Steven Doig: Coach

Yhis is the second part of Steven’s profile.   For the first part, go to  Steven Doig – the runner

When he returned to Scotland in 1998 he kept on running but it was not as serious as it had been.   For instance he ran in the Beveridge Park 5K races in 2003 where in May he was second with a time of 16:31 and in June set a record for the course of 16:02.   Good enough running but not of his previous standards.   The problem was of course with his legs – run, start to get fit, get sore legs, stop for a while, repeat.    But as the competitive running tailed away, the coaching career opened up.   It was nt a rushed or hurried decision, nor was he talked into it by a club official.

His next venture in the sport was indeed as a coach.   His experiences as an athlete both north and south of the border, his inquisitive nature and intelligence all indicated that he would be a success in this capacity.   He had been interested in coaching as far back as 1996 when he was in London and got his club coach award.   His actual coaching career started in about 2006 with a small group of 9 and 10 year olds so that his daughter Shona had a group to train with. 

 Because his runners were progressing and performing successfully others joined his group and he  reached the stage where he had to divide them into five or six groups  with assistance from two other adult club members.   The athletes covered three clubs, although the vast majority were Fife members, and covered all age ranges but are mainly U17, U20 and Senior athletes.    Steven, like all good coaches, put in the hours trackside,  with sessions most days at either Kirkcaldy or Pitreavie tracks.   There is also of course the work put in away from the track in organising the year, organising the individual sessions, liaising with physios, medics and other coaches: when we met for lunch on one occasion the first 20 minutes were taken up trying on his mobile to arrange a race for an athlete to get a qualifying time via a whole series of texts.   The time spent and effort put out is appreciated by the athletes and their parents.

Steven as Coach of the Year in 2013

In 2014 one of his athletes, Adam Scott, won the English Under 15 1500m in the championships at Bedford.   The report in the local paper read: “Kirkcaldy athlete Adam Scott finished his season in fine style last Sunday when he won the 1500m title at the England Athletics Under 15 Championships. Adam, who is 14, is a pupil at Balwearie High School and competes for Fife Athletic Club. He is undefeated in his age group over 1500m and prior to his comprehensive victory at Bedford, where he defeated his closest rival by four seconds, he had already won the Scottish Indoor Age Group Championship and the outdoor East District, Scottish Schools and Scottish Age Group Championships. Adam also shattered the Scottish under 15 indoor 1500m record in February taking a whopping 10 seconds off the previous best. 

His victory in the England Athletics Championship is, however, his greatest achievement to date and this win effectively crowns him as British champion as all of the main contenders for this title were present at Bedford. Adam, who is ranked first in Scotland in the under 15 age group over 1500m, had one final outing before hanging up his spikes for the season. At the Pitreavie Trophy meeting on Sunday he won the 800m in 2:02.77 to climb to the top of the rankings in that event too. He will now take a short break before setting his sights on the cross country season where he hopes to win the East District and Scottish titles.

Adam has been coached by Steve Doig as part of the Fife Athletic Club group in Kirkcaldy for seven years and his superb performances this summer will undoubtedly inspire his training partners as they strive to match his achievements.”

 In 2016, 10 years after he had taken up coaching, he was nominated as Coach of the Year by the Kirkcaldy and Central Fife.   The following testimonial was posted on the Fife AC Forum:

Tue May 30, 2016 9:17 am

Adam Scott, U18/U20, has been selected to represent Scotland in the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in July this year.   

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Adam’s coach Steve Doig for his commitment and support to get Adam to this point. No athlete ever stands alone and Steve has stood with Adam guiding and supporting him through the successes and the failures; always there, always ready to help Adam no matter what – in typical Steve style of course.   Steve has stood in Beveridge park with snow on the ground and has stood track side with the wind and rain belting down all to support Adam and his athletes. As a parent I think that Adam could not have had a better, more dedicated, or more skilled coach than Steve.
Adam has been supported by many others – Gabby Doig, Adam’s training partners in Haraka Kasi, Mark Pollard and Robert Hawkins of the Scottish Athletics National Academy, and Sports Aid Scotland and the Robertson Trust.
Adam is not Steve’s only Commonwealth Youth Games athlete: Bethany McAndrew of Pitreavie AAC has been selected for the 100m hurdles and is part of Steve’s Haraka Kasi training group.

The Team Scotland resume of his career read:

Scottish U17 record holder over 1500m, Adam finished 5th in the 3000m and 9th in the 1500m at the Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games. A multiple Scottish Age Group champion, with titles stretching back to 2013 as an U15 athlete, 2015 was a breakthrough year for Adam as he took silver at the London Mini Marathon before going on to win gold at both the Celtic Games in the 800m and SIAB Schools International in the 3000m. A Scottish U17 Cross Country title in the winter of 2016 paved the way towards his Scottish record breaking 3.52.07 run over 1500m at a British Milers Club race in Manchester in May. Adam started 2017 in the same vein with gold at the Scottish U20 Championships and Scottish Schools Championships indoors, as well as taking gold at the Scottish Junior Road Race Championships.

Steven with Adam Scott when he was selected for the Commonwealth Youth Games

The bold typeface above is mine just to emphasise further the appreciation expressed.    There is mention of the Haraka Kasi group.  You can follow their athletes progress at https://twitter.com/HarakaKasi .   They describe themselves as an “Athletics training group based round Pitreavie track. Cross club; focused on camaraderie and results – not vests.”   What is it? Like many training squads, his athletes wanted a group identity but Steve resisted one that used his name – ostentation was never his style in any walk of life.   Since the Kenyans are noted distance runners. he came up with the two Swahili words that just mean ‘speed’  or  ‘fast’.    The athletes liked the name and it stuck.   They liked it so much that they all clubbed together, and raised several hundreds of pounds, to buy a personalised car registration plate for him which reads  KA51 RUN for him.   

So far Steven  has had three athletes who have graduated from the elite Scottish athletics National Athletics Academy: Adam is one, graduated in 2018 as did Annabel Simpson (above) who after many very good races in 2017 and 2018, ran in the inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon in Cardiff in 2018 after running a 76:28 pb.   She was maybe better known as a top class 1500m runner as a glance at her entry in the Power of 10 website shows.   There have also been athletes competing for Scottish international or representative teams.

Most recently there is the running of Owen MIller who graduated in 2016, before either Adam or Annabel.

The covid pandemic in 2020 meant that there was no international racing that year and many athletes had their Olympic dreams put on hold – one of these was Owen Miller who had been aiming for the British Paralympic team.  Coached by Steven, he was one of three Scottish runners to go to the event when it was run in 2021.  Not only did Owen make the team, but he actually won the race with a very good tactical piece of running.   You can see the race on YouTube at Massive Effort Captures Paralympic Glory | Owen Miller | Tokyo 2020 Paralympics – YouTube    .  There were 14 in the race and Owen won by 1.21 seconds.   As anyone can imagine, Steven was delighted at Owen’s race – he has been coaching him since 2016 and the athlete was clearly in good condition physically and mentally properly equipped for the event.   The whole group that he was coaching took a share of the credit for it.   Steven was one of four coaches nominated for the Performance Coach of the Year by Scottish athletics. but despite Owen being the only Scot to win an Olympic 1500m the award went to Laura Muir for her superb run in the  Olympic 1500m where she finished second.

Power of 10 tells us that Steven currently is currently working with a group of athletes, all in the U17, Under 20, Senior and Under 23 age groups, mainly from Fife AC.   Have a look and see the standards being reached.

As a coach, the future looks bright for Steven who has followed a progression from international athlete to successful and respected coach.

 

 

  •  

Tom Cochrane: Veteran Runner and Coach

 

2018 Round the Lakes 10K, Poole, Dorset

“Proving he has what it takes, at 79 years of age, Tom Cochrane completed the race in a solid time of 54:03 to take 4th place in the M70 category and 212th place overall.”

‘Once a runner, always a runner’ might not be true for us all, but it is certainly true for Tommy Cochrane.   Look at the picture above – he’s on the inside of the bend and look at the running action – it’s not somebody just making his way round as a means of getting some exercise.   Of course he appears in the club race reports such as this one from Boscomb Pier 5K, in December, 2014, “1st 75-79 was Tom Cochrane in 24.38. Yes, Tom really is over 75 years of age, hard to believe! ”   

On an earlier page he listed his best times at age 40+, 50+, 60+, 70+ and even 80+.   If we look at his performances as noted on the power of ten website, there is a note of his recent and fairly recent best times.   These include

Distance Time Year
800m 3:52.9 2017
5K 20:42 2004
Parkrun 24:44 2014
5 Miles 34:28 2005
10K 42:45 2005
10 Miles 72:16 2004
Half Marathon 2:11:14 2014
20 Miles 2:42:01 2004

His entry on the RunBritain website shows a series of 21 events between 2014 (when he was 74) and 2018 (when he was 78).   Races are mainly 5K in distance but include 10K and half marathon.   If we are looking at rankings, then he was ranked in Britain (not just in the club, or County, or Region, or England – in Britain) at number 4 for his parkrun as a Vet 80 in 2018, at number 8 as a Vet 75 in 2017 over 800m and again at 8 as a Vet75 over 5K in 2014.   

Many of his age would find the half marathon distance a difficult walk but it’s just a way of life for Tom.

Coach Cochrane

Tommy was for 37 years a middle distance coach at Bournemouth Athletic Club where he was able to coach athletes to represent England, and Great Britain and also had a lifestyle influence on the many young Middle Distance athletes who passed through the group over the years.  He says,   “In addition [well past my sell by date] being approached by Bournemouth AC committee at 72 Yrs. to come out of retirement and become President. As president I could see a number of areas that required attention, Coaching Secretary. Junior Development Co-ordinator and Middle Distant Coaching. The Junior Development Group [Young athletes 8 – 14yrs] co-ordinator gave me a lot of satisfaction recruiting and organising the coaching education of assistants and coaches [all volunteers and a great bunch of people] to meet EA coaching requirements and the growing number of young athletes.”   

Prior to Covid we had 120 young athletes and 16 coaches attending the Development Group on a Wednesday throughout the year.   For the work that he was doing over this period he was awarded the England Athletics Regional Award for Services to Athletics in 2014,    This is pictured below. 

 

The coaching did not come out of the blue – coaches don’t just appear, no matter how good a runner they are, they have to learn the trade.   

Tommy took his Assistant Club  Coach qualification when he was just 20 under John Anderson who was the Scottish National Coach at that time. The coaching structure at the time was in three stages – Assistant Club Coach, then Club Coach and finally Senior Coach.   One of the sessions with John was at the Dirrans Sports in Kilwinning.    He didn’t return to coaching for some years after his National Service due to some more serious concerns like getting married, developing his career, etc. He progressed his Coach Education under Frank Dick at Inverclyde in Largs which went from Friday night to Sunday evening on two or three weekends in the year.     He moved south to Bournemouth in August 1984 due to work and joined Bournemouth Athletic Club [BAC] in August. He didn’t start coaching at Bournemouth until almost Christmas 1984 as he had to wait until his coaching qualification [Level 3] was transferred from Scotland to England Athletics.    And that’s how it started.   He started out as a coach when he was 20 years old and the picture below was taken of his development group on his 80th birthday.

They say that if you want a job doing, ask a busy man, they also say that a good club member ‘does what his club needs him to do’.   Whichever of these you believe, or even if you believe both, Tommy’s your man.   Runner and coach, he is also a qualified official.   When asked about that – he didn’t offer the information to start with – he said,  “Yes, I am a level 2 UKA  track official but only started doing in my 70’s due the club being short of officials for League, County and District Championships.”     A track judge does not get the position unless he is experienced and reliable – and he only started doing it in his 70’s.    

We’re still not finished.   Many in athletics don’t seem to recognise the difference between officials and administrators.   They are two different sorts of person.   

*The officials are the people at the long jump pit, on the high jump fan, at the hammer cage, beside the track in all weathers making the event run on the day and dealing with sometimes anxious and stroppy senior athletes or Under 13’s who have forgotten some item of equipment;

*the administrators are the backroom people who get the permits, organise training nights, sort out the running of the meeting, invite the officials, decide the programme of the meeting and so on.   

Tommy has also done his work on the club committee.  He tells us that he has been a Bournemouth AC  Committee member on a number of occasions over the 37 years, only stepping down when he thought the committee needed new or younger people with fresh ideas on it.   He has in fact held the very top post of club president.   On the club website he is currently noted as Coaches Representative.   The photograph and extract below are from the Bournemouth Echo.

“A DEDICATED volunteer who gives up three nights a week to help run an athletics club was given an 80th birthday surprise on Wednesday.   Tom Cochrane, who is originally from Scotland, started working with Bournemouth Athletic Club 34 years ago, shortly after moving down to the area for his work.   For three days a week ever since, he has helped run the club’s children’s sessions, becoming a valuable member of the entirely voluntary coaching team.   At Wednesday’s session, his close friends and family joined more than 100 youngsters in wishing him a happy birthday and thanking him for his “invaluable” efforts.”

The whole article can be read on the paper’s website.   In addition to all of the above, Tom is also a member of South West Vets AC.   A runner, an official, a coach, an administrator – and a wonderful example and role model to any athlete of any age.

 

 

 

Tom Cochrane: Runner

Tom in second place, running in the inter-services in Germany

Tom’s running career was in three inter-linked phases.   First as a good club runner with Beith Harriers, then as a National Servicemen with the Army in Germany, and then back at Beith (he had never left it) as an even better runner after his experiences racing and training with the Army.   Tom’s replies to the questionnaire have given us a lot of information about his career highs and lows so it would be right to look at some of the championship statistics on the Scottish scene, starting in 1959.   Abbreviations:   AHCA is Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association, here stands for the Ayrshire Championships and SWD stands for the South West District.

