The Last International: The Programme

It is always interesting to see the programmes from significant meetings of the past and as the last complete international in which all events were contested to be held on Scottish soil this one should be seen.   Supplied by John MacKay, and gratefully received, who ran in the 1500m, it is in that category.   Not5e again the name of Elliott Bunney who, although selected, could not run on the day.   His replacements were unfortunately not included in the programme.

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The Last International

Mark Davidson winning the 400m Hurdles in the 1991 Small Nations International

It is January 2020 and only recently discovered that the last full international involving a Scottish team on Scottish soil was back on 16th  June 1991.   Arnold Black, the official Scottish athletics historian confirmed this when he said :

“It was the last full Scotland international in Scotland.  There was a Scotland v NI v Wales v USA Juniors v a Kiev/Edinburgh Twin Cities combo at Meadowbank in 2001 across 10 men’s and 10 women’s events, then later the short-form Bank of Scotland Cup & Falkirk Cup matches at Grangemouth between 2006 and 2009.  There were GB internationals v USA and Russia in the early 2000s at Scotstoun and there have been international indoor events.”

Confirmation then that it was the last full Scotland international in Scotland.   It was 21 years ago this year.    

Ewan Clark, Men’s 100m

The Small Nations was always an interesting one with Scotland competing against the home nations (England excepted) plus at various time Iceland, Israel, Turkey and Greece.   They were useful fixtures that gave athletes, some were established stars to give some backbone to the team, some were up-and-coming athletes, some were new to the scene, a second tier of competition that was slightly less arduous than facing the might of England or any of the major European countries, or even the Commonwealth Games where the standard was exceptionally high.   The Small Nations match in June, 1991 was a landmark for a different reason: the competition against Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Iceland was to be the last full international on Scottish soil.   Not the sort of landmark anyone in Scottish athletics was looking for.    The team sheet issued to athletes and officials on the day and supplied by 1500m representative John Mackay, is below.

 Scotland won, if that’s any consolation and the Scottish athletes performed as follows.

Event athlete place performance
M100 E Clark 1st 10.78
M200 S Shanks 3rd 21.66
M400 G Hodges 2nd 48.09
M800 A Murray 2nd 1:50.21
M1500 J MacKay 2nd 3:49.30
M3000 R Quinn 3rd 8:08.31
M3000 S/c G Croll 2nd 8:58.2
M 110H G Smith 3rd 14.97
M400 H M Davidson 1st 52.28
M 4 x 100m Scotland 3rd 41.99
M 4 x 400 Scotland 1st 3:14.17
M HJ D Barnetson 1st 2.13m
M PV I MacKay 4th 4.30
M LJ J Scott 3rd 6.82m
M TJ N McMenemy 4th 14.30m
M SP R Smith 4th 14.00m
M DT D Morris 4th 54.10
M JT A Whyte 4th 56.26
MHT R Devine 2nd 60.28
event athlete place performance
W100 A McGillivray 2nd 11.7
W200 A McGillivray 2nd 23.95
W400 P Devine 2nd 52.29
W800 M Anderson 4th 2:14.44
W1500 C-A Bartley 3rd 4:32.48
W3000 V McPherson 3rd 9:40 55
W100m H L McCulloch 3rd 14.44
W 400m H G McIntyre 1st 61.76
W 4 x 100m Scotland 1st 49.96
W 4 x 400m Scotland 1st 3:41.83
W HJ S Pinkerton 3rd 1.77
W LJ J Ainslie 3rd 5.80
W TJ N Barr 2nd 11.71
W SP H Cowe 3rd 12.89
W DT H Cowe 4th 41.46
W JT K Saville 5th 40.24m

Team Scores were Scotland 127, Wales 119, Ireland 114, Northern Ireland 106, Iceland 88

How did the match look to the Press?

It was of course covered by all the local papers.   eg the Aberdeen Press & Journal reported that 

“Aberdeen AAC members Mark Davidson and Helen Cowe and Inverness Harriers David Barnetson and Russell Devine helped Scotland win both the men’s and women’s matches at yesterday’s small nations international at Grangemouth.   Davidson had an individual success in the 400 metres hurdles in 52.8 winning by 0.43 of a second from C McDumphy (Eire) \, and later anchored Scotland to victory in the 4 x 400 metres relay in 3:14.17.   Barnetson took the high jump with a 2.13 metres clearance and route to a tilt at the Scottish decathlon title in Aberdeen next week.   Devine finished second in the hammer (60.28) while Helen was third in the shot (12.77) and fourth in the discus (41.46 metres).   Match totals:

Men: Scotland 67; Eire 64; Wales 62; Northern Ireland 55; Iceland 52

Women: Scotland 57; Wales 56; Northern Ireland 51; Eire 50l Iceland 37.

That was the local press, but how about the specialist athletic press?   Biggest coverage was in the “Scotland’s Runner” whose report is reproduced in its entirety here. 

The athletes taking part did not know of course that it would be the last full  international held on Scottish soil but they all liked the event,   For instance Aileen McGillivary said: 

John MacKay, speaking of his own event, the 1500m, described the race, and said that Gary Lough, who later married Paula Radcliffe, finished fourth, Neil Horsfield who was a very talented athlete and a GB internationalist won from John with Nick O’Brien from Ireland third.   It was a slow race with a big burn up over the last 300m .    They were kept waiting around for a race that was last on the programme, except for the relays.   It alsfeatured a race for wheelchair users and must have been one of the first internationals in the country to do so. 

The programme for the meeting can be seen   at this link .

Grangemouth Stadium

Grangemouth, 1985, showing a hurdles race ‘going the wrong way’ and, outside the track. the cycle track.


You would have searched in vain for a Grangemouth fixture at the start of the summer season in 1975 with the top fixtures going to Meadowbank and Pitreavie.  It was noted at the start of this account that the original track at Grangemouth Stadium had been RubKor and was a black colour, but in 1975 the track was upgraded and a new red, rubber surface laid which not only looked better but was reckoned to be even faster.    In fact a former National Coach for Scotland said in print that it was the fastest track in Britain.   The championships by now had bedded down in Meadowbank and most internationals were held there.   Detailed results of winners at all championships noted here can be found at Arnold Black’s website – www.scotstats.net .

However the new track hosted an international fixture on 30th July.   It was previewed in the Glasgow Herald of 28th July.

Donna Murray, probably the British woman athlete with the greatest spectator appeal these days, will grace the opening of Grangemouth Stadium’s new tartan track on Wednesday evening as part of an international match between Scotland and England.   Falkirk District Council join the welcome band of athletics sponsors by financing the meeting but either they, or the Scottish women’s AAA have been remiss in distributing information about the meeting.   It would be a pity to organise what appears to be an engrossing contest and then having only a few locals turning up to watch.   The English team is not the strongest that could have been selected but Miss Murray hopes to have a fast 200m against Helen Golden, the British champion and record holder.   Among other well known contestants will be Mary Stewart, the British 1500m champion, Myra Nimmo, in the long jump, and Christine  McMeekin in the 800m.” 

 The Scottish team was defeated 98 – 59 despite having some very good athletes indeed competing including Helen Golden, Myra Nimmo (long jump), Meg Ritchie (discus) and Margaret Coomber (800).   The English team had Val Peat, Donna Murray, Ann Yeomans and Pam Lloyd.   Each team had a relay victory with England winning the 4 x 100, and the Scots the 4 x 400m.   The Scots won the events indicated but Helen Golden was second to Peat in the 100m and did not turn out in the 200 which was won by Murray who, of course, won the 400m hurdles.    

The first notable meeting at the track in 1976 was on 1st May when the SWAAA West District Championships took place.   It was cold with a strong wind – conditions that did no one any favours and almost guaranteed slow times.   However there were execptions –  Ann Robertson won two events (200m and 400m) and set a record in the 400 with her time of 55.9.   Alice Linton also set a record in the intermediate 800m of 2:17 and another intermediate, Irene Anderson, set a 400m time of 57 seconds.   Top club was Glasgow LAC which won 53 medals, nearly half of those available.   Almost exactly a month later, 5th June, the SWAAA Junior and Inter championships were hosted by the Stadium and among the talents on view were Ann Dalton, Irene Anderson, Irene Reynolds and Carol Lightbody who all won two events.   

The SWAAA District Championship returned on 7th May, 1977, and it was another day of strong, gusting winds. Events were held in all age groups – Seniors, Inters, Juniors, Girls – with many of the best athletes in the country competing. Among the senior winners were Lynette Boyle (100), Wilma Addison (200), Ann Robertson (400), Carol Lightfoot (800m), Christine McMeekin (1500), Judith Shepherd (3000m) Joyce Pinkerton (HJ), Lorraine Watt (LJ), Chris Chalk (shot) and Heather Thomson (discus). Elsewhere on the day, winners included Inter Fiona McQueen (800 and 1500), Junior Kaye Jeffrey (100 and 200), and Yvonne Anderson among the Girls. The arena was used quite a lot for such as league matches: eg there was one at the end of May (28th) in which Glasgow LAC won the opening British League match defeating Feltham AC, Mitcham, Enfield, Derby and Notts. The SWAAA Girls Championships were held on 11th June at Grangemouth and among the winners was 12 year old Lynne McDougall who won the 800m in 2:26.8. The 1977 season however came to a close on 10th September with an invitation meeting and it really was a good meeting. Results in the following table, note the quality performers, note the number of close finishes.

event winner performance second performance
M 100 R Denham 10.7 sec J Wilson 10.8
M 300 A Sumner 35.9 J Wilson 36.0
M 800 P Forbes 1:52.8 T Young 1:53.4
M 3000 I Orton 8:24.1 A McIntosh 8:31.2
M 400mH A Sumner 56.3 R Caldwell 56.8
M High Jump R Hepburn 1.85 D Hendry 1.80
M Heavies R Davidson 12 pts W Weir 11 pts

event winner performance second performance
W100 E Sutherland 11.7 F Nixon 11.8
W300 E Sutherland 38.6 F Nixon 38.6
W800 A Clarkson 2:13.6 C Lightfoot 2:13.6
W100mH F McAuley 14.6 J Lindsay 15.2
W HJ M Walls 1.71 J Pinkerton 1.68
W LJ M Walls 5.91 F McAuley 5.54

John Graham in the steeplechase, 1975


1978 was a Commonwealth and European Games year.   There was a purely Scottish team in the former, the venue was Edmonton and ‘making the team’ was a game that many athletes were involved in: especially those who might not be selected for the British team in the latter.   The first meeting at Grangemouth was  SWAAA West District Championships on 6th May.   Winners this time were Ann Dalton, Lynette Boyle Ann Harley (formerly Robertson), Evelyn McMeekin, Judith Shepherd, Janet Higgins, Christine Chalk, Rhona Pinkerton, Heather Yule and Kaye Jeffrey.   The times were all fairly good too.    Later in the month, on 27th, the women’s British League match saw some excellent performances from athletes from all over the United Kingdom.   The outstanding athlete was Sharon Colyear who won three events – the 100 metres, 100m hurdles and long jump, while Meg Ritchie won two events – shot and discus.   Other senior winners were Evelyn McMeekin (400n), Christine McMeekin (800m), Paula Fudge (1500), Ann Ford (3000) and Joyce Pinkerton (high jump). 

There was a Scottish women’s league match on 17th June at the stadium and again there were some good performances with Margo Wells setting the fastest time of the season for 100m of 11.6 seconds. Glasgow won the match from Edinburgh SH by only one point – 519 to 518 with Shettleston third on 451.   A week later on 24th June, the SWAAA age group championships took place at Grangemouth with many talented youngsters taking part – Lynne McDougall won the Junior Girls 1500m in 4:46.5, Pat Rollo won the Inter hurdles and Ann Reid won both 100m and 200m as an Inter.    

All hurdles pictures by Alastair Shaw

International athletics returned to Grangemouth in July, 1979.   By now there were several all-weather tracks in Scotland – there were the established venues of Grangemouth and Meadowbank, to which could be added Pitreavie, Coatbridge and Bellahouston in particular.   The regular competition for the British Isles Cup was no more and what international (or even representative) matches there were had to be farmed out to a wider range of venues.    At the start of June, 2nd, the SWAAA Junior and Intermediate championships were held and resulted in seven records being set.   Ron Marshall’s report in the Glasgow Herald read as follows: “Seven records fell despite a strong wind at Grangemouth on Saturday.   Six of them were in the Intermediate (under 17) group where, as expected, Linsey MacDonald dominated in the sprints, setting two records, 11.9 seconds in the 100m into a slight breeze and 24.1 seconds in the 200 with the headwind a stiff 4.2 metres a second.   The middle distance running of two Shettleston girls also suggests an exciting future.   Annie Reid clipped the 800 metres record by 0.4 of a second in a time of 2 minutes 12.8 seconds, and Andrea Everett, whose father Graham coaches them both, won the 1500 metres in 4 minutes 43.1 seconds, 2 1/2 seconds better than the previous best, and but for the wind these both might have been several seconds faster.   But the wind aided the long jump where both the intermediate and junior best performances fell, the latter to Glasgow’s Yvonne Anderson who also won the 100 metres.   And another double winner, Sandra MacDonald of Pitreavie, set new shot putt figures of 12.14 metres in addition to winning the discus.”   It is worth noting the Lynne McDougall won the junior 1500m in 4:52.4 despite the weather.   

