CG Memories: Brian McAusland

Combined SAAA Championship and Commonwealth Games Rehearsal, 1969

My two memories spanning the first two domestic Commonwealth Games are maybe not what might be expected.   The first in 1970 was not really part of the Games, the second was more a jumble of incidents or happenings.   Let’s have a look at the first.


In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I was running all sorts of distances but mainly concentrating on road running and was a member of Clydesdale Harriers and of the Scottish Marathon Club.   The build up to the Games really started when the club committee received a bulky envelope which contained many items regarding the upcoming festival of athletics.   eg there was a map of the stadium, a time table for the athletic events and prices of tickets for the various areas and days, and a form on which the club would submit how many tickets were required and for what days and parts of the Stadium.    A good way of selling the tickets – the people who took part in the sport and supported it all  year round, year in and year out, could get tickets for their events.   The club President at the time was David Bowman who was second in command as far as the marathon was concerned and he was anxious to get as many stewards as he could for the race, Jimmy Scott, secretary of the SMC had the same concerns and the result was that there were many members of both clubs on duty.   The race the year before the Games was the rehearsal.

For that I was in a refreshments team at Fisher Row, Musselburgh.   The timekeeper who was to be on duty at the halfway mark went out on the bus containing the stewards who were to be dropped off at the appropriate points.  The bus left before the race started.  He, the timekeeper, was to get off the bus at a particular telephone box, phone the stadium and listen to the starter over the phone so that he could start the watch at the right time.   Traffic from Jock’s Lodge was horrific, the bus was creeping and stopping as far as the first drop off point.   Race time was approaching and we were all telling the timekeeper to get off at the next telephone box and phone.   He refused, he had his instructions as to where ‘his’ phone box was.   He was clearly going to miss the start.   Then someone at the front of the bus saw a red box at the side of the road.   Bus driver told to stop.   The protesting timekeeper was manhandled off the bus and pretty well made to make the call.   He did – and just in time to start his watch!   The day was saved.  

The next stramash was as the runners were coming through.   We were in a refreshment station for the returning runners.   Across the road (almost) was a sponging point.   When the leader came through – he’ll remain nameless for now – a car came to a halt just past the table on the other side of the road and one of his clubmates got out and handed him a bottle containing his drink.   Illegal.   Unchecked drinks could not be taken, and legel ones only at water points.   Immediately the chief steward at our point announced that he was going to inform headquarters.    Arguments ensued which were eventually dropped when the returning runners were looking for their cups of water, orange juice or whatever they had brought with them.   No protest went in.

It was a frantic afternoon in Musselburgh.   Not strictly, not at all in fact, part of the Games where Lachie was the hero, where although McCafferty did not catch Stewart in the finishing straight, I still think when I see it on video that “this time he’s going to do it!.    I learned a lot at that rehearsal – and on the real race day, it went like clockwork.




If you look at the letter above, you’ll see why the 1986 Games were special to me.   I had been appointed Scottish Staff Coach for 5000/10000m earlier in 1986 and here I was as an accredited coach along side superb coaches like Jimmy Campbell, Iain Robertson, Stuart Hogg, John Freebairn, Des Mardle, Don Macgregor ….   It gave me access to buildings and to people and added tremendously to the experience of another Scottish Games.    Like many another I had some reservations about the selections, and about some non-selections such as Adrian Callan but there are two things that really pointed up the fact that even international athletes are human beings.   There was the point at which the closing ceremony broke up and the teams from the various countries mixed together and marched, skipped, danced their way round the areena and who can forget the image of the hige Welshman on the tricycle pedalling up the home straight surrounded by exultant athletes?   

The other moment came at the start of the women’s marathon.   I was a friend of Cyril O’Boyle and we’d run hundreds, maube thousands of miles together.   His daughter Moira was running for Ireland and before the runeers came out on to the track I was standing in front of the runners seating when Moira came through from the watrm-up track.   “Brian, have you seen my Dad?”   I hadn’t and she asked if I could find him and get him to eat something!    He’d had nothing to eat or drink since he’d got up and she was worried about him.   About to start a marathon at a major Games, and her worry was for her father not having eaten that morning.   He was probably more nervous than she was about the race and how she’d perform!   

The Commonwealth Games. Pictured, the closing ceremony. Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. 25th of July 1970


Commonwealth Games Memories

The Commonwealth Games have always had a place in the heart of Scottish athletes, officials, administrators and aficionados of every stripe.   We have had teams in every Games since the first Empire Games in 1930, held in Edinburgh in 1970 they were a bridge between the Empire and Commonwealth Games being actually called the “Empire and Commonwealth Games”.   It is natural then that we all have our own memories of events and incidents, happy, inspiring, heartening of successes and failures or even just social occasions.  Having been encouraged by Alex Jackson we are starting a page on which to share memories of the Commonwealth Games down the years.   Two for a start

Alex Jackson’s Memories      Colin Youngson’s Memories     Brian McAusland’s Memories     .

CG Memories: Colin Youngson

Commonwealth Batons: 1970 and 2014

Colin Youngson has had the honour of being asked to carry the baton for two Commonwealth Games – 1970 and 2014.   The situation was vastly different, the selection was stricter, more was required of the baton bearers and the publicity was much less.    He has written of his experiences for the magazine of the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club and with his permission it is reproduced here.


