Willie McGregor’s Photographs – 2: All Cross Country

The first  pictures here are of Springburn Harriers – Willie lived fairy close to their training ground and was a good club member.   Then comes a whole series of the West District Championships at Stepps in 1996.

Euan McNair in the Springburn Club Championships in 1996

Springburn team at National Relays: Adrian Callan, Graham Crawford, George Braidwood and David Donnet


West Districts 1995: Alistair Douglas, Stuart Barnett (both VPAAC)

Same race, same corner, Alan Puckrin and Ian Murphy

Same race, the finishing line

Douglas Gemmell, 113, at the finish

Bobby Rosborough, 116, at the finish

Winning Clydesdale Harriers team at the West District Relays, 1995: Ewan Calvert, James Austin, Grant Graham and Des Roache.

Grant Graham to James Austin at the start of the last leg of the 1995 West District Relay at Lenzie

Cumnock Races, 1996

Adrian Callan, West District Cross Country, 1996, Cumnock, 2nd

Barney Gough, Cambuslang, 60

George Braidwood, Springburn, Kilbarchan Relays, 1991

Springburn runners, Robert Burns Relays

Johnny Walker Open Cross-Country Race 1996: Richardson (2nd), Gallacher (1st), Goldie (3rd) 


Cambuslang winning youth team in Lanarkshire Relays, 1994: Grant, McRae and Lyle

and, without whom none of them would have been possible – two of the best and longest working officials, Danny and Molly Wilmoth at the Scottish Vets championships at Bannockburn, 1995



Willie McGregor’s Photographs – 1

Willie McGregor was first of all a runner, then a photographer of talent.   He went to all the races and track meetings that he could and took lots of photographs.   Not random photographs, but at significant parts of the race – the line up and at the finish obviously but at other points like the top of a hill, at a difficult turn or when two hard racers were battling it out.  I bought a box of his photographs from him and some others have come from Graham MacIndoe’s facebook page of Scottish Runners in the 1980’s and Beyond.   The pictures are what matter – there are several pages of them, all good – maybe all excellent would be more accurate.   This page is a mix of track, road and cross-country, page two is cross-country and page three is of road runners.

Before the start of the Lochaber Marathon in 1993

The start

After the finish

Vets at Coatbridge

The start of the Jimmy Flockhart cross-country race in Coatbridge in 1995

Start  of West Districts, 1995

Des Roache wins the West District 1500m at Crown Point, 1995

Willie liked portraits of the winners of races after the race was over – this is of Des after winning the West District 1500m what follows is a series of groups getting bigger and bigger.

To make the point, this is Allan Adams and Carl Heaven after finishing first and second in the Tom Scott 10 miles in 1996

Another group of winners – Ian Murphy, Tommy Murray and Graeme Croll after finishing 3-1-2 in the Polaroid 10K in Helensburgh, 1996

Three more – Tommy Murray, Glen Stewart and Allan Adams after the Dunky Wright race in 1996.


 Willie McGregor’s photographs – 2   Willie McGregor’s Photographs – 3







Harriers and the Pubs

Unlike football, cricket and rugby the Harriers did not own their own grounds but used public facilities where possible.  The first two open athletic clubs in Scotland had their opening runs from hotels: Edinburgh AC from the Harp in Corstorphine in September 1885 and Clydesdale Harriers from the Black Bull in Milngavie in October 1885.   

Indeed, they were known to turn down the opportunity to lay their own track or build their own stripping accommodation on occasion.   Note the following from the Clydesdale Harriers annual handbook for 1888/89:   Grounds with Cinder track have repeatedly been spoken of but so longs as the present friendly relations are maintained with Rangers FC, the Committee consider that there is no necessity for moving in this matter.”   The questions then became where shall we go to do our training, organise races and hold social evenings such as prize givings and money raising entertainments?   Training, particularly in the West of the country, as often done twice or three times a week from local Public Baths where there was ample stripping space and hot showers, baths and swimming baths.   Also used were Colliery Pit Baths for the same reasons – they usually had ready access to open country too for the winter season, at times Army Barracks were used but, almost as often as Public Baths, HQ for Harriers clubs was the local pub, inn or hostelry.   They were used as club headquarters with committee meetings being held therefrom, they acted as race facilities with stripping accommodation, entries being taken and often as the presentation venue after the race.   