The biggest meeting to come for some time, however, was on 16th June when the British Meat Scottish Championships took place at the stadium.   Just look at some of the results.   In the men’s 100m, the first three were Wells, McMaster and Sharp (winning time 10.0); in the men’s 800m it was McGeorge, Williamson and Forbes (1:48.7); men’s 5000 it was Muir, Hutton and Jim Brown; Steeplechase was G Rimmer, Graham and McKim (8:52.7).   On the women’s side, the 800 had Lightfoot, Hutton and Clarkson (2:10.7), the 1500 had Coomber, McQueen and Hope (4:27.0);  3000m had Shepherd, Robinson and McLaren.  The truth is that there was quality all the way through the match.   If the times were not world beating, remember that it is Scotland and on the day there was a blustery wind which hampered field events performances and did not help the distance runners at all.      The 400m champion was Ian Cuthbertson from Pitreavie and he returned to the track the following week for the Junior championships.   He won the 400m in 47.8 and later took the 200m as well in 22.3   Other winners on the day included David Kirk from Dumbarton in the 800m (1:54.0), and Colin Hume (ESH) who defeated Alistair Douglas of Victoria Park in the 1500m.

The next meeting of consequence at Grangemouth that year was on 7th July when the women took on and defeated Norway and Greece.   Again there were several stars on display.   Linsey MacDonald won both 100m and 200m (11.6 and 23.7), Sofia Sakafora of Greece threw the javelin an Olympic qualifying distance of 58.02m but the best known athlete on the day was Grete Waitz of Norway who won the 1500m from Margaret Coomber in 4>15.8.     The final British women’s league match of the season was held at Grangemouth on 25th August and was won by Glasgow from Edinburgh Southern with Stretford third of the clubs taking part.   Glasgow’s stars were the McMeekin twins who swapped events – Evelyn winning the 1500m and Christine being second to Gillian Dainty in the 800m; Fiona McQueen won the 3000m while Meg Ritchie and Moira McGuire won their events for Southern.   


This photo plus the one of John Graham by Alex Miller


On 25th May in 1980, Grangemouth hosted the Falkirk British Airways Games and a great success it was too.   Paul Forbes had just ended a year suspension for misbehaving at the Commonwealth Games in Canada and he celebrated on the track in fine style.   He won the 800m in 1:48.5 defeating Graham Williamson in the process.   It was his fastest time for two years.   It came one day after he had almost beaten Steve Ovett in Belfast where he had been leading Ovett by two yards with just under 60m to go.   Ovett’s strength told and Forbes had to settle for second but it was the start of a brilliant two days for the Edinburgh man.   Linsey MacDonald won the women’s 100m from a good field in 11.5, Peter Little won both 100 yards and 200m races (9.9 and 21.2) and Chris Black won the hammer (60.5 metres) one day after competing in all four throws for his club in a British League match.     The bread-and-butter matches continued of course – eg on 28th June the women’s British League match took place with the Scots clubs taking fifth and sixth places.   Margot Wells won both 100 and 200m races, Meg Ritchie the discus and Alison Wright the 3000m.   

1981 started with the SWAAA pentathlon championships on the 8th and 9th May being the first major meet of the season at Grangemouth.   The winner was Shona Urquhart from Fife who had just returned from three weeks exchange visit to America and she as a consequence hadn’t trained for that period.  Coached by Eric Simpson, she won comfortably from Angela Wallace of Gosforth.   The intermediate competition was won by Sarah Booth of Central Region AC.   16 year old Lynn MacDougall was the star turn on 16th May when in the East  v  West Match, she won the Inter 800m in 2:10.   Other notable winners were Linsey McDonald (100m/200m), Angela Bridgeman  (400m) and Ann Clarkson (1500m).


John Robson, 1981


May Day, 1982 saw the SWAAA Western District Championships held at Grangemouth in a strong wind.   This was no hindrance to Angela Bridgemen (Glasgow) who won no fewer than three events – 110m (11.3), 200m (23.7) and 400m (56.8).   Caroline Shaw of Ayr Seaforth won the javelin with a championship best performance of 36.72 metres.  

The first week end in June was a big one for the stadium:  on the Saturday it was the SWAAA Intermediate championships and since 1982 was a Commonwealth Games year, results were important for young hopefuls.   The report in the Glasgow Herald was enthusiastic about the chances of 16 year old Ann Girvan saying that if she were not selected, it would not be for want of trying.   A member of Ayr Seaforth who lived in the North of England, she set two records at the meeting winning the 100 hurdles in 13.7 seconds and the 200m hurdles in 27.8 seconds.   She had been third in the WAAA championships the previous weekend.   There were seven other records broken – in the 1500m Vicki Vaughan of Pitreavie took 7 seconds off the junior record with a time of 4:39.4, which was only 1.4 seconds slower than clubmate Karen Hutcheson did in the Intermediate race which was also a record.   Carol Candlish set a record in the 400m   (55.7) and Jackie Barclay of Shettleston won both shot and javelin setting a record in the latter of 41.94m.  Dawn Flockhart (ESH) won both 100 and 200m and Elaine Thomson of Glasgow set a junior high jump record of 1.66m.   A day later and the qualifying rounds of the GRE Cup were held on Sunday, 6th June, and both men’s and women’s club teams were in action.   In the women’s match Central Region (111), Kilbarchan (98) and Ayr Seaforth (96) were the three qualifiers, and in the men’s it was Pitreavie (142) and Aberdeen (127) who qualified.   


The inimitable Jimmy Campbell, marksman, right holding the clipboard, 1986


The SAAA Juniors, Youths and Senior Boys championships were held at Grangemouth on 26th June, 1982, and there was only one record on a day with a very cold wind and that was from Craig Duncan (Shettleston) in the Youths triple jump (14.36m).   Other good performances were returned by Alistair Currie from Dumbarton with an 800.1500m double, Elliott Bunney in the 100/200m in the Youths age group, in the Senior Boys competition there was a double for Malcolm McPhail (200/400m), and in the Senior Boys David Boyd won the 800/1500m double.   Among the Juniors, David Martin of Enfield won both sprints, Martin McMahon won the 400m, Tom McKean the 800, Stuart Paton the 1500m and W Gemmell the steeplechase.   There were mixed fortunes for two of the winners the next day at Coatbridge in the League match – McMahon (an Anglo from the North of England making his first appearance for ESH won the 400m while Bunnery ran in the relay but the team was disqualified isnce Bunney was a Youth who had not run the senior qualifying time.

The joint SAAA/SWAAA Championships returned to Grangemouth on 10th July and there were several new faces taking part.   In the womens events Sandra Whitaker won both 100m and 200m and Angla Bridgman the 400m to make it three titles for coach Iain Robertson who coached them both.   Carol Lightfoot won the 800m and 17 year old Lynn MacDougall the 1500 in 4:16.2.   This was inside the meeting record, the Scottish Native Record and just missed the UK Junior record.   Yvonne Murray won the 3000m and Pat Rollo th sprint hurdles; in the field events Meg Ritchie won the shot and discus and Lorraine Campbell the long jump.   As far as the men were concerned, there was a proliferation of Rnglish based athletes among the prize winners.   Allan Wells won the 100m and Tom McKean the 800m with Rob Harrison (Birchfield) taking the 800m, Geoff Turnbull (Valli) winning the 1500 and Nat Muir the 5000m.   It was at the happy time when the marathon was run from the championships and Colin Youngson took the title.   The team for the Commonwealth Games was announced on 14th August and Ann Girvan was indeed in the team – but Margot Wells who was one place above her in the rankings was not.   

This was followed by the British Airways Games the following week with a multitude of stars taking part.   The results indicate as much.   For instance, Cameron Sharp, who had beaten Allan Wells over 200m the previous weekend, equalled the Scottish native, national and all-comers record for the 100m set by Wells of 9.6  seconds: he had led all the way but was almost caught on the line by Drew McMaster who was given the same time.   Others to excell were Yvonne Murray who had set a new native record for the 3000m the week before, beat the record of Lynne McDougall with 4:15.1 after a great race with Kathy Mearns, Ann Clarkson who defeated Lynn McDougall in the 800m and Angela Bridgeman beat Kaye Jeffrey in the 100m and Anglo Natalie Byer in the 200m.   Among the men, Jim Dingwall won the 3000m, Nat Muir the 1500m, Martin McMaahon the 400m and Geoff Parsons the high jump, and Chris Black the hammer.   

Of course the bread and butter meetings went on – on August 21st, for instance, there was a Young Athletes League meeting was held and at the start of September there was a Scottish Women’s League match where Shettleston defeated Glasgow LAC.   Falkirk’s sponsorship of the arena and its meetings had paid off again.

The new season started on 7th May 1983 with the SWAAA West |District Championships.   There were four records set, three of them in the field events:   Rhona Pinkerton in the high jump with 1.75m, two Shettleston Harriers Ladies in the throws (Morag Ross and Jackie Barclay who threw the identical distance of 43.16 in setting new records for the discus and javelin) and Fiona McQueen broke the existing record for the 1500m by almost 7 seconds in 4:27.2, well clear of Carol Lightfoot.   Lightfoot had just lost in a close finish in the 800m to Lynn McDougall whose time was 2:09.9.   To complete the middle distances, Susan Crawford of Kilbarchan won the 3000m in 9:50.7.    The only double winner was Sandra Whittaker who won the 100m and 200m.   It was a good week end for followers of women’s athletics living in Grangemouth for the East District championships took place at the same stadium one day later on Sunday 8th May.   18 year old Yvonne Murray had a double victory when she won the 800m from Liz McArthur in 2:09.3, and 1500m in 4:29.1.    The other double winner from the East were Dawn Flockhart in 100m and 200m.   

Scottish and British athletics were on a real high at this time with many top class athletes – male and female – competing all over Europe almost on a weekly basis.   Even League matches had their share of international athletes competing.   In addition there were many more good facilities with every field event provided for and all weather tracks available within Scotland.   There were no more big meetings at Grangemouth in 1983 but the sport went on.   For example, towards the end of the season the final Scottish women’s league match was held there with Edinburgh Southern finishing third on the day but winning the league title.   Among the athletes taking part were Sandra Whittaker, Angela Bridgeman and Jane Lindsay.  

Into 1984 and on 5th May the West District SWAAA Championships were held there while the East were held at Pitreavie.   THree double winners made their presence felt at Grangemouth – Kaye Jeffrey won the 100 in 12.2 (from Sandra Whittaker) and the 200m in 25.00; Moira McBeath won the long jump (6.02m) and 100m hurdles (15.10); and Andrea Everett took the 1500m (4:40) and the 3000m in 9:56.9.   Carol Sharp won the 800m in 2:13.7 just a few weeks after a cartilage operation.   Thereafter the season proceeded with all sorts of matches (Scottish League, British League, You ng Athletes) and training weekends but, it being Olympic year many of the top stars rationed their appearances to those events where their chances of selection-worthy performances were highest and Grangemouth didn’t really figure when there were Grand Prix meetings all over Europe, invitation meetings in London and other capital cities.   For the meetings left in Scotland there was competition from Meadowbank, Pitreavie and Coatbridge as well as the newer tracks such as Dundee’s Caird Park track.   There was a Scottish Championship on 21st July when the SWAAA Pentathlon was held there, the winners being Sarah Booth of Centrl Region, and the junior winner was Michelle McGuinness of Colzium.   The Olympic athletes were back for the end of the season when Edinburgh Southern, despite finishing second on the day, won the Scottish women’s league.   Outstanding performers on the day were Glasgow’s Sandra Whittaker, and Jayne Barnetson from Inverness. 