Date event Tom's position club position comments
10/1/59 AHCA 3rd 1st
7/1/60 AHCA 1st 1st
14/1/61 AHCA DNR 2nd -*
23/1/61 SWD DNR 2nd -*
12/1/62 AHCA 1st 1st
19/1/62 SWD 1st -
12/1/63 AHCA 1st 1st
19/1/63 SWD 1st 1st
23/2/63 National 9th First International
18/1/64 SWD 2nd 1st I Harris 1st
29/2/64 National 6th - Second International
16/1/65 SWD 1st 4th -
27/2/65 National 29th
15/1/66 SWD 1st 2nd
21/1/67 SWD 1st 3rd 3 in a row
20/1/68 SWD 1st 3rd 4 in a row.
18/1/69 SWD 1st 2nd 5 in a row

That is a small selection of results taken from championships – County, District and National – where they were available.   eg County results were few and far between as far as newspaper reports are concerned.   However we should maybe look a bit more closely  at the two seasons where he gained international selection, 1962/3  and  1963/4.

 The Scottish winter season starts  with the short relays, and on 3rd November, 1962, the South Western District Relays were held at Kilmarnock and Beith were second to Ayr Seaforth and Tommy had the fastest time of the day.   A good start for his campaign.   A week later the club was again defeated by Ayr Seaforth, this time in the County Championships and Tom was beaten for fastest time by Jim McLatchie of Ayr, a Scottish track internationalist over one mile,   He was only four seconds down on McLatchie’s 13:12.   McLatchie also beat him in the match between the SCCU Select and Scottish Universities.   That race was won in a tie between McLatchie and Fergus Murray who crossed the line with arms linked, Tommy was fifth with Martin Craven and Callum Laing separating him from the winners.   He was only 24 seconds behind the joint winners.   On 12th January, 1963, he won the Ayrshire title by over 200 yards leading Beith to a team victory.   A week later he won the South West District title from C Aitken of Wellpark by 67 seconds and was clearly in good form for the upcoming national title race.   On 2nd February, Tommy was representing Ayrshire in the Inter-Counties championship at Paisley and finished third behind  Andy Brown and Lachie Stewart and only 11 seconds behind the winner.  He had been racing frequently and was obviously in great form.  Then came the National Championships, held at Hamilton Park Racecourse over the notoriously heavy trail with the big hill incorporated into every lap, Tommy ran well and finished ninth.   The selectors picked the first six runners (Linaker, Wood, Brown, McKay, Craven and Taylor) with the next three (Kerr, Laing and Cochrane) as reserves.   As luck would have it, there were a couple of call offs and Tommy was in the team.   It was held at San Sebastian, Spain, on 17th March.   57th of the 94 runners, he was fourth of the six scoring runners for his country – ahead of Callum Laing (63rd) and Bert McKay (68th)

The following summer, Tommy raced well and at the end of the year had a track best of 14:37.3 for Three Miles.. 

The 1963/64 season was also a good one, marked with racing often and well.  On 26th October, Beith turned out a strong team in the District relay championships.   The South West was a hard championship to win with such clubs as Paisley Harriers, The two Greenock clubs (Glenpark and Wellpark) plus all the Ayrshire teams.   Tom ran on the fourth ‘glory’ leg, turned in the fastest individual time of the afternoon by 26 seconds and the club ran out comfortable winners by 48 seconds.   Shortly after that, 9th November at Kilmarnock, Tom again ran the fastest stage of the day in the Ayrshire County Relay championships but the team was not so fortunate, being defeated by Ayr Seaforth AC.   Tom’s first representative outing of the winter was on 14th December at the Glasgow University HQ at Garscadden, when he ran for the Scottish Cross Country Union against Scottish Universities.   He finished 8th in a race which featured runners of the calibre of Mel Edwards, Ian McCafferty, Fergus Murray and Donald Macgregor.   Ian Harris had by now joined the parachute regiment and was running well for them but he was home in January and on the 18th he defeated Tom in the District Championships by half a minute with the club second in the team race.   With the National Championships coming closer the Inter-Counties Championship was held at Cleland Estate in Lanarkshire on 1st February.   The race was won by Ian McCafferty and Tommy was seventh, just behind Andy Brown and Kenny Ballantine and two places up on Lachie Stewart.   A week later and it was the County Championships on his home course of Beith and he duly won the race with the club taking the team championship.   After a few weeks rest the National Cross-Country Championships were held at Hamilton Park and selection of the Scottish team for the world championships followed immediately after  the race.   Tommy was sixth in a very good field indeed.   The first ten were:   1.   Fergus Murray;  2.  Jim Alder;  3.  Alastair Wood;   4.  Andy Brown;   5.  AIC Heron;   6.   T Cochrane;   7.  S Taylor;  8.   Calum Laing;  9.  Jim Johnston;   10.   Graham Everett.    Given that the top eight were automatically chosen for the international, Tommy went to the race which was held at Leopardstown, Dublin, on March 21st.   He finished 57th of the 79 starters and seventh Scottish scoring runner with Lachie Stewart eighth.   

There were other races in which the club was involved but the biggest road race of the winter was the Edinburgh to Glasgow eight-stage relay with only 20 teams selected to contest the race.   Even ‘making the race’ was a target for many clubs in the land, Beith was one of them and they had been in the race in 1958.   The race had four sets of medals awarded – gold, silver and bronze for the first three teams plus an extra set for an award to the team that in the opinion of the judges had put in the ‘most meritorious performance’.   It was often assumed, wrongly that these were for the most improved club.   However in 1958 Beith had started off with Ian Harris finishing ninth on the first stage.   Ian handed over the baton to Tommy who had the very difficult second stage – a long stage of over 6 miles it was the one where all the big stars ran, it was probably the most competitive stage and the one where, because of the quality of the athletes concerned, it was hardest to pull up a place.   Tommy picked up three places to take the club to sixth, then Ken Phillips picked another on the third stage, followed by A Napier who took the club up to fourth place.   Then it happened – the final four places saw the club drop to 6th, then 10th, 11th  and  12th at the finish.   The following year, 1959,  the Beith Harriers team was a good one, Beith Harriers hoped  to win the prize for the most improved team.    They had a real chance to do so and Tom ran on the first stage and finished a very good fifth crossing the change-over line side by side with Springburn’s Eddie Sinclair, to hand over to the star man, Ian Harris.  Ian had unfortunately fallen off his scooter on the outskirts of Edinburgh prior to running the second lap and never recovered properly, finishing 14th.   Jim Sloss had to drive Ian’s scooter to the next changeover point, with the result that he did not get a proper warm-up and he also had an off day.   All the other runners ran to form or slightly above and managed to finish in 15th place.   

Beith had many fine runners in the club at that time – Ian Harris would be SAAA marathon champions and cross-country internationalist but joined the Para Regiment and had a superb athletic career subsequently but was not available for club running, Danny McFadzean was another very good runner who finished high up in marathons at Boston and Kosice as well as domestically but joined the Navy and was unavailable for the club teams, Tommy was a consistently good competitor for the club but had two years away on National Service.   The dream at Beith was to have all three able to run together for the club.    

Although the short report above from the ‘Glasgow Herald’ (the source for the headlines above) reports that it was Tom’s fifth consecutive, it was his seventh overall and although a worthy victory in its own right, over two excellent opponents.    

In the centre row 3rd. from left John Wright [Clydesdale] and 4th. Tommy
[Beith]. In the front row 5th. from left Danny MacFadzean [Beith]

In the post-war period, all boys when they reached the age of 18 had to serve in the Armed Forces for two years National Service.   It took the form of ten weeks basic training before a posting to your regiment for the remainder of your time.   There were regiments known for their sporting prowess – it was good for Britain if their teams performed well and sportsmen usually managed to be able to train and compete regularly.   As a class athlete, Tommy was allocated to a regiment with a good athletics squad.   There were some competitions at home with one of the majors being that between the three arms of the forces – the Combined Services competition featuring the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.   The picture above is of the three teams at one such match.   Tommy, in answering the questionnaire said that one of his best performances was finishing  fourth in the Combined Services Championships at Aldershot. 

His spell in Germany covered the home athletics seasons of 1960/61 and 1961/62 where he was competing for the 28th Signals Regiment, BAOR Athletic Association in International Forces Cross-Country and Track.   Like many other sportsmen in the Army at the time, he was also a member of a German Civilian Athletic Club, Bayer Uerdingen,  that I competed for at weekends in Belgium, Holland and Germany.   

Tommy going on to win the 5000m on the Berlin Olympic warm up track 1961

Tom Cochrane

Where it started:  at Beith, Tommy kneeling in front with trophy

Tommy Cochrane from Beith Harriers was a top class runner over the country where he won Scottish international honours and on the track.   After his career as a top level athlete, he became a very good coach, official and administrator.   As a coach I met him several times at the British Endurance weekends organised by Norman Poole which were held in Manchester, Stoke, Stafford and other points in the North of England – a fair hike from Bournemouth.   Whatever role he filled in a club, he was a great club servant as well as a successful one.

The Cochrane talent was not only seen in Britain – he served his two years National Service mainly in Germany and he raced well there in the company of several GB, Scottish and English international athletes.   If we have a look at some basic statistics for his career we see that 

(a) His best track times domestically were as listed below (figures taken from the SATS ranking lists); it should be noted however that many of his best times  were run ‘furth of Scotland’:

1963, 3 Miles , 14.37.8, 25

1964, 2 Miles, 9.16.01, 9

1964, 3 Miles, 14.32.8, 17

1966, 3 Miles, 14.22.8, 22

1966, 3000m S/ch, 9.31.2, 8

Note however that he also ran on the Continent and in England and these statistics were probably not available to the compilers – no internet in those days.

(b) Over the country he ran for Scotland and for the British Army.  Tommy won the South West District senior cross-country championships seven times (five of them consecutively).   This last was a record for the title which had been won by many Scottish internationalists including the Stevenson brothers from Wellpark Harriers, Ian Harris from Beith,   Jim McLatchie of Ayr Seaforth,  Bill Stoddart of Wellpark Harriers and  Lawrie Spence, Glenpark Harriers.   In view of this outstanding record, he was given the championship trophy to keep in perpetuity when the District merged with the Midland District in 1976.   

Tom completed the questionnaire about his career for us and it provides an insight into his career and personality.

Tommy is in white in the centre of the line up at Beith

Name:   Thomas [Tom] Cochrane.
Club:   Beith Harriers & Bournemouth Athletic Club.   Life Member of both.
D.O.B:   9th. May 1938.
Occupation:   From age of 15 yrs through to retiring at 65 yrs Electrician, Work Study Engineer, Dept. Manager, Management Consultant, Company Director, UK Technical Manager for a German Company

In 1961 at 2TAF HQ, Rheindahlen Germany   

How did you get into the sport initially?   By chance – in October 1953. My friend Ian Kerr and I had been asked by the Kilbirnie Church of Scotland Youth Fellowship to purchase a record player for the fellowship. This involved a 20 mile journey by Western bus to Glasgow. Once we had completed our purchase and arriving home my friend Ian asked what I was doing for the rest of the day as he was going to Beith Harriers in the afternoon and would I like to come along. This was the start of my running for 67 yrs with a break of 2 yrs due to illness.

Personal Bests. [NB: Tommy adds, “All questionable due to necessity of moving south and not being able to take all of his records. To which I would add that there are some things serious runners never forget!]
Track/ Road
800m – 2m 01s ? 10mls – 51m42s?
1500m – 4m 01s ?
3000m – 8m 35s ?
3000m S/c. – 9m 06s ?
5,000m – 14m 55s ?

Since starting running again [but not serious] at over 40 yrs.
40 yrs 10k. 35m 53s
50 yrs 10k. 35m 12s
60 yrs 5k. 20m 42s; 5m. 34m 28s; 10k. 39m 46s; 10m. 72m 16s; 20m 2h 42m; 

70 yrs 800m 3m 52s; 5k 24m 23s; 10k. 54m 03s; HM 2h11.14m
80 yrs. Park 5k 25m 38s  [I was fastest in the UK for a short time before dropping back to 4th. later the same year.]

Has any individual or group had a marked effect on either your attitude to the sport or your performance? 

Firstly, my girl friend Morag, now my wife [of almost 60 years], who has supported and encouraged me since we first met at the age of 19 yrs and who still does today.

Secondly, the old members of Beith Harriers –  George Morrison, Jock Calder, Jack Millar, Matt Dunbar, Alex Neilson and George Murdoch – who talked about their past performances, the competitions they took part in, and the many friends they had made along the way.

Then, one senior club member Kenny Phillips who contributed to my running greatly just by being there every Tuesday Thursday and Saturday for training, travelling to races and giving encouragement.

Others such as Harry Maxwell, Hugh Walker and George Lightbody also had a finger in the pie.

Most recent photograph of Morag and myself at our grandaughter’s wedding PIC

What exactly did you get out of the sport?     A discipline which has enabled me to get the best out of the time available in any one day. Respect for others, their possessions and property as you were representing your family, club or country. Misbehaving in any form in the 50’s and 60’s was frowned upon as Athletics at that time was referred to as the Cinderella sport. Making lots of friends some that are no longer with us and many that I still keep in touch with.
Can you describe your general attitude to the sport?   My attitude to the sport has changed over the years as the management of it has changed. Those early days in Scotland 1950’s to 1980’s there were honourable people who did wonders with a very meagre budget  Men such as George Dallas, Duncan McSwein, Alex Neilson, Bill Armour, John McClurg and many others at that time, who organised and ran the sport in Scotland annually on a shoestring compared to what one elite athlete gets in support from UKA annually. My standard answer to this is that we used to have an amateur sport run by professionals now we have a professional sport run by amateurs. Maybe this is a bit unkind but it does make you think as the depth [not the performance] in any one distance event has diminished.
What do you consider your best performances?   Winning the Ayrshire County and The South West District Cross Country Championships six times. Finishing second. to Ian McCafferty in the British YMCA CC Championships at Paisley. Finishing sixth. in the Scottish CC Championships at Hamilton Park Race Course, getting into the Scottish Team on two occasions. Finishing fourth in the British Forces Combined Services [Army Navy & RAF] Champs. at Aldershot.