Instructions were strict. At all times runners must obey Police Officers! White shorts must be worn by all runners and escorts, though club vests may be worn! Girl Guides may wear uniform! On our section, we saw neither Police, Escorts nor Girl Guides!

The Scottish Association of Boys’ Clubs organised the relay. Several formal letters were sent out to ensure it all went smoothly and to thank us afterwards. On Wednesday 15th July 1970, Aberdeen University Amateur Athletic Club runners were assigned a stretch from Holburn Street at Ruthrieston Road, past Aberdeen City Boundary to Balquharn Dairy, before Boys’ Brigade, Sea Cadets and Aberdeen AAC carried on to Montrose, en route for Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh on Thursday the 16th of July, when the Games were to open. I was 22 years young.

We were to take over at precisely 14.16 hours and maintain seven-minute miles for five miles. Easy!

Someone took eight photos of our participation. Bob Masson, Ian Hughes (the driver) and I posing in AUAAC gear, displaying a split-new Commonwealth Games kitbag. Taking over from stern-looking runners from a boxing club. Bob, Mike Partridge and I running along, brandishing the beautiful shining silver baton, a streamlined stylised thistle. Staging a hand-over at walking pace. Me grinning as I dodge up a side-street and pretend to abscond with the baton, unscrew it and steal the Queen’s message. Mike laughing as he watches me disappear off-route. More immature giggling as I pass the baton to him. After the next volunteers took over, the three of us (wearing regulation white shorts) getting our breath back while leaning on Ian’s car. If only all the relay runners had such fun!

My friend Innis Mitchell tells me that he ran with the 1970 baton for Victoria Park AAC, along a remote stretch of road in the West of Scotland. Apparently the schedule was really demanding and he remembers that one of his faster team-mates suggested that a slower colleague should only be allowed to carry the baton very briefly indeed, in order to avoid the disgrace of arriving late for the handover to the next relay squad!

2 Batons

Right after my relay contribution, in time to watch nearly all the athletics, Donald Ritchie and I travelled down from Aberdeen on the train and stayed with a former team-mate in the AU Hare & Hounds Club, Paul Binns, and his wife Ceri. They lived in Corstorphine, so Donald and I took the bus right across the Edinburgh to Meadowbank every day.

I have a first-day cover with the three ‘British Commonwealth Games’ stamps, featuring running, swimming and cycling. My cheap camera took only three action photos of the Commonwealth Games athletics: a distant shot of some race; Mike Bull’s winning pole vault; and the joyously chaotic closing ceremony, when athletes of all nations mingled and celebrated together. All the way round the track, spectators could get very close to the action. Tickets were inexpensive and we could often get into the grandstand. I do not remember any officious types or security killjoys.

Every day, fresh programmes in booklet form were on sale. I still have three and must have seen lots of events, since the results are handwritten. Most Scottish fans had the same highlights. Lachie Stewart’s victory in the 10,000 metres [as the last lap bell rang, I just knew that his famous (only in Scotland!) fast finish would ensure a gold medal for his country, although my heart sank for my hero Ron Clarke, who had achieved so much throughout his career, but was always to be denied first place in a major championship.] The 5000m: incredible that Kip Keino should be beaten; the wonderful sight of two Scots battling for supremacy (but once again, I was secretly supporting the second man, Ian McCafferty – could he not have maintained his sprint rather than, apparently, easing over the line behind the skinhead Anglo-Scot, Ian Stewart, who battled every step of the way to victory?) The marathon: Ron Hill’s white string vest ‘miles’ in front, setting a European Record, topping the 1970 world rankings and probably running the fastest marathon ever, over a properly-measured course. But what I remember most is the head-shaking exhaustion of our Scottish hero, defending champion Jim Alder, as he struggled for breath and forced himself round the track to salvage a silver medal, while young Don Faircloth of England swiftly pursued him to finish only fifteen seconds behind and win bronze. However I also possess a copy of ‘The Victor’ comic, which was published at the very same time, to read that the winner of the CG marathon in Edinburgh was actually Alf Tupper, who set a new British record after eating a big bag of chips at half-way!

There were only cheers for every competitor from every corner of the Commonwealth – no insults or booing. It was friendly, enthusiastic and the greatest of occasions for spectators. Athletes who were determined to take part and tried to fight through injury received only support and sympathy. Rainbow memories. Although I have been a spectator at one European Indoor Athletics Championship (1974, in Gothenburg, Sweden) and the three International or World Cross-Country Championships held in Scotland (1969 Clydebank; 1978 Glasgow; and 2008 Edinburgh) I have never bothered to travel to the Olympics. Too much hassle; better on television; and anyway, it could never compare to Edinburgh 1970!


My son Stuart nominated me to be a “batonbearer” and I was accepted, possibly because I had been a “running role model” for many years in Aberdeenshire, as a fairly successful Scottish distance runner and a secondary school teacher who had advised young athletes. The whole nature of the event had changed drastically (as had society, during the previous 44 years). Now the relay was meant to be a way of giving towns and cities across Scotland a taste of the Commonwealth Games and celebrating local folk who had contributed to their communities in a variety of ways. Most of the 4000 selected had been long-time coaches or charity workers, and as a selfish old runner, I felt rather unworthy.