The pub, hotel or hostelry as a training venue was distinct from the premises being used for social purposes although no doubt some informal fraternising did take place due to the nature of the establishment and the gregarious nature of the harriers.   The Clydesdale Harriers annual handbook for 1890/91 had the following:   “Club rooms were engaged last season and were the means of bringing together a great number of members.   The Committee have again secured these rooms at 33 Dundas Street; it is hoped that members will take due advantage of them,   The rooms are open daily from 10 am to 10.30 pm with the exception of Mondays when they will be closed at 7:30 pm”   The rooms had many of the daily newspapers and sports journals, served food and refreshments and were used for prize-givings, presentations to members and so on.   One member of the West Of Scotland Harriers wrote a letter on club premises which you can read  here.   This is distinct from the use of the pubs for training or racing.   

What follows is a a note of premises used by the various clubs indicating how widespread the practice was and how many were used by some clubs.

The picture above is of the Black Bull in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire from which Clydesdale Harriers had their first ever cross-country run in October 1885.   One month earlier Edinburgh Harriers had their first run from The Harp in Corstorphine.   Scotland’s two first cross-country runs by organised, dedicated athletic clubs were held from Hotels.   Subsequently hotels, inns and humble pubs were to play a part in the development of the sport in Scotland.    

Athletics historian Hamish Telfer has come up with most of the following list of such venues and the clubs that used them.

Clydesdale Harriers

Black Bull, Milngavie; Cathcart Arms Inn, Cathcart; County Hotel, Hamilton; Stewart’s, Whiteinch, Glasgow; The Drum, Shettleston and Wilson’s.

Clydesdale Harriers (Falkirk Section)

Railway Inn, Parkfoot, Falkirk; Queen’s Hotel, Grangemouth; Plough Hotel, Stenhousemuir; Carmichael Inn, Barnsford; Rpyal Hotel, Falkirk.

Clydesdale Harriers (Renfrewshire Section)

Miss Taylor’s Inn, Greenock Road

Clydesdale Harriers (South Lanark and Coatbridge)

Rawyards Hotel; Waggon Inn, Airdrie; Coatbridge Royal Hotel

West of Scotland Harriers
Clyde Hotel, Bothwell, below
Mrs McDougall’s Inn, Chryston ; Queens Hotel, Helensburgh; Torrance Hotel, East Kilbride; Mrs McCubbins, Bearsden;
Half-Way House, Glasgow/Paisley Road; Buchanan Arms, Kilmacolm; Black Bull, Milngavie: also used by Clydesdale Harriers, notably for their first run in October, 1885.
Sheep’s Head – Duddingston (Inter club with EH); Washington Hotel, Kirkintilloch; Ranfurly Hotel, Bridge of Weir; Cathcart Arms, Cathcart
Edinburgh Harriers 
The Harp, Corstorphin, Sheep’s Head, Duddingston; Annfield Inn, Eskbank; Granton Hotel, Granton; Riccarton Arms, Currie; 
Hamilton Harriers
Commercial Hotel, Hamilton.
Kilmarnock Harriers
Galloway Hotel, Ayr
Turf Inn, Kilmaurs
Hamilton Harriers
Clyde Hotel, Bothwell
West of Fife Harriers
Stuart Arms, Saline
Falkirk Heavy-weather Club
Plough Inn, Falkirk
Arbroath Harriers
Tuttie’s Neuk


 The photograph below of Edinburgh Southern Harriers at the Sheep Heid Inn at Duddingston and was published in the ‘Scots Athlete’ article on the club’s history; the club also used the Barnton Hotel in the west of the city.

 The photograph above of Edinburgh Southern Harriers at the Sheep Heid Inn at Duddingston was published in the ‘Scots Athlete’ article on the club’s history; the club also used the Barnton Hotel, below, in the west of the city which was a landmark on the first stage of the Edinburgh – Glasgow relay.  

The work done by Hamish Telfer in gathering many, if not most, of the watering holes above has to be acknowledged and due thanks given.


Hugh’s Gems 9

The ninth collection of photographs and cuttings from Hugh Barrow is attached.  Previous selections of his from many sources have proved popular and this group should prove no less welcome.  They come from across the generations and mix first class photographs with important historical documents – this first one is from 1904 and is the Edinburgh University team at Anniesland which is followed by a real cracker – Jim Ryun waiting to congratulate Peter Snell when he had finished signing autographs.  Super photo for which credit goes to Mike Faneli.