Going on to finish 6th. in Scottish CC Champs at Hamilton Race
Course.

Worst performances?    Stepping up from a youth to a junior without really knowing that I should have doubled my training quantity. This ignorance resulted in me taking part in the Senior 6 mile South West District Cross Country Championship when I finished last but one. Needless to say you learn by your mistakes. The same year Andy Forbes, a great friend who was in his mid 40’s at the time, came up alongside me at the Beith New Years Day Race and said come on son when I was nearly dying on my feet and ready to give up. 

What goals did you have that remain unachieved?  Running the Glasgow Half Marathon and the London Marathon. Taking part in the Ayrshire Cross Country Championships one more time just to say farewell to Cross Country but in Scotland. 

What has running brought you that you would not have wanted to miss?  Firstly my wife as we were introduced to each other at Beith Harriers by Kenny Phillip’s sister Agnes and husband George. All the friendships that were made, a healthy lifestyle over many years and the experience gained from running before, during and after my National Service in Germany. My 37 years middle distance coaching at Bournemouth Athletic Club where I was able to coach athletes to represent England, and Great Britain but also to have a lifestyle influence on the many young MD athletes who passed through the group over the years.   In addition [well past my sell by date] being approached by Bournemouth AC committee at 72 Year. to come out of retirement and become President. As president I could see a number of areas that required attention, Coaching Secy. Junior Development Co-ordinator and Middle Distance Coaching. The Junior Development Group [Young athletes 8 – 14yrs] co-ordinator gave me a lot of satisfaction recruiting and organising the coaching education of assistants and coaches [all volunteers and a great bunch of people] to meet EA coaching requirements and the growing number of young athletes. Being awarded the England Athletics Regional Award for Services to Athletics in 2014, pictured below.

Prior to Covid we had 120 young athletes and 16 coaches attending the Development Group on a Wednesday throughout the year. 

 

Can you give some detail of your training?       In the 1960’s when I was in my 20’s I would do the following. 

Summer

Monday. 12 x 400 yds with 200yds recovery
Tuesday 16 x 200 yds with full recovery.
Wednesday 6 Miles steady run on road or grass [ grass preferred]
Thursday 4 x 800yds with 400 yds recovery.[ If racing Saturday do Fridays 400 yds session]
Friday 8 x 400 yds with 200 yds recovery [ Rest if racing Saturday]
Saturday 8 mls over country. If not racing on Saturday
Sunday Rest or go for a 3 – 6 ml. Walk in the hills or on the road.

Winter.

Monday 5 mls hill run at lunchtime.
3mls easy run home from work in the evening.
Tuesday 3 mls easy run in morning.    2 x 2 mls or 1×3 mls threshold run on road with 1 ml jog recovery.
Wednesday 10/11 mls long run 5m40s pace
Thursday 5 mls hill run at lunchtime.   3 mls easy run home from work in the evening.
Friday 3 mls easy run in morning.  4 x 1 ml threshold run on road with half mile jog recovery.
If racing Saturday, do Friday session on Thursday.
Saturday 7/10 ml easy run over country or in a wooded area.
Sunday Rest Go for a 3 – 6 ml. Walk in the hills or on the road.
Note: – All the above changed to metric when I was posted to Germany in 1960 to do my National Service and joining the German athletic club Bayer.   The changes included doing track sessions during the winter and doing a variety of distances from 100 -1200m in training during summer for the track distances of 800m to 5000m.
From the mid to late 60’s the weekly mileage increased from 70 to 110 in winter and 40-50 during summer track just to stay in the top 12 in Scotland.


Picture above the Army Championships at Aldershot 1961 Ben Grubb
leading, Ernie Pomfret 2nd. both GB Internatioals and myself 3rd. at the         
halfway stage

Those are Tom’s replies to the questionnaire and there is lots to pore over in it.   He mentioned Ernie Pomfret as one of his team mates in the Army – Pomfret was an Olympian, having run in the steeplechase in the 1964 Summer Olympics, and then two years later he raced in the 1966 Empire and Commonwealth Games in Jamaica.   Ben Grubb was also a British international athlete.  There is a bit more about them on the next page.   Note too Tom’s account of the training he was doing when he was running at his very best: they are still worth close attention and pondering over.      

 

Now read about   Tom Cochrane – the runner.       Then read about Tom as a veteran athlete and as an administrator and coach

Katie Skorupska

Katie Skorupska was a very good endurance athlete who excelled on the track and over the country.   Running at a time when the country had many very good women runners – Sheila Fairweather, Hayley Haining, Susan Partridge, Vikki McPherson – she won Scottish and British honours on the track as well as over the country.   Yet very little is known of her – possibly because her career was relatively short but it should be looked at closely.   How good was she?

It is appropriate to start with Doug Gillon’s article from the Herald, Scotland, of 24th June 1996.

What Katie did proved she has guts and talent

Teenage debutante follows in footsteps of the famous

Ulster has a reputation as a breakthrough venue for future Scottish athletics stars, but rarely has the advent of a new talent been heralded more dramatically or courageously than that of 17-year-old Fifer Katie Skorupska.   Her victory in the 5000 metres – on her senior debut and on her first attempt at the distance – was an inspiration and brought a eulogy from team manager John Anderson who has coached a succession of world-class athletes. “Katie is an outstanding prospect. We are looking at someone possibly better than – well, I hesitate to hang labels – well, than, some very famous Scottish athletes. She has guts, a racing brain, and a coolness and maturity beyond her years.”

It was in Antrim 11 years ago that Tom McKean and Yvonne Murray won their first UK 800m and 3000m titles on the same weekend. Behind Murray, bronze went to a hitherto unknown Dundonian, Liz Lynch – later Liz McColgan – and Brian Whittle sounded his arrival as a 400m force, by leaping from obscurity to third in the all-time Scottish rankings.

St Leonard’s schoolgirl Skorupska, a late replacement for Sue Ridley, continued this Irish tradition, a Lowry figure from the Murray/McColgan mould. She threw down the gauntlet, leading for more than half of the race, but when Welsh woman Angharad Mair, double her age, surged past and quickly established a 12-metre lead with four laps left, it seemed all over. However Skorupska refused to be dropped, clawing her way back, inch by inch, foot by foot. Still three metres adrift at the bell, she summoned her last reserves, drew level, then drove herself clear to win by 10 metres, in a state of near-collapse. It was one of the bravest runs I have ever witnessed.

I heard John Anderson shouting at me and thought I’d better do something,” said Skorupska, whose time, 16:41.9, puts her in the UK senior top 20, and was beaten among Scots only by Murray, McColgan, and Hailey Haining last year.

Two years ago, Skorupska took third at the Scottish schools track championships in the under-15 1500m, but subsequently fell I’ll. “I started running again less than a year ago,” she said. She won the 3000m at the Scottish schools championships last weekend in the fastest time since Murray set the championship record 14 years ago. That was the furthest she had ever run on the track, though she also won the national school cross-country title this year.

She is a very special young lady,” said Anderson. `”I believe over the next few years Scottish women’s middle distance is going to be very exciting to watch.”

A very interesting report but before we look at her athletics career, just note her best times at each of a wide range of distances. 

Event Time Venue Date
800m 2:13.9 Cambridge 28th June, 2000
1500m 4:25.7 Glasgow 21st August, 1999
Two Miles 10:06.16 Loughborough 23 May, 1999
3000m 9:24.26 Bedford 29th August, 1998
5000m 15:55.64 Manchester 9th June, 1999
10,000m 34:40. Bath 4th May, 1998

Katie Skorupska was as indicated above a very good young runner indeed.   Born on 3rd November 1978, she was a pupil at St Leonard’s School in St Andrews and it is here that we first read of her athletics talent.   On 8th June, 1994 in the Scottish Schools Championship, she was third in the 1500m event in 5:02.0 to be 14th ranked in Scotland for her age group.   But, as Doug says above, she became ill and it was late 1995 before she appears in the results column again.   On Nov 13 1995, after just turning 17 she anchored St Leonards over-15 team to second in the Scottish schools cross-country championships.   Less than two months later, on December 11th, she was first intermediate at the Lita Allan open races in Kirkcaldy  where she won by 35 seconds.    

On 27th January 1996 she was selected to run in the Celtic International in the U23/U20 age group and finished seventh.   Less than two months later she faced some of the toughest opposition within the British Isles when she was in the Scottish squad at the BAF Cross-Country race at Ashington, Kent on 3rd March.   She finished seventh to be third Scot behind Sheila Fairweather (second) and Susan Partridge (tenth) with Susan Scott the fourth runner in twenty first place.   In between these two, Katie took time to race in the indoor 1500m in Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, where she was second in 4:44.52.   Into March and on the 9th she won the Scottish Schools Championship at Irvine.  On 16th March there was a victory by 71 seconds in the TSB U20 international at Talgarth in Wales.    

On the track the following summer she was highly ranked in Scotland with placings at 1500m, 3000m where she had three of the top 20 times in Scotland, and 5000m. after making her debut there in June.   Doug describes the race and attendant comments in the extract at the top of the page.   Her racing that summer included an 800m early on at Dundee where she recorded 2:19.8 in the Pitreavie Young Athletes Trophy meeting but her shortest distance thereafter was at 1500 where her best outdoor time of 4:50.7 was at Pitreavie on 28th August.   Ranked as Scottish number 6 over the season with a time of 9:43.90 run at Bedford on 28th July.   Her other best performances over the distance were 9:46.6 when finishing third in the GB International against France, Italy and Spain at Nembro in Italy just one week later.   Prior to these two races her season’s best had been when winning the Scottish Schools 3000, at Ayr in  June where she ran 9:50.7.   This had set her up for her very best race of the year, the 5000m a week later against Northern Ireland, Turkey, Wales and the BLE President’s Select.   Starting the winter season well, Katie made her 10K debut in the Great Caledonian 10K Run where she was ninth and first Junior home in 36:19.    Still a pupil at St Leonards, School, she anchored the Over 15 team to victory in the cross-country relays on 9th November.   She was selected in early December 1996, for the  GB team for Euro cross-country championships but as the clipping below shows, withdrew because of interview at Oxford University.   

In 1997 Katie had another good season.   In the Scottish National Cross-Country Championships in Perth on 15th February she finished fifth and first U20  in a good field over a good fast running course and on 3rd March she won the Under 20 title at the British Athletics Federation Championship in Luton.   This led to selection for the British team for the World Cross-Country championships in Turin.   The local newspaper, the Courier hand a long interview printed.   The following extract gives a wee flavour of the piece.

“She might have finished even higher yesterday but for the British team’s bad luck in the draw – starting well to the right of the start line which curved sharply to the left after 199 metres.   Skorupska was at the rear of the field as it reached the bottleneck but did not panic and gradually moved through the field.   After the first lap she was 45th but by the start of the last she’d moved up to 27th.   “I was surprised to be passing people on the hill because I don’t usually like hills,” she said.   “It must be all the maths classes on the top storey.” added Skorupska who frequently visits the sixth floor at St Leonard’s for mathematics which she hopes to study at Oxford in October.”

She had finished 22nd, nineteen places higher than the next GB finisher, on a course largely made of turf laid on roads in the middle of the city.   She was a bit disappointed  not to be first European to finish, that was Sonja Stolic of Yugoslavia in 19th.   

 The really big one in summer, 1997 was the 5000m at the European Junior Championships held in Ljubljana  between 24th and 27th July.    where she ran a very good time of 16:48.6 to finish fifth; the winner that day was Katalin Szentgyorgy who who went on to be European senior cross-country champion in 2000..   Shortly before that, on 13th July, she had run 1500m in 4:36.36 .   There was only the one 5000m recorded for her that year but her times for 3000m were 3rd, 8th and 15th by Scottish women.   On 1st June there was a trip to Haifa, Israel, as part of a Scottish select taking part in connection with an international being held there, and in that event she was first in 9:50.00.   On 6th July, at Bedford, she won the UK U20 title from Jilly Ingham (9:47.74) in 9:36.91 – her quickest of the year and a personal  best by 7 seconds .   The time ranked her third in Scotland and 28th in UK.    And she was also the winner at Meadowbank on 31st August in a time of 9:56.71.   

By winter 1997, Katie was at Oxford University and in early December 1997, comfortably won the Varsity cross-country match.    Later that month,  Doug  reported as follows:   “Scotland’s leading young endurance runner, Katie Skorupska, touted as a potential successor to Liz McColgan and Yvonne Murray, was withdrawn on medical advice just hours before the start of the European cross-country championships yesterday at Oeiras, near Lisbon.” Without her the GB team won bronze.    The official British medical team thought she was anorectic – an opinion contradicted by Katie and her coach.   However on December 26th 1997 She withdrew from the Celtic nations’ match, planned a break from the sport, and went on a ski-ing holiday.

Back in action in summer 1998, Katie was ranked twentieth in GB and third in Scotland at 3000m behind Vikki McPherson and Sheila Fairweather when  finishing third at Bedford on 29th August in 9:24.26 and tenth and twelfth over 5000m with times of 16:42.87, run in Prague on 8th June, and 16:46.08, posted when winning at Meadowbank on 18th July.   There was also a track 10,000m in which she finished second to Fairweather in 34:40 at Bath on 4th May.   The Achilles Club report for 1998 said that the 10,000m time  had placed her 12th in Britain and her 16:42.87 in Prague was 24th ranked.   A valued member of the team, she was the unfortunate victim of circumstance in the Varsity cross-country match in 1998.   The report referred to above said:

In summer 1999 she had some very good runs indeed and the Scottish Statisticians Annual Yearbook commented that “Katie Skorupska backed up her improved times at 3000m and 5000m with a massive improvement over 1500m 4:25.70.”   This was done at Scotstoun at the end of a season in which she lopped a massive 46.26 from her 5000m best.  She was ranked fortieth in the UK and sixth U23 with Scotland’s Susan Scott first.  Her 3000 metres times included a best of  9:25.2 at Loughborough on 23rd May in the match between Scotland, England, GB Students, GB Juniors and Loughborough University.  This was an intermediate time in a two miles race where she was sixth in 10:06.16 with Paula Radcliff winning in 9:32.07.   That year she was ranked 14th in Britain for 3000m and top at two miles for the U23 age group.  The other two high ranked performances were 9:34.44 at Bedford on 4th July and 9:34.60, again at Bedford, on 14th August.   These were the 3rd, 5th and 6th fastest times in the Scottish rankings for the year.   