A package arrived, containing my uniform – a tasteful white, blue and yellow tee-shirt and startlingly bright ‘heritage blue’ trousers – plus detailed instructions. On Sunday the 29th of June I should report to Duff House, Banff, at 1 p.m., bringing my passport to confirm identity. The short stretch of path assigned to me would be just before Duff House (nothing to do with Homer Simpson’s favourite beer, but a lovely Georgian building set in parkland).

The organisation seemed terribly complicated: officials, security people, shuttle buses, police motorcyclists and even a media bus. The “Factsheet” contained a marvellously exaggerated article, all about the excitement of this “experience of a lifetime”. As the previous runner approaches “you feel the anticipation building – your hands meet – you are now holding the baton! This is your moment in history.” Crowds will be waving and cheering and taking photos as you jog or walk towards “the next baton bearer nervously waiting for you to handover the baton. You greet them warmly and cheer them on their way as they set off for their own time in the spotlight.” Afterwards, assuredly, you will want “this feeling of exhilaration and achievement to last forever.”

Hmm! Hard not to be just slightly cynical. So how did it pan out for me? Well I must say that every QBR team member I met was cheerful, helpful and friendly. The other three batonbearers in my shuttle bus were the same, and we had a good laugh as we waited for the convoy to arrive from Turriff – 20 minutes late. I was concerned to notice that my companions were wearing box-fresh pure-white trainers, whereas I had only shoved on my favourite old running shoes – just as well these had been sprayed with deodorant! Motivating music boomed out, including Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’ and the Proclaimers ‘500 miles’ – ironic or what? Our section was heavily wooded, which made the live BBC coverage fail to transmit at times. The previous runner had to negotiate quite a few speed-bumps, which I was glad to avoid, because of my dangerously ground-scraping shuffle. I was delighted that Stuart and Andrew, two of my three sons (the other one having the thin excuse of living in Sydney) had driven up from Aberdeen, along with our friend Alex, and plenty of photos were taken, along with a rather funny shaky mini-video of me plodding slowly but happily along for an arduous minute over what was barely 150 metres. There was a bit of a crowd, that seemed to be enjoying the odd spectacle, and Duff House made a splendid backdrop as I passed the baton to the next man.

In fact, the brief Baton bearer experience was indeed fun and will make a pleasant humorous family memory.



CG Memories: Alex Jackson

Edinburgh 1986

I was part of the Athletics Press team at Meadowbank, as journalists from different counties requested athletes after races it meant escorting the athletes to them and helping organise press conferences after races
The Women’s 10,000 metres in the closing stages was a race between Liz Lynch and Anne Audain of New Zealand. With 2 laps to go Liz moved to the front and the winning margin was much greater than that at Birmingham 2022 but the crown noise was huge. I recall an emotional Hilda Everett who was the Scottish Women’s Team Manager. The press conference in the Meadowbank hall afterwards was packed with journalists. Sandy Sutherland of the Scotsman turned to me and said if Liz hadn’t won it would probably have been only himself and Doug Gillon of the Glasgow Herald talking to her.

Birmingham 2022

I was a member of the Athletics Medal ceremony team. Carrying medal trays, escorting athletes and VIPs who were presenting medals. I was on shift the night of the Women’s 10,000 metres and watched the race from the tunnel looking on to the track sometimes looking at the big screens. As the leading athletes reduced from 3 to 2 with 2 laps to go only Eilish McColgan and Irene Cheptai (Kenya) were left at the front.
The crowd volume increased till the home straight on the last lap when it became a crasendo of noise as Elish did what her Mum had done 36 years before.

In the tunnel before the medal ceremony while Eilish was sitting waiting to be escorted out I went across and said to her. “So the Under 15 Girl who finished  4th in an East District Cross County league meeting at Kirkcaldy in 2007 is now a Commonwealth Champion”. The background to this was on the build-up to the games I had found a result from a cross country race in 2007 when 4 women who were in the 2022 Scotland team had all ran, Sarah Inglis, Elish McColgan, Laura Muir and Jenny Tan.
Peter Jardine the Scottish Athletics media officer had picked it up and it had gone a wee bit viral on social media with the girls in the race contributing. After the medal ceremony was over and Elish came in to sit down again I said to her “I don’t who was more emotional at the playing of Flower of Scotland during the medal ceremony, me of you”

Edinburgh 1986 and Birmingham 2002 both memorable and special athletic occasions for me.

Arthur Rowe Obituary

AN ATHLETE whose upper-body strength was, in the first instance, a natural product of the Yorkshire forge where he worked as a blacksmith, not of an athletic training regime, Arthur Rowe was the dominant personality in British shot putting from 1958 to 1962. Yet, by his own account in later years, he came into the sport somewhat by accident. As a 17-year-old, he was playing cricket for a local youth club team, waiting his turn to bat, when he noticed a group of young men hurling a large iron sphere in an adjacent field.