Ryun waiting to congratulate Snell who is busy signing autographs


Stewart and McCafferty cooling their feet after a hot race


Ibrox Track Construction

Junior Men’s Mile, Floodlit meeting, Ibrox 1962, Result below

This is the original telegram ALF SHRUBB sent on November 5th 1904, less than two hours after breaking 8 “World’s Records” in one race on the track at Ibrox Park, Glasgow! The telegram was sent to his fiancee Miss Ada Brown in North London  (Perhaps Hugh Barrow can identify the Glasgow post office?).  Shrubb thrilled the crowd by running 10 miles in 50mins 40.6secs, which stood as a world best for 24 years and GB best for 31 years!    (This one came from Rob Hadgraft)

Policeman’s Race at Ibrox Sports

Cycle Race

Zatopek in Scotland

Mike Ryan and Willie Fleming at Hamilton

Fleming and Ryan at Hamilton

From ‘World Sports’



Notice of a football match



CG Memories: Graham McDonald

Eilidh Child doing her lap of honour in Glasgow, 2014 (See below)
 Commonwealth Games 1970
I had thought I might have had an outside chance of making the team but it wasn’t to be but I really enjoyed watching them from the main stand with club mates from Epsom and Ewell H. I was working in Surrey at the time and we travelled up for the Games.   .
There were lots of memorable moments for the Scottish Team , of course , nearly too many to list but I also saw Marilyn Neufville of Jamaica setting a world record for 400m (51.02) and Lawrie Peckham of Australia clearing the first 7′ HJ in the UK.
However , it was Lachie’s 10,000m Gold which set off what was to be a memorable week for the Scots. The outstanding memory however was to come later. After the day’s events , we went up to the competitors’ village at Pollock Halls to meet two Eprom girls , one who was competing for England and the other for Wales. Then over to the road to the Gold Medal Inn (don’t know what’s there now) where we saw Lachie celebrating his Gold medal with a large group of the Scottish team. I knew a few of them and was able to congratulate Lachie.Quite an honour.
Staying with the 1970 Games, Graham has abother tale to tell.
As I was home for the Games from working in Surrey , I wanted to go down to Pitreavie on a club evening to see some Pitreavie club mates.
However , by the time I arrived there was hardly anyone there as I discovered the club training time was much earlier in the evening than I remembered.
However , I noticed a girl over the other side of the track at the LJ pit doing some impressive short stride jumping. I thought maybe a new LJer had joined the club so I made my way over to the pit to find out. As I got closer to the pit , I recognised her from the many photos of her from AW , TV etc. I was surprised but it was an absolute privilege to come face to face with the 1968 Olympic Women’s LJ Silver medalist , Sheila Sherwood!
She told me that she had wanted to find a LJ pit away from the main centre of the Games activity to do some quiet practice.and someone had mentioned the track at Pitreavie. The following day , sitting in the stands at Meadowbank , I saw her winning the LJ Gold medal!!
Commonwealth Games 1986
We were busy with a young family at that time so only managed to be at Meadowbank on the final day.
We were seated in a section with many New Zealanders who had hung a very large blanket with AUCKLAND 1990 written on it in very large letters. It was only later that we found that the BBC cameras had focused in on it during the closing ceremony and there we were sitting in front of it for all to see. Photo attached – a bit blurred though.
Commonwealth Games 2014
There were many memories from the 2014 Games but there could only be one which was outstanding above all others for me.
Eilidh Child was  doing her lap of honour to the Proclaimers following her Silver medal performance in the 400mH and Hampden was
I went down a few steps to the barrier around the track as she was passing , shouting to her. She must have heard because she turned towards me and gave me a wave – a special moment as I remembered from at the club from a young age and now she she had a full  Hampden crowd on their feet
Events of this level attract lots of those deeply interested and involved in the sport so it’s no surprise that many of the UK NUTS statisticians would be in town for the Glasgow event..
Arnold Black of SATS took the opportunity to invite the members of the UK NUTS , some of the top internationally recognised names in the field , to dinner one evening in Glasgow to meet up with their Scottish counterparts.. I was a member of the Scottish Records sub committee at the time and Arnold invited me along to join Colin and him to meet these well known names.
Along came:
Mel Watman (Editor of AW for many years and prolific author of many athletics books and journals)
Peter Mathews (one of the BBC team at these Games. Editor of the NUTS annual)
Stan Greenberg { Has been a Statistician to GB selectors and BBC commentary teams)
Bob Phillips ( Editor of the NUTS Track Stats and statistician to BBC commentary teams)  
Ian Tempest ( Author of NUTS historical books)
It was a great evening being in such company with , not surprisingly , lots of discussion about our sport.
A memorable night.
A reminder from Graham that even Commonwealth Games can be wet!

CG Memories: Brian McAusland

Combined SAAA Championship and Commonwealth Games Rehearsal, 1969

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


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

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

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

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




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

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

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


Commonwealth Games Memories

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

Alex Jackson’s Memories      Colin Youngson’s Memories     Brian McAusland’s Memories     Graham McDonald

CG Memories: Colin Youngson

Commonwealth Batons: 1970 and 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

2 Batons

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



CG Memories: Alex Jackson

Edinburgh 1986

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

Birmingham 2022

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

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

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

Arthur Rowe Obituary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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