May 15 1999 she won the 5000m in the Varsity match but that was only her third best of the year.   The wonderful 15:55.64 was run at Manchester on 9th June and was over 19 seconds faster than her next best time of 16:16.77 when finishing second at Bedford on 2nd May.   There was a 16:36.1 when she won at Cambridge on 23rd May and the race referred to earlier on 15th May had a time of 16:37.1.   Unfortunately what might have been her season’s high spot – the European Under 23 championships in Gothenburg at the end of July – was not to be as she dropped out for what seems to be the only time ever.   Katie did not often run on the road but she raced at Balmoral and turned in a time of 27:16 which was 17th fastest in Britain.

 Her running  at Oxford continued to impress and she was awarded the Susan Dennier Cup which is awarded annually for the best performances in the Oxford  v  Cambridge Sports (Ladies Match).

At Vanves Club Run 92

Katie raced indoors in 2000 mainly at 3000m.   Cardiff was the venue for the BUSA championships – and she ran 9:26.31 on 12th March, and 9:57.4 also on 13th March.   The faster time was set when winning the first Heat of the championships.   There were also two ranked  races were in France – On 19th April there was a 5000m at Levallois Peret in 16:50.6 and on 16th May at Malakoff there was a 3000m in 9:34.6.   There was also an 800m in 2:13.9 in September in Tokyo, and a 5000m in 17:06.9 – both in a match between Oxford and Cambridge against the Americans from Brown and Dartmouth Universities on 28th June.   The French races are explained by the fact that her degree studies at Oxford required her to spend some time in France.  While there she ran with the local club, Vanves Club Run 92 who were sorry to leave her.   The comments on their web site tell a lovely story.  A rough translation reads as follows:

Katie has worn the colours of VRC 92 in 2000 and 2001, champion of the Hautes de Seine cross-country long course for her first race, she still has the record for the Malakoff 10K race of 34:07.   Club 5000m champion Katie has twice won the international cross-country at Louviers, as well as the 15km of the Voisins le Brettoneux in 54:12 in front of a Kenyan athlete.   Katie has run on our courses at Touquet and has left us an unforgettable memory, it is a pity that she has to return to London to complete her studies at Oxford.”

We only have two more results for Katie: in 2001 there was a 10K road race in 34:35 and in 2002 she won for Oxford at Oxford over 5000m in 17:30.1.   Her all time personal top 10, according to World Athletics are noted below.   For someone not really well known in Scotland, she was a remarkable athlete by any standards. 

EVENT DATE COMPETITION PLACE TIME
5000m 9th June 1999 Manchester 3rd 15:55.64
3000m 12th March 2000 Cardiff British University CC 1st 9:26.3h
TWO MILES 23 May 1999 Loughborough 6th 10:06.16  
3000m 29th August 1998 Bedford 3rd 9:24.27
5000m 2nd May 1999 Bedford British Unis Champs 2nd 16:16.77
10,000m 4th May 1998 Bath 2nd  34:40.00
3000m 4th July 1999 Bedford U23 British Champs  2nd 9:34.44
5000m 8th June 1998 Rosicki, Prague 9th 16:42.87
5000m 18 July 1998 SWAAA 1st 16:46.08
5000m 25th July 1997 Ljubljana Euro Junior Ch. 5th 16:48.06
 

 

 

 

 

Les Perry and Zatopek

.

Emil Zatopek & Les Perry.

I feel we are all by now well aware of Zatopek’s incredible gesture in gifting to Ron Clarke one of his Olympic Gold Medals (1966).

Certainly a not so well known story is Zatopek’s gifting of his competition uniform (singlet & shorts) to one of Australia’s all-time greats – Les Perry – in 1952, at the Helsinki Olympics

Les Perry meets Emil Zátopek

The long and middle distance of the world runners were in awe of Emil Zátopek and wanted to try and meet him. Emil was the 1948 gold Medal winner of the 10,000 metres and Silver medal winner in the 5,000 metres, plus many other world and European records. After a few days training in Helsinki and after a good deal of more chatter and sharing of ideas on how meet their hero between Les, Percy Cerutty and John Landy, Les decided to find Zatopek. The Russians and other Eastern Bloc countries had their own Olympic village, at Otaniemi, across the other side of Helsinki from the main village in Kapyla. The concerns were that the Russians and others were protected in their camp and it would be impossible to get in, or out. After lots of talk, Les decided to head off to Otaniemi and find Emil. Of he went, a decent training run across Helsinki to the Eastern Bloc camp where he found no problems getting in and headed to the training track where he found Emil. Les introduced himself to Emil who straight away said, “Les, come and training with me.” So he did. Les met others in the Czech team, including Emil’s wife Dana, After training, Les made his way back to Kapyla Village to tell the others of his day with Emil. The others joined Les the following day, heading to train again with Zatopek at the Otaniemi camp. Emil took a real shine to Les.

Later in the week, Les again visited Emil and after training, presented Emil with a badge from the Williamstown Amateur Athletic Club in Melbourne. No more was said and Les returned to camp.

Later, after the 5000 metres

After the help from Zatopek in progressing to the final of the 5,000, Les Perry, dubbed the ‘Ironman, ran 60.2 second faster than ever before in placing 6th in the final, just 100 metres behind the winner, Emil Zatopek. The whole team praised Les for his courage and a wonderful personal best in the final.

Soon after the race, Les and Emil were talking and Emil promised Les his red singlet with the famous number, 903 and his running shorts to take back to Australia. Emil said, “You must wait till I run in the marathon – I’ll need them for that.” The friendship developed between Emil and Les was very strong.

And after the marathon…

The next day, Les Perry went to visit his friend Zatopek at the Eastern Bloc village. After a warm welcome and congratulations, Emil presented Les with his original, and clean, running shorts and the famous red singlet that he wore in winning his three gold medals. Emil also gave Les a book by Gunder Hagg, the famous Swedish miler which the world record holder had presented personally to Zatopek.

“I would like the Australian running coach, Percy Cerutty, to have this book,” said Zatopek. “He is my good friend.”

Perry said it would be a proud moment for him when he lands back in Australia with the Zatopek running gear. Les said he was going to give the singlet and shorts to Geoff Warren, a promising Melbourne three and six mile runner as an inspiration to Geoff to try and emulate the feats of the great Zatopek.

(Geoff Warren fulfilled his potential – representing Australia at the 1954 Empire Games over 3 & 6 Miles)

Maley, Struth and Athletics: 5 1940 – 1962

Wooderson was always a favourite in Glasgow

1940 was an important year in that Maley retired, and with no Celtic Sports the Rangers Sports were undisputedly the biggest in the country and Struth was the man responsible for the continuation and organisation of them.   It was also a much more important year for everyone in that it was the first year of the Second World War which imposed constraints on all walks of life.   There were only seven years between their dates of birth Maley 1868, Struth 1875) and Maley had run the sports at Celtic Park for the best part of 50 years with a hiatus for a World War, while Struth would go on to be in charge for 42 years, also with a World War with which to contend. 

THE WAR YEARS

There were sports in 1940 but it was a vastly different world from 1915, a vastly different war and for civilians some things went on with a degree of normality.   Would there be sports in 1940?   There certainly would.   

A 40,000 crowd, top talent in the invitation mile, and the best of local talent.   And the mile produced an all-comers record.   The 120 yards also upset the Daily Record’s prediction – note the photograph below.

  

Bill Struth was mentioned in the text and had his photograph welcoming Wooderson to Glasgow to join his unit.   What more could we want?   We could want more in 1941 and we had it.   The Sports that year had both Watt and Mumme –  Watt won the 129 yards off a yard and a half and Mumme was unplaced in the 100 yards final where he was ‘handicapped out of it.   Wooderson was unavailable but there was an international dimension when a Canadian serviceman won the half-mile.   There had been a crowd of 40,000 and approximately 600 competitors.

The Glasgow Herald tells us that Wooderson was back at Ibrox for the Sports in 1943 before a crowd of 35,000 and there were no records this time – it is a measure both of his talent and esteem in which he was held by  Glaswegians that one was hoped for.   Conceding starts of up to 145 yards, he did catch his English rival DG Wilson who would go on to great things but was nowhere near the front men in the handicap.   It was another competitive meeting but there were no records and no stars but the club must be given credit for putting the meeting on.

With newsprint at a premium, coverage was slight at the best of times but the sports in 1944 were of a high standard.   The complete report from The Scotsman is below.

 

The Scotsman gave maximum coverage to the English miler, who did run well, but the buzz was all about the high jumper from Hutcheson’s.    Note the headline from the Glasgow Herald:

The Sports of 1945  were held on 4th August with an estimated 40,000 spectators present, and the papers – whether the Daily Record, the Glasgow Herald or the Scotsman – all homed in on three events.   These were the high jump (Boy Clears 6’3″), the quarter mile, and the 100 yards.   In the High Jump Paterson was jumping from scratch while the AAA’s champion had an allowance of 1″.   Paterson cleared 6 feet 3 inches while the best the Englishman could do with the 1″ added was 5’9″.   In the 440 yards invitation, the Victoria Park runner John Panton won from Denroche of the AAA’s and Arthur Warton of Garscube in 49.6 seconds, and in the 100 yards Cyril Holmes ran an unofficial time of 11.5 seconds.   

The War was now over and Mr Struth’s Committee had had ‘a good war’ in that

(a) there had been sports every year

(b) they were always before good crowds with 35,000 – 40,000 spectators being the usual;

(c) they were always of a good standard with class athletes in the invitation events and large numbers in the open ones.   In the photograph below we see Sydney Wooderson in uniform talking with Allan Watt of Shettleston Harriers; 

(d) there were even records set at some of them.

AFTER THE WAR

The first peace time Games were a tremendous success with Alan Paterson setting a new Scottish record of 6 feet 6 1/2 inches to break the existing record set by the American Osborne at the same ground in 1925.  There were huge fields for the open events and a good following wind which helped the sprinters.   For instance, MacDonald Bailey in the 120 yards was beaten in his heat but ran a time of 11.5 seconds – 5 yards inside even time.   His conqueror by a matter of inches was Whigham of VPAAC running off eight and a half yards.   Artrhur Wint, the tall Jamaican, was third in the 440 yards invitation where, running from scratch, he was beaten by two men with handicaps of 16 yards and 10 yards.    Struth had done it again and he was mentioned by name in the Daily Record preview on the Saturday morning: note this extract from a very long article

 

A hard act to follow and the prospect led to a record crowd of 72,000 (seventy two thousand) paid the entrance money and once again Alan Paterson was the local hero.   There was a terrific high jump competition with Bill Vessie (USA) in which they both broke the British high jump recordwhen they cleared 6′ 7 1/2″ – everybody else was out at 6′ but they battled it out on their own with the crowd enthralled by the head-to-head.   Vessie won but only because he cleared the height first time while Paterson had one failure.   There were stars aplenty in 1947.

  • MacDonald Bailey won the 100 yards in 10.4 seconds
  • Harrison Dillard (USA, pictured below) beat Don Finlay (GB) by two yards in the 110 yards hurdles in 14.9 seconds
  • EQ Cofie (EUAC) defeated Walter Smith (USA) in the 440 yards
  • T Perkins (USA) defeated Bill Nankeville (GB in the 880 yards;
  • Curtis Stone (USA) won the eight laps steeplechase by 100 yards from AA Robertson (AAA’s champion)
  • USA won the Mile medley relay from the AAA’s A tema dn AAA’s B team with Scotland fourth;
  • R Richards won the pole vault with a height of 13′ 6″

All the open events were very well supported and the programme took 4 hours to get through.   

1948 was another good year but the heavy rain on the day had a drastic effect on the crowd size and, more importantly, on the standard of performances – eg Alan Paterson could ‘only’ clear 6’4″ despite having opposition from Canada, USA and Singapore.   It was of course Olympic year and most of the top names that Struth might have wanted were still in London.   The report in trhe Scotsman was fairly short.

Despite the presence of English and American Olympians competing the best performance of the day was from an Irishman in the invitation 2 miles race where JJ Barry, from Clonliffe, won from Andy Forbes (VPAAC) and J Reid (West Kilbride AAC).   Barry was living and running in Scotland at the time and ran in the colours of the St Machan’s club.   Other notable victories was Don Finlay winning the sprint hurdles from Dick Attlesey (USA), Brown (USA) beating DK Gracie (Scotland) in the 440 yards hurdles and Alan Paterson (“only doing what he needed to to win”) in the high jump from Richard Phillips (USA) and Mondschein (USA) with a best jump of 6′ 4″.   Irving Mondscheing was also second in the shot putt behind J Drummond of Heriot’s.    Even on a wet and miserable day, Struth had managed a programme that brought tens of thousands into the ground.   He always had something to bring in the crowd – Willie Waddell was playing in the five-a-sides but his actual registration as a professional Rangers player back in 1939 had been delayed by the manager/promoter.   Why was that?
“Early in his Army career when he (Allan Watt) was stationed in Orkney, he was given three days leave to travel to Glasgow to compete in the Rangers Sports.   A summons had come from Bill Struth, the legendary Rangers manager, asking the army to give Allan time off to take part in the invitation 100 yards against the American Clyde Jeffrey.   Fifty years later Allan was to learn that Mr Struth had another reason for wanting him to appear.   The American was the scratch man.   Allan was off one and a half yards and Willie Waddell, the famous footballing Deedle Dawdle of Rangers, was off three yards.   The Yank won, Allan was second and ‘Deedle’ third.   In the early 1990’s Allan was at Ibrox as a guest of Rangers at Ibrox when the wife of the Rangers doctor recalled the wartime race.   She claimed that Struth had deliberately kept Deedle an amateur so that he could take part and the crowd would see a Rangers player beat the American guest and the Scottish star.   The Deedle turned professional immediately after the race.”