When he strolled over and asked if he could have a go, his wish was readily acceded to by the team’s coach. “Ever done it before?” asked the man in response to Rowe’s effort. “No,” replied Rowe. “Well you’d better start now, you’ve just beaten this lot by ten feet,” said the astonished coach.

It was the unlikely beginning of a career that was to see Rowe win Empire and European gold medals, with a series of performances that continually established records which were not to be broken until the Geoff Capes era of the mid 1970s.

Arthur Rowe was born, appropriately, in the suburban village of Smithies, just across the River Dearne from Barnsley, an area in which he was to spend most of his life. After education locally, he left school in his mid-teens and was apprenticed to a blacksmith.

In those far-off amateur days his discovery by a coach did not of course mean emancipation from his paid labours. After the day’s work he would practise shot-putting at night, selecting a piece of asphalt under one of the street lamps in his native village. When his full potential was recognised he went to Doncaster for specialised training.

It was the coaching of G. H. G. Dyson that was to be decisive in Rowe’s development. Under Dyson, he won his first AAA title in 1958, and he was soon setting a succession of new marks for the British shot-putting record. These performances made him the first field-events athlete to be named the AAA’s UK athlete of the year, a title at that time traditionally going to the stars of the ostensibly more glamorous track events.

Rowe established his credentials on the international stage at the European Games in Stockholm in August 1958 when he won the European title from Lipsnis, of Russia, with a mighty final heave, bringing alive his British supporters who had fallen silent during previous efforts, with which he had, unaccountably, made little impression. His distance of 58ft 4in broke by 8in the British record he had set at Uxbridge the previous week.  Rowe went on to add a second gold medal at the Empire and Commonwealth Games at Cardiff that year, and also continued to improve on his British record. In a match against France in September 1958 he increased it to 58ft 11in and the following year, in a contest against Poland at the White City, he further extended it to 61ft. He was by now a natural candidate for Olympic honours and it was a great disappointment when, possibly affected by nerves, he failed to qualify for the Olympic final at Rome in 1960.

He soon recovered from the setback and in 1961 set a new personal best and European record with a put of 64ft 2in. In June the following year he bettered this mark by one inch. But within a month he was to be bidding farewell to amateur athletics, just as great things were being predicted for him at that year’s European championships. In July 1962 he signed as a professional rugby league player with Oldham.

A glittering career as a forward might have been expected for the 6ft 2in, 18- stone 26-year-old, though with his natural speed he preferred to play on the wing, and found life in the forwards an uncomfortable business. In any event, a rugby league career was not to be. Within a very few months Rowe had found that the very different physical demands of the game were not to his taste.

Returning to Barnsley, he founded his own construction company. At that juncture he would have liked to resume an athletics career, but a return to the amateur ranks was impossible for him, once he had played paid sport. Instead he took up the various Scottish versions of weight-throwing, events attracting handsome prize money, in which he enjoyed a great deal of success touring Highland Games during the winter months. At the Braemar Highland Games of 1963, his second season, he smashed four records in a day: the 28lb put; the 16lb stone; the 28lb weight; and the 56lb weight, with the last of which he cleared the bar at a height of 14ft 2in.

Rowe also became adept at tossing the caber, a discipline in which he established a number of records. At the Aberdeen Highland Games of 1968 he beat Scotland’s best to win the world caber title. In the following year, at the same games, he retained it against fierce competition. He also won a number of hammer-throwing titles.

His last year of competitio was 1970. Thereafter he returned to Barnsley and his building firm. Over the past 12 months he had been suffering from cancer. Rowe is survived by his wife Betty, whom he married in 1961, and by their son and two daughters.

Braemar: Bill Anderson and Arthur Rowe

There are those who looked down on professional athletics as being a sort of poor relation of the amateur version but these are now few in number.  At its best, the standard at the top of professional athletics was of international quality and stands comparison with the best of the amateur code.   This is maybe particularly true in the heavy events where there can be no quibble about the track surface, or about the run-up in the jumps.   The rivalry between Rowe and Anderson was friendly but intense – throwing the variety of implements that they did, the distances they did, the fact that they did tie on occasion, is not done without serious training or on-the-day preparation.   It should also be pointed out that there were several class athletes in their wake during their long battle.   If we take a brief look at the standards and qualities of the two outstanding heavies of the 1960’s it will be obvious how good they were.   

Bill Anderson was by any standards a top class athlete who enjoyed a long and successful career.   Born on6 October 1937he won the World Highland Games Championships in 1981 and the Scottish Highland Games Championships 16 times. He has also held every possible Scottish record in Highland Games.

His father had competed in some Highland Games competitions and encouraged the young Bill to practice with the Hammer at home and he started out on the circuit when his brother persuaded him to enter the Alford Games in 1956 and won four events against good class opposition.   He also won £9.   After two years out on National Service he returned and won his first Scottish championship in 1959.   He also won his first championships at Aboyne and Braemar: two meetings which took place only 24 hours apart with Aboyne on the second Wednesday in September, with the Braemar Gathering on the Thursday.   

