Clyde Valley AAC

CV 1

When people talk or think of Clyde Valley AAC, they tend to think of Jim Brown (pictures above in the Six Stage Relay in 1986), Ron McDonald, John Graham, Bert McKay and the other big names that ran for them – but the club would not have been as successful as a team without the solid backing from good club runners like Eddie Devlin, David and Steven Marshall (not related), Joe Small and several others.    In an attempt to put this right we have the following brief history of the club written by Joe Small.   Joe also wrote the piece on Monkland Harriers which should maybe be read in conjunction with this one.

1974 saw the formation of a brand new club, known as Clyde Valley AAC, being an amalgamation of five Lanarkshire clubs – Airdrie Harriers, Bellshill YMCA, Monkland Harriers, Motherwell YMCA and the L&L Track Club from Lesmahagow.   The main advantage for Monkland Harriers was the addition of the Motherwell and Bellshill middle and long distance runners to the names mentioned previously.   MacDonald, Brown, Gilmour, etc, now being joined by the likes of John Graham, Bert McKay, Roy Baillie  and Ian Moncur.

The first winter season saw a fourth place finish in the traditional opener, the McAndrew relay.   A first victory in the Midland cross-country relay with MacDonald, Graham, Willie Devlin and Roy Baillie promised much.   A national trophy soon followed with victory in the 2 x 2.5 mile cross-country relay at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow.   Graham, Brown, and MacDonald along with Roy Baillie winning comfortably from Edinburgh AC.   Baillie was better known as an 800m runner coached by Tommy Boyle with nests of 50.0 sec for 400m, 1:51.1 for 800m and 3:56.2 for 1500m.   His best championship finish was second in the SAAA 800m in 1974.   His frequent appearances over road and country usually resulted in excellent performances and who knows what he would have been capable of had he focused more on this side of the sport?

In the club’s inaugural appearance in the Edinburgh to Glasgow eight man relay, the team finished third with John Graham having his first outing in the event.   Again Roy Baillie produced an excellent run with the second fastest time on the short third stage, gaining three places in the process.   Other team members were Brown, MacDonald, Graham, Gilmour, Eddie and Willie Devlin and myself.   The National Cross-Country Championship, held on the club’s local course in Coatbridge resulted in a sixth place finish in the team race, Gilmour and MacDonald backed up by Roy Baillie in forty second, Eddie Devlin fifty eighth, Tommy Callaghan one hundred and seventh and Willie Marshall in one hundred and twenty first completing the team.   More on Willie later.

In 1975-’76, after finishing outside the prizes in the McAndrew season opener, where Jim Brown recorded the day’s fastest time, a second place in the District relay with myself and Eddie Devlin in the team along with John Graham and Ronnie MacDonald followed.   The club could only manage fourth in the National Relay despite fielding MacDonald, Baillie, Graham and Eddie Devlin, before again taking third place in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay, the only change from the previous year being Bert McKay replacing Willie Devlin.   For more information on Bert please refer to the profile elsewhere on the website.   For reasons unknown, none of the big names appeared in the National, only Roy Baillie (fifty second) and myself (sixty first) finishing in the first 100.

The 1976-’77 season was not the club’s best: fifth in the National Relay with Eddie Devlin, John Graham, Ian Moncur and myself, followed by fifth in the Edinburgh to Glasgow.   New names in the team that year were Neil Agnew, Moncur and Greg Paterson.   Neil and Greg had both come through the ranks with Monkland Harriers’ from junior boy level and were now competing with the seniors.   Neil was a dependable guy, with a good turn of pace, well used in 800m events.   Great things were expected of Greg in his first season as a junior, having finished fourth in the SCCU Youth championship the year before.   However a string of leg injuries in the following years prevented him from fulfilling his true potential.   Ian Moncur was a great friend of Jim Brown, having been a team mate all the way through school at Bellshill Academy, Bellshill YMCA and now Clyde Valley.   He did not appear to compete as regularly as most of us, possibly as he seemed to take up teaching posts in far away parts of the country, arriving at races from places as diverse as Tobermory on Mull and Forres in the North.   he eventually ended up running for Dundee Hawkhill Harriers with a marathon best of 2:22:09 – a more than useful runner!

