harriers, H Hughes and S Mason, West of Scotland, and R Bell, Monkland Harriers, holder of the Western District Championship.   At half distance the lead was held by S Watt, who was closely followed by the ultimate winner, A Craig of Bellahouston Harriers, with H Hughes in third position.   At this point there was every possibility of a close finish between West of Scotland and Bellahouston, and at the finish the latter secured the victory over the holders by a single point.   The following are the placings:- 

  1.   Bellahouston Harriers (A Craig 1, A Kerr 5, W Templeman 7, GM Stephen 10, K Rodgers 12, A Mooney 16)
  2. West of Scotland (G McKenzie 4, H Hughes 6, WG Rodger 8, G Mason 9, D Peat 11, JB Matthews 13)

As a result three Bellahouston Harriers were picked for the international at Juvisy Aerodrome, just outside Paris.   All three Bellahouston men were scoring runners for the Scottish team.  A Kerr 11th, A Craig 14th and Templeman 18th.   The team was third.   There were so many firsts for Bellahouston at that point – first club man to win the national, first club team to win the national, first time they had three in the international and all three were counting runners!

1914 was the year when athletics – and much else besides – came to a stop for four years but there was a District an a National Championship run before that.   New member James Lindsay from Dreghorn won the individual title in the Western District event with Bellahouston Harriers comfortably winning the team title.   The National was again won by the club with a total team score of 29 points, the runners being Craig 1st, Stephens 2nd, Templeman 3rd, Lindsay 5th, G Cummings 6th and W Mathie 12th.   Craig had actually been second but Wallach, the winner, was an Anglo-Scot not qualified to count for the team race.   Courses at that time were usually ten miles long and both national and international trails for 1914 had plenty of obstacles en route.   Two of the Bellahouston runners counted for the Scottish team – Lindsay finished eighth and Craig twelfth – while Stephens did not finish.   Colin Shields in “Whatever the Weather” comments: “The outstanding achievements of the domestic season was the breakthrough of James Lindsay of Bellahouston Harriers who proved the most improved runner of the year.   Starting the winter season as an unknown, Lindsay’s victory in the Western District Championship promoted him to a “Senior” and be eligible to run in the National Championship.   His performance at Carntyne where he finished sixth, was a big surprise.   He confirmed this performance with his excellent eighth place in the international where he defeated everyone in the Scots team except the second placed Wallach.”


Archie Craig

Picture from A Wilson

Archie Craig was another outstanding club runner whose career spanned the war years but he nevertheless ran in seven cross-countryinternational fixtures as well as winning the title in 1913.   There is a complete profile elsewhere on the website.   He was known by his nickname od Baldy but Robin Syles explains it for us.   Two years after the London Olympics Archie Craig, who was to become a Bellahouston legend, joined the club.   ‘Baldy’ as he was dubbed (the ‘a’ being long as in father, not the ‘aw’ in law) was not really bald.   It was simply that he plastered his hair down with oil as was the fashion in those days and one can only assume that he plastered it down so much it gave the impression of not being there at all!   Baldy became the club’s official first national cross-country champion in 1913.”

There had been three Bellahouston runners in the international team in 1913 and again in 1914 but the first to gain the honour did so eight years earlier.    PC Russell however had run for Scotland when he finished second, and first Junior, in the National of 1905.   The team was sixth.   A month later, in the international at Baldoyle in Dublin, he finished 14th and was a scoring runner for the Scottish team which finished second.  Three medals, two gold and one silver, for two races was not a bad end to the season.   The following year Russell finished fourth in the National and was picked to run for Scotland at Caerleon in Wales where Scotland slipped back to third position with Russell again a scoring running when he finished in 15th.

The club continued to progress and, in addition to the many top class club team performances,,  several very good athletes were produced to grace Scottish athletics.  In 1920 at the first national championhip after the war, Bellahouston was third team.


This series of articles is headed “In the beginning…” and the intention is to look at the various ways in which clubs sppeared and developed into serious players on the national stage.   In this context, the origins of Bellahouston Harriers mirror the development of Scottish athletics from the nineteenth century to the start of the first war.  In 1892 there were very few races on the calendar, many more were in evidence by 1914.   There were no international fixtures, either track and field or cross-country in 1892 but there were annual internationals in both discilines by 1914.   Inter-clubs, joint runs and muster runs were still present in 1914 but not in such big numbers.   Thgere were also changes in training methods and running clothing over the period.   There is a profile of the road and cross-country activities of the club in the 1945 to 1960 period at  this link.

Bella Sykes

Sources of information for this brief profile were,

  1.   ‘From Long Shorts to Short Longs’ by Robin Sykes.   The official centenary of Bellahouston Harriers from which several illustrations have been taken.   Robin Sykes (pictured above) took up the sport inthe late 40’s and has been a great club servant winning over 2000 pts in inter-clubs, finalist and medal winner in championships at Scottish and British level, set a Scottish record for the decathlon of 6330 points in 1960.  Now 82 years old, he still competres in the Scottish Veterans Field Events Championship.
  2. ‘A Short History of Bellahouston Harriers, 1892 – 1946’  in ‘The Scots Athlete’ number three by WR McNeillie.   He joined the club in 1922 and filled many roles in the administration, notably as Secretary and Treasurer.  He also served as an official at many meetings and for a time was one of the handicappers at open meetings.
  3. ‘Whatever the Weather’ by Colin Shields.   This is the official centenary history of the SCCU written by a man who was a runner, an official, an administrator, a historian and reporter to both specialist athletics publications and to the press.   Colin was also President of both SAAA and SCCU.
  4. ’50 Years of Athletics’ ed. K Whitton and DA Jamieson.   The 50th anniversary history of the SAAA published by the SAAA in 1933.
  5. The Glasgow Herald archives for the period.