His last competition was in 1988 in Australia after a career that saw him compete in America, Canada, Australia, Dubai, France, Nigeria, Sweden, the Bahamas, Singapore and Japan.  His career is documented in detail in Jack Davidson’s aptly titled biography “Highland Fling” which is recommended to anyone interested in the Games, the events or the personalities that took part in them.    The following extract is from Jack’s obituary written when Bill died in 2019:

He received many honours during and after his career among them maybe these two stand out – in 1977 he was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Honours List for services to the Highland Games, and in 2007 was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame: the only Games athlete so honoured.   The connection between Braemar and the Royal family who have patronised the Gathering since the mid 19th century with four monarchs – Queen Victoria, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and now King Charles – is well known and the Queen had presented Bill with many a trophy over the years.   

When Arthur Rowe (see below) who was an English international shot putter and strong man came to the Games circuit in 1962 when he was in his prime, they developed a healthy rivalry and friendship: a rivalry that pushed them both to greater achievements.      We finish with the last word going to Jack Davidson.

The complete Obituary is at  Jack Davidson’s Obituary of Bill Anderson

Arthur Rowe’s Obituary from The Times is at Arthur Rowe’s Obituary


Arthur Rowe was not, as so many former GB athletes coming to the Games were, coming to the Games as a has-been looking for a quick buck.   He was at the time European record holder for the shot putt. and had a very good competitive record.   Born in August 1936, he won the AAA’s shot putt championship no fewer than five times in succession between 1957 and 1961.   Four of those were European records.    In total he set 15 British records taking the distance from 16.94 metres (55 feet 7 inches) in 1958 to 19.56 metres (64 feet 2 inches) in 1961.   In 1958 he achieved a double that no other Briton had ever achieved when he won the Shot Putt at the Empire (now Commonwealth) Games in July in Cardiff, and then followed it up with Gold at the European Games in Stockholm in August.    In the former he won with a best throw of 17.58 metres, and in Stockholm he threw 17.78m to defeat Lipsnis of Russia who was on 17.47m.   His obituary in The Times said of the European victory:

“Rowe established his credentials on the international stage at the European Games in Stockholm in August 1958 when he won the European title from Lipsnis, of Russia, with a mighty final heave, bringing alive his British supporters who had fallen silent during previous efforts, with which he had, unaccountably, made little impression. His distance of 58ft 4in broke by 8in the British record he had set at Uxbridge the previous week.”

Chosen for the Rome Olympics in 1960 he had a disappointing competition with a best of 16.68 metres and failed to qualify for the Final.   The Times added:  “He soon recovered from the setback and in 1961 set a new personal best and European record with a put of 64ft 2in. In June the following year he bettered this mark by one inch. But within a month he was to be bidding farewell to amateur athletics, just as great things were being predicted for him at that year’s European championships. In July 1962 he signed as a professional rugby league player with Oldham.”   The Rugby League venture did not last long and he could not return to amateur athletics since he had taken part in paid sport.  He turned to professional athletics.     The Times again:

“Instead he took up the various Scottish versions of weight-throwing, events attracting handsome prize money, in which he enjoyed a great deal of success touring Highland Games during the winter months. At the Braemar Highland Games of 1963, his second season, he smashed four records in a day: the 28lb put; the 16lb stone; the 28lb weight; and the 56lb weight, with the last of which he cleared the bar at a height of 14ft 2in.   Rowe also became adept at tossing the caber, a discipline in which he established a number of records. At the Aberdeen Highland Games of 1968 he beat Scotland’s best to win the world caber title. In the following year, at the same games, he retained it against fierce competition. He also won a number of hammer-throwing titles.   His last year of competition was 1970.”

Here was a man at the peak of his powers – he was only 25 when he ‘retired’ from amateur athletics – as a double gold medal winner, reigning European record holder for the shot putt coming on to the Games scene and giving it his best for 8 years from 1962 to 1970, setting records, winning titles and entertaining crowds.


Braemar: 1970


Five athletes well known to Braemar crowds: Alastair Macfarlane, Alan Simpson, Stuart Hogg, Bob Swann

The Braemar Games had been held on a Thursday for over a hundred years until 1968 when it changed to a Saturday ‘to enable more people to see and take part in it’.   It was the 151st meeting not on the second Thursday in September.   There had never been any doubt about the quality of the athletes involved or its attractiveness to English athletes at the end of their career – throwers such as Arthur Rowe and Geoff Capes, distance runners like Alan Simpson, Gordon Pirie and Derek Ibbotson were happy towards the end of their careers to enjoy the fun of competing at the Games and to win themselves some money forbye.   All the above were Great Britain representatives too, and all were former Olympians.   Then there were those from outwith Britain such as Jim Hogan from Ireland and Tommy Smith from USA.   The change to a  Saturday maybe increased the number coming north – it certainly helped the number of Scots taking part.   

1970 saw the sports take place on a brilliantly sunny day before a crowd of 20,000 including the Queen and Prince Philip with their four children, accompanied by Princess Margaret and her two children.    Incidents to entertain the crowd such as the perfect caber toss from Arthur Rowe, followed by Bill Bangert who rushed forward to catch it when his fell backwards: a bit foolhardy and dangerous and had the crowd holding its breath before he changed direction and dodged to one side!

