Video Links: 1

One of the features of 21st century life is the availability of video recordings of races and runners of yesteryear – people and events that we saw and knew.   We can see them again, some of us for the first time, and hear their voices and ponder over their opinions.   We start the page with two videos of one of the best liked, most respected and most missed of runners – Jim Dingwall. 

Jim Dingwall Interviews:


A Golden Era that we did not recognise as such – Stewart and McCafferty Memories: bJ00dUqU


One of the most read profiles on the site is that of Tom McKean, here are three of his races:


Frank Clement was one of my favourites and a real credit to the sport and the country.   Start with his finish in the Olympics:

But Youtube seems to concentrate on his running in the finishing straight –

More to come ….



Obituary: Alan Dunbar

Obituary: Alan Dunbar, drama teacher, athlete and theatre director

Alan Dunbar, drama teacher, athlete and theatre director.

Born: 26 February, 1934, in Stranraer.

Died: 1 July, 2011, in Edinburgh, aged 77

ALAN Dunbar for ten years brought to the drama department at Queen Mary College (QMC) a drive and enthusiasm which is fondly remembered to this day. He had a passion for drama which he communicated to his students with an infectious energy.

Alan Sisson Dunbar was educated locally at Stranraer, and in 1952 began three years of study at Jordanhill College of Education. He also attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where his fellow students included Mary Marquis, Fulton Mackay, Andy Stewart and John Cairney. Dunbar was keen to pursue his interest in athletics so turned to teaching and in 1956 embarked on a seven-year stint as a lecturer in drama, firstly at Langside College and then at Central College, both in Glasgow. The lifestyle worked well – drama school through the week and running on Saturdays.

In 1970 Dunbar moved to Edinburgh and lectured on communication at Napier College before, in 1979, being appointed senior lecturer in communication and drama at QMC. It was a post to which he was ideally suited, and his dedication to teaching and drama much enhanced the department’s reputation. Dunbar decided to retire in 1989, and his description of that decision typified his nature: “I decided to chuck the job and take a chance.”

It was indeed a brave move yet it paid off quicker than he expected. He was offered a post lecturing at Edinburgh University in presentation skills and worked as a freelance journalist. He had already contributed to the Evening Citizen in Glasgow and The Scotsman on athletics in the 1960s and later was heard on both Radio Clyde and Radio Forth. From 1980 to 1987 he was a sports presenter on BBC Scotland, and he became involved with the Edinburgh Acting School (EAS), where he was a guest director and a member of the company for 20 years.

Dunbar did some exceptional productions for EAS, particularly on the Edinburgh Fringe where he directed Joe Corrie’s Hogmanay, Willy Russell’s Stags and Hens, and two particularly demanding plays which proved very successful, John Byrne’s The Slab Boys and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

Anna Tinline, principal of EAS, remembers his work there with much affection. “Alan directed many shows with great enthusiasm, expertise and intellect.The students loved working with him and he encouraged self-discipline, team work and professionalism at all times. I can honestly say that not once did I ever hear him raise his voice or speak to anyone in an angry tone, even though his patience was tested on many occasions.”

Dunbar was a member of one of the outstanding Victoria Park relay teams that were victorious at many of the Scottish meetings in the 1950s. He represented Scotland in the 1958 Empire Games in Cardiff but was knocked out in the second round. It is thought that a muscle injury stopped Dunbar being chosen for the Great Britain team that competed at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He was fondly remembered at the Victoria Park Club as a fine athlete and was one of their youngest presidents.

In 1957 Dunbar took a principled stand against the ruling authorities in Scottish athletics when he withdrew from the national 220 yards final at New Meadowbank – the principal athletics venue in Edinburgh prior to the stadium built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games. Dunbar protested at the condition of the cinder track, and more than 50 athletes signed his petition objecting to it. His efforts proved unsuccessful in the short run.

Dunbar was a born enthusiast and faced up to the lengthy illness at the end of his life with typical good-hearted resolution. He brought that commitment and zest for life to all aspects of his life – professional and personal. Anna Tinline recalls: “Alan rejoiced when various members of EAS did well, and when his beloved grand-daughters won poetry competitions. He was a wonderful storyteller and shared his knowledge and skills so generously.”

He is survived by Margaret, his wife of more than 50 years, two daughters and two sons.

  • The above obituary appeared in the Scotsman of  18th July, 2011.

Ronnie Whitelock: Obituary


Born: October 13, 1932; Died: December 7, 2012.