Another good photograph from Alastair Shaw of the track judges between races with the marksman apparently heading off across the grass and a great shot of the track with the cycle track providing informal seating and sunbathing with the outer banking and its trees at the top of the picture.   [From the top: David Lyle, Dora Stephen, – , Eleanor Gunstone, Netta Sinclair.  Also Jimmy Campbell]


On 27th April 1985 the Scottish Universities Cup was contested at at Grangemouth when Martin Johnson of Aberdeen University won three sprint races – the 100m, the 200m and the 400m in 10.7, 21.7 and 49.7.   Decathlete Ben Thomson also won three events – the 110 hurdles, the long jump and high jump, leading Edinburgh University to the team title.   Fiona Hargreaves, also of Edinburgh, was in outstanding form for the time of year, winning the 100m in 11.9 and the 200m in 24.6.   A week later and the West District Women’s Championships took the stage with Sandra Whittaker winning the 100m (12.1) and 200m (24.2.   Team mate Elspeth Turner won the 1500m (4:32.3).   The only championship best was by Jackie Barclay of Monklands Shettleston in the senior javelin with a throw of 44.52m.   Other winners were Carol Sharp (800m), Audrey Sim (3000m), Jane Low (100mhurdles), Moira McBeath (long jump), and Morag Bremner (shot and discus).   A day later and the first meeting of the newly formed third division of the Scottish Men’s League took place and was won by Lothian AC from Lochgelly and District.  The UK Women’s League Division Two fixture followed on Saturday, May 11th, and again Whittaker was the star of the show with another sprint double, Carol Sharp won the 800m, and Rhona Pinkerton won the high jump.   Liverpool won the match from Glasgow.   

The Schools returned to the venue for their pentathlon and relay championships and the winners included Elizabeth Dempsey from  St Maurice’s at Cumbernauls from Caris Henderson from Forfar in the younger girls age group.   Ian Easton from Castlehead High in Paisley won the U17 Boys championship and the younger boys was won by S Thomson of Morrisons Academy while the older girls event went to C Smellie of Bo’ness.   

There was a GRE Gold Cup second round match at Grangemouth on Sunday 16th June where Cameron and Carol Sharp both won their respective events.   In the men’s match, Cameron won the 100m in 10.3 and the 200m in 21.0 which was the fastest legal hand timed 200m in the UK that year up to then.   Despite this, Shettleston could only finish third and coule not qualify for the next round.   The Ladies club did qualify, helped by Carol who won the 1500m in 4:30.1.   Mary Anderson was a double winner, taking the shot putt and the javelin throw.    A month later, 13th July, the SWAAA Junior and Intermediate Championships were held there.   Edinburgh’s Mary Anderson was one of the stars of the show when she won Shot Putt (14.40m) and the Javelin (45.90m) and was second in the Discus (40.80m) but left before the presentation to the athlete of the meeting was made.   Gail McDonald of Glasgow had been second in the SWAAA Senior Championships in June, and here she won the 1500m by 13 seconds in a time of 4:32.8.  She was beaten in the 800m by Edinburgh’s Linda Purdon who won in 2.13.   The high jump was won by Inverness’s Jayne Barnetson with 1.80m, and she also won the long jump with 5.56m.   Among the Inters, Joan Booth won both 100m (12.5)  and 200m (25.1) which helped her win the Golden Wonder Trophy.   By the end of the summer both of the two top teams in the country – Edinburgh Woollen Mills and McLaren Glasgow – had their own sponsors and were in the top tier of the British Women’s League.   But when it came to the domestic League, EWM again came out on top after the final match at Grangemouth on 31st August with a sprint double by Kay Jeffrey.


Netta Sinclair dictating confirmed result to Carole Shaw


In 1986, there was a UK Women’s League Match on 5th July with a host of internationalists taking part in the year that Scotland would again host the Commonwealth Games.   Among the winners were Lynne McDougall, Ann Putvis, Andrea Everett, Marsella Robertson, and Lorraine Campbell.   There was good class competition all through the field too.   The next meeting of consequence at the arena was on 21st June when the SSAA schoolgirls championships were held there featuring such as Hayley Haining, Alison Grey and Nikki Barr.   

The photographs of the officials on this page were all taken by Alastair Shaw at the Inter and Junior championships on 28th June, 1986.   It was earlier than usual because of the Commonwealth Games that year and the pictures show the officials, without whom the meeting could not go ahead, but also segments of the track and the layout of the stadium.  There is the infield, then the track, then the cycle track which is used for close up spectating by the supporters, families and coaches, then on the outside is the raised banking for the spectators.   It is a good track with many attractions for the spectators.   The water jump for the steeplechase was moved from the first bend to inside the second bend so that the finish is at the ‘normal’ finishing line in front of the stand.   Among the winners this time round were Nicola Emblem (Javelin) and Nicola Barr  both set records – Emblem in the javelin with 44.94, and Barr in the inter long jump with a best of 5.72m.   Emblem also finished second in the high jump.   

By now there were many new tracks around the country – the track in Inverness had been opened in May 1985 – and there were good quality facilities all across the country (Aberdeen, Coatbridge, Crown Point, Pitreavie, Ayr, etc) but Grangemouth was one of the best and while not holding as many big meetings as before, was still in action every week end as well as for training throughout the week.


Hilda Everett noting the times from Tom Bolan (Colzium) (top) and John Robertson (ESH)


We can maybe get an indication of the hive of activity that was Grangemouth Stadium by looking at a range of the type of event hosted there.   Remember, first, that it was being used through the week for club training purposes by many clubs but mainly Falkirk Victoria Harriers, and second that this is an indicative list and not a comprehensive one.

Date Meeting
23/3/87 Falkirk Council Open Graded Meeting
4/4/87 Colzium AAC Open Inter-Club Fixture
12/4/87 Perth Strathtay Harriers Open Meeting
3/5/87 Bank of Scotland Women's Athletic League Cup Semi Final
10/5/87 UK Access Women's League
13/5/87 Combined Scottish Universities v Scottish League v SAAA Junior Select
24/5/87 SWAAA Combined Events Championships and Relay Championships
14/6/87 Scottish Schools Pentathlon and Relay Championships
20/6/87 Scottish Schoolgirls Championships
8/7/87 Falkirk Council Open Graded Meeting
13/9/87 Women's Own/Nike 10K from Grangemouth Stadium

That should give an idea of the width of coverage – local open meetings, club sponsored events. schools and age group champonships, national championships and even as a starting and finishing point for road races.   And note the pictures below- taken at a Scottish Schools AA Coaching Day on 16th October, 1988.   These days have been taking place at Grangemouth for as long as I can remember and are always staffed with some of the best coaches Scotland could provide.  They are immensely successful functions.

We can maybe look at some of the events individually.   But first note the pictures above – taken at a Scottish Schools AA Coaching Day on 16th October, 1988.   These days have been taking place for as long as I can remember and are always staffed with some of the best coaches Scotland could provide.  They are immensely successful functions.

The first notable meeting in 1987 was the Monklands Scottish Athletic Cup on 3rd May, and the star of the show as undoubtedly Yvonne Murray who won the 800m in 2:06.4 and then, in the 4 x 400m relay last leg, took over with a 25 yards deficit and finished first by 20 yards.   In the field events, Ashley Morris of Pitreavie won the shot (13.04m) and discus (41.54m) with personal bests.   A week later in the UK women’s league, Beverly Kinch, who had declined selection for the European and World indoor championships earlier in the year, won the 100 metres in 11.1 seconds with Birchfield winning the match from McLaren Glasgow, Borough of Hounslow and Wolverhampton and Bilston.   In the representative match the following Wednesday, the SAAA Junior Select won with 230 points from the Scottish League who had 218 and the combined Scottish Universities a single point behind with 217.   The combined events and schools championships went off with the customary Grangemouth efficiency.   National championships continued to come to the stadium because the standard of the provision was so high – there was however only one drawback – the track only had six lanes at this point against the eight at Crown Point, Coatbridge, Pitreavie, Wishaw and the others.


Graham Macindoe’s photograph of Graham Crawford winning the Falkirk Half Marathon in 1985

We have been looking at Grangemouth Stadium as a hub of Scottish athletics and it has fulfilled that function well.   Other stadia that were hailed as the answer to Scotland’s national stadium have come and gone.   Meadowbank no more.   Crown Point no more – well it is used by Shettleston Harriers but as a national stadiun it is no more.   Scotstoun no more – can’t host an international because field event facilities are not up to scratch.   But there is more to Grangemouth for athletes than the track – it is a favourite venue for road races.   The Round the Houses race at the start of the year has been running for decades attracting some of the best talent in the country.   Graham Crawford was a wonderful distance runner who seemed almost invincible in half marathons and the picture above of him entering the stadium in 1985 indicates the crowd and it’s intense interest in the result – just look at the boy in the car or the two soldiers, who were presumably stewards!   The size of the race is indicated by the page from the “Scotland’s Runner” below of the race in 1988 shows us that.   

Then there were the Scottish Schools Road Relays held from the Stadium, the SWAA Road Relays held there too.   You will have noted above the reference to the Woman’s Own/Nike 10K Road Race which was one of several held at various venues on the same day.   There are tracks around the country that do not  make money and we can all think of some in  that category, but Grangemouth never seems to close – it attracts all sorts of events but the main point seems to be that it is never idle.   The road races are well supported and it would be wrong to ignore them. 

Peter Fleming winning the Falkirk Half Marathon in 1988

Photos by Peter Devlin for “Scotland’s Runner”

The main fixtures for 1988 were similar to those of the previous year starting on 14th February with the 10K Round the Houses Road Race which started and finished in the stadium, and ending with the Scottish women’s road relay  championships (2nd October) and the Falkirk Half Marathon (23rd October).   Championships in 1988 included the Scottish Schools Pentathlon and Relays, the Scottish Schools Boys Championships, Scottish Veteran Harriers Club Championships, the Scottish Veterans 10000m track championship, and the Scottish Veterans  v  North East of England match.  We can look first at the Schools Championships, held on 18th June.   The pole vault record went when Ian Black from Edinburgh Academy broke Norrie Foster’s record from 1962 with a vault of 4.01m.   The story however is that Foster set his record using an aluminium pole and landing on sand!   Black used a glass fibre pole and landed in a foam landing bed.   It had been until 1988 the longest standing meeting record.   Nicholas Taylor of Bearsden Academy won both hurdles races, Andrew Bryce, son of Lawrie, won the shot putt, Barnaby Whyte, son of David who had won long and triple jumps, won the long jump.   Craig Joyner won both sprints in the 13 – 15 age group.   Looking back from the 21st century there are some winners who went on to become well known in the sport: Dave Barnetson from Dingwall won the high jump and Dave Allen from Merchiston won the discus,; in Group B Darren Halliday won both sprints.    


The vets international on 27th August, 1988,  there was a host of top grade performances by talented athletes, both men and women in all age groups.   There were so many in so many events that we can only mention some of them.   In the Men’s 40-45 age category, former professional athlete John Steede won the 100m (11.7) and 200m (24.3),  Ian Stark, another former professional, won the 800m ( 2:08.7)  and in the 5000m Colin Youngson (15:38.4) won from Jack Adair (15:51.1),  Allan Adams (15:52.2 and Bill Scally (16:02).    Eamon Fitzgerald won the high jump and triple jump and Bill Gentleman the Discus throw.   In the 50-55 group, J Ross won the 100m (12.0), 200m (24.7) and 400m (58.1), as well as high jump (1.20), triple jump (10.38) shot putt (8.87) and javelin (42.38).   Undoubtedly the top perdormances of the afternoon.   George Bridgeman in the 60-65 group won the 100m, 200m and 400m – all in good times of 12.9, 27.1 and 29.0.   Willie Marshall won both 800 (2:32.0) and 5000m (17:41,5).   In the women’s events, A Munro won both 100m (13.2) and 200m (28.1), Janet Stevenson won the 3000m (10:29.2) and C Brown won high jump (1.25m), long jump (4.13), discus  (27.54m) and shot putt (8.94).

The pattern continued and on 10th June 1989 international athletics returned to Grangemouth when Scotland’s women  took on Greece and Northern Ireland.   One of the stars of the show was Karen Hutcheson who won the 1500m in 4:17.64 after leading most of the way.   The former Lochgelly runner, now running for Berryhill in Mansfield, said after the race that she was working towards selection for both 1500m and 3000m selection for the 1990 Commonwealth Games.   The selection standard was 4:08.5 and with Yvonne Murray and Lynne MacDougall going for the 1500m that was not an easy selection.   There were five Scottish winners – in addition to Karen, Jocelyn Kirby won the 100m hurdles in 14.4 seconds, Lorraine Campbell won the long jump with 6.02m, Alison Edwards won the 200m (after the Greek who was first across the line was judged to have left her lane and disqualified, and Alison Grey won the shot putt.   Scotland also won both relays and won the contest.   The season was as normal apart from that but there was to be another international in 1991 at Grangemouth which was to be another landmark in Scottish athletics.

16th June 1991 was Scotland’s  last outdoor international fixture held across the whole range of events to be held in Scotland.   It was a Small Nations International covering the entire range of events: 11 track + 8 field for the men, 10 track plus 6 field for the women.   Given that significance, the meeting has been given a separate page.    