The results of the athletics:

100 yards handicap: 1. R Swan, Glenrothes; 2. S Hogg, Kirkcaldy; 3. M Berger, Ladybank

100 yards scratch: 1. S Hogg; 2. R Swan; E Berger

220 yards: 1. S Hogg; 2. R Swan; 3. E Berger

Half Mile: 1. T McBeath, Dunbeath; 2. I Whyte, Glenrothes; 3. A Kydd, Glenrothes

Mile: 1. I Whyte; 2. T McBeath; 3. A Kydd

Two Miles: 1. I Whyte; 2. A Kydd; 3. G Syme, Kelty


Throwing 16lb Weight: 1. B Anderson; 2. A Rowe; 3. J McBeath

Putting 16lb stone: 1. A Rowe; 2. B Anderson; 3. B Bangert

Putting 28lb stone: 1. A Rowe; 2. B Anderson; 3. B Bangert (New record pf 39′ 5″)

Throwing 22lb Weight: 1. B Anderson; 2. N Anderson; 3. A Rowe

Throwing 22lb hammer: 1. B Anderson; 2. A Rowe; 3. J McBeath

Tossing Caber:   1 (equal) Anderson and Rowe; 3. Charles Simpson

Throwing 56lb Weight over Bar: 1 (equal) Anderson and Rowe; 3. A Gray   (New record of 14′ 10″)


High Jump: 1. G Balfour, Duns; 2. J McBeath; 3. T McBeath

Long Jump: 1. J McBeath; 2. C Lambshead, Clyde; 3. G Balfour

Pole Vault: 1 (equal) I Ward, Market Drayton and M Brown Egremont, Cumberland; 2. A Melvin, Lumphanan

Note the ‘new’ Two Miles race with the distance specialists of Whyte, Kydd and McBeath; McBeath was also in the high jump with his brother who did both jumps and the hammer.   The sprint specialists were familiar to all professional supporters – Stuart Hogg and Bob Swann being ‘kent faces’.

Arthur Rowe, Brian Oldfield, Bill Anderson






Braemar: 1960

The 1960 Gathering held the Games on a dull but dry day when a huge crowd of 30, 000, biggest for several years, watched the spectacle and the sports.   The Queen, Prince Philip, Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were all present along with the royal children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne.   Charles wore a kilt in the Balmoral tartan designed by Prince Albert over 100 years ago.   Eleven pipe bands took part in the march past.     The royal family was there in big numbers, the spectators were there in numbers, the pipers and marchers were there and the rain stayed away.    That left the athletes to do their thing.   This time the star was Bill Anderson.   

The Glasgow Herald reports: – 

“THREE RECORDS BROKEN BY W ANDERSON.   W Anderson, a farmer of Banchory-Devenick, was the outstanding athlete in the heavy events at the Braemar Highland Gathering yesterday, breaking three of his own records for the meeting.   Anderson, who set up two records at the Aboyne Games on Wednesday, threw the 16lbs Hammer 130′ 7″, improving on his 1959 record by 3′ 10″.   He also beat his record for the 22lbs hammer by 6′ 8″   with a throw of 109′ 3″, and in putting the 16lb stone 46′ 10″ he surpassed the record he set up last year by 1′ 4”.   J Jamieson (Arbroath) broke the pole vault record with a jump of 11′ 10″, one inch higher than C Webster’s 1959 record.”

More about Anderson below but first, the results.

100 yards: 1. W Atkinson (Brampton); 2. M Brough (Wolmingham); 3. W Jamieson (Dunfermline) 10.1 seconds

220 yards: 1. C Forbes (Drumoak); 2. E Nicholson (Penrith); 3. L Hutchison (Dunfermline) 23.2 seconds

440 yards: D Bell (Dalston); 2. I Gilbert (Banchory); 3. C Forbes.   53 seconds

880 yards: 1. J Tinnion (Dearham); 2. M Glen (Bathgate); 3. J Glen (Bathgate) 2:05

Mile: 1. J Tinnion; 2. J Balmain (Fife); 3. M Glen.  4:33


Putting 16lb Stone: 1. W Anderson (Banchory-Devenick); 2. A Sutherland (Ardross); 3. J Scott (Inchmurrin) 46′ 10″

Putting 28lb Stone: 1. W Anderson; 2. J Scott; 3. A Sutherland. 38′ 7″

Throwing 16lb Hammer: 1. W Anderson; 2. W Aitken; 3. JA Sutherland; 130′ 7″

Throwing 22lb Hammer: 1. W Anderson; 2. A Sutherland; 3. MA Gray (Alford) 109′ 3″

Throwing 28lb Weight: 1. W Anderson; 2. HA Gray; 3. A Sutherland. 70′ 10 1/2″

Throwing 56lb Weight over bar: 1. MA Gray; 2. (equal) J Scott & A Wallace (St Andrews) 

Tossing the Caber: 1. HA Gray; 2. (equal) W Anderson, A Sutherland & A Wallace


High Jump: 1. J Scott (Inchmurrin); 2. R Aitken; 3. J Smith.   5′ 9 1/2″

Long Jump: 1. I Gilbert; 2. (equal) A Jamieson (Culter) & R Hunter (Culter) 21′ 5″


