The Victoria Park AAC Magazine

 

Most clubs at one time or another have a club magazine to record the club’s activities.   Some only hast for a few months others for many years.   Victoria Park had one which ran from 1971 to 1975, edited by Colin Young, which covered many topics of interest to club members – race reports and results, notes on committee meetings, notes from the various sections such as the Ladies Section, items of general interest and some there was some humorous comment.   They are reproduced here but note that they were typed on a typewriter (not a computer) and reproduced using a Gestetner or Roneo hand cranked printer.   It was a lot of work to produce and there were times when the print was faint because the ink was running out or for some other technical reason, but having read them, I can say that the content is worth any effort involved – especially for club members.

 

July 1971          June 1972       July 1973      ..

 

VPAAC: July 1971

Most clubs at one time or another have a club magazine to record the club’s activities.   Some only hast for a few months others for many years.   Victoria Park had one which ran from 1971 to 1975, edited by Colin Young, which covered many topics of interest to club members – race reports and results, notes on committee meetings, notes from the various sections such as the Ladies Section, items of general interest and some there was some humorous comment.   They are reproduced here but note that they were typed on a typewriter (not a computer) and reproduced using a Gestetner or Roneo hand cranked printer.   It was a lot of work to produce and there were times when the print was faint because the ink was running out or for some other technical reason.  This first issue was like that but the content is interesting and it was the first so it is worth any effort required to read it. 

 

 

 

 

…….

1970 Games Booklet

There were many souvenirs made and sold or presented for the Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1970 – as everywhere else, some were very, very good, some less so and some much less so.   One of the more useful was this booklet  about Edinburgh and the wider Scottish scene provided by the Bank of Scotland.   Made of stout paper, almost a thin card material it was attractively illustrated in full colour.

 

 

Bute Highland Games

Bute Highland Games were held at Rothesay and it was another trip ‘doon the watter’ for the athletes.   It took place on the penultimate Saturday in August – the week before Cowal Highland Games  and was a good well-supported meeting on an ash track where the back straight was downhill and the finishing straight was uphill.   There were all the usual highland games events – highland dancing, pipe bands, wrestling heavy and light athletics and it had one of the longest road races on the calendar for many years – an 18 miles race.   It was originally a 12 miles race before going up to 18 which was  reduced in the early 1980’s to 10 miles and it is currently run as a 10K race.   This does not seem to have affected the attractions since there were 225 runners entered for the 2020 event.

The origins of the Games are admitted by the organisers to be a bit hazy but there is no doubt that the modern version dates from 1947 when they were started by the Bute Shinty and Athletic Club.   Results here as printed in the Glasgow Herald have a couple of well-known names – Willie Marshall of Motherwell YMCA and Arthur Warton of Garscube.   

The organising body was recognised by the SAAA. One well-known official did not represent his club on the committee of the governing body, preferring to represent the Bute Shinty and Athletic Club. If  you were active in athletics in the 50’s/60’s or 70’s you’d recognise the names of the great and the good of the sport at the time among the officials listed at the foot of the first page – including the name of A Nangle.   A man lauded and insulted in equal measure – he was one of the two handicappers employed by the Association.   

The meeting was immensely popular with all disciplines right from the start – in 1948  Alan Paterson cleared  6′ 2 1/2″ in the high jump (but was only third in the handicap),  JE Farrell won the 12 mile ‘marathon’, in 1950  W Jack won the 100 yards; JJ Barry the Mile, D McD Clark broke the native and all-comers records for the hammer  (and JE Farrell won the road race for the third year).   In 1952 Ulick O’Connor was there for the pole vault, the road race was won by Harry Howard of Shettleston and ECK Douglas won the wire hammer throw.  In 1954 the road race went up to 18 miles and was won by Jackie Higginson of Clydesdale Harriers and cross-country and track champion Aileen Drummond won the women’s 220 yards.  The records did not stop.   In 1955 Miss JDM Webster from Leith set a new Scottish women’s half mile record of 2:23.4, Ulick O’Connor from Eire pole vaulted 11’6″ and Tom Logan won the shot putt.   Incidentally folk singer Joe Gordon, running in the colours of Springburn Harriers won the mile in 4:23.   There were always women’s events on the programme and in 1956 Dale Greig won the 220 yards – she would become the first ever world record holder for the marathon in due course, and Doreen Fulton of Springburn won the mile but the race of the day was the 18 mile road race where Pat Moy of Vale of Leven defeated Harry Fenion of Bellahouston taking four and a half minutes off the best time for the race.   