Miling Miscellany

Murray Halberg, Ron Delaney, Albie Thomas, Herb Elliott, Merv Lincoln

What a time for milers – first time five runners were under 4 for the distance in the same race.  

The story of the four minute mile has been repeated so often and from so many different angles by so many different people that it would be daft to try to rehearse it all over again here.  This page will have the stories and photographs that we consider interesting and/or amusing.  But first, some controversy – for a result to stand, a race must be run in the true spirit of amateurism, mustn’t it?   

  1.  Read this one by Dave Cocksedge in the BMC News of Autumn, 1987: 

Last August a track referee disqualified an entire field of twelve finishers in a BMC race at Yeovil.   The race had been rganised as an attempt to be the first sub four minute mile to be run in the West Country.   It seems our firendly referee did not like the fact that one runner made the pace before dropping out after two and a half laps.   Following the Referee’s decision the BMC has requested that Southern Counties AA hold an enquiry into the matter.   This could become an important test case.   Every summer middle distance races are blatantly paced on the Grand Pace circuit under the ausices of the IAAF.   But when club runners in Britain lub together to race fast, they risk disqualification under AAA’s rule 69 (assistace) which is itself vague and subject to interpretation.”   

2.   Bannister was not the first British four minute miler -the honour maybe goes to James Parrott and he ran it in the 18th century and you can get the full story here

3.  Of course you can get a lot of fun testing yourself with questions like  – 

Which of these four persons was the first to announce/claim to have run under 4 minutes for the mile, with a time of 3:45?

Glenn Cunningham
Big Hawk Chief
Ken Wood
W.H. Green
Answer: W.H. Green: Green was a Confederate corporal who is supposed to have run 3:45 in 1865.

Big Hawk Chief, was an Pawnee scout for the US Army and did it twice in 1876 and 1877 in Nebraska, his real name was Kootahwecootsoolelehoolashar, his 3:58 is certainly more believable than Green. Cunningham (USA) and Wood (Britain) both did it in training, as I’m sure a few others have. Glen Cunningham broke the world mile record in 1934 (4:06.8). Ken Wood ran it 29 days before Bannisters official record, he did break 4 minutes officially, when he came fourth (3:59.3) behind Derek Ibbotson’s world breaking run in 1957 (3:57.2).

Test yourself at https://www.funtrivia.com/trivia-quiz/Sports/The-Four-Minute-Mile-178810.html

4.   Now about the picture at the top of the page: it was the first time that five men broke 4:00 minutes for the mile in a single competition and it was the Morton Mile held at Dublin’s Santry Stadium August 6, 1958.   In the picture we have, from the left,  Murray Halberg (3:57.5 in 4th), Ron Delaney (3:57.5 in 3rd), Albie Thomas (3:58.6 in 5th), Herb Elliott (3:54.5 in 1st), Merv Lincoln (3:55.9 in 2nd).   And it doesn’t stop there – three further track nerd facts about this race: 1) Elliott’s time was a world record, 2) at 500 yards into the race, the runners had to sidestep a wayward mongrel who found his way onto the track, 3) Albie Thomas came back the next night to set the world record at 2 miles (8:32.0) 

5.  A Tale of Sportsmanship

The page tells the story.   The authorities were so impressed that they put up a statue to the runners: the Spotrsmanship Statue:

Much, much more to come

 

 

 

The Mile

Hugh Barrow: Scotland’s only world mile record holder

The Mile race has always had a particular magic about it – four laps with the perfect mix of speed, stamina and tactics.   It is a standard distance that even after a century of racing, when the magic time of four minutes (a minute a lap for four laps)  had been broken, it is still regarded as a test of a runner’s ability in the twenty first century.   In 1969, the year before the Edinburgh Empire & Commonwealth Games, one Scottish reporter said in print that the 1500m would not take the place of themile – the 1600m was the more likely event for the Scottish scene.   He was half right – wrong about the acceptance and standardisation of the 1500m, and right about the magic of four complete circuits of the track.

When the British Milers Club was set up in 1964, the very first member was Hugh Barrow of Victoria Park AAC in Glasgow.   He is still BMC member number one.  It didn’t stop there – in 2018 BMC member number 8000 was Sarah Calvert of Livingston AAC.   The club was set up to improve the standard of miling in Britain and Scots have played a significant part in it.   Runners such as Hugh Barrow, Frank Clement, Graham Williamson, Tom McKean,Glen Stewart, Phil Mowbrey and so on have all been members.   Coaches such as Alex Naylor, Brian McAusland, Norrie Williamson, Lachie Stewart, Tommy Boyle and Derek Parker have all played a part in the club’s progress.

Scots have represented Great Britain in the European Championships and Olympic Games in the Mile; Scots have won the AAA Championships and set British records.   It is important that we look at the events itself rather than just at the profiles of individual athletes.   The attraction of the eventreally is more than the sum of the parts.   

The public loved the event and pretty all the best milers in the world ran here: Herb Elliott, Derek Ibbotson, Sydney Wooderson, Gunder Hagg, Steve Ovett and many others came and were applauded by the spectators who came, often in their tens of thousands.   

It is impossible to dispute the fact that there was a kind of love affair with the event in the country which was rivalled only by the marathon and the 100 yards.   It is only right that we give the event a closer look.  Areas of interest include:

  • Scottish athlete profiles because without the athletes there would be no event;
  • we can look at the progress of records domestically,
  • note some of the world’s best milers who ran in Scotland. 
  • Who’s Who of the principal milers of the 1945 – 1990 period,
  • a look at some of the athletes on the world scene. 
  •  and a page or so of photographs.  

Individual Profiles    Significant Scottish record progression   British Milers Club:  Scotland  Miling Miscellany Who’s Who of Scottish Milers 

Some of the World’s best     

Ken Ballantyne: SAAA Mile Champion, 1964

Scotland: Significant Mile Record Progression

Aileen Drummond and Diane Leather: SWAAA and WAAA Mile Champions in 1955

There are some track evets that have a special magic about them – the 100 yards/metres record holders are the fastest men in the world; the marathon is the supreme test of strength endurance, and the magic of the mile is legendary.   The marathon has changed of course from the days when organisers deliberately chose tough courses to test the runners to a situation where speed over the distance is sought with flat courses; from the days when the runner was offered water at relatively scarce points on the course to scientifically concocted drinks and gels, to ice hats for hot weather; to the days when it was a test to the current situation where the leaders are artificially prepared and supported with the remainder being fun runners raising money for charity.   The 100 and the mile though have stood the test of time.   The mile has a kind of magic – four laps of the standard track requiring pace judgement. speed and endurance.   The perfect mix.   On this page there are some facts about the mile.   As in the case of the BBC, it will educate, inform and, we hope, entertain. 

We will start with some Scottish facts.  There is a complete list of Scottish sub 4 runners on the scotstats website at 

 https://www.scotstats.net/rankings-1/sub-4-miles/ .   Click on the Link to see them all. 

 The list is organised by times run and at present (December 2019) there have been 29 sub four Scots who have run it a total of 137 times.   Only ten of these were run in Scotland, and all were in Edinburgh at the stadium which nolonger exists.   A couple of other facts from the list: Ian and Peter Stewart are the only brothers to appear, and Graham Williamson (still the record holder) and son Jamie are the only father and son to have done so Graham in 1982 and Jamie in 2018.  Most prolific is Chris O’Hare with 23 to his credit.   I urge you to inspect the list!

 Possibly more than most events, by definition, the time over the distance matters.    Records matter.   The struggle towards the 4:30 mile and the 4:00 mile at world level are well documented, but not at the local level.   

Ian McCafferty

1.  First what is a record?   

SCOTTISH NATIONAL RECORD: for a performance made in or outwith Scotland by a competitor who was born in Scotland, or either of whose parents was born in Scotland, or who has been recognised by Scottish Athletics as eligible through three years continuous residence to be a Scottish athlete for international competition, provided that athlete has not rendered him/herself ineligible to compete for Scotland.

SCOTTISH NATIVE RECORD: for a performance made in Scotland by a competitor who was born in Scotland, or either of whose parents was born in Scotland, or who has been recognised by the Scottish Athletics as eligible through three years continuous residence to be a Scottish athlete for international competition, provided that athlete has not rendered him/herself ineligible to compete for Scotland.

SCOTTISH ALL-COMERS’ RECORD: For a performance made in Scotland by a competitor irrespective of their nationality or place of birth.    

2.   What records are we interested in?   Mile Records for Men and Women, in the first instance, and the progression towards the significant marks of 4:30 and 4:00 for men and 5:00 for women.   

DS Duncan

3.   4:30 for Men.   

In 1888 two men were trying to be the first Scot under 4:30 for the Mile.   DS Duncan (Edinburgh) started the rush with 4:32.2 early in the season; John Blane chopped this to 4:30.2 seconds and the Duncan finally reached the target with 4:28.0 in September 1888.   The record stood until 1895.

4:32.2 David Duncan Edinburgh Harriers St Bernard’s Sports Edinburgh (Po) 17 Jul 1886

Handicap race. 1 J Stevenson (Edin Inst) (90y) 4:28.8, 2 R Addison (Edin H) (115y), 3 DS Duncan (scr).

4:30.2 John Blane Maybole FC Maybole FC  Sports Maybole 14 Jul 1888

4:30.2 John Blane Maybole FC International Exhibition Glasgow (Ex) 21 Jul 1888

Handicap race. 1 Blane 4:30.2, 2 Lothian (Clydesdale), 3 J Butler (Clydesdale)

4:28.0 David Duncan Edinburgh Harriers Edinburgh H Sports Edinburgh (Po) 13Sep1888

Blane was indeed a member of Maybole FC but he was also a cyclist who won many road races before he took up running, when he ran for Clydesdale Harriers.   His career was short but extremly successful.   

Margaret Coomber, 131

4.   5:00 for women.   After the war in 1945 the top woman mikler in Scotland was Aileen Drummond (later Lusk) from Glasgow who hacked the record down from 5:45 to 5:12.  She was succeeded as record holder by Helen Cherry (later Donald) who took it down to 5:02.9 at the WAAA Championships at the White City.   Initially she was not credited with a record since it was run ‘furth of Scotland) but it has since been recognised.  That lasted from 1962 through to 1969 when Margaret McSherry (later Coomber) took it down to 4:56.3.

5:35.0 Aileen Drummond Maryhill Harriers Scottish Champs Glasgow (HeP) 6 Jun 1953

5:20.2 Aileen Drummond Maryhill AC WAAA Champs London (WC) 4 Jul 1953

1 E Harding (LOAC) 5:09.8, 2 P Green (Ilford) 5:14.8, 3 D Williams (Birch) 5:17.4 … 5 Drummond 5:20.2.

5:12.9 Aileen Drummond Maryhill Harriers WAAA Champs London (WC) 19 Jun 1954

1 P Green (Ilford) 5:09.6, 2 H Vincent (LOAC) 5:11.4, 3 Drummond 5:12.9.

5:02.5 Helen Cherry Bellahouston Harriers WAAA Champs London (WC) 7 Jul 1962

1 J Beretta (Australia) 4:57.0, M Ibbotson (Longwood) 5:00.4, 3 Cherry 5:02.5.

4:56.3 Margaret MacSherry Cambridge Harriers Leicester 14 Jun 1969   

Mike Beresford leading Jim McLatchie and Bert McKay in 1962

5.   4:00 for Men   There really was a scramble to be the first Scot under 4:00 as indeed there was all over the world after Bannister and Landy did so.   Among the Scots in the hunt were Alan Gordon (Achilles), Graham Everett (Shettleston), Mike Berisford (Sale), Hugh Barrow (Victoria Park).    Of these:

  • Alan Gordon described by Doug Gillon as  ‘the Scot whose athletic feats were once airbrushed from history’ was born on 21st September, 1932 in Bolsover, Derbyshire and was one of the country’s best ever milers.   He appeared in the Scottish ranking lists every year from 195 to 1962.  Alan was one of the runners in Bannister’s first ever 4 minute mile in 1954, in 1955 he was sixth in Britain at 1500m (3:48.6) and 11th in the Mile (4:07.9), and in 1956 he ran 3:46.when he finished third in a floodit meeting crossing the line with Chris Chataway, and 4:06.2 for the Mile when setting a new record for the Oxford v Cambridge meeting.   These two performances would be recognised as Scottish records today but at that time, they were not recognised since they were run outside Scotland.
  • Graham Everett won the Scottish mile championship no fewer than eight times in all, seven of them consecutively.   He set Scottish records at the Mile and Two Miles.   He won the Scottish Senior Cross Country Championship in 1960 after an epic battle with Alastair Wood of Aberdeen who was running for Shettleston at the time and represented Scotland in four world cross country championships. 
  • Hugh Barrow was the age group World Mile Record Holder at 16 – the only Scot ever to hold a world mile record.   A very talented athlete, he was the man that Graham Everett felt would be the first Scot under 4 minutes.   Hugh represented Scotland and SAAA teams in many forms from 1962 to 1971 , ran for the Rest of Britain v England Indoors in 1963, represented the Rest of Britain v Olympic Team   1964 and represented GB in 1967.   His fastest mile time was a tantalising 4:01.
  • Mike Berisford was an Anglos-Scot who never lived in Scotland, raced very sparingly north of the border and won the SAAA Mile title in 1962.  He was however the first Scot to break 4 minutes when he was fifth in a race in London in 3:59.2.