It was wet again in 1950 but there were 35,000 spectators inside Ibrox to see three records broken – Mal Whitfield, the 26 year old Olympic champion from America won the half mile in 1:50.7, Arthur Wint won the 440 yards beating USA’s R Pearman in 47.7, MacDonald Baily won the 120 yards in 11.3 which was a British record while the former two were Scottish all-comers records.   The otheer invitation event victors were 

  • 110 yards hurdles:   W Fleming USA  15 seconds
  • 220 yards:  Arthur Bragg (USA) 21.5 seconds
  • 2 Miles:   H Ashenfelter (USA)   9:15.6
  • High Jump:  AS Paterson  6′ 4″
  • One Mile DG Wilson  4 min 17.3 secs.

The Americans were now becoming a regular feature at Ibrox and Olympic year of 1952 was probably the best ever collection of athletes who were taking part in the Rangers Sports at the same time.   The Olympics were held between 19th July and 3rd August; the Sports were held on the 2nd August.   The result of that was

  •   5 Olympic champions: Lindy Remigino, 100 metres,   George Rhoden, 400 metres,  Walt Davis, high jump,  S Iness, Discus, R Mathias, decathlon;. 
  •  2 winning Olympic relay teams, with only minor modifications eg the Jamaican 4 x 400 team substituted  L Beach for Laing
  • 4 Olympic silver medallists, Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, Don Laz,  D Hooper
  • Many of the GB team from the Olympics, eg Bill Nankeville, Geoff Elliott,  J Savidge, Brian Shenton, MacDonald Bailey
  • Local heroes who were in the GB team – Bill Jack (VPAAC), Alan Paterson (VPAAC) and David Gracie (GUAC)
  • The weather was good, the crowd was over 50,000, and there were several British and Scottish records set in the course of the afternoon

It was a wonderful year all round for Scottish athletics – many of the Olympians were taking part in one, two or even three events in the country that year.   On the last Saturday in June, before the Games, there were many intending competitors at the Glasgow Police Sports, then just one day before the Games ended there were man who by now were medalists, at the Rangers Sports and two weeks after that there was the Edinburgh Highland Games.   Some athletes even waited a further week and took part in the Cowal Highland Games at Dunoon.   The three Games are covered at  this  link  .   Of the three, Rangers Sports probably had the athletes at their best, immediately after the Games, by Edinburgh they were starting to get tired and several of the athletes had gone home, but the Australian and New Zealand women who had not been at Ibrox were there.   The promoters in August were two big men who knew how to promote a meeting – Struth at Ibrox and Carmichael at Murrayfield.   It is impossible to doubt that they were in contact with each other – remember that Maley had taken his international guests to Loch Lomond for the weekend between the two Celtic Games (Saturday and Tuesday).   There were three weeks between the meetings and the athletes had other meetings to attend.   One wonders why they came back all the way to Scotland but come back they did.    One week took care of itself – the Saturday after Ibrox saw many of the athletes at the White City in London, some even added a meeting at Berlin on the Sunday.   Ibrox, White City and Berlin in 9 days.   Then came Edinburgh   It had been a superlative year of athletics.

1953 was inevitably a bit of a comedown for the Sports – in reply to the shout of “Follow that!” would come the reply “How?”    Well, there was a decent selection of runners from outwith Scotland: 

  • from the USA came the winners of the 220 yards, 880 yards, pole vault and half mile;
  • from Ireland came the winner in the high jump and
  • the long jump was won by a Nigerian.   
  • In addition there was a strong team from the AAA’s whose representatives took part in the open events as well as the invitation events. 
  •  The two races highlighted were the short limit invitation 2 miles where Ian Binnie took AAA’s Len Eyre through the mile in 4:26, with the limit man, John Stevenson of Greenock Wellpark well clear.   On the last lap, Eyre passed Binnie but couldn’t get on terms with Stevenson who won and took home a canteen of cutlery as a reward for his efforts.   Stevenson was a Scottish international runner and it would seem that 150 yards was a biggish start.   The other race highlighted was the 440 yards hurdles where the American D Bright went off swiftly and fell at the 7th hurlde leaving Scotland’s David Gracie to win in 53.7 which was a native record.   Another record was set in the pole vault where NG Gregor beat his own Scottish record.   The 120 yards invitation was won by R Quinn of Victoria Park from Crawford of Bellahouston.   It was well attended too with approximately 40,000 spectators.

1954’s Rangers Sports clashed with the Empire Games and that obviously reduced the numbers of international participants but there were again a number of good Americans and a representative team from the AAA’s.   Among the top home Scots a young schoolboy high jumper (shades of Alan Paterson) from the John Neilson Institute called Crawford Fairbrother was second in the high jump.   Top domestic sprinter was undoubtedly Robert Quinn of Victoria Park who won the Invitation 120 yards and the open 220 yards from the back mark of 3 yards.   The 50’s were really good years for the club and their athletes were peppered through the lists of prize winners.   Results:

It had been mainly sprinters exciting the spectators in the Sports in the previous few years but in 1955 there was a marvellous 880 yards with the four top men from three different countries, the mile was also a cracker and the two miles did not let the standard down.   The Glasgow Herald report read:

“Never has so brilliant a half mile been run in Scotland – eight yards covering the first four, three of whom returned times inside the previous all-comers record of 1 min 50 sec.   T Courtney (USA), BS Hewson and DJN Johnson (AAA) and A Boysen (Norway) have all been in record breaking form in recent days, so when the first lap, with s Oseid (Norway) in the lead, ended in 52.8 sec and Boysen, holder of the record, went to the front, a stirring finish was inevitable.   Up the finishing straight it was still anybody’s race.   Only over the last 30 yards did Courtney gain the front and, despite determined efforts by Hewson and Johnston, the American held on and won by a yard in the marvellous time of 1 min 49.2 sec.   His performance is rated even better than the time indicates, for a troublesome wind faced the runners on the finishing straight and the track was very loose – factors that may well have added two seconds to the time and deprived Courtney of a World record.”   

The photograph below is from the Scots Athlete report.   The Mile was another top class event.   The runners this time were Seaman (USA), Ken Wood (AAA) and Breckenridge Ken Wood (AAA) and Breckenridge (Scotland).   “A 2 min 10 sec first half almost ruled out the prospect of mile record until the native record holder, AD Breckenridge, shot to the front but what a race developed round the last lap.   Neither R Seaman (USA) nor K Wood (AAA) however could hold the easy-running G Nielson (Denmark) who beat Wood by five yards in the new all-comers record 0f 4 min 8.9 sec.   Had this race been run differently two or three more seconds would have been lopped off,”

The 2 mile race was won by Derek Ibbotson from the other AAA representatives, A Barrett and F Norris in 8 min 54.2.   Winners of the other invitation races were

120 yards:  R Blair USA  from B Shenton (AAA) in 11.4 sec;  220: R Blair from E Sandstrom (AAA) in 22 sec;

440 yards: MG Wheeler (AAA) from A Christiansen (Denmark) in 48.8 sec   220 Hurdles:  PB Hildreth from RD Shaw (both AAA) in 24.4

One hour run: G King (Wellpark) 10 miles 1625 yards.   H Fox (Shettleston) second.   Pole Vault: I Ward (AAA) from G Schmidt (AAA).

4 x 440 yards Relay:   AAA from Scandinavia in 3:19.8

It had been another triumph for Struth and his team with athletes from USA, Denmark, Norway and England as well a good numbers of local Scottish athletes.  

Bobby Quinn of Victoria Park has been mentioned in these sports but in the 1956 version it was his brother Harry who won both open sprints.   Talent was spread over all distances this time round.   35,000 spectators saw athletes from Scotland, the AAA’s, Nigeria, and Sweden taking part.

In 1957 the meeting was back at middle distance racing challenging records.   The headline in the Glasgow Herald of 5th August 1957 read –

MA Farrell (AAA) won the half mile invitation event by less than three yards and equalled the all-comers record of 1 min 49.2.   The next three in the race, D Johnston, B Hewson and M Rawson, were credited with the same time of 1 min 49.6.   The native record of 1 min 57.9 sec held by JV Paterson (Edinburgh Univ) was broken by JR Boyd (Glasgow University, who finished fifth in 1:50.7sec.   Paterson himself set so fast a pace that he completed the first lap inside 52 1/2 seconds and held a comfortable lead from the more experienced half milers, who did not, however, show any anxiety until 300 yards from the finish when they closed with Paterson.   There ensued a magnificent finish in which Paterson was left training.”

The Glasgow spectators were quite knowledgeable about aathletics but they were Scots and were generally sympathetic to the athletes but get this from the report on the Mile in 1957.   “K Wood was the main attraction in the Mile, and he was subjected to slow hand clapping for what was considered a slow first quarter and half mile, yet he finished in 4 min 3.9 – the second fastest time for the distance recorded in Scotland.”   As for the rest of the events, theresults are below and indicate that Mr Struth had done his job well in attracting athletes from around the globe – this time, instead of the Americans and Canadians, it was from Pakistan that they came.  There were also athletes from Ireland and Nigeria as well as the AAA’s squad.

 

Ibrox was probably the only athletics sports in the country which included a steeplechase and many very good athletes from abroad took part as well as our own runners.   By 1954 when  Struth retired as Rangers manager he was 79 years old and he died in 1956.   We will, for the sake of continuity follow the sports until they ended in 1962.

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1952 was undoubtedly the best year – other Olympic years saw the Games too far from Scotland or the dates were wrong, and the two years when there were Empire Games near home, there were AAA events at White City which clashed with the Rangers dates.   

1958 was Empire Games year and they were held in Cardiff, Wales, between 18th and 26th July and the Empire was well represented at Ibrox that year.   Athletes from South Africa, Uganda, Jamaica, Canada, Nigeria, all the home countries and from Europe, Holland.   Top man was Gerd Potgieter from South Africa, Empire Games champion and world record holder.   Unfortunately the meeting clashed with the Britain  v  the Commonwealth at the White City in London where most of the medalists were involved.   

1959  was almost entirely a domestic affair and the attendance was down to 15,000.   Top billing after the event went to Graham Stark in the Mile who won in a new Scottish native record of 4:06.3, and Derek Ibbotson who set a new Scottish all-comers record of 8:48.6 to be nominated as top athlete of the afternoon.   The meeting clashed with a GB  v  West Germany in London and that robbed the meeting of many potential athletes.

In 1960 the Olympic Games were held in Rome between 25th August and 11th September which was too late really to benefit the Scottish promoters.   However there were large squads from India and Pakistan who, along with some West Indians and the AAA’s group produced some sterling performances and attracted the spectators.

Lots of well known names there but note athletes who won gold or silver at the 1958 Empire Games Robinson (gold 220, silver 100), Milka Singh (gold 440) Gardner (gold 120y hurdles, silver 220), Mal Spence (silver 440), Raziq (bronze 120y hurdles)   !960 was another very good year.

1961 was the penultimate Rangers Sports, and it was a wet afternoon with a sodden track but there were nevertheless athletes from Australia, USA, Eire and the ever present AAA’s team.   Among the Scots athletes were Mike Hildrey, who won the invitation 120 yards, WM Campbell who was third in the 440,  and Lachie Stewart, who won the 8 laps steeplechase.   The remaining invitation event winners were J Cooper (AAA, 440), N Carroll (Eire)  880, JT Anderson (AAA Mile), B Craig (AAA  2 miles), L Taitt (AAA 120y hurdles), C Ridgeway (Australia high jump) and SR Porter (AAA pole vault).   

 

 

The last Rangers Sports was held on 4th August, 1962.   The programme for this meeting can be seen here .  It was another dreich afternoon with an estimated 10,000 spectators in the ground.   There were gusty winds reported to be between 15 and 30 miles per hour, and even when it dropped to 11 mph, a record for the 120 yards hurdles was not recognised because of the following wind.   Results of the invitation events:

And that’s where it finished.   

Sports in Scotland: 1952

1952 was Olympic year; it is often described as the’last real Olympics’ because it is seen as the last where true amateur values and the Olympian spirit appeared.   They were certainly a magnificent Games from the point of view of the standard of competition.   Being so close to the venue of Helsinki, Scotland had an attraction for the competing countries, many of whom had had athletes competing in earlier years at the Celtic Sports, the Rangers Sports, and then at the Edinburgh Highland Games.   The country and city were well known in athletics circles.  So it came about that there were three huge sports meetings in Scotland in 1952.   The Glasgow Police Sports were held that year on the last Saturday in June and had no fewer than 15 invitation events of which were 11 were for men, 3 were for women, and one was a schools relay race.   Athletes from Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were all competing and sharpening up for the Games which began on 19th July.   The Rangers Sports were on 2nd August and had a host of athletes from the Olympics, not exactly the same as at the Police Sports – for instance the Australian women called off by telegram on the Thursday before the meeting but it did have the advantage of knowing who had won the events and could name the gold, silver and bronze medalists.   And finally the other big meeting at the time was The Edinburgh Highland Games on the short Murrayfield track two weeks later.   By now the Australian and New Zealand women had arrived in Scotland but some of the others had departed.   Remember that the grass track at Murrayfield was not of a standard distance, and the races were run on grass.   