Three years later Tom McNab of Shettleston won the 100 yards and marathon runner Gordon Eadie of Cambuslang won the road race before a crowd of 5,500.  It was a very successful meeting all the way although the date was becoming very crowded.   The principal ones were The Edinburgh Highland Games at Murrayfield with its galaxy of international stars, and Crieff (a very popular professional meeting).   Nevertheless the standard remained high eg. in 1965 David Stevenson broke his own ground record in the pole vault with 14′ 8″, Mike McLean ran a 1:57 half mile, Mike Bradley won the Mile, Bill Stoddart won the road race from Andy Fleming and Doug Edmunds won the shot putt.   Every one was an international athlete.   However by now there were so many more meetings both international and national on the card that the meeting was not always reported on.   For instance, in 1970 the two big reports in the Glasgow Herald were on a meeting at GB level and on Edinburgh Highland Games, these were followed by an account of the final League match of the season and there was no space left for Bute HG.   

The date of the meeting, the attraction of sailing down the Clyde, the historical connection of Glaswegians heading for Rothesay on holiday, all made it a popular destination.   Coming back on the boat with pipers, some of whom ‘had drink taken’ after a good day’s sport was another memory to treasure.  The Games has a reputation that still attracts many good athletes.   The attraction did not go away.

Have a look at the extracts from the 1971 programme below:  

The extract from the programme for 1970 below includes all the running events, and the meeting results are at the foot of the page.   

 

 

The results as published in the Glasgow Herald on the following Monday: 

The two big names on that list are Willie Robertson the ‘heavy’ athlete and Lawrie Spence winning the Junior 800m – he would go on to be a sub-4 minute miler and a 2:16 marathon runner and possibly the best ever Scottish endurance runner based on times acr0ss all distances.   

The Games declined during the 80’s and 90’s, the road race became a 10 miler and then down to the ubiquitous 10K distance.  The reports disappeared from the Press.  Alas, now that we are in the 21st century, just as at Cowal, there are no light athletics at all the Bute Highland Games.    The programme extract above serves to illustrate the change.  The outline programme for the meeting in 2020 is below.

Compare that with page five of the 1971 programme with all the events listed and the extent of the decline in provision of athletics is obvious.   The Games website still says that “All competitions at the Bute Highland Games are run in accordance with Amateur Rules and Regulations.”    Nevertheless the prizes include £85, £65, £45 and £25 for the first four men in the road race and £40 and £30 for the fastest two women not in the first four.  And that was in money.  Compare that with the first three road race awards in 1971 as shown above (note that ‘the prize values were – eg a £5 rose bowl maybe rather than £5): 

Scratch Prize Value – £5; Handicap Prize Values – 1st £4; 2nd £2; 3rd £1.50

The decline continues with no road race at all at several meetings (eg Strathallan which went from 20 miles, to 14 miles to 10K to zero) and the sport continues with even track events dwindling in number.   I am glad that I don’t have a crystal ball.

 

MOTHERWELL MARATHON

                                                                                     

MOTHERWELL PEOPLE’S MARATHON

1983: 15th May. The event started and finished at Wishaw Sports Centre. 956 finished.

The Glasgow Herald reported briefly: Tony Bird (Greenock Wellpark Harriers), a missionary home on leave from Africa, defeated a field of over 1300 runners to win the inaugural Motherwell People’s Marathon yesterday in a personal best time of 2.27.01. On a hilly route described as the toughest marathon course in Britain, he finished half a mile ahead of David Fairweather (Law and District AC) who recorded 2.29.38, with Brian Carty (unattached) taking third position in 2.32.57. Ian Moncur (Forres Harriers/Clyde Valley AC) was fourth in 2.34.50. Lynda Stott (Aberdeen AAC) won the women’s prize when finishing 25th in 2.46.47, becoming the third fastest Scotswoman over the marathon distance.”

The Wishaw Press and Advertiser reported in greater detail.

The headline was: THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES MARATHON VICTORY.