Seventh in the team race at the West District championship seemed a disappointing result as Brown and Graham had finished first and second respectively.   Small (27th), Bert McKay (65th), Tommy Callaghan (84th) and Willie Marshall (106th) completed the team.   For the second year in a row, there was no real presence in the National cross-country, with again  only two in the top hundred, Ian Gilmour in thirteenth and myself in fifty fourth.   I can only put this down to injuries, illness, etc, as there would not appear to be any other reason for people not turning out in this event

CV 2

Brian McSloy finishing in the National

In 1977-’78, the first headline of the winter season was “Shock Defeat For Shettleston” as Clyde Valley took victory in the Lanarkshire Road Relay at Motherwell with Brown and Graham performing well.   The Allan Scally Relay was to follow, and another win recorded.   Brown and Graham were joined by Eddie Devlin and Brian McSloy.   McSloy in his first year taking on the senior athletes and was perhaps one of the most under-estimated road and cross-country competitors of the time.   His next outing for the club saw a first placing in the National Cross-Country Relay, joining Devlin, Brown and Ian Gilmour in the victorious squad.   In spite of this record in the early season relays, injury took its toll for the E-G where with no Gilmour or MacDonald, the club dropped two places on the previous year, finishing seventh with McSloy producing a good run on the opening leg to finish fifth, only eleven seconds behind stage winner, Frank Clement.   Another debutant n the race was Colin Farquharson, a product of the Motherwell section, from being an average competitor, hard training with the likes of John Graham and Jim Brown saw Colin improve immensely.   Once again, the National failed to produce a finishing team, despite all three who did start finishing in the top ten: Brown fourth, Gilmour sixth and Graham ninth.

The season 1978-’79 was again a mixed bag as far as results were concerned but further new names appeared in the senior ranks.   A fifth place finish in the opener at the McAndrew Relay with Jim Brown running the fastest time of the day promised much.   The next week, second in the Lanarkshire Road Relays with Brown again fastest and McSloy performing well on the second stage continued the good start.   The West District Cross-Country Relay saw the appearance of young Fraser Stuart for the first time, leading off for the team which finished third, the other three runners being Brown, McSloy and Neil Agnew.   For some inexplicable reason, the club failed to finish a team in the National Relay, they do not appear even to have started a team!    Even more mysterious considering the club won the Young Athletes relay, with a couple of names later to become much better known, Tom McKean and Peter Fox.   Next up was the E-G where a very unbalanced team, old and young, finished ninth: the usual starters Brown and Devlin, were augmented by juniors McSloy, Stuart and Paterson, ‘elder’ members Willie Marshall and Tom Callaghan together with myself completed the line-up.

The West District cross-country saw an excellent victory for Brian McSloy, finishing ahead of Graham Clark, Fraser Clyne and John Graham to name a few.   Finally the club finished a senior team in the national cross-country championship over a frozen course at Livingston, Jim Brown, Brian Gardner, myself, Neil Agnew, Willie Marshall and Tommy Callaghan ended up in seventh place.   Brian Gardner was one of the few runners to come through from the Airdrie section of the club.   Having comoeted well at youth and junior levels, he moved south of the border.   This was his first appearance in the senior race and a fourteenth place finish was a massive improvement on previous performances.   For reasons unknown, travel, distance (?), Brian never featured in the main relays to the detriment of the team, based on his national run.   He is possibly the only Clyde Valley man still competing.   In the 55+ age group now, he has produced outstanding results through all the various stages, including victories at National and European level.    The last event of the season saw the inaugural running of the National Six-Stage road relay at Strathclyde Park and a very strong team – Brown, McSloy, Gilmour, MacDonald and myself, finished in second place losing a large lead to an inspired Allister Hutton on the last leg.