6.   The Progression to the First Four Minutes

4:06.2  Alan Gordon Oxford Univ  Oxf.U v Camb.ULondon (WC)  7 Apr 19561

                 Gordon 4:06.2, 2 P Abrahams (Oxf) 4:09.8, 3 C Maxwell (Oxf) 4:13.8. (60.4, 2:04.2, 3:07.4)

4:06.0 Michael Berisford Sale H Glasgow Police Sports Glasgow (I) 15 Jun 19571

                 D Ibbotson 3:58.4, 2 M Bernard (Fra) 4:05.8, 3 Berisford 4:06.0, 4 G Everett 4:06.6

4:04.8  Michael Berisford Sale H  Civil Service Int’l meet  Dublin IRL   5 Jul 1957

                  1 R Delany (Crusaders) 4:04.7, 2 Berisford 4:04.8, 3 G Everett (Shett) 4:05.3.

 4:03.4 Alan Gordon Achilles  London v New York  London (WC) 19 Jul 1957

4:02.7  Graham Everett Shettleston H   AAA London (WC) 16 Jul 1960

                1 L Tabori (Hun) 4:01.02, 2 M Wiggs 4:01.24, 3 M Jazy (Fra) 4:01.28 … 5 Everett 4:02.70 (given as 4:02.8).

4:02.1 Michael Berisford Sale H   Sward Trophy Chiswick  13May1961

                 1 K Wood 4:01.8, 2 Berisford 4:02.1, 3 J Snowden 4:03.6.

4:01.4  Michael Berisford Sale H  CAU London (WC) 22 May 1961

                 1 D Haith 4:01.3, 2 Berisford 4:01.4, 3 S Taylor 4:01.9, 4 A Simpson 4:04.6.

3:59.2 Michael Berisford Sale H  Emsley Carr  London  18 Aug 1962

                1 Jim Beatty (USA) 3:56.52, 2 Jim Grelle (USA) 3:56.70, 3 S Taylor 3:58.01, 4 Bob Seaman (USA) 3:58.07, 5 Berisford.

Graham Everett: 8 times SAAA Mile Champion, 3 times Scottish Record holder.

7.   The barrier having been broken, the event still had two major challenges for Scottish milers – first it had been run outside the country  and obviously the athletes, supporters and aficionadoes wanted to see one run in Scotland: indeed there had to be on for the country to be able to hold its head up internationally; second, for all his virtues, Mike Berisford was an Anglo-Scot and we up here in Scotland wanted a home Scot to run the distance inside the magic time; and third, there would have to be a home Scot run sub-4 inside Scotland..   The first of these objectives was attained by Englishman Derek Ibbotson at Ibrox Park in the Glasgow Police Sports in 1957 ran 3:58.4 to set a British and European record for the distance.   There was a bit of a hiatus before the second was accomplished.

8. Ian McCafferty was the man.  On 11th June both Stewart brothers (Ian and Peter) took on McCafferty in the Reading Chronicle Gala Night of Sport.   There had only been one Scot sub-four for the Mile up to then (Mike Berisford) but there were three afterwards.   The pre-arranged pace-maker (M Duff) took the field through 440 yards in 58.1 and 880 in 1L58.9 before McCafferty took over.   Ian Stewart passed him after only 220 yards and carried the pace until the last furlong when McCafferty made his big break and although Ian Stewart was closing all the way, managed to win in 3:556.8 (which was over five second faster than his personal best) with Stewart second in 3:57.3 and brother Peter third in 3:58.7.    The Stewart parents had come from Musselburgh outside Edinburgh and although Ian was born in Birmingham, Peter was born in Musselburgh.   So there were three new Scottish 4-minute milers faster than Berisford’s 3:59.2 after the one race.  

9.   The first home Scot to do the business in Scotland was the second placed runner in that race: in the Emsley Carr Mile, held at the British Games in Edinburgh in 1970, Ian and Peter Stewart ran a magnificent race to be separated by inches and both had the same time of 3:57.4.   Ian had the all-comers record, and Peter became the holder of the native record.    

Ian (5) and Peter Stewart at Meadowbank

Grangemouth

Grangemouth Sports Stadium is probably one of the best known – and best cared for – athletics arenas in the country.   When it was first opened in 1966 it was a bit of a trek to get there – train to the nearest station and then either take the bus or walk out to the venue.   Location has not changed but more people have cars and, thanks to the practice gained with getting teams to league matches, clubs are now more practsed at getting athletes along.   It has hosted  international matches, championships (Scottish, District, Inter-Counties, Schools, Veterans), open graded meetings and specialist clubs (BMC, Hammer, Pole Vault).   The track and field facilities have been upgraded at least twice and unlike other facilities like Meadowbank and Crown Point it has not been demolished or down-graded.   The people of the area are well served in this respect.    The online Running Track Directory describes it thus:

Grangemouth Sports Stadium & Centre of Excellence
Kersiebank Avenue
GRANGEMOUTH
FK3 0EE

Type: Synthetic, 400m, 8 lanes, 8 lane straight

The stadium opened on 9th July 1966 at a cost of £72,000 and was the first full synthetic track in the UK. It was originally made of Rub-Kor as opposed to 3M Tartan which was used at Crystal Palace. It was upgraded to 8 lanes in 1996 and the surface is Polytan PUR. There is also an indoor athletics centre at the site.   

The photos of officials are from Alastair Shaw in the 1980’s : here because they show tha layout of the track

The date of its opening in July, 1966 clashed with Ron Clarke breaking 13 min for 3 miles at the White City (12:58.2) in AAA’s championships and this, even in Scotland and even with a specialist correspondent at the Glasgow Herald minimised the coverage.   Scots at the AAA’s on the Saturday  included Ming Campbell (200m), Graeme Grant (800m),  JL Stewart ( steeplechase), Crawford  Fairbrother (high Jump), Hamidh Robertson (long jump) and Mike Lindsay (Shot Putt).  All would have been big draws in Grangemouth.  In addition Alastair Wood won the Inverness to Forres Marathon in 2 hours 13 min 45 seconds, 12 minutes up on Hugh Mitchell (Shettleston).   However there was a report on the actual match in the following Monday’s “Glasgow Herald” and it is reproduced here in full.

“MISS SMITH’S SCOTTISH MILE REORD

New Stadium at Grangemouth

Miss A Smith (Mitcham) became the first woman to run a mile in under 5 minutes in Scotland when she won over the distace in 4 min 48.5 sec on Saturday at the first meeting in Grangemouth’s new sports stadium.   Miss Smith set tow new Sottish all-comers records during the race, for the mile and for the 1500m with 4:30.7.   Miss G Craig (Western) set a Scottish record for the metric distance with 4:49.4, and equalled the mile record with 5:8.4.   Miss M Kerr (Maryhill Harriers) was second to Miss B Bedford (Hercules) in the shot putt for the second week in succession.   Miss Bedford’s winning putt was 45′  5″, the best in Scotland but 2′ 2 1/2 inches behind her distance at the Women’s Amateur Athletics Association’s championships last week.   

English women won three other events – Miss M Fanden (Middlesex) the 100 yards in 11.1 seconds, Miss P Jones (Birchfield) the 80 metres hurdles in 11.1 seconds, and Miss D Watkins (WRNS) the 440 yards in 55.7 seconds; Mrs M Kyle, the Irish Internationalist, won the 880 yards and was second in the quarter mile.   Miss A Jamieson (Western) had two personal best performances with 20′ 1 3/4″ in winning the long jump, and 11.4 seconds in finishing third in the 80m hurdles.   Bothe were better than the Scottish records but were wind assisted.   I McCafferty (Motherwell YMCA) won two events – the mile in 4:20.9 and the Three Miles in 14:01.”   

There were further competitions at the venue that year starting with a League match on 23rd between Octavians (112) and Edinburgh Southern Harriers (82 points), and two weeks later Octavians took on Shettleston and recorded another win (124 to 47).    

Starter on the infield at Grangemouth with track and raised stand clearly visible; people on the velo track in front of the stand too.

Photo by Alastair Shaw

The first full season for the new facility however was that of 1967.   Less than a year after its opening in July, 1966, Grangemouth held its first SAAA championships (24th June) and two weeks before that (10th June) it hosted the International meeting between the four home countries for the British Isles Cup.   The international was an unmitigated success.   The opening paragraph in the “Glasgow Herald” read: “A handful of records of various assortments, a brilliantly sunny day, and organisation on a level approaching perfection made the contest among the home countries at Grangemouth Stadium on Saturday the most outstanding International meeting Scotland has held.”   “To go on about organisation before recounting the many excellent performances may be getting priorities mixed up, but the truth is that for what may have been the first time in this country the field events performers were made to feel at least as important as the track athletes.”

These comments highlighted part of the reasons for the success of Grangemouth as a venue: first, the organisation was at the time almost top notch, certainly of a very high level; and second, it was realised that all athletes were equally important.   The meetings were organised for the athletes.   At one championship elsewhere in Scotland at the start of the 21st century, there was a slot in the programme marked “interval”.   When the athletes competing in the first event after that interval asked what time it would be complete, the reply from the Clerk of the Course was “We don’t know: we’ll try to hurry up the early events so that the officials have time for a cup of tea and a snack!”   Nobody was denying the officials who always work hard at these meetings their break, but surely a time table could have been worked out to everybody’s satisfaction?   That was not the case at Grangemouth at the very start of its long run as an internatioonal and championship venue.   But back to the performances on 10th June, 1967.   

The event was packed with top class athletic talent – Olympians, Commonwealth champions, national champions from all the home countries, record holders as well as crowd pleasing entertainers.   The meeting had everything.    A selection of the results.

Event Winner Performance Second Performance Third Performance Comments
100 yards R Jones W 9.7 L Piggot S 9.7* BH Kelly E 9.8 *national record
440 yards J Adey E 47.9 H Davies W 48.1 H Baillie S 49.5
880 yards J Whetton E 1:51 GD Grant S 1:52.6 S Wilson I 1:53.3
Mile R Roseman E 4:10.8 F Bell W 4:12.6 JL Stewart S 4:13.6
Three Miles DA Graham I 13:30 I McCafferty S 13:32 4 G Bryan-Jones W 13:32.4
Steeplechase: M Herriott E 8:53.8 W Ewing S 8:58.2 R McAndrew W 9:33.2
High jump MC Campbell E 6' 6" C Fairbrother S 6' 4" E Clarke W 6' 8"
Triple jump FJ Alsop E* 50' 11 3/4" D McBeth S** 48' 8 1/4" G Webb W 47' 10" * all comers record/** national record
Pole Vault M Bull I 15' DD Stevenson S 14' 6" MR Hagdon E 14'
Javelin V Mitchell S* 237' 3 1/2" B Sanderson E 233' 8 1/2" J James W 205' 4" *national record
Hammer AH Payne E 199' 1 1/2" LM Bryce S 195' L Hall W 171' 4 1/2"

There is enough there to indicate the quality of this first international held at Grangemouth.   There was really only one controversy at the meeting and that concerned Ian McCafferty, pictured below.   Let the “Herald” tell the tale.   

“McCafferty’s first defeat this season is by now well known.   He resented the fact that on a hot day DA Graham (Ireland) was unprepared to do any pacemaking over the twelve laps, but that should have been no excuse because the Scot’s finish is usually a reliable damper on an over-ambitious opponent.   Saturday’s last lap effort to shake off the redoubtable Irishman was of the damp squib variety and Graham well and truly outsprinted him in the last 100 yards.   These two meet again tomorrow at the White City, London in a two mile race.”

In the race at White City McCafferty won from Graham and also defeated Bruce Tulloh and Tim Johnston but that didn’t count for the match where the reality was that Graham had run a better race for his country.   