  

Yvette Williams, NZ, who competed at the Police Sports,  and then broke the world record when winning the long jump in Helsinki returned after the Games for the Edinburgh Highland Games, following this with Cowal Highland Games the following Saturday!

The Police Sports were held at Ibrox on 28th June and with competitors from Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, and all over Britain it was no real surprise when six Scottish all-comers records were broken.   With a crowd estimated at 38,000 on a good afternoon, and on the fast track at Ibrox, there were good times all round.   In addition the proliferation of top names and the teaser of guessing who would win medals a month later in Finland had the crowd entertained.   Each of the three women’s events would be won by athletes who would win gold – Marjorie Jackson in the 100 yards would win both short sprints, Shirley Strickland in the 80m hurdles and Yvette Williams would win the same events a week later.   For the men, Rhoden of Jamaica won the same event and other medal winners were there in numbers with the spectators particularly excited by the Jamaican 4 x 400m relay team which was comprised of the four men who would win the Olympic relay – Laing, Wint, McKenley and Rhoden.   

The superb reslts are above, but no matter how high the quality or how renowned the athletes, the Police Sports were BEFORE the Games and no matter how good the athlete, the addition of Olympic gold or silver adds extra lustre.    In addition, there were no Americans competing in June and they had always been favourites with the Glasgow public.   

The Rangers Sports of 1952 was the first big athletic meeting I had been to.   I was 14 years old and after local meetings like the Singer’s Sports it was a completely new experience.   Singer’s was a good local sports and one where they had the ocasional top class runner from England (eg June Foulds of the AAA) as well as some very good Scots.   The ground was small but it was usually full but the Ibrox meeting was just so different.   The size of the arena, the size of the crowds (50,000 in ’52) the whole infield was swarming, or so it seemd to me, with athletes competing in the field events, and there was the  glamour of all these champions from America and England as well as the domestic Scots.   If Singer’s Sports was the typical bread and butter meeting for athletes, the Rangers Sports was the apex.   In 1952 the weather was very good indeed, the spectators knew what to expect, even if many had come for the 5-a-sides they knew a bit about their athletes and could appreciate quality when they saw it.

Lindy Remigino (981 above, winning the Olympic 100 metres) was one of the star turns – he had won the Olympic title from Herb McKenley of Jamaica and Britain’s MacDonald Bailey and all three were running in Glasgow.   Mac Bailey also ran in the special 120 yards race to give the public two of the first three in the Helsinki 100m in action.   Running inot  a headwind of 6 feet per second, Remigino defeated Bailey by 1 1/2 yards in 11.8 seconds.  Here’s an interesting fact – the runners in this special invitation sprint had to run in heats and the American won his heat in 11.2 seconds which, as the Herald pointed out, was still remarkable even with a following breeze of 8.5 feet per second.  That wind was 2 feet a second more than was allowed and his time was not recognised as a British record.   Third in the race was Jamaican Byron La Beach – a man very unlucky not to have an Olympic gold medal: the Jamaicans had a group of five 400m runners, any four of whom could have been in the relay team, in any other country they would have been.  On the day of the final, the team was Wint. McKenley, Rhoden and Laing.   They won in record time.

The Jamaicans had a wonderful Olympics in 1952.   One of their outstanding squad of runners was Herb McKenley, known possibly better as a 400 metre runner, he was also a class sprinter.   Second in the Olympic 100m, he was also a member of their 4 x 400m relay team.   McKenley ran in Glasgow that August and after running in the 120 yards won the 220 yards from Remigino and fellow Jamaican J Laing in the very good time of 20.9 seconds which was two tenths inside the British record and five tenths inside the Scottish record.   And he did it in the outside lane.   Third was another Jamaican 200/400 runner called J Laing.   He did have a gold from the Olympics.   

The invitation 440 yards was won by one of England’s best, PG Fryer running from a handicap of 14 yards, but Jamaican GV Rhoden, from scratch ran 46.8, which was faster than Arthur Wint’s British record of 47.2 and nine tenths faster than the Scottish all-comer’s record held jointly by Wint and McKenley.   

                               Bill Nankeville 

Bill Nankeville was one of England, and Britain’s, best and ran in both 1948 and 1952 Olympics and in 1952 made it through to the semi-finals where he was ninth.   He didn’t make any mistakes in Glasgow though where he ran in the Invitation three quarter mile beating Seaman of AAA’s and Landy of Australia in the process in a time of 3 min 00.4.   This was 5-10ths faster than Wooderson’s of 15 years earlier.   

The Mile Invitation medley relay was one of the meeting’s high spots with the Americans (Olympic 4 x 100 metres champions) against the Jamaicans (Olympic 4 x 400 metres champions) and a very good AAA’s team.   Wint, silver in the Olympic event, Nankeville and G Barnes of the USA (an Olympic semi-finalist in the 800m) contested the half mile stage to set the event off and at the finish Jamaica defeated the Americans by a mere two yards in 3:25.9 – beating the joint Edinburgh Southern Harriers and Glasgow University jointly held all-comers record by 5.8 seconds.   The Jamaican team of Wint, La Beach, Rhoden and McKenley differed from the Olympic winning team only by the substitution of La Beach for Laing, while the American team had Barnes, Remigino, Gourdine and Pearman – Gourdine won Olympic silver and Pearman was also an Olympian).   All four of the Jamaican Olympic team ran at Ibrox that day – Laing in the 220 yards.   It was a pity that Bill Jack of Victoria Park who had been in the GB relay team in Helsinki was not part of the quartet in Glasgow which consisted of Nankeville, Shenton, Bailey and Derek Johnston.   

The quality of the athletes competing at Ibrox that day was astonishing by any standards – the Olympians just kept appearing, and if if weren’t Americans winning, it seemed to be Jamaicans.   The inspirational aspect is obvious, but the educational aspect for the domestic athletes was also considerable – any sprinter not watching and learning from the likes of Remigino, McKenley and company was not worth his salt.   As for the field events, look at these events.

  • Two Americans broke the Scottish discus record of 155′ 3″ – S Iness with 164′  1″  and D Hooper with 159′  11″.   Iness had won the Olympic discus event and Hooper had been second to Parry O’Brien in the shot putt. 
  • Hooper also won the shot putt at Ibrox that day from John Savidge, the British champion and who also competed well in Helsinki. 
  • Walt Davis, Olympic high jump champion, won the event at Ibrox in a new British high jump record of  6′  8 1/2″ which was three quarters of an inch better than the existing record held jointly by Alan Paterson and D Vessie.   Second and third were the AAA’s representatives. 
  • Another medal winning American Olympian won the pole vault.   Don Laz, silver medallist at Helsinki, cleared 14′ 4″ to win from English Olympian GM Elliott and Scot NGA Gregor whose 13′ 2″ was a Scottish record.
  • Two Americans were first and second in the Long Jump.   Meredith Gourdine, second in the Olympic long jump, won with 23′ 10″ from D Laz and GM Elliott.  Three from Helsinki once again. 

Eleven invitation events, over two dozen Olympians, every invitation event had three or more from the Olympics and most had two medal winners.   The open events were more than well supported and many of the times, heights and distances were of a high standard too.   The complete results were as follows, but you will see that the women are noticeable by their absence.   That was not for want of trying but the last day of the Olympics coincided with the Rangers Sports and the women withdrew from the event.

Edinburgh’s  Highland Games took place on 23rd August on the short, grassy track of Murrayfield but there were still three all-comer’s records.   It was another superb meeting before an audience of 50,000 and with athletes from Britain, America, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Jamaica, and Holland.   There were four women’s events with two – 80m hurdles and long jump – won the the olympic gold medalists in these events, plus a 100 yards and 220 yards which were both won by Holland’s Brouwer who had been second to Marjorie Jackson in the events.    

Olympic champions at Murrayfield that day:  

G Rhoden, M Whitfield,  W Davis, J Biffle, P O’Brien, R Mathias;   S Strickland, Y Williams

Olympic silver medalists present were H McKenley, R McMillen; R Brouwer.   

There were also several bronze medal winners and many unplaced athletes.   

The Rangers meeting was of course organised by the indefatigable Bill Struth, by then possibly at his very best as a promoter, and the Edinburgh meeting by Willie Carmichael, the wonderful organiser who won the 1970 Commonwealth Games for Scotland.   Both top class administrators, they each had estimated spectator turn outs of approximately 50,000, while the Police version had 38,000 present to see these exotic foreign athletes competing against each other and against the local stars.   138,000 in total for three meetings.   

 

 

 

Maley, Struth and Athletics: 4 1920 to 1939

Eric Liddell winning the 220 yards at Celtic Sports in 1922

When the 1920’s started Maley was the elder statesman who had been around athletics since 1896, been a sports promoter since 1890 and was President of the SAAA as well as being a successful football team manager.   Struth was the coming man: a professional runner up to the age of 32, trainer with Hearts and then with Clyde from 1908 until he joined the Rangers in 1914 and promoter in his own right from 1920.   Both had been officials in meetings – Maley as judge and Clerk of the Course, Struth as starter, a post he must have held at the Clyde Sports simply because he would not have been given the job in his first season at Ibrox had he not been experienced, and Clerk of the Course.    Both clubs had kept the sports going during the war, albeith on a much reduced basis – there were events confined to military men – a stretcher race, a 10 mile marathon confined to the army, etc – and a lot of fund raising for the war effort was done with fairly generous donations made by the clubs.   The first meetings after the war were held in 1918

In 1920 both were well supported by spectators with 30,000 estimated to be at the Celtic meeting, and by the runners with 22 heats of the 100m and 19 of the furlong; while at Ibrox the previous week there were 40,000 in attendance, and there were new Scottish records by McPhee (Scottish native record) and AG Hill (Scottish all-comers’ record) in the invitation 1000 yards.   Both meetings were very successful but there was an almost entirely domestic field in the events.   If anything, Rangers had a slight advantage in the appearance of two or three good English runners with AG Hill the pick of the crop.   And so it continued for the first few years of the decade with respectable attendances (promoters in the 21st century would give their eye teeth for such numbers) but, quality domestic fields containing a few Englishmen, rarely anyone from abroad.   ie: 

In 1921,  Randgers Sports:  Attendance 15,000, top athletes Eric Liddell, Duncan McPhee, AG Hill and American high jumper B Howard Baker;    Celtic Sports: Attendance 18,000, Eric Liddell, D McPhee, AG Hill. 

1922, Rangers Sports:  30, 000, R McGrath (Manchester, D McPhee (against another 141 runners in the mile); Celtic Sports  15,000 (Very wet day) E Liddell, D McPhee.

1923, Rangers Sports:  40,000  WH Calderwood, D McPhee (T Riddell of Glasgow High School almost won Mile); Celtic Sports,  16,000J McIntyre, C Blewitt, D McL Wright.

But 1924 was different for two reasons.   First, it was Olympic year and they were held in Paris between 5th July and 27th July.   Close to Scotland and just after the Games, with expenses to and from Scotland paid, there was every incentive to come along.   Mr Struth must have been convincing because, well see the heading from the Glasgow Herald:

The international stars lived up to their billing with good performances all round.   JV Schols (USA) won the invitation 120 yards, SJM Atkinson (South Africa) won the 120 yards hurdle race, Eric Liddell won the 440 yards and C Griffiths (Wales) won the 880 yards.

Second, the Glasgow Herald was not as complementary to Celtic as it had been in 1923.    Let me quote from the ‘Glasgow Herald’ of August 11th 1924.   “In former years the second Saturday of August saw the last of the big amateur athletic gatherings in Scotland.   Rangers Football Club occupied the first Saturday, Celtic the second; but this year there has been a change, the East-End club giving up their sports in favour of a five-a-side football tournament.   The estimated attendance at Parkhead on Saturday, 15,000, compares badly with the 40,000 or 50,000  that assembled at Ibrox a week previously, but the Rangers offered attractions of an almost unprecedented nature, the competitors including some of the most famous competitors from the Olympic Games in Paris.    Had Celtic followed suit they might have had an equal attendance, but on this occasion they chose to follow a more prudent but less heroic course.   The performances of the Olympic giants at Ibrox were not impressive, and it might not have happened that the glamour had gone off, and that the Parkhead club might have been saddled with the heavy expense of a first class meeting and missed the reward.   Still, the decision to abandon an old-established meeting, and one that has always been held in the highest repute, is to be regretted, and all interested in athletics in Scotland and hope that the meeting will be revived next year.”  If I read that properly, then the reporter insinuates that the Celtic management were afraid of making a big loss.   I would not have thought that such was the Maley style.   It might as easily have been the start of the Scottish football scene exactly seven days later.   Preparation for the opening matches could more easily be included in a football tournament a week in advance than in an open and invitation sports meeting.   Coming when it did, the Celtic Sports would eventually suffer from the situation.   

However the year passed and Struth built upon the previous year and  the Glasgow Herald said

 The results were all of a very high standard: Ray Dodge (USA) was timed at 2 min 13.6 for 1000 yards was a new Scottish all-comers record but also a new British record, the previous British best having been 2:14.5.   This had been a really close race between Dodge and Griffiths with Dodge just getting the verdict.   ‘Existing figures were also beaten in the hurdles and pole jump.   On a day of brilliant weather there was a crowd of approximately 35,000.    The restored Celtic meeting was held the following week and the report read as follows.