Ronnie Whitelock, who has died aged 80, was one of the best loved and respected life members of Victoria Park Athletic Club (now Victoria Park City of Glasgow AC). An exceptionally talented sprinter, he was part of an era when the Scotstoun club held its own with the best clubs in Britain.

Whitelock joined Victoria Park at Scotstoun as a junior in 1947 and was quickly promoted to the senior squad where he was coached by the late double Powderhall New Year Sprint champion Willie McFarlane.

In his early days, he enjoyed success at the Rangers Sports, the Glasgow Police Sports and a variety of Highland Games at the then venues of Ibrox Stadium, Hampden Park, Helenvale and Westerlands.

In 1956 he was part of the winning Victoria Park 4×110 yards relay team at the Scottish AAA Championships at Meadowbank. The team was Alan Dunbar, Bobby Quinn, Harry Quinn and Whitelock. This group became lifelong friends who continued to meet regularly and rib each other about past glories – and there were plenty of them. His best year on the track was probably 1957, winning gold at the Scottish Championships over 100 yards with a time of 9.8 seconds, winning gold in the 4×110 yards relay, competing for Scotland and competing for Great Britain against Russia at White City, the latter success earning him life membership of Victoria Park.

Known for his lightning quick starts, he went on to win two more Scottish sprint titles in 1959 and 1962 and was a member of the winning Victoria Park 4×110 yards relay teams on four occasions and represented Scotland in at least four international matches.

Hugh’s Gems 5

Hugh’s photographs and cuttings see a steady stream of visitors – let’s face it, most of us like pictures on the internet, but the mix of topics and the historical rarity of many of the items make them a real joy to see.   We start with Herb Elliott and Percy Cerutty running together illustrate perfect Percy’s dictum of “You might run faster but you don’t run any harder!”   Others have said so since but Percy was the first.

Then the Victoria Park London to Brighton team from the 1950’s

From Singers Sports in Clydebank: Ian Binnie in the black, possibly Bob Steele from Vale of Leven leading

Spot Ian McCafferty in this pro race from Carluke

No prizes for recognising Rangers Sports at Ibrox

Before any of our times: Edinburgh University team from 1872

Herb Elliott leading Mike Rawson

Typical Fixture Lists

.The athletic seasons used to have a rhythm to them – on the track there were the early season fixtures which led to the National Championships at the end of June, then they tailed off in a host of highland games, sports meetings and invitation extravaganzas which usually included events for domestic athletes.   On the road there was the build up to the SAAA Marathon Championship.

In each case the build up was just that – on the track there were Club, County, District, SAAA and AAA Championships in that order with other meetings of varying sizes where athletes could get the races that their programme demanded, or which were used at times to amend perceived deficiencies – eg if a runner felt that the season wasn’t going as planned, he could find a shorter race or two fr sharpening purposes; like wise if he needed to strengthen a bit there were over distance races to help him do that.   This season is shown in the Victoria Park AAC racing programme for 1958.   Many of these have disappeared from the calendar including the Big Two of Rangers Sports and Edinburgh Highland Games. 

On the road, the Scottish Marathon Club had been formed in 1944 and organised a summer programme that led to the SAAA Marathon Championship at the end of June.   The value of the SMC to road runners cannot be over estimated.   They had their own championship consisting of races at 12 miles, 16 miles and 20 miles which all led to the marathon.   They worked hard at persuading meetings with no road races to include some road race in their programme, and where one had a road race, the club tried (usually successfully) to have it over a distance that would help the progression to the full distance.   Often these races came after the championship so that people reluctant to step up the distance could have a go at it when the spotlight was not shining with a view to running the marathon the following year.

Compare the programme below with races between 10 and 45 miles with current fixture lists which seem to go from 5K to 10K to 10M to half marathon with a jump from there to the event itself.




The Last International: The Documents

The match was a resounding success from the Scottish Point of View as the following report from the ‘Glasgow Herald’ on the following Monday made clear.   For the benefit of the current generation, the documentation that the athletes received is reproduced below (the programme is already on site) from John Mackay’s memorabilia.   It is interesting to see how things were handled.

The first thing that the athletes received was the selection letter which was the same for every international.

Having received the invitation, the athlete received the instructions and administrative details including the timetable and order of events.   These were sometimes sent out in advance but were often issued on the day of competition.

And finally, there was the letter of thanks and congratulations, where these were due, after the meeting.   Things were very civilised in the olden days!

Graham Laing: 1982

Graham Laing was a very good runner indeed and he ran for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in 1982.   Joe Small has sent us this article from the ‘Marathon and Distance Runner’ which was actually written by Graham and describes the lead up to the race and the event itself.