Alastair Wood, having won the 1967 SAAA Marathon, cheers on Don Ritchie finishing in second place

The season had really started on 22nd April with a triangular match between Forth Valley, Dundee Hawkhill and Dumbarton AAC where there was more evidence that it had a fast track.   In the half mile race, RR Campbell won in 1:54.6 from DA Martin and WH Barrow (VPAAC, running as a guest), and in the 440 yards, Graeme Grant defeated Duncan Middleton (Springburn, guest) in 51.4.   Having beaten both other clubs at this match, Forth Valley again won a triangular at Grangemouth on 6th May when the defeated Springburn and Teviotdale Harriers.   This time Duncan Middleton won both 220 yards and One Mile races.   The stadium was in use a week later for an inter-club between Edinburgh Southern, Billingham and Victoria Park.   The best race of the afternoon was the Invitation Mile where Lachie Stewart set a Stadium record of 4:06.   It had been a good race.   Hugh Barrow l;ed through the first lap in 60.3, Ken Ballantine took the field through half way with 2:03.1 and John Linaker pulled them to the three quarter mile marker in 3:05.9.   Stewart then took it on and won from Hugh Barrow (4:06) and Adrian Weatherhead in 4:06.6.   Ballantine went on to wion the two miles in 9:09.   It was a star studded meeting with the likes of Justin Togher, Crawford Fairbrother, A Wood, Doug Edmunds and Dave Birkmyre all taking part.   The next meeting at the venue was the successful International on 10th June (reported above) which led nicely into the SAAA Championships on the 24th.   

These championships were well supported by the best athletes that the country had.   The names of the Senior champions included Duncan Middleton, Ian McCafferty, Lachie Stewart, Alastair Wood, Tony Hogarth, Bill Ewing, Hamish Robertson, Crawford Fairbrother, David Stevenson, David Walker and Laurie Bryce.   Even the runners-up were competitors of a very high standard – Les Piggot, Hugh Barrow, Graeme Grant, Hugh Baillie, Norman Foster and Gareth Bryan-Jones.   The Junior and Youth championships were also included in the meeting and here the names included some who would become household names – Ian Turnbull, Norman Morrison, Chris Black and Ricky Taylor among them.   There were also two national records set, one by Middleton in the half mile and the other by Walker in the long jump.  The marathon was maybe significant too for it was maybe the real starting point for a marvellous series of victories and medals of all colours in the event for Aberdeen men.  In 1967 Alastair Wood won in 2:21:26 fro clubmate Don Ritchie who was timed at 2:17:48.   Edinburgh ‘s Alex Wight was third a minute further back.   It was  a massive meeting to organise three championships on the day in the compact Grangemouth arena but it was done and done well.  

The next major event there was the SAAA Decathlon Championships were held there on 1st July, albeit with only two competitors completing the event, and were a triumph for the Octavians club with a victory for PJS Burgess of the club with club mate DD Stevenson second.  

The fourth major meeting in 1967 was a six-sided women’s international on 9th September featuring Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Southern, Midlands and Northern Counties.   The first para in the report read: “The six-sided international contest …. proved a great successboth from the point of view of the standard of the competition and, what is sometimes more important, the efficiency of the organisation.”   Southern Counties (203) won the team contest from Scotland (189) and Ireland (181). 

This completed the big fixtures for the 1967 with inter-club matches completing the programme.   Nevertheless the stadium had proved several things:

  1.   The management knew how to organise an event;
  2.    They had an efficient team of stewards who could carry out the many tasks required of them efficiently and without hassle;
  3.     The track was a fast one and the field events met all the standards required to assist good performances;
  4.      Athletes were prepared to travel to get there.

Alastair Shaw, a well known and respected official, spoke of the venue when he was officiating there and said: 

Of the modern Scottish venues I do have a soft spot for Grangemouth.

At the average UK athletics meeting, and even these days at national championships, it can be very hard to generate any sort of decent atmosphere that spurs on the competitors.   With its tidy stand, and the encircling velodrome track I feel the venue is one of the best in Scotland for creating and keeping an atmosphere going at a meeting with relatively few spectators.   Certainly much better than the likes of Coatbridge or Glenrothes, or indeed Meadowbank which often seemed too soulless for anything short of a packed televised meet.

As you see from my photos, it’s hard to beat a sunny afternoon at Grangemouth Stadium to enjoy the sport with like minded folk, even with the occasional whiff from the towers, tanks and chimneys over the wall.   Falkirk District, were for many years very supportive of the stadium in terms of funding equipment and quite advanced in their thinking by providing quality Walkie Talkies at a time when they weren’t available elsewhere. This enabled frequent updates from the field and ‘flash’ times and results to be reported quickly to the announcers which helped them give timely updates to maintain the interest of both competitors and spectators.

The velodrome, which I’ve never seen used as such, has, of course, also been a limiting factor over the years particularly for those who advocate all championships should be held on 8 lane tracks. It also excluded them from some leagues which had 8 team divisions.   Nevertheless, I’d argue the venue actually suits the bulk of meetings held in Scotland.

Any venue depends on the quality of its staff and in my time I found them to be consistently about the best around, aided by the legendary groundsman Danny. If Danny didn’t rate you you’d never see the best equipment and be largely on your own if the weather turned bad. Occasionally, having been given a copy of the programme with a list of the officials in it and therefore knowing in advance who would be there, I found he’d actually wait until I arrived before unlocking the equipment store and/or dispensing the walkie talkies.

My soft spot perhaps extended a little too far as once, when wrapping up commentating at a meeting at Coatbridge, I felt a gentle tap on the shoulder from a colleague to point out I’d just thanked the ground staff of Grangemouth for all their assistance.”

Alastair mentions the velodrome track.   It still circles the track, even after modifications to the surface, to the number of lanes, layout of field events facilities, etc.   Made of what is virtually black tar and laid on a slop in towards the running track is is an ideal point from which to watch the athletics.   In the warm summer afternoons the back straight is where the young, and not so young, disport themselves in an attempt to top up their tan but it does enclose the track nicely and gets spectators right down beside the action which benefits the competitors.   Like Alastair, no one seems to have heard of any cycle races being held there.   There was another ideosyncratic feature of the arena.

The home straight had two starting lines, one at each end of the straight, and several finishing lines at each end of the straight – finish for the 80 metres, 100 yards, 110 yards.   The proliferation of lines could be confusing to any new boy or girl.   It was thus possible to give runners the benefit of  any following wind.   eg when  the SAAA Decathlon was held there, the 110 hurdles was held right to left as seen from the stand rather than left to right.   This was at the request of the decathlon national coach who pointed out that with so few decathlons being held in Scotland, with it being a Commonwealth Games year, the athletes needed/wanted the best possible points score and running into even a slight wind would not help.   There were other times when the sprint was held that way round but not many.   When the track was redone several years later, that facility disappeared and the normal finishing straight was in operation.

Alan Murray, 440 yards hurdles, 1968

The two major fixtures were again allocated to Grangemouth in 1968.   The international on 9th June and the championships were on 22nd of the month.   The international was a tremendous success – Hammer, lomg jump, shot, discus, hurdles, triple jump, steeplechase and sprint relay all produced national or all comers (or record equalling) performances, “such was the atmosphere and class of this meeting”, reported Ron Marshall in the “Herald”.   The star turn of the meeting was the defeat of Maurice Herriot in the steeplechase ( a rare happening in GB athletics) by Gareth Bryan-Jones of Scotland.   Jones had run for Wales in the Three Miles the previous year but now he was ‘the Scot who …’    He  really went for it leading for most of the seven and a half laps gradually wearing down Herriot to win in an all-comers record of 8:38.2 – which was the fourth fastest ever by a Briton.   There was now talk of him qualifying for the Olympics but he himself down played the prospect.   Any doubt about the quality of the track were removed.   There were stars everywhere: David Stevenson, Crawford Fairbrother, Ian McCafferty and the 4 x 100 relay team of Nottage, Turnbull, Piggot and Campbell were all winners for the home country, while England supplied M Hauck (220), CW Campbell (440), J Davies (880), RG Taylor (Mile), A Pascoe (sprint hurdles), P Warden (440 hurdles), P Reed (LJ), FJ Alsop (TJ), AH Payne (Hammer), J Teale (shot), W Tancred (Discus), and J Sanderson (javelin).   Records were set by D Walker in the long jump Scottish (national), and Bryan Jones, AH Payne, P Reed, and W Tancred.   An amazing afternoon’s athletics and something to inspire Scottish athletics.   

Note the banked cycle track with rail outside the running track.

The Scottish championships in 1968 were a real feast of athletics with Scotland’s finest in action everywhere you looked.   In the Three Miles for instance, Lachie Stewart won from Dick Wedlock with Alistair Blamire in third; Mike McLean beat Hodelet and Douglas in the half mile; Bryan-Jpnes defeated Ewing and Mullett; in the marathon it was again Wood from Ritchie with Don Turner in third.   The field events were equally well represented David Stevenson defeated Gordon Rule and Ian Dobson in the pole vault and although they were in different vests on this occasion they were all members of the Octavians club.   In the Javelin Mitchell defeated Birkmyre and Fowlie, Crawford Fairbrother won the high jump and so it went on.   There was only one wee controversy – it involved Ian McCafferty.   He turned up late for the final of the Mile and the programme was already running about 10 minutes late.   He appeared on the track when the race was well underway and at the end of the race the winner, J Wilson, was pretty well ignored as the reporters crowded round McCafferty and his father who were both indignant that the race had not been held up for ten or fifteen minutes so that he could run.   For the record Wilson of the RAF won from Norman Morrison and Adrian Weatherhead.   It had been another good day for competitors, spectators and organisers alike.   

The British Isles Cup contest was held on 7th June, 1969, and again there were nail biting finishes, quality performances and a controversy that did not involve Ian McCafferty.  Lachie Stewart was known for his fast finishes – a year later Ron Clarke would find out for himself at Meadowbank – but this time it was the ‘Big D’ .   Derek Graham of Ireland faced Lachie Stewart in the 5000m and after Fergus Murray had done a lot of work early on it  was down to these two: coming in to the bell, Lachie slowed the pace and Graham allowed him to do so and just sat on his shoulder.   One of the biggest mistakes he ever made.   The sprint finish gave it to Lachie and as the report in the ‘Glasgow Herald’ said, he could hardly keep a smile away in the last ten yards.   His time was 14:04.2 while Graham was 14:04.6.   Other talented winners were Ron Jones (W 100m), D Halliday (S 200), A Wood (S 400m), Dave Cropper (E 800m), Storey (E 110 hurdles), Bryan-Jones (S Steeplechase), Crawford Fairbrother (S HJ), L Davies (W LJ), Geoff Capes (E Shot), W Tancred (E Discus) and AH Payne (E Hammer).   Also competing were athletes like John Boulter, Mike McLean, Hugh Barrow, John Bicourt, Bill Ewing, Hamish Robertson, Laurie Bryce and Mike Lindsay.   Now for the wee controversy.

It involved the quiet, likeable, polite Crawford Fairbrother in the high jump.   Let the report tell the story.   “Within the next two days authorities on the interpretation of  athletics rules will be consulted after a disagreement on Saturday in the British Isles Cup at Grangemouth.   The offending event was the high jump.   The International Federation rule applying to ties (ie  jumpers clearing the same height but failing the next one) has a recommendation – and that is the key word in the dispute – which says that rules for deciding ties ought not apply in international matches and that the points for places concerned should be shared.  Saturday’s high jump ended with Crawford Fairbrother and Mike Campbell, England, both clearing 6′ 7” and failing one inch higher.   All afternoon the Scot had been getting over first time and Campbell almost always needed more than one attempt.   In normally accepted circumstances there would have been no doubt that Fairbrother was the clear cut victor. but consternation arose when the jumps referee decided that, following the recommendation in the ties rule, he would have the points shared.   “The decision was preposterous,” said Fairbrother, “Ask any world class high jumper how this should be interpreted and it certainly won’t be the way the referee did.   His reading of it means that in international matches jumpers could then be free to fail two of their three attempts at every height and still share the points with another man who cleared every height first time.   

The jury of appeal was convened and their decision was that the recommendation ought not to be applied and the Scot was given the winner’s points and Campbell placed second.   Fairbrother has said he will write to Arthur Gold, honorary secretary of the AAA, for clarification and an interpretation is being sought from the IAAF.”

Quite a story and there was another mini disagreement in the pole vault where the four vaulters (including Mike Bull of Northern Ireland) refused to compete saying the strong cross-wind made the vaulting too hazardous.  The state of the pit, foam rubber chunks with no covering,  also gave cause for concern.   There was no pole vault in the results.   It should maybe be noted that the pole vault landing area was no different from any other in the country at the time – the foam rubber chunks which had replaced sand as the preferred landing surface were indeed often held in place with a surround of wooden railway sleepers.    But for the two jumps for height, it had been a very good meeting indeed with records being set an top talent on view in every single event.

SAAA Championships, Grangemouth, 1969: Hugh Barrow leads Ian McCafferty. 