Rangers again had a very large crowd the following year when 30,000 went along to see a meeting consisting mainly of home Scots with several very good English athletes and a single athlete from abroad in the form of a French high jumper.   No records but very good sport.   However the football season started on the second Saturday of the month.   What would Celtic do?   Would the meeting be abandoned altogether in view of the fact that the opening matches had been brought back a week by the SFA?   The answer was that it would not be cancelled.   It was a difficult decision to take since almost every Saturday in the summer months was a traditional date for some meeting or another – many by other football clubs, so for 1925 the meeting was held on the Tuesday after the Rangers Sports.   Why then?    Read the following: 

  

The report on the meeting on Wednesday in the Glasgow Herald read:

Successful by present day standards but the relatively small crowd for a meeting that included a five-a-side tournament four days before the season tells a tale.   Unless they could find a regular Saturday slot for the meeting, the Celtic Sports were doomed.   Incidentally the football final was won by Rangers (Cunningham, McKay, Craig, Archibald and Morton) with 2 goals over Celtic (W McStay, J McStay, Thomson, McGrory and McLean) who had nil.

What happened in 1927 was an attempt to fins another Saturday for their meeting but there were problems.   Their range of alternative dates was circumscribed (a) by all the other regular meetings, and (b) by the lengthening football season – ending later and starting earlier.   Queen’s Park FC Sports were on the first week in June, the Glasgow Police on the third week in June, SAAA Championships a week later, Greenock Glenpark were on the last week in July, Rangers on the first week in August and so on.   It had to be a move back and the second Saturday in July seemed a good choice but – in 1927 it fell on the same day as the English championships.   Nevertheless it went ahead on 27th July although it was not the first big meeting at Parkhead that year – the SAAA Championships had been held there in June.   The Glasgow Herald began its report – “There was a time in the past when Celtic Football Club’s meetings scintillated with most of the stars that shone in the athletic firmament, but this year the bringing forward of the gathering, due to the encroaching of the football season and its consequent coincidence with the AAA championships compelled the management to rely entirely on home talent.  Frankly the absence of the imported element did not affect the afternoon’s sport, so varied and well balanced was the programme. ”   Maley knew his business and continued to host the Celtic Sports every year despite the difficulties.   .   In contrast the Rangers match was held before a crowd of 35,000 and was held to be a tremendous success.   Struth had managed to persuade parties from Polytechnic Harriers and the Achilles Club to come along.   Notables included Douglas Lowe and Lord Burghley – names which would draw crowds on their own – but the top athlete on the day was JWJ Rinkel of the Achilles Club who won the invitation 120 yards handicap from scratch as well as the open 220 yards.   Other events won by the southerners were the invitation 440 yards hurdles by Lord Burghley  (also second in the 129 yards hurdles), JE Webster the eight laps steeplechase, C Ellis the first class open mile (there were two open miles because of the numbers entered – the best runners being in the first class race), and JE London the high jump.   

Problems arose on the new date almost immediately – the triangular international with England and Ireland which had previously been held on the last Saturday in June moved to the second Saturday in July in 1929, and was still there in 1930.   The reason is understandable.   It was the week after the SAAA Championships.   To compete in two such high profile events in successive weeks was not ideal and they were moved.   This left Celtic with another headache.   Almost every Saturday in June and July was taken up with one event or another, some of the major events are listed above but other football clubs such as Partick Thistle and Falkirk had their own dates, and there were meetings all over the country from Golspie to Lockerbi via Aberfeldy, Beith and Catrine.

Rangers Sports in 1928 were another success as is shown by the brief report in the Scotsman on the following Monday.

A

Americans as well as Englishmen – high jumper Osborn was one of the Americans from Illinois in his second year at Rangers Sports.   It was again an Olympic year and fixtures were all over the place trying to avoid the Olympic period.   Celtic seem to have found the task impossible and the next Celtic Sports appeared in the papers in 1930.   Mreanwhile the Rangers Sports of 1929 had an estimated attendance of about 20,000 who witnessed some very good athletics from some excellent English athletes including the Olympic sprinter Jack London and the One Mile (medley) Relay was won by Birchfield Harriers from Polytechnic Harriers.   

The Rangers Sports of 1930 were held before a crowd of 20,000 and the best performance was that of Tom Riddell who beat John McGough’s Scottish record for the mile with his time of  4:19.6 in the special mile which he won from R Thomson of Bellahouston Harriers.   It was   an entirely domestic field with only a few Englishmen who turned in undistinguished performances.   Celtic held their sports the following Tuesday before a moderate crowd.  The Glasgow Herald report below indicates that it was a good sprts meeting but virtually every race wasbetween domestic athletes althouth there were a couple of Irish competitors also present. 

In contrast, the Ibrox meeting of 1931 showed Struth at his finest.    In the photograph above he is shown welcoming Paavo Nurmi an d his manager to Glasgow for the Rangers Sports of 1931.   Possibly the most famous athlete in the world, the Finn was a great capture for the Rangers Sports and Struth had his picture in the papers on his arrival, during the meeting and made sure that he himself, as representative of the Rangers FC, was in them.   Nurmi wasn’t the only star athlete on display but he was the name on the publicity.   The Herald on the following Monday said –

He ran in two races, the two miles and the four miles, before a crowd of 45,000 spectators who saw during the afternoon four records broken.   Nurmi set an all-comers record of 19:20.4 for the four miles and Cyril Ellis of England set a record of 4:15.2  for the mile.   .Tom Riddell set a native record for the mile of 4:15 and JF Wood set a native record for the four miles of 14:44.2.   It was a total success by any measure – attendance, quality of athletics or just as entertainment.  As for the Celtic, Despite the success of the 1930 meeting there was apparently no follow up meeting in 1931 – at least not on the three dates previously used by the club – second Saturday in July, second Saturday in August or second Tuesday in August.

In 1932, the  triangular international was again on the second Saturday in July and the Tuesday in August which had previously been the club’s alternative date of choice saw most of the regular athletes (Bobby Graham, Walter Calderwood, etc)  in action at the Springburn Harriers meeting at Helenvale.   At Celtic Park, Celtic FC had their final trial before the opening of the football season the following Saturday.   The Saturday before that saw the 46th Rangers Sports with a crowd of 23,000 or 25,000 depending on which paper you read.   The conditions were all against good times as the Glasgow Herald tells us, but the performances were all of a good standard with the first three in the invitation 120 yards hurdles being R Murdoch, M Rousseau (Racing Club de France) and J Bell (Cliftonville  Harriers) to maintain the international aspect of the meeting.   It was only won by a yard but a relatively closer finish was the invitation 1000 yards where Calderwood won by only three yards from RE Clark of Plebeian Harriers.   Wylie of Darlington won the three miles, and in the relay, Maryhill Harriers beat a French Select and Polytechnic Harriers by 18 yards.    There was also a 17 miles road race in which England’s Ernie Harper was second to Donald Robertson with Wilson of Irvine third.   There were even three handicap prizes as well as for the first three.   A big day for the road runners.  All finishers received a certificate, see below, which was another novelty and the certificates were treasured.   Another successful day for Bill Struth’s organising committee.   It was just a pity that the SFA had spoiled the Celtic meetings or the Glasgow (and Scottish) public would have had several wonderful meetings.   

There was a reprise of the road race in 1933 but the headlines were not for the road men at all.   Have a look at this from the ‘Glasgow Herald’

Mr Struth with another star or two at the Rangers Sports.   This time it was Jack Lovelock from New Zealand who was the star draw – and unlike many other top names, he did not disappoint.   He was not the only top notch athlete on parade that afternoon:

  • TH Scrimshaw (Belgrave Harriers) broke the Scottish record for the half mile
  • Don Finlay, AAA’s champion won the hurdles race ina hard fought battle with GUAC runner AS Kitchin
  • Ernie Harper won the 17 miles road race from Dunky Wright and JF Wood who was running in his first ling road race
  • GT Saunders (Poly Harriers) equalled the Scottish record when winning the invitation 100 yards.

But the race of the day had to be the Invitation One Mile in which four quality athletes from four countries – NZ, England, Wales and Scotland all started from the scratch mark..   The ‘Scotsman’ report on the race and the photograph from the same source- 

 

The Celtic  Sports had already been held – 10th July was the date and there was a good turnout on a windy afternoon at Parkhead.  Riddell ran in an invitation 1000 yards race and there were several very good Scots competing with quality Englishmen.   The report in the Scotsman read:

The Celtic meeting had been a good one, held during the west of Scotland holiday month of July  while the Rangers had been an international meeting after all the holiday trips but while the atmosphere was still high and a tremendous success.   It speaks highly of the desire of Celtic to hold an athletics sports that they should carry on in such difficult circumstances.   Their problems had been accentuated by the SAAA changing the date of the international track match to the second Saturday in July which had looked as though it would be a good date for the club’s sports.   The Football Association had brought back the season’s starting date causing the search to begin with, and then the SAAA had exacerbated it by moving their date forward.    In 1934 the sports were held on Tuesday, 7th August and although the event was covered there was no report on the athletics – the entire report was devoted to the fact that a Celtic player called Crum (we were never told his Christian name by the ‘Glasgow Herald’) had his leg broken when he fell in a tackle by a Clyde player called McPhail during the first five-a-side match.   Five paragraphs were devoted to the event.   There were six races, two cycle races and a five-a-side tournament.   The races were all domestic affairs with not a single big name or champion among them.   

Laurie Lehtinen being give lap times by Borje Strandvall at Ibrox.

The Rangers Sports on the other hand were well covered by most of the quality Scottish papers with a big international cast for the spectators to feast their eyes on.   The name on most lips was that of the Finn Lauri Lehtinen who set new Scottish figures for the three miles of 14:15.4.   There were many Scottish names in the race which were or would become good runners in their own right.   eg Alex Dow of Kirkcaldy and David Brooke of Garscube Harriers who would be a timekeeper at the 1970 Commonwealth Games and other major fixtures.   The special quarter mile was a real battle between Borje Strandvall (Finland), JM Hucker (USA), R Boisset and K Stravisky (both France): they all ran from scratch but the race was won by C France (Bellahouston) who had been given 12 yards.   The high jump was won by CA Scott (Cornell) and another American JM Curran (Princeton) was second in the open 220 yards.   RF Hardy the American inter-collegiate champion entered three sprints but did not survive the heats.   Boisset and Dondelinger (France) both qualified for the final of the open 220.   It had been a really high class match with 13 open events, 4 invitation and a five-a-side tournament.   

The picture below tells us all we need to know about the value of Maley’s Celtic Sports and Struth’s Rangers Sports to Scottish athletics when they were operating at their best.   A Scot running on home soil with a New Zealander and two excellent English runners.  The publlicity gained from running in front of a big crowd and the inspiration passed to the hundreds, literally hundreds of club runners, competing on the day.  Any runner in the open mile, having seen these and others in the invitation mile must have been inspired to greater things and run better on the day.   If you doubt the ‘hundreds of club runners, start with a not-uncommon twenty five heats of the 100 yards with eight men per heat and there are 200 men already, add in 140 plus in the Mile, again not unusual, and we are already up to 340 club runners.   Athletics owed these two organisers a lot.   Had the Celtic Sports been able to continue to the 1960’s as Rangers did, both sports would have been the better of it. 

The meeting highlights are noted in this extract from the Scotsman of the following Monday – and manager Struth is given credit for the standard of the meeting:

The outstanding attraction was of course the invitation mile where Lovelock was well beaten and the race was won by Reeve (25 yards) from Riddell (35 yards) with Wooderson (scratch) third.    In the 5-a-side competition, the Rangers side (Meiklejohn, Brown, Venters, Smith and Gillick) defeated Celtic (McGonagle, McMcDonald, Morrison, Buchan and Delaney) 2 – 1. 

Was Willie Maley still involved in the organisation of the Celtic Sports?   They were increasingly difficult to organise, problems were being created by both football and athletics governing bodies and the Rangers Sports were greatly enhanced in status.   Had he delegated the athletics to another member of the organising committee?   The answer comes in the programmes where the list of officials occupied a prominent position in the opening pages.   The programme for 1935 lists them as –

There he was in the traditional place as Clerk of the Course.   It was a full 24 page programme for the meeting on Tuesday, 6th August 1935.    Just when you thought the event was on its last legs, an excellent meeting came up on Tuesday 6th August 1935.    The headline read: 

“NEW SCOTTISH RECORD AT CELTIC SPORTS:

R GRAHAM’S SUCCESS OVER THREE-QUARTER MILE.  

The annual sports meeting of Celtic FC was held last night at Celtic Park, Glasgow, in fine weather conditions and before a moderate attendance.   Some excellent sport was witnessed, and in the special invitation race over the three-quarter mile, R Graham set up a new Scottish record of 3 min 4 6-10th sec, this time being 1 6-10th sec faster than that set up by Tom Riddell at the Queen’s Park Sports three years ago.   Graham ran from the scratch mark, instead of the 10 yards as originally intended in the handicap and he was accompanied by J Gifford and JP Laidlaw to both of whom he conceded 10 yards.   He covered his first lap in 61 seconds, but took 63 4-10th for the second.   In his final 300 yards however, he put in a great finish catching the leaders at the last bend went on to win by six yards from W Gunn. “   There were six races, three cycle events and a five-a-side.    

1936 was a year when the Scotsman headline read “FEW THRILLS AT IBROX” before going on to explain.

That was the same story in most papers – “interesting but not exciting.”   The Olympics were not just any Games, but it was 1936 with the ‘Gathering Clouds over Europe’ and Jesse Owens winning in Berlin and a lot of attention was focused in that direction.  There was still a crowd of sizeable proportions (30,000) and interesting athletics.   Celtic suffered likewise from the Olympics and also from a midweek evening date and coverage in both Glasgow Herald and Scotsman was scanty with almost identical content in their brief coverage.  This is from the Herald

1937 was another very good year for the Rangers Sports with very good, if not magnificent, performances studded through the programme with many of the old favourites on view.   The Scotsman photograph below is of one of these, and a Scotsman too.

“SC WOODERSON BREAKS BRITISH RECORD”.   “BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE IN THREE-QUARTER MILE AT IBROX.”   “THREE TENTH OUTSIDE WORLD RECORD FIGURES.”   “ROBIN MURDOCH’S TRIUMPH”   “WIND THWARTS WOODERSON OF FIRST WORLD RECORD.”   These were just some of the headlines over the reports on the Rangers Sports in 1937.    The pictures of Murdoch and Wooderson here are from the Scotsman on the following Monday.   The result of the invitation Races were as follows. 