“First to cross the line was University teacher Tony Bird who completed the extremely tough course in just 2.27.01. Tony, a member of the Greenock Wellpark Club, did not look like a man who had just run over 26 miles and, within seconds of crossing the line to great cheers, he was able to talk freely about the race and the course. At 33, Tony was running in only his second marathon, having finished in a respectable 28th place in last year’s Glasgow event. A keen cross-country runner, Tony had regularly been covering 60 miles each week in training and he was delighted with his success.”

He commented, “I am really pleased. To finish in first place after only my second trip over the distance is much better than I had hoped for. I am really delighted.” Tony thought the course was very tough and hilly but he thought that the organisation was first class. He said, “Everything went smoothly and I felt there were enough refreshment stops. Although I thought there were too many hills for a marathon, I am still very pleased with my time.”

Lynda Stott said, “I just felt really good and relaxed today and everything went well. The course was quite tough with a lot of strength-sapping hills but I just kept going and it is great to be first woman home. The organisation has been very good and there were enough drink stops and plenty of people to cheer us on. It really encourages you to keep running when you get very tired.”

Under her married name of Lynda Bain , she ran for Scotland in the 1985 World Cross and for GB in a 1984 marathon in Czechoslovakia, then set an outstanding Scottish National Record of 2.33.38 in the 1985 London Marathon. In 2020, Lynda remembers that the Motherwell Marathon, “was a bit up and down. It was a very friendly event and I spoke to a few folk as we ran round. A bizarre thing which I remember was the drinks – they had water and orange squash on offer all the way round and I took turn about of each. I really enjoyed getting the squash as I am not a lover of water (still try to avoid it even now).

David Fairweather remembers, “The inaugural Motherwell Marathon was held on 15 May 1983, starting & finishing at Wishaw Sports Centre, sponsored by Ian Skelly Motors.

The race started at 9 a.m. and Jim Rowley (Law & District) quickly went into the lead on the road to Bogside.  From there we went by back roads to Allanton, Bonkle and Newhouse. Jim had stayed in front on his own, but we caught him before Newhouse, and a small group including Tony Bird (Greenock Wellpark), Brian Carty (Shettleston H), Ian Moncur (Clyde Valley AC) and myself sped downhill through Holytown to Mossend.

Tony broke away, and I found myself on my own along Calder Road. I struggled a bit up the road through Forgewood to Motherwell, but with a police motorcycle escort and encouragement from the crowd, including my family, I kept going to Wishaw, finishing over 2 mins behind Tony, and over 3 mins in front of Brian Carty. The race was well-organised, and the weather was quite good, but it was a pretty hilly course and hard going in some places. Actually, most of the course was easier than expected, until the last four miles, when a combination of the uphill run and the headwind made it difficult.”

1984: 20th May. The Wishaw Press and Advertiser reported.

“At exactly 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, Provost John McGhee, assisted by Chief Judge Robert Peel, started the second Motherwell District People’s Marathon. Hundreds of spectators lined the start at Alexander Street to see the runners set off on the 26 miles 385 yards long circuit. Conditions were ideal as the fastest men lined up at the front with the women, slower athletes and fun runners bringing up the rear. Right at the back of the field were two wheelchair competitors Alex Paton and Michael McReadie.

By the time that the first runners had reached the one mile stage at Wishaw Cross, a pack of four runners, which included the eventual winner, had already made a significant break….. All of these men had done well in the race last year, so they all knew what to expect and had probably picked their attacking spots in advance……”

By 14 miles, Andrew Stirling dropped back and looked like he was feeling the pace. The toughest part of the course was approaching. After the Newhouse climb and a chance to recover slightly, there was a three miles gradual uphill which suited the strength of Ian Moncur (Clyde Valley AC) and it was here that he made a decisive break. David Fairweather (Law and District AC) ‘hit the wall’ and did well to fight on and finish fifth in 2.34.18. (David recalls, “I don’t remember much about the race, except that I was a marked man, and had to do a lot of work at the front, eventually ‘hitting the wall’ at 22 miles in 2:02:05.”)

As Ian Moncur entered the arena with a substantial lead, he received great applause from the spectators and managed to put on a spurt for the finish. His time – 2.26.29 – was a course record by 32 seconds. He was almost two minutes clear of Billy Dickson (Law and District AC) in 2.28.11, with Andrew Stirling (Bo’ness Runners) in 28.57 a further 45 seconds behind in third. Pat McErlean (Aberdeen AAC) was fourth in 2.31.45.