The championships were held in Grangemouth on 28th June in 1969 and the race of the day was the steeplechase.   Not a usual happening but the GB selectors had picked Alistair Blamire for the team against Czechoslovakia and were greeted with raised eyebrows.   In the championships he was up against Gareth Bryan-Jones, Britain’s number one ranked for the event that summer.   It turned into a real trial of strength with noth men being clear of the field after only one lap.   Over the final water jump Bryan-Jones was leading by about five yards – the clever money was on him.   But Blamire was hauling him in and at the finishing line no one could separate them but the judges gave the verdict to Bryan-Jones.   Both runners had the same time – 8:46.2 – and Blamire was now second fastest Briton over the steeplechase that year.   The 100 metres was another top race in 1969 with Halliday beating Nottage (both on 10.6) and Piggot (10.7).   Other winners included Mike McLean in the 800m, Craig Douglas in the 1500m, Lachie Stewart in the 5000m, Hogarth in the 110 hurdles, Fairbrother in the high jump, Stevenson in the pole vault, Hamish Robertson in the long jump, Vic Mitchell in the javelin and  Laurie Bryce in the hammer.   

It should be noted that Scottish steeplechasing was on a high at the time – Bryan-Jones topped the British lists with a time that he had set at Grangemouth at the end of May in the East District Championships.   He had run 8 minutes 41 seconds to be well ahead of Aberdeen’s Bill Ewing (9:08.4).   Blamire had run in the 5000m that afternoon and was second to Fergus Murray but ahead of Don Macgregor in 14:97.2.   By the end of the season between them they had 18 of the top 21 performances by Scotsmen.  Four of these times were done at Grangemouth.   

1970 was of course Commonwealth Games year and just about every important event took place at Meadowbank.   Everything centred on the big event.  The new stadium was opened on 2nd May, 1970, by the Duke of Kent who stated the obvious when he said the new stadium would be an asset to Scotland.   But the qualities of Grangemouth were not forgotten.  The SAAA Decathlon was held there at the very end of May with nine entrants with the second day being one of strong winds and heavy rain.   It was won by Dave Kidner, Loughborough College) from IC Grant of Octavians with reigning champion Peter Burgess of Octavians down the field after a back injury.       Norman Foster (Shettleston failed to record a height in the pole vault, held when the weather was at its worst.   Nevertheless it was a national championship but not the last to be held at the venue in Commonwealth Games year.

But first, a quick word of explanation.   Up until 1970, the SAAA and SWAAA championships were separate – different dates, different venues.   The Men’s championships included Juniors (U20) and Youth (U17) championships; the women’s included Intermediate and Junior championships.   In 1970 the men and women held joint championships for the first time ever at Meadowbank on 6th June; there was a joint Junior/Youth/Junior/Intermediate championships at Grangemouth.   These first U20 and U17 men’s and women’s were held at Grangemouth on 27th June.   It was a great success and there were many excellent performances.   Look at the names of some of the winners – David McMeekin (800m), Ronnie McDonald (Junior 1500), Lawrie Reilly (Youths 1500m), Evelyn McMeekin (J 800m), and Myra Nimmo (I hurdles).   All exceptional athletes of whom we would soon hear much more.   Another first for Grangemouth.   

Then just before the big one at Meadowbank, there was an ‘odd distances’ meeting at Grangemouth on 11th July which attracted athletes from all over the Commonwealth.   Names like Pam Kilborn and Ben Jipcho were on the programme.   It was a miserable day with plastic macs well in evidence but the report read as follows.    Distances raced included the 3000m (won by Dick Quax of NZ from Ben Jipcho of Kenya), 75 metres (Alice Anum of Ghana) and among the Games events Keino won the 10,000m, Canada’s Jay Dahlgren won the javelin, New Zealand’s Les Mills won the shot and Robin Tait took the discus.     

After the Games there were still championship events to be held and on 15th August there was a Scottish relays championship at Grangemouth which  had events for all age groups. for men and for women, was probably a bit of an anti-climax for athletes and spectators.   

In addition to the various championships and glamour events, the Stadium hosted the usual run of events, eg. even in mid June (20th) there was a meeting involving Edinburgh Southern Harriers, Edinburgh, Octavians, Victoria Park, Bellahouston Harriers and Shettleston Harriers which was won by ESH from VPAAC.   It had been another very good year for the Falkirk citizens.

Into 1971 when athletics was on a high after the very successful Games for the host country and Grangemouth started the season’s big meetings with a women’s international between Scotland and Northern Ireland on 8th May which included Senior, Intermediate and Junior age groups.   Senior event winners – 100m and 200m: Helen Golden; 400m:  A Lynch (I); 800m: Sandra Sutherland; 1500m: Christine Haskett; 100m and 200m hurdles: Myra Nimmo; High jump: Moira Walls; Long Jump: Jinty Jamieson; Shot, Discus & Javelin: G Porter (I); 4 x 100m relay: Scotland (Jamieson, Pringle, Golden, Sprigg); 4 x 400m relay: Scotland (Bennie, Pringle, Munro and Lyall).   Not surprisingly Scotland won which set the example for the men’s team in the British Isles Cup on 13th June.  

Between the two internationals, the Scottish relay championships took place on 6th June.   It was a much bigger event than the previous year and the Edinburgh clubs won six of the titles, Maryhill Ladies two, Bellahouston and Grangemouth Olympiads one apiece.   

The men’s international suffered greatly from being held on the same day as the British Games at Meadowbank which attracted all the top men from Scotland and England.   The Grangemouth meeting lost out on spectators as well as athletes although, despite losing most of their top men, England retained the trophy.   The only Scottish winner on the track was Adrian Weatherhead in the 5000m which he won from Mike Beevor in 13 min 58.6 – a winning margin of over 6 seconds.   That was one event more than was won in the field events.   Nevertheless the spectators did get the opportunity to see John Sherwood, Geoff Capes, Bill Tancred, Dave Travis and Howard Payne as well as top Scots Gareth Bryan-Jones, Norman Morrison, Alan Murray, Les Piggot and Hamish Robertson.

The age group championships again took place at Grangemouth on 3rd July with a whole host of top talent on display.  For instance, in the Junior Men’s 1500 Jim Brown, Frank Clement and Ronnie McDonald all started with McDonald winning in 3:49.3.   The McMeekins made a day of it with Dave winning the Junior 800m and his sisters Evelyn and Christine taking first and second in the women’s equivalent.   The decathlon championship was held again on 24th July when Stewart McCallum won and set a new Scottish record of 7116 points for the event.   Graham Barclay won the Junior event and on the first day, in the women’s pentathlon was won by Felicity Strong.   The inter and junior girls  were won respectively by C Black and P O’Neill.   

Although it was now almost two years after the Games and the athletes were flocking to the open graded meetings, etc, held on the all weather tracks, Scottish authorities and governing bodies were slow to provide them.   There were tracks at Meadowbank and Grangemouth and on 30th May, 1971, the RubKor surfaced track was opened at Bellahouston in Glasgow.   It was completely open to the elements, and although close to the Sports Centre, was not part of it.   No lights other than those on the main road beside the track and from the Sports Centre which was some distance away.   And that was it. It wasn’t suitable for major meetings or championships.  The Olymprene track at Coatbridge was not opened until 24th April. 1976, and Crown Point in Glasgow only appeared on 7th September, 1984.   Although Grangemouth remained the track to go to it lost the British Isles Cup until June, 1991 although there were to be internationals in 1975, 1979 and 1989.  In fact the British Isles Cup disappeared from the schedules, and was not contested until it appeared in Cwmbran, Wales, in August 1975.  The national track & field championships had been moved from Grangemouth to Meadowbank only returning in 1979 and 1982.       Between its opening and 1970 no fewer than 19 Scottish native  and 2 national records were set on the track.

The second part of the Grangemouth story will take up the period from 1975.

 

Bellahouston Sports Centre and Nethercraigs

The Sports Centre at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow was an attractive venue for athletes from all over Scotland and was one of the reasons for the fall in popularity of the Nethercraigs Track on the south side of Glasgow.   Both were served by the Corkerhill Railway Station and were on  several bus routes but the difference was on the track surface.   Following the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970, any new track with any kind of synthetic surface was where they all wanted to train and on which they wanted to compete.   The Bellahouston Park track was synthetic, 400m in distance ( as opposed to 440 yards), had 6 lanes and was open pretty well all the time.   It had field event facilities and a water jump inside the track.  There were two ‘all-weather’ tracks in the country, both in the east, at Meadowbank where the surface was red tartan and at Grangemough where it was  black Rub-Kor.   This surface is coloured black and is a mix of rubber and a kind of bitumen and on first glance looks like tarmac. Athletes were totally forbidden from using any spikes longer than 5mm on it.  It looked like an ordinary road or pavement to on the track and the restriction on the length of spikes made it a better surface for distance runners than for sprinters as the times performed on it showed.     Although it was beside the Sports Centre, it was theoretically separate but with the field events equipment stored there.   There were no lights on the track but running alongside a fairly busy road, the street lights made it possible to use it in the dark.   There was also some dim light spilling over from the Sports Centre itself.

The Running Track Directory (website) tells us that it was opened on 30th May, 1971.Bellahouston  v  City of Glasgow Ladies  v  Victoria Park  v  Law & District  v  Babcock & Wilcox  v  Greenock.   Unfortunately the fixture clashed with the two men’s district championships and the ‘Glasgow Herald’ published only selected results:

800m:  1. S Latimer (Law) 2:31.8;  2. M McKenzie (CoG)  2:32;  3. A McKenna (2:32.4).   1500m:  1.  M O’Boyle (VPAAC) 4:51; 2. P Spence (Greenock) 4:57.   Discus:  Seniors: L King (Belllahouston) 115 ft;  Juniors:  I Munro (CoG)59 ft.   Girls 800m: 1. J McGoldrick (Bellahouston) 2:42; 2. C Harvie (Babcock) 2:43.     The match was won by City of Glasgow with 335 points with Bellahouston second on 295 points.   These were very selective results but note that none of them were sprints.   

That first season was quite successful with good times and distances being performed in a range of events – 800m, 1500 m and high jump were the ones that appeared most often in the national ranking lists at the end of the year.   That it was a fast track for endurance runners was shown when on Wednesday, 11th August, in a 10000m race contained in a meeting organised by Victoria Park, the winning time was 29:44.0 by Gareth Bryan-Jones from Pat Maclagan of Victoria Park (30:04.8. Alex Wight (30:23.2) with Jim Wight and Alan Partridge also recording fast times in fourth and fifth.   Even later in the year on 14th September in another midweek meeting, Junior Frank Clement recorded 1:52.8 for 800m in a close finish with Mike McLean who was timed at 1:52.4.   

Jack McLean racing on the track at Bellahouston.  

It was used for many SAAA meetings over the years and particularly by the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club.   Bellahouston Harriers’ Jimmy Irvine says:    “The track at the Bellahouston  sports centre was quite a good track to race on,it was a funny surface kind of Bitnam,a bit harder than tartan more like road surface, I liked it . I managed to win the Scottish vets 10k on it 33:20 beating John Barrowman of Garscube . But it hass now been made into a cycle track has been taken over by them.   I remember it was used a few times for the Western District championship, so it was well used by the athletics associations .”

The track was not exclusive to those from Glasgow: as already mentioned it was used by the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club (who also used the Sports Centre for changing, presentations, etc, for road races.   Indeed the World Vets 10K and Marathon Championships were held from there with athletes from all over the world competing.   The Dunbartonshire AAA Six Miles and then 10000m championships were also held on the Rub Kor track at Bellahouston.   There were open graed meetings, inter-club fixtures, league matches and of course it was for a tome the go-to for training for ambitious runners.

But then along came the red surfaces such as Olymprene for running tracks and what had been a state-of-the-art track was surpassed by more modern developments elsewhere.  Just as Bellahouston had done for Nethercraigs, so such as Coactbridge and then Crown Point did for Bellahouston.   The track was still used but it was used less and less until the rullers all but deserted it.    

A recent note of facilities on offer at Bellahouston Park read as follows:

Sports facilities

  • Cycling Activity Centre
  • Two Bowling Greens:  These are seasonal facilities and are subject to opening times.
  • 18 Hole Pitch and Putt Course:  These are seasonal facilities and are subject to opening times.  Pitch and putt equipment can be obtained at the Bowling Green area.
  • Orienteering Course
  • Bellahouston Leisure Centre and Swimming Pool
  • An “All Weather” Hockey Pitch
  • An “All Weather” Running Track

Note at the foot of the list that there are both a running track and a cycling track with no indication that they are one and the same.   Bearing in mind what Jimmy said in his comments, the following extract from the instructions for a Fun Run:

. At other times the course passes by the mixed parkland and ornamental gardens that have been a highlight of Glasgow’s Premier Public Park for over 100 years. The start/finish area is located with the cycle track of Bellahouston Park which is located on the south/west side of the Park. Please note that the route may be subject to change. It is now in a pretty bad state of repair. The surface has been chewed up and definitely won’t take a spike. The lane markings are faded but at least six distinct lanes are visible all the way round with no extra lanes in the straight. Apparently the surface was damaged when the Sports Centre swimming pool was constructed. The earth they dug out was dumped in the centre of the track which is now a large grassy knoll although it was a redgra pitch.