Lots of very good athletes there – Tinnion in the middle distance races, Gray and Sutherland among the heavies and of course Scott in everything.   But Bill Anderson was top man in the throws.    One of Scotland’s best ever Highland Games competitors – and not just in the heavies.    Scottish Games spectators and aficionados in the 1950’s and 60’s were spoiled with athletes like Jay Scott and Bill Anderson to see in action.   Then when English champion and record holder, Olympic athlete to boot, Arthur Rowe came to Scotland to try his luck there were many, many superb duels.     The 1960’s was the decade when the Rowe v Anderson duels (with guys like Henry Gray, Sutherland and others interupting their progress) attracted crowds to the Games across Scotland.     Geoff Capes, another Olympian who came and contested the heavy events in the Games, reckoned that as an amateur Anderson would have been an Olympic medallist – not just a competitor but A MEDALLIST.   Have a look at these results at Braemar and remember that they were competing pretty well every week of the summer season, often more than once in a week.   In 1961 at Braemar, Anderson won the Silver Cup as the leading heavy after he had won the 16lb ball putting, the 28lb ball. the 61lb Hammer, and the 22 lb hammer, all on the day after dominating the Aboyne Games.   Rowe arrived in 1962.   Rowe on the left in blue, Anderson on the right in black, only wins at the Gathering included..

Year Event 1 Event 2 Event 3 Event 4 Comments Event 1 Event 2 Event 3 Event 4 Comments
1962 Putting 16lb stone putting 28lb Stone - throwing 16lb hammer throwing 22lb hammer throwing 28lb weight Caber
1963 16lb stone 28lb stone 28lb weight Weight over bar - 16lb hammer 28lb hammer Caber -
1964 Heavy stone light stone throwing 56lb weight throwing weight over bar Heavy Hammer Light Hammer - -
1965 28lb stone 16lb stone 56lb Weight over Bar 28lb Weight 22lb Hammer 16lb hammer Caber
1966 28lb stone 16lb stone 22lb hammer 16lb hammer 28lb weight 56lb Weight over bar Caber - Won Championship
1967 28lb stone 16lb stone 28lb hammer Weight over bar 16lb hammer + champion 56lb weight for distance Caber - -
1968 Putting Heavy Stone Caber - - 16lb Hammer 16lb ball 22lb hammer 28lb Weight over bar
1969 28lb stone 16lb stone Weight over bar 28lb weight 22lb hammer Caber 16lb hammer Weight/ Bar (equal with Rowe)
1970 16lb stone 28lb stone Weight/Bar Caber 22lb Weight 22lb Hammer 16lb Hammer 28lb stone 22lb hammer + Caber + Weight Bar

There were lots of marvellous duels fought out – as often as not when one won, the other was second.   At one meeting both men tossed the Braemar Caber – 19′ 9′ long and 132 lb.   In 1969 Anderson and Rowe were given first equal for the Caber and for the Weight over the Bar.   There will be more about Anderson in future posts, especially in 1987 when competed for the last time.


Braemar: 1955, 1956

By 1955, the Gathering had its fourth monarch attending the Games.   Starting with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, they were succeeded by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and now the reigning monarch was Queen Elizabeth with her consort Prince Philip and her children Prince Charles and Princess Anne.   The meeting itself had changed too – from being a small local sports meeting attached to a week long Gathering of nobility and assorted gentry with its parties and parades when the Royal Family made its annual autumn journey north, to a meeting in its own right with competitors from all over Scotland, from Appleby, Penrith and other towns and villages in England.   The crowds also came from further afield by car, bus and trains for years and now there was to be a helicopter landing area in a nearby field.   It had long been covered by newspapers and then radio and was now being filmed for cinema newsreeals and for local audiences.   And of course as befits such a meeting, there were more photographs of athletes too.   


There was a crowd of 30,000 and no fewer than seven pipe bands, from Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee as well as the Black Watch, marched to the stadium, and the royal party stayed for almost two hours enjoying the spectacle.      Results of athletics events, followed by comments amd George Clark’s announcement of his imminent retiral:

100 Yards Handicap: 1. A Spence 9.6 seconds; 2. W Worsey; 3. W Findlay

100 Yards Scratch: 1. A Spence 10 seconds; 2. W Worsey; 3. J Scott

100 Yards Hurdles: 1. J Scott 15 seconds; 2. T Scott; 3. R Esson

220 Yards Handicap: 1. W McMillan 22.12 seconds; 2. J Thomson; 3. I Ewing

440  Yards: 1. J Simpson 54.5 seconds; 2. D Watt; 3. M Glen

Half Mile (Scratch): 1. M Glen 2:02.12; 2. J Simpson; 3. W Howe 

Mile Handicap: 1. M Glen 4:23.25; 2. R Anderson; 3. W Howe


Putting Heavy Stone (28lb) Braemar style: 1. E Cameron 29′ 11 1/2″; 2. J Scott; 3. R Shaw

Putting 16lb Stone: 1. J Scott; 2. J MacLellan; 3. E Cameron

Throwing 16lb Hammer: J MacLellan; 2. H Gray; 3. LJ Stewart

Throwing 22lb Hammer: 1. J MacLellan 97′ 6″; H Gray; 3. E Cameron

Throwing 28lb Weight: 1. J MacLellan 64′ 4″; 2. G Clark; 3. H Gray

Throwing 56lb Weight: 1. G Clark 34′ 0″; 2. J MacLellan; 3. H Gray

Tossing the Caber: 1. H Gray; 2. E Cameron; 3. LJ Stewart

Cumberland Wrestling (Heavyweight): 1. E Cameron; 2. G Clark; D Wallace.