Strathclyde policeman Jim McMillan won the Veteran’s prize in 2.42.30. First woman to finish was Kay Dodson (Law and District AC) in 3.25.

Marathon winner Ian Moncur was a teacher and worked in Elgin, although he came originally from Holytown. In 1982 he became the North District Cross-Country champion. His time in the Motherwell Marathon was four minutes slower than his personal best (2.22.09) achieved at the 1982 Glasgow Marathon, but he felt that the local marathon was a more challenging event because of the hills and consequently was pleased with his time.

He commented, “Last year I had tackled a very hard race just a couple of weeks before the marathon and I suffered for it. This time I was better prepared and it all went according to plan. I was feeling good at the 20-mile stage and thought that, if I could put in a little more effort I could draw away from the other lads and that is exactly what happened. The last six miles were very tough but I managed to keep going and it is great to win.”

In 2020, Ian remembered, “Motherwell was the only Marathon I actually won. I was second twice in the Moray Marathon at Elgin behind Don Ritchie and Alastair Wood; lost narrowly to Don McGregor at Loch Rannoch; and also finished second in the 1985 Motherwell.

However, Motherwell was my local marathon, and the course went through my village of Holytown, so family and friends would gather to encourage me as I went past. I ran the Motherwell marathon 3 times finishing 4th, 1st and 2nd. In the 1984 race I was determined not to set the pace as I had faded badly over the last few miles the previous year. Davie Fairweather set the early pace followed by his Law and District clubmate Billy Dickson and I tucked in behind. The three of us soon broke away and established a sizeable lead. I made my move on the long hill up from Bellshill to Motherwell (one of my regular training routes) and finished strongly this time. Billy Dickson was 2nd but Davie faded to finish 5th. Andy Stirling (Bo’ness Runners) ran a well-judged race to take 3rd. with Pat McErlean (Aberdeen AC) 4th.”

1985: 19th May. 475 competitors started. Charlie McDougall (East Kilbride AC) won in 2.26.53. Last year’s winner, Ian Moncur (Clyde Valley AC) was second in 2.27.34. David Fairweather (Law and District AC) was third in 2.27.43 and won the award for first Veteran. Kay Dodson was first woman home once again, this time improving to 3.11. Veteran Jim McMillan (Strathclyde Police AC) finished in 2.38.20.

The Wishaw Press headline was “TRUE GRIT CHARLIE IS 1985 MARATHON DARLING”. The report started as follows: “Sheer contempt for pain gave Charlie McDougall victory in Sunday’s Motherwell Marathon. For the 36-year-old East Kilbride runner waited until some tough hills at the 21-mile mark before he made his break for glory.”

Charlie McDougall remembers: “Before I became a runner, I raced on a bicycle for 16 years. I trained with Robert Millar twice a week and our cycle team was very strong. [Robert Millar was the first man from Scotland (and Britain) to win the King of the Mountains jersey in the Tour de France.] My cycling background was very useful in becoming a good runner.

I got really fit by running many long hard miles. When the Motherwell Marathon came around, I told three people that I was going to win it. Now I had never said anything like this before. But the power of the mind really kicked in. I did not know who else was there till I arrived at the race. Okay, I saw Ian Moncur and Don Ritchie there, but I said I’m still going to win it. During the first few miles I heard someone say to Don, “How far ahead will you be today when you win it?” Anyway, a long time and many miles later, there were only a few runners left and we came to a short but steep hill. I went to the front and I could hear everyone else really breathing hard. I thought that there was a longer steeper hill around the corner and, when we got there, I was away! I did look back to see Ian trying to close me down but no chance. I was off on my own to win it. Afterwards, Davie Fairweather said that he thought I was mad when I surged away like that. I replied, “Who won the race, then?” A few weeks later, I went down to Blackburn in England and won that marathon too, on another very hilly course.”