CV 3

Joe Small, Ian Moncur and Neil Agnew at Cowal

In 1979 the traditional start to the season, the McAndrew Relay, saw a second place finish, almost a minute behind a good Shettleston Harriers team.   Next up, the Lanarkshire AAA Road Relay: the team of Neil Agnew, Brian McSloy, David Marshall and Colin Farquharson crossed the line in first place, well ahead of Cambuslang with Brian McSloy running the fastest lap of the day.   This was a notable performance as there were none of the big guns in the team.   The appearance of David Marshall continued a family tradition, with father Willie still competing regularly at a good level.   The West District relay saw no team finishing.   At the subsequent National Cross-Country Relay, the club won for the third time in six years with Jim Brown and Brian McSloy running the two fastest laps.   Aided by Eddie Devlin and Colin Farquharson they had 15 seconds to spare over local club Aberdeen AAC.   Brown was quoted as pointing out the “splendid support they received form the two unsung members of the team, Devlin and Farquharson.”   The E-G saw the club’s first succes in this major event .   Old stagers by now, Brown, Devlin and Graham had Brian McSloy, Neil Agnew, Colin Farquharson David Marshall, and a first appearance for a new name in the ranks, Peter Fox.   Peter was an excellent distance runner, having come through all the age groups from junior boy upwards.   He possibly never fully realised his potential in the senior ranks, due mainly to the rigours of medical studies followed by work as a doctor. whoch probably curtailed his training over the years.   With Graham, McSloy and Brown all running fastest stages the team ended up almost two minutes ahead of Edinburgh AC with Edinburgh Southern in third – a great day for the club.

At the West District cross-country, Brian McSloy retained his title from the previous year.   The club were third in the team race , to quote Ron Marshall in the ‘Glasgow Herald’, “a totally unrecognisable Clyde Valley.”   The unrecognisable runners were Peter Fox, David Marshall, Joe Small, John Lamara and Tommy Callaghan!   For the first time in a number of years, there was a strong turn out in the National cross-country resulting in the club finishing second in the team race picking up medals for the first time in the senior age group.   Packing well, McSloy 7th, Brown 8th, Graham 9th and MacDonald 11th with Ian Moncur forty second and Joe Small forty fifth saw the team come within 19 points of Edinburgh Southern.   The club had a hat-trick of seconds that day as the junior and youth teams also won silver in their respective events.   The end-of-season Six Stage Relay was once again run round the Strathclyde Park circuit.   In a repeat of the previous year, the team lost a large lead on the last stage, again to Allister Hutton, almost a case of déjà-vu!   Joe Small, Peter Fox, Colin Farquharson, John Graham, Jim Brown and Brian McSloy were the club’s representatives on the day.

This was arguably Clyde Valley’s best year ever, with wins in the LAAA Road Relay, National Cross-Country Relay and E-G, seconds in the National Cross-Coyntry and Six Stage Relay as well as third in the West District cross-country.

A terrific win in the 1980 McAndrew Relay started off the 1980’81 winter in good fashion; Colin Farquharson improving with every race finished an excellent second on the opening leg, Graham, MacDonald and Brown stretched out a lead of 25 seconds over ESH by the finish.   The next week saw Eddie Devlin replace John Graham at the Lanarkshire event, the result was the same though, victory comfortably ahead of Cambuslang.   The West District Relay proved disastrous, fielding only three runners the, so far, most successful team of the season failed to finish a team.     Then the next weekend saw almost a return to top form as the club set out to defend the National Cross-Coyntry Relay title in Inverness, coming very close to succeeding.   Devlin, Brown, Farquharson and MacDonald failing by four seconds to hold off Cambuslang Harriers.

However, come the E-G, the club did manage to retain a title.   Small, MacDonald, Agnew, Gilmour, Brown, Graham, Devlin and Peter Fox finished over a minute ahead of their rivals, Cambuslang.   The winning time of 3 hours 57 minutes 19 seconds being the slowest for a number of years.   This was the result of a very strong headwind for the whole distance and not a comment on the strength of the squad!   The club finished third in the National Cross-Country championship team race, Brown, Gilmour and McSloy in the top ten, Farquharson, Small, together with Andy Brown, now 48 years of age and having won the event in 1958, picking up a bronze medal    Having finished second in the two previous years, only a fifth place was achieved at the Six Stage Relay, Agnew, Small, Devlin, Farquharson, Fox and Brown failing to repeat earlier performances.

CV 4

Greg