 Quarter Mile:   1.   RTH Littlejohn (Edinburgh H, 15 yards);  2. W Roberts (Salford H, scr);  3.  FF Wolff (London AC, 10 yards)

120 yards hurdles was  1.  R Murdoch (Atalanta, 1 1/2 yards);  2.  AW Sweeney (Milocarians, scr );  3.  W Rangely (Salford , 1 yard)  1.6 sec

Half Mile:   1.  JW Alford (Roath H, 8 yards);  2.  O Hoel (Field Events Club, 8);  3.   AJ Collyer (Watford H, scr).   1 min 54.2

Three Quarter Mile was: 1.   SC Wooderson (scr); 2.   RH Thomas (RAF and Surrey AC, 10 yards); 3.  RC Eden (Watford H,  12 yards).   3 min 0.9 sec.   Scottish and British all-comers record.   

It was a good well attended meeting where, by universal opinion, the wind deprived Wooderson of a world record. 

In 1937 and 1938, team trials seemed to be the order of the day for the club in the week leading up to the start of the season, and there were no notes of any Celtic FC Annual Sports on the usual dates available to them in the past.   After the SFA brought the start of their season back a week, the search for a new date was thwarted again and again by facts outwith their control and it was a real pity – and a loss to all sportsmen in the country when the Celtic Sports came to an end.

The Rangers event continued – why should it not as long as their date remained available?   The Glasgow Herald headline for 1938 is below.

In front of nearly 70, 000 spectators – yes, SEVENTY THOUSAND – and in ideal conditions, what was one of Struth’s best ever meetings took place.   Four records were broken, including a British and Scottish all-comers record; athletes from Scotland, England, Wales, South Africa,  America and Canada were competing in invitation events and hundreds of Scots club athletes took part in 10 track and field events (including for women and Youths) and a marathon, plus two cycle races and a five-a-side competition in which Partick Thistle defeated Celtic in the Final.   

This is not the place for a full report on the meeting, that would take a page in its own right, but the results of the invitation events can be noted:

Half Mile:  1.  FR Handley (Salford, 6);  2.  RTH Littlejohn (Edinburgh H, 12);  3.  AJ Collyer (Watford).   Collyer’s time of 1:52.8 was a Scottish All-Comers record)

Quarter Mile:   W Fritz (Canada  scr);  2. JW Loaring (Canada  6);  3.  CF Campbell (Springburn 1 7)   48 sec

1500m:  1.  DP Bell (Herne Hill, 30);  2.  SC Wooderson (Blackheath, scr);  3.  AV Reeve (Polytechnic, 42).  3:46.9.   Wooderson’s time was 3:49.0

120 yards: P Walker (USA scr); 2.  JM Cole (Glasgow Police, 5 1/2);  3.  AA Clarke (Dumbarton  5 1/2)  11.7 sec

120 yards hurdles:  1   D Finlay (RAF 2.  J Patterson (USA);  3.  A Tolmach (USA)  14.7 sec.   A Scottish all-comers record.. 

Pole Vault:  1.  DM Hastie (Hillhead HS, 3′ 9″);  2.  H Hood (Edinburgh Police, 2′ 6″);    14′ 7″   Cornelius Warmerdam (USA) vaulted 14′ 3″ to establish British and Scottish all-comers records.   

The marathon race which had started in Gourock  was won by TF Lalande (South Africa) in 2 hours 46 minutes 58 sec , from TA Strachan (Glasgow YMCA) who ran 2:54:12.   

It really was a wonderful meeting and one worth reading about in detail when you are browsing old newspapers.  The picture below is from the Scotsman.

 

 

The 1939 Sports were equally good with star athletes from many countries taking part – Scots, English and of course Americans were there , they were joined by quality Finnish and South African runners.   Two new British records, four invitation events, eleven track and field events, a marathon race, two cycle races and a five-a-side competition.   And a crowd of at least 60,000.

Again it was a Finnish distance runner who excited the crowd  most.   Tasto Maki ran in the Three Miles and ‘reeled off lap after lap with effortless ease.’  He had to make all his own pace and although he didn’t catch Bingham, the handicap winner he was 4:37.4 at the mile, 9:26 for two miles and 14:03.4 for the three miles.   The American Charles Beetham was one of three men on the scratch mark for the 1000 yards, the others being the star American Blaine Rideout and AJ Collyer (England).   Collyer took them through the quarter in 57 seconds, at the half mile Beetham was just inside 1:57 and at the finish he was timed at 2 minutes 11 seconds.   

.The results of the invitation events were as follows.

120 yards handicap:  1.  Clyde Jeffrey (USA); R Cochran (USAS, 4); 3.  JM Bone (Bellahouston, 6 1/2)  11.8 seconds

440 yards:  1.  R McGregor (Maryhill,  32);   2.  Erwin Miller (USA, scr);  3.  JAM Robertson (GUAC, 9)  48 seconds

1000 yards:  1.   EA Sears (Essex Beagles 16); Charles Beetham (USA  scr); 3.   J Gifford (Bellahouston, 20)   2:10.9   Beetham’s time was 2 min 11 sec, a new British and Scottish all-comer’s record.   

Three Miles:  1.  M Bingham (Finchley H, 190);   2.  Taisto Maki (Finland, scr);  3.  W Nelson (Maryhill, 360)   13:55.6.   Maki’s time was 13 min 03 2/5th sec, a new British and Scottish all-comers record.   

In addition note these results:   Eight laps steeplechase:  1.  V Iso-Hollo (Finland, scr);  2.  W Wylie (Darlington Harriers, 150),  3.  JSD Nosbet (Gala Harriers, 360).   10 min 22 2/5th sec

Marathon Race:  1.   D McNab Robertson (Maryhill)   2:42:02;   2.  TF lalande (DSouth Africa and Poly Harriers)  2:48:40;  3.  TH Richardson (Mitcham)  2:50:27  

 

We all know what happened next in Europe but none of that takes away from the history so far of the Rangers and Celtic Sports over the years since Maley and Wilton started the drive for excellence in athletics to set before the Scottish public.   Over the years since then, these two Sports have had competitors from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, from Commonwealth countries like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and other lands such as USA, Canada, Poland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France and Italy.   And there were more than that.   There were Olympians, EWuropean champions, Empirs Games champions and records at one level or another at every track distance as well as pole vault, high jump and most field events.   The story of these game – now, alas, only the Rangers Sports – from the War Years up to 1962 will be taken up nect,

 

 

   

Maley, Struth and Athletics: 3 1920

 

We have noted Maley’s athletics pedigree and the fact that he was a member of the SAAA Committee right up to and beyond the War and being elected President in 1921/22.  We should look equally at the development of Struth the athlete into Struth the Promoter.    As an indication only of the racing done by Struth, the range of distances and his willingness to travel at a time when transport was a bit more difficult than at present, the following prize winning events around the turn of the century are noted.   There were many others.

Year Date Venue Distance Handicap Place
1898 Jan 1st-3rd Powderhall Mile 135 yards 2nd
1898 Jan 4th-5th Celtic Park Mile 135 yards 2nd
1899 Jan 2nd-3rd Powderhall 880 yards 55 yards 3rd
1900 Jan 1st Hawkhill Grounds 880 yards 55 yards 3rd
1900 Jan 1st-2nd Powderhall 880 yards 50 yards 3rd
1900 May 24th-June 2nd Powderhall 130 yards 15 1/2 yards 2nd
1901 Jan 1st-2nd Powderhall 300 yards 24 yards 3rd
1901 December 28th Powderhall 880 yards 40 yards 3rd
1902 Jan 3rd-4th Royal Gymnasium 300 yards 22 yards 2nd
1902 March 8th Celtic Park 300 yards 20 3rd
1902 June 21st Dundee 300 yards 18 yards 1st

Two more points to make.   

*First, he was still running right up until he started football training and conditioning as the following result at the end of 1907 shows – he was second in a 220 yards on 1st December 1907 off 17 yards almost immediately before he went to Clyde in 1908.   In 1907 he was 32 years old so it was a long career in athletics terms.   

**Second, judging by the results and the handicaps awarded, he was at the very least a very good club standard runner – and maybe a wee bit better than that.   We are told that in 1902 when the great English distance runner Fred Bacon made an attempt on the one hour record on 17th May at Powderhall, his chosen pace-makers were C Thomas, A Patterson and W Struth.    His credentials were impressive both for length of career and standard of performance.      

He had been a pro for a long time, and when he went to Clyde they started up their sports agin.   Clyde FC Sports were different from those at most other grounds in that they were professional games and it was natural that his experience be used to assist with the organisation.  H e was the trainer and Alex Maley the manager and they were responsible for one of the biggest professional meetings in Scotland.    In July 1911,  “Almost everybody who is anybody in football was at the Clyde club’s sports on Saturday.  There were Messrs Wilton (Rangers), W Maley (Celtic), H Low (St Mirren), T Moore (Hamilton), M Dunbar (Celtic), J Kelly (Celtic), James Brownlie (Third Lanark) and Herbert Lock (Rangers.) 

 Two years later and he was getting a name check.   The following is from the Glasgow Herald of 21st July, 1913: 

“The Clyde Football Club are apparently “whole hoggers” as far as professionalism is concerned, and in this respect  they are at least consistent.   Instead of running amateur sports, as so many professional clubs do [amateurism in Scotland is practically subsidised at the expense of Association Football] Clyde are running a purely professional gathering on Saturday first.   Of course football is the trump card, but in addition they are introducing Jack Donaldson, the eminent sprinter, and a runner of his impressive accomplishments should attract many to Shawfield on Saturday.   Largely through the influence of Struth, several of the best professionals in Scotland will take part in the proceedings.   Professional running in Glasgow has been pretty low in the water for years, but the Clyde are serving up in an attractive manner on Saturday, and will no doubt be rewarded for their enterprise. ”   

A year later and he was at Ibrox and under the influence of Wilton.   He had started with Clyde and professional meetings, then went to Ibrox where he learned from a top notch organiser.   We all need a model when starting out.  eg when Maley started the Celtic Sports at the start of the 1890’s the Rangers events were coming up for 20 years of age and they had learned a lot in that period.  At the period we’re talking about William Wilton was the man and no doubt Maley, intelligent and sharp as he was picked up a few things from him.   Similarly Struth probably learned a lot about sports promotion from under studying Wilton and watching Maley.   When Wilton died in 1820, Struth had been part of the friendly and competitive rivalry for six years.    Like Maley, Struth officiated at meetings – note this extract from the 1914 sports where he was the starter.  Other names to note were Maley as a judge, Sam Mussabini (Harold Abrahams’s coach)as a timekeeper, .A Ross Scott as a timekeeper (a time keeper in 1908 Olympics who officiated at the Halswell 400 metres), Fred Lumley (Proprietor of Powderhall) and of course William Wilton as Clerk of the Course.

Struth was now in control of the sports and his first meeting was in August, 1920,  a mere two and a half months after the death of Wilton.   How did it go, and how did it compare with the Celtic version a week later?   The two men were at different stages of their careers as managers and as sports promoters.   Struth with a lot of momentum going and in his first big jobs after a superb learning curve, while Maley had been organising meetings since 1890.   In addition Maley was still involved with the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association.  He was Vice President in 1919/20 and President in 1920/21, and Immediate Past President in 1921/22.   I quote:

Maley was of course a fairly senior member of the SAAA by 1918 and after the War at the SAAA AGM in February 1919 he was elected vice president and on to many sub committees.   He was on the Finance Committee (as was Matthew Dickson), on the International Conference group, on the West District Permits Committee, the Handicapping Board of Control and the Reconstruction Committee.    If ever there were a record of his involvement in athletics, it is in this imposing list of responsibilities.

He presided over a meeting in Edinburgh in 1919 to review the recommendations of the Reconstruction Committee referred to above.   There were seven recommendations to be approved:

  1. Applications for reinstatement from pre-war professionals were to be decided on their merits;  applications from amateurs who may have forfeited their status during the war be viewed sympathetically;
  2. The Scottish Police Force, still outside the Association should be approached with a view to getting them into line with those forces affiliated with the SAAA.
  3. That an endeavour be made to persuade the Executives of Highland Gatherings to hold their sports under SAAA laws.  
  4. To ask clubs to hold events for schoolboys in their sports programmes, and in the case of clubs with grounds of their own to allow for training facilities and to endeavour to get old athletes to attend the leading grounds  to coach boys in field and other events;
  5. Give greater encouragement to field events;
  6. To approach the railway companies with a view to getting reduced fares for competitors at athletic meetings;
  7. To circularise all Higher Grade and Secondary Schools to hold sports wherever practicable and to send a similar circular to clubs whose one time annual sports have been allowed to lapse.

Other recommendations included (a) the setting up of a organisation with a subscribing membership in each county; (b) the promotion of county championships for track and field, cross country, elementary schools championships, secondary schools championships; (c) to form similar organisations in each county and burgh, rural and urban districts; (d) “believing that prizes of large intrinsic value are prejudicial to true amateurism, the Committee recommends that the limit of value for an individual prize shall be £1”: in this respect I quote from the club’s Committee Meeting Minute of 24/2/20, “Mr McGregor reported that he had attended a meeting of the SAAA and that the motion to increase the prize limit from £7:7:0 to £10:10:0 had been passed unanimously”  (e) a manual for the organisation and management of athletics should be prepared for circulation.”

He was a busy man – it was all good work and they couldn’t have found a better.   His involvement in athletics was as strong as ever.

Willie Maley

Struth’s first sports in his own right were on the first Saturday, 1920, less than three months after the death of Wilton.   So how did he do, and how did it compare with the Celtic event seven days later?