Donald Ritchie wrote in his training diary: “The weather was pretty unpleasant, with slight rain and a headwind. For a while I felt fine and the pace seemed easy, but it began to pick up at around seven miles and our group thinned to five as Mike McCulloch and Dave Taylor dropped behind. After Newhouse roundabout we started running quite fast on the downhill stretch through Bellshill and Holytown. At about 18.5 miles Charlie McDougall surged away and our group began to split up. Ian Moncur and Davie Fairweather went after Charlie, but I began to feel weak and had to ease back. I managed to get back to them on the long downhill past Ravenscraig into Motherwell, but I was dropped soon after. From then on it was just a question of plugging away and hoping that I might feel stronger again. I was reasonably pleased with my run, as it was not a do or die effort. I was not distressed after finishing; I just could not run fast enough. Probably I was running marathons too close together (London; Dundee a week later; and Motherwell three weeks after that!) I finished fourth in 2.28.04.”

David Fairweather recalls. “This race was memorable for the freezing conditions and the strong leading group, who worked very well together. Charlie McDougall broke away near Mossend, by which time it was snowing! He did really well to stay clear, but was obviously the strongest runner. The finishing times were pretty good, considering the conditions and I did my best time for the race. The late Don Ritchie MBE from Moray Road Runners was 4th not far behind me. Only 4 weeks earlier, in London, he had run a near PB 2:21:26, aged 40! A week after London he had run 2.26.35 in the Dundee Marathon. He was a truly great runner and I was proud to be in his company in the Motherwell race.”

1986: 18th May: This was the fourth and last occasion that the Motherwell Marathon was raced.

 Andy Stirling (Bo’ness Runners) won clearly in 2.31.21. He went on to be a very good ultra-distance runner, winning the 36 miles Two Bridges race (from Donald Ritchie) in 1991 and again in 1993. He won the Scottish Veterans hill running title four times.

Davie Fairweather (Law and District AC) was second (and first Veteran again) in 2.34.20 – this very competitive athlete – outstandingly good as a Veteran – had completed with distinction all four Motherwell Marathons. Third place went to James Malone (London: 2.40.42), followed by H. Ilgunas (2.42.07). Davie Kirkwood (Wishaw) was first Veteran. Kay Dodson, strong and consistent as ever, finished first woman for the third year in succession, with a time of 3.09. Only 134 finished.

Davie recalls, “I don’t remember much about this race. I think Andy Stirling and I ran most of the race together, but I was dropped well before the finish and it was my slowest time for the race.”

(24th May 1987)

From then on, the race became a Half Marathon. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the course was short (12.25 miles)

1 Alan Robson (Edinburgh Southern H)  63:42

2 Martin Coyne (EAC)                                 63:58

3 Billy Dickson (Law & District)                  66:11

4 David Fairweather (Law & District)        66:33)

SAAA Championships 1958

1958

 

The Glasgow Herald report on Saturday’s events is because there are quite good reports on several events, the Friday report was not available so the complete results in order – printed by Walter Ross in The International Athlete (Vol 1, issues 1 and 2) – are as follows:

Following the championships, the team for the Empire Games in Cardiff was selected and the selectors put their faith in the following athletes:

 

University Blues

Sandy Sutherland modelling the light blue blazer

Being awarded a Blue for your sport at University was a very high honour indeed with very few being awarded each year.   Wikipedia comments that “A blue is an award of  sporting colours earned by athletes at some universities and schools for competition at the highest level. The awarding of blues began at Oxford and Cambridge universities in England.”  All sports which represented the University were able to award a Blue.  The practice was almost immediately adopted by all four of the “ancient” universities of Scotland it is a signal award for any sportsman.   Usually awarded for general excellence in the chosen sport over a period, very few are awarded in any one year.   eg in Glasgow there was one awarded by the Hares & Hounds in 1962-63 (Allan Faulds) and then one awarded in 1964-65 (Brian Scobie).    Former GU H&H secretary John McCall tells us that “A Blue was awarded , eg for being Scottish university champion, running in British university championships etc. Jim Bogan, Doug Gifford, Brian Scobie, Allan Faulds, Calum Laing etc were all blues. I think hares and hounds would nominate to GUAC.”

And the road to the Blue went through another vetting    Sandy Sutherland (a double blue himself – athletics and weight-lifting) was President of the GUAC and at one time chaired the Blues Committee, and had signed the certificates when he was Secretary.  He says: In my day the main criterion was that you had to have represented Scottish Universities or better – a full internationalist would almost certainly be awarded a full BLUE but forms had to be filled in and the club committee had to propose and second him or her..