High Leap: 1. J Scott 5′ 10 1/2″; 2. R Esson; 3. (equal) W Findlay & T Scott

Long Leap: 1. R Esson 21′ 3″; 2. J Scott; 3. W Findlay

Pole Vault: 1. J Scott 10′ 9″; 2. (equal) T Scott, J Watt, and J Dodds

There are several points of interest in the 1955 sports, largely because we know the competitors taking part.   First there is more evidence of Jay Scott’s talents.   He won the 100 Yards hurdles, putting the 16lb stone and the Pole Vault and the High Leap.   Victories in each discipline and in addition he had two seconds and one third place.   The athletes he defeated (eg Ewan Cameron in the throws) were quality opponents who had to be respected.   Second there is the running in the middle distance races of Mike Glen winning the handicap mile and the scratch mile in respectable times on grass.   Third George Clark was still going strong 30 years after he had started on the Games circuit.   Unfortunately this was going to be his last year as he said in the intervew quoted below:   

“The skirl of the pipes, the blending of tartans of gathered clans and a brilliant sun beating down on the colourful setting of the Aboyne Games, formed just the right background for my meeting with a veteran champion and a rising star of the world of Highland Games heavyweight events this week.   George Clark who intends to retire this year from thirty years of record-breaking throws with Hammer and caber, was in great form.   In the quieter moments of his repartee I learned that he is married, has two young daughters and is now a hotel keeper in Kinross-shire.   I used to do training, but gave it up some time ago.   No – there is no dieting necessary for a heavyweight,” he said.   George who wears the Sinclair tartan kilt, says there is no falling off in the number of young men coming forward at the Games, and commends it as a sport at which a young man can make money.

The same article continues ….

Henry A Gray (picture at top of page)a shy young farm worker from Leochel-Cushnie, whose father and grandfather were also “strong men”, told me he only took up the sport six years ago.   “I tried some events at a Tarland show for the fun of it.   That day the late Lady McRobert of Douneside told me she would make me the gift of a kilt if I’d try Aboyne”, he told me.   That’s why Henry swings a red Robertson kilt when he tosses a caber at about twenty Highland Games each year.   He’s a bachelor, this ruggedly handsome 17-stone Highlander but it’s not because he has no time for women.   He confessed that his interests in that direction are in the lightweights.   You would have made an ideal “Geordie” for the film on Highland Games heavyweights, I told him. “Och, they asked me at the Aboyne Games the other year to do it, but I was too scared.” confessed this husky giant; and went on, “I’ll never forget my first year at Aboyne, I was so shy – I felt like creeping out of the arena.”


The 1956 Games were held in brilliant sunshine and the favourites from the previous year were again in evidence.   Henry Gray won three heavy events, A Sutherland from Alness who was competing at Braemar for the first time won two but Jay Scott (pictured), who had won 5 events at the Strathallan Gathering in August) won four.   The Queen and Prince Philip were there with several family members including Princess Margaret were there. the pipers, dancers, wrestlers were all there too with a crowd that, while down a bit on 1955, was still sizeable at 20,000.   The Glasgow Herald short report said: “J Scott (Inchmurrin), who was the outstanding competitor at the Aboyne Games on Wednesday, had another run of successes yesterday at the Braemar Gathering.   He broke the 23 year old high jump record of 5′ 11 1/2″ with a jump of 6′ 0 1/2″, won the long jump and the 16lb shot events, and shared first place in the pole vault.   HA Gray (Alford) had a triple success in the heavy events, and A Sutherland (Ardross), who was competing for the first time at Braemar, won the 16lb hammer and 28lb stone titles.   Winners:-

100 yards: A Spence (Blyth) 9.9 sec; 220 yards: W Findlay (Erroll) 22.4 sec; 440 yards: R Russell (Newcastle) 54.8 sec; 880 yards: M Glen (Bathgate) 2 min 04 sec; Mile: J Friel (Lanark).

High jump: J Scott (Inchmurrin) 6′ 0 1/2″; Long Jump: J Scott (Inchmurrin) 21′ 0 1/2″; Pole Vault: J Scott, T Scott (Inchmurrin) and A Jamieson (Drumoak) equal 10′ 6″

16lb Hammer: A Sutherland (Ardross) 115′ ; 22 lb Hammer: HA Gray (Alford) 91′ 0 1/2″; 16lb stone: J Scott 41′; 28lb stone Braemar Style: A Sutherland (Ardross) 29′ 2″;  28lb Weight: HA Gray (Alford) 12′ 3/4″; Caber: LK Stewart (Fort William)

Michael Glen (second from right) at Braemar