Although it is chewed up and ‘won’t take a spike, it is referred to as ‘the cycle track of Bellahouston Park’.   The track is used almost entirely by cyclists now in the twenty first century but that does not take away from the history of the track which was used by many, many top class athletes.

Nethercraigs

 

 

Mel Edwards: Obituaries

(Aberdeen Press & Journal: by Neil Drysdale)

He was the Aberdeen athlete who kept racing against the clock, setting new milestones and proving that age is just a number.

And he was also the man with the initials MBE – Meldrum Barclay Edwards – who ended up receiving an MBE for his services to sport and charity.

When his son, Myles, was married just last month, Mel Edwards, who has died of cancer, aged 76, found the inner strength to attend the wedding in Aberdeenshire, where he delivered a “powerful” speech.

Mr Edwards was born in the Granite City in 1942 and graduated in civil engineering from Cambridge University.

He subsequently enjoyed a prodigious international career, locking horns with many of the greatest names of his generation, including Commonwealth medallists Lachie Stewart and Ian McCafferty.

Renowned for his intensive training regimes of around 100 miles per week, his marathon personal best time of two hours, 18 minutes, 25 seconds would still place him high in the contemporary British rankings.

During a running career which spanned half a century, it was estimated Mr Edwards covered more than 100,000 miles and represented his country at distances ranging from six miles to the marathon.

Even when he was diagnosed with Myeloma in 2006, he refused to let the gruelling hospital treatment grind him down and, whether tackling charity challenges, coaching youngsters or pouring himself into new initiatives, his fellow athletes described him as an inspirational figure.

His international athletic colleague, Colin Youngson, a three-time Scottish marathon champion from Aberdeen, said yesterday: “When he became Meldrum Barclay Edwards, Member of the Order of the British Empire (or MBE squared, as he called it) no one could have deserved the honour more. Everyone admired and liked him.

“When he first contracted cancer, I visited him in his hospital ward and we laughed our way through my collection of Alf Tupper – The Tough of the Track – photocopies.

“I could add so many more memories. His tales of dawn jogging at Rubislaw, saying hello to the fox that trained there at the same time; so many charitable ventures into which he poured his heart and soul. The laughs, the exhilaration for life.

“He’s gone at last, but unforgettable. I was very fortunate to know him.”

In 2016, at 73, Mr Edwards raised £8,000 by running 100×100 metres in two locations in his home city.

The money will be used to buy specialist EyeGaze technology for Woodlands School in Aberdeen.

He had set himself the task of raising a greater sum than when he accumulated £7,500 for Friends of Anchor in 2012 by undertaking a 70-minute run on his 70th birthday.

He said later: “It was a very satisfying experience. This will help to purchase life-changing equipment for the wonderful children and teachers at Woodlands School.

“It has been a privilege to be involved. In my life, I would say I had two main challenges. The first was to make the Olympic Games marathon (I missed out by two places), and the second was not to be defeated by cancer in 2006.

“Now there is a third. And that’s to ensure I do my best to provide life-changing facilities for children with severe problems.”

Mr Edwards spent the final weeks of his life at Roxburghe House.

He is survived by his wife Kareen and Myles.

Myles, Mel and Karen Edwards, Mel in Queen’s Relay baton uniform

(Athletics Weekly, by Roger Robinson and Mel Watman)

Perhaps the world’s most zestful lover of running, and an old and dear friend, Mel Edwards of Aberdeen, died last week. In tribute, I ran a session of 16 x 2 minutes, the nearest I can now manage to the intense 16 x 800m we used to do in Cambridge in our twenties. Here is a written tribute, from which “Athletics Weekly” published excerpts, with my contributions supplementing the expert obituary by Mel Watman.

Mel Edwards, December 2, 1942 – November 8, 2019

by Mel Watman (former editor of “Athletics Weekly”) and Roger Robinson (friend and training partner since 1964)

After a long and courageous fight against myeloma (a blood cancer), the Scottish marathon runner and cross-country international Mel Edwards died on November 8, aged 76. Born in Aberdeen in 1942, son of a sports journalist, he was inspired as a child by reports of Emil Zatopek, and then by watching the 1960 Rome Olympics on television. He started with the 440 yards, clocking 51.7 that year. He gradually moved up in distance, and defeated future greats Ian McCafferty and Lachie Stewart for the Scottish Junior Cross-country title. He also achieved personal best times of 4:11.8 for the mile and 13:48.6 for 3 miles.

A Master in Civil Engineering from Aberdeen and Cambridge Universities, and a member of Aberdeen AAC and Thames Valley Harriers, he placed second in the annual Cambridge v Oxford cross-country. Famed and feared for his hard training, he was a colourful leading member of an outstanding Cambridge vintage, which included the late Mike Turner, Tim Johnston, Roger Robinson, and fellow-Scot Alasdair Heron. His college room was decorated with a big banner, “Kingston or Bust,” expressing his goal of making the Scotland team for the 1966 Commonwealth Games.

Injuries intervened, and he transferred to the marathon, making a notable debut in 1967, winning the Harlow event by nearly five minutes in 2:18:25, which remained his best. That time ranked him fourth Briton (and Scot), behind Jim Alder, Alastair Wood and Donald Macgregor that year, and he also posted his fastest 6 miles time of 28:27.0. His ambition was to make the 1968 Olympic team. He ran well to finish second to Japan’s Kenji Kimihara (who would win the Olympic silver medal in Mexico City) on a sweltering day in the Windsor to Chiswick Polytechnic Marathon in 2:19:32, but he hadn’t recovered sufficiently to place higher than seventh in the Olympic Trial in Cwmbran six weeks later on another hot day in 2:21:09.

After a layoff for a major injury, Mel became a major figure in hill racing, as well as continuing to race cross-country well enough to add Scottish Masters titles to the Scottish Junior one he won at 18. He also became an outstanding coach, meeting organiser, and all-round inspirational figure, widely admired in the Aberdeen region.

He was the regular coach with the “Run the Highlands” weekend courses that introduced many beginners to running. He covered more than 100,000 miles of running, many of them for fund raising in his later years. To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of his happy marriage to Kareen, he ran the New York City Marathon, watched by their son Myles, who went on to become Scottish 1,500m champion and founder of the Gathimba-Edwards Foundation that helps Kenyan children.

Mel’s response to the diagnosis of incurable myeloma in 2006 was typical. He resolved that while others would fight cancer as well as he did, no one would fight it better. He set records around his hospital bedroom, and later established and attacked a series of PSCR (Post-Stem-Cell Replacement) records on courses around Aberdeen.

Mel was much loved for his zest, irrepressibly positive attitude, and generous encouragement of all runners. He was described as setting out for each run “like a golden retriever that has just been let out of the car.” (Roger Robinson in “New Zealand Runner”). Aberdeen friend and notable runner Colin Youngson described him to the “Aberdeen Press & Journal” as “a marvellous human being, one-of-a-kind: relentlessly optimistic, enthusiastic, energetic, dedicated, determined, uncomplaining, brave, and encouraging to many others.” In his lifetime career in road traffic engineering, specialising in accident prevention, Mel showed as much fervour as with his running, and took pride in returning to work the moment he came out of hospital for life-threatening stem-cell replacement.

Appropriately for a man whose initials were MBE (Meldrum Barclay Edwards), he was honoured with an MBE (Member of the British Empire), for services to athletics and charities. Even better, Mel finally achieved his ambition of participating in the Commonwealth Games, when he was chosen among other sports celebrities to take part in the Queen’s Baton Relay (equivalent of the Olympic torch relay) for the Games in Glasgow in 2014.

(The Scotsman: by Jack Davidson)

Mel Edwards Obituary
Born 2nd December 1942
Died 8th November 2019

Mel Edwards who has died aged 76 was a highly successful and extremely popular Scottish distance runner in a career spanning more than fifty years. Such was his lifelong passion for running that it would have been fitting had the song ‘Born to Run’ been penned with him in mind. A member of Aberdeen Amateur Athletic Club for many years, he garnered a haul of honours on the track, on the roads and hills and over the country. By 2005 he had accumulated over 100,000 miles of documented running in competition and training.

He figured in the Scottish ranking lists between 1960 and 1969 at all distances between the quarter mile and six miles, as well as the marathon. The latter event was arguably his strongest as he was 2nd reserve for Great Britain in the 1968 Mexico Olympics having set his best time of just over 2hrs.18 mins. in his debut run in 1967, placing him 4th in the British rankings.

He also won silver and bronze medals in the Scottish Championships at six and three miles respectively and won the English Universities three miles event in record breaking time. In 1964 he won the Scottish Junior Cross-Country title defeating rivals of the calibre of Lachie Stewart and Ian McCafferty, earning a Scottish vest for the International Cross-Country Championships. Later he also did long distance hill and fell running which augmented his honours collection including winning the Scottish Veterans’ Hill Running Championship and setting a record for the 28-mile Cairngorm Munros event that stood for 23 years.

These are only some highlights of a career during which he also found time to be race organiser, coach and mentor to runners of all standards while contributing articles to various publications.

After his diagnosis with multiple myeloma in 2006 he vowed that cancer would not defeat him and in the intervening years raised significant sums for cancer care charities through sponsored runs and related activities. Another important aim was to contribute to ‘improving life changing facilities for children with severe problems,’ which he succeeding in doing by raising valuable funds for Woodlands School in Aberdeen.

Blessed with a good sense of humour and warm outgoing personality, he was a truly inspirational figure for whom the award of an M.B.E. in 2014 for ‘services to athletics and charity’ was richly deserved. His good friend, former marathon champion Colin Youngson recalled, ”No one deserved the honour more, everyone admired and liked him, he enjoyed a laugh and had an exhilaration for life.”

Meldrum Barclay Edwards was born in Aberdeen where he was brought up in Beechgrove Terrace, the only child of Freddy and Joy. Given his initials, he used to refer to himself jokingly as ‘M.B.E. squared.’

His father was a headmaster at several Aberdeen schools, an all-round sportsman and in retirement became a sports journalist. Before marriage his mother was a clerkess. Mel could remember being inspired after listening on the radio to Emil Zatopek’s feat of winning three gold medals at distance events in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, the start of becoming hooked on running. Educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, the third of four generations to attend there, he set his sights on winning races at the annual sports, and in his final year achieved a clean sweep at quarter mile, half mile and mile.

His career was under way as a member of Aberdeen AAC when he began his studies in civil engineering at Aberdeen University which he also represented at cross country and athletics, winning a ‘blue.’ From Aberdeen he went to study for a Master’s degree at Cambridge University where he ran on the track and over the country, earning a double ‘blue.’ Thereafter he completed post graduate studies in transportation at Newcastle University and undertook a research post at Southampton University before earning his livelihood as a road safety engineer.

Other running successes included East of Scotland titles at three miles on the track and at cross country, a highly creditable 4th place in the prestigious Morpeth to Newcastle Road Race and as the highest scoring member of the Aberdeen club team pipped by one point for the Scottish Cross-Country title. He also contributed fastest stage times in the iconic Edinburgh to Glasgow road race relay.

His mileage reached over 100 miles per week as he concentrated on the marathon in his attempt to reach the Olympics. With leg injuries hampering road running he continued with cross country enjoying success at veterans’ level and began hill running, completing arduous races including the Ben Nevis, Lairig Ghru and the Swiss Sierre to Zinal 28 km. event.

In 2012 on his 70th birthday he ran ’70 minutes at 70’ for the Anchor cancer charity and in 2016, 100 x 100 metres in two Aberdeen locations to fund equipment for Woodlands School. He felt particularly honoured to run the Queen’s Baton relay in Aberdeen for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

In 1972 he married Kareen Anderson, a social worker/psychotherapist, with whom he enjoyed 47 years of happy marriage in Aberdeen during which they had son Myles, also an accomplished runner. Through Mel’s running connections, Myles and Gideon Gathimba, a Kenyan athlete, founded the GathimbaEdwards Foundation to help disadvantaged children in Kenya, a cause close to Mel’s heart.

Although he will be deservedly well remembered for his running feats, he has an extra special place in the hearts of many for his unremitting fight after his diagnosis to better the plight of others in similar circumstances, especially children. His family has been extremely touched with the extent of tributes from people whose lives he impacted positively. He is survived by his wife, son, daughter in law Mary and granddaughter Dahlia.