The card above was awarded to international diver and British Champion James McBrayne at Glasgow.    In 1964 McBrayne had been second in the British Universities Springboard Championship but in 1965 he won the Scottish Springboard and Highboard Championships, and the British Universities Springboard with a third place in the Highboard.   Superb achievements.   

The athlete was usually allowed to buy blazer and tie, with the appropriate insignia.  All of those that I spoke to bought the tie but were reluctant to splash out on a blazer – especially if the award was in the final or penultimate year. Once the announcement of the award was made, the athlete was given the accreditation to purchase the relevant items.     The Glasgow Blues tie is shown below.   There is of course a ceremony associated with the award.   The Wikipedia describes it as follows:

“The Glasgow University Sports Association provides financial, administrative and representational support to individuals and groups involved in sport and recreation at University of Glasgow.   There are currently over 40 clubs affiliated to the Association.   The highlight of the  Association’s year is the GUSA Ball (or Annual Awards Dinner and Dance) in February, a black-tie affair at which Blues, Half-Blues and Awards are presented to successful athletes and teams.    Previous Blues winners include Sir Menzies Campbell and Rebecca Cooke.”

 

One former Blue said apologetically that he was a bit obsessive-compulsive and had kept all his stuff.   He was sorry that he couldn’t afford the blazer but he had everything else.   There was no need to be apologetic – it was an honour awarded at a time when the chosen sport could be indulged in freely and with great pleasure.   Many former Blues keep the precious awards safely tucked away after leaving their alma mater.

In Edinburgh, the situation was similar .   Alistair Blamire  was a member of the superb cross-country and track team in the 1960’s and has written a ‘must-read’ account of the period in his book ‘The Green Machine’.    He says: 

“In our day each sport put forward a list of people each year for consideration (for ‘blues’ and ‘greens’, which were ‘half blues’). A sub-committee of the Edinburgh University Athletic Club, which represented all sports and is now called the Edinburgh University Sports Union, then interviewed a representative (e.g. Captain or Secretary) from each sport, and a decision was taken on each nominee. I was on the committee in 1966-67 and I recall that we didn’t leave the room when our own sport came up, which was a bit ‘Non-U’ I suppose.”

When our team were doing really well the whole first team, and on one occasion a second team member too, were awarded blues.   People bought blazers and ties depending on inclination (I had a tie). Quite a few runners had ambitions beyond the ‘blue’ so didn’t consider it a particular honour.   I suppose Cambridge and Oxford ‘Blues’ carried more kudos.”

Just as the Glasgow University Athletic Club became the Glasgow University Sports Association, the Edinburgh University Athletic Club became the Edinburgh University Sports Union.

Ian Young who was also at Edinburgh in the 1960’s adds to the story when he says:   “Edinburgh Blues were awarded for all round excellence rather than a single outstanding performance.  Commitment to the team was paramount.  I was particularly aggrieved in my first year when I was awarded a half blue, or ‘Green’ by the EUH&H despite having represented Scotland (ICCU Champs, Ostend, 1965), Scottish Universities, etc in my fresher year, but I was not awarded a Blue because I had not shown enough commitment to team events during that season, so it was not individual excellence which counted, it was a high level of performance throughout the season.”

The comment about continuous performance throughout the season is backed up by the comment  “Awarded to those who have performed at a consistently high level for their club” on the University website in 2020.   He goes on to speak of the actual award and what was involved:   

In my case I had 6 Blues awarded during my 5 year university career, I think 4 from EUH&H and 2 from EUAC for track performance.  In no case did I apply for or promote myself for the award.  I believe the names were put forward to the EU Sports Union by the respective club captains and if accepted, the recipient got a note of the award which he or she could then take to the official University Outfitters to get the appropriate blues clothing.  This consisted of the Blues blazer, tie and ‘Wrap’ which was a heavy scarf of blazer-type material which would have the initials of the recipient, sports section and award dates embroidered in white on the blue material.  The blazer was an expensive piece of kit with the university crest, the sports section initials and the award dates all embroidered with real silver wire thread on the breast pocket.  Again, subsequent dates could be added.  The blues tie was blue silk with a diagonal silver stripe and no wording, so was the most commonly visible sign of that status.”   There must have been at least a perception of a significant award when we look at the trappings: Ian’s description of the blazer and of the ‘Wrap’  are of  items of real significance.   

The two photographs of the University teams are notable for what they highlight.   Ian tells us that “There was also the additional kudos in the end of season team photograph where individual names were followed by a list of symbols which denoted whether you were a blue or a green, Scottish internationalist, Scottish University representative, SCCU representative, etc and there was always great interest to see who had the most symbols!”

 

Note the starred athletes.

From Aberdeen we have Colin  Youngson’s ‘Blues’ card, and some other memorabilia, shown below.   Note that the tie is also there.

There was other paraphernalia associated with the award – Colin’s Aberdeen collection is below. 

He also has his athletic club cards, a different colour each year to make it easier to see who’s up to date with the sub!

The card contained many things including the year’s fixture list

The St Andrews University simply says about the Blue that:  Full Blues are awarded to athletes with senior international representation.  and  Half blues are awarded to athletes who have displayed exceptional sporting achievement that is not at the level of a Full Blue.   This is a bit different again but there have been many athletes from the University of senior international standard – Don Macgregor being the outstanding one.   Given the standard however there will not be too many in any one year – eg in 2019 there were only eight in all across all sports: seven for Boat and one for fencing.   When it comes to Half Blues, it is a different story however with 37 recipients.   The list of sports is interesting too: one for Boat, eight for Cheerleading, two for Cricket, two for Dance, one for football, two for netball, four for pool, two for sailing, two for shinty, four for tennis, three for trampoline, two for triathlon, two for Ultimate and three for waterpolo.    It is a rather strange, to me, list.   I don’t understand some of the events like Ultimate and others seem more like keep-fit exercises than sports.   cf with Sandy Sutherland’s story below.

***

Despite the casual dress code of the 21st century, it is perhaps surprising that so many still have at least the Blues tie.   There are also quite a few with the certificate or authorisation card.   Mind you, it is not always held in such esteem as it was comparatively recently.   Sandy Sutherland tells the following tale.  

“Regarding the actual Blues award itself I assume we all copied it from Oxbridge where it was initially awarded to those who had actually competed in the annual Oxford v Cambridge match in what ever sport and not all sports were considered worthy.   We had a great example of this in basketball when one member, now nearly 90 and a distinguished  student of the stars – he was i/c the Royal Observatory at Hirstmasu in Sussex I believe – – went to Cambridge and actually captained them to victory over Oxford round about 1953-55 he told me!   He was only awarded a HALF Blue as the Blues committee at Cambridge did not consider Basketball a sport worthy of a FULL Blue.  Why? Because not all the players on the bench at one time were on the court!!  Only the rowers in the BOAT are awarded full BLUES! And to this day – and much to his irritation he has never received his FULL Blue.”

However it is true that the Blue has lost a lot of its significance.   When I took up the sport in 1957 and was talking to another runner about Bobby Calderwood of Victoria Park I was told that he was the first runner not to run for his university but to go on representing his club.   That was a time when the Inter-Varsities was a major meeting and the University clubs were well represented at the SAAA Championships and in international teams.   Record  holders and champions like David Gracie were representing their Universities (in his case, Glasgow) and not their clubs (Larkhall YMCA).   

By the 1990’s the situation was a bot more mixed.  The situation developed until in the 1990’s top quality athletes like Bobby Quinn, Kilbarchan AAC,  and Alistair Douglas, Victoria Park, were running for their clubs for almost all the year but turning out for the University in the Scottish and British Students’ Championships.   Alistair Douglas who was in a similar frame of mind, ie studying at Strathclyde University but running mainly for his club, only racing for Strathclyde in the Scot Unis and BUSF championships said when asked:  “I wasn’t eligible for a Blue unfortunately because I maintained VPAAC as my First Claim club and therefore  competed against Strathclyde in Open competition.   However I thoroughly enjoyed training with and competing for them in confined university races and helped them a lot – 3rd team place in Hyde Park Relays 1969 , 3rd individual Scot Univs. c c champs. 1969 , 16th. in BUSF c c champs 1969 ( and counted along with Edinburgh University’s lads in winning Scot. Univ.’s team to beat UAU’s team) – also I was usually first or second to John Myatt in various inter university. c c events.”   The fellow feeling was there but having come up through the ranks with Under 15’s, Under 17’s and Under 20’s with a club, having many friends at the club, it was the allegiance that was strongest for the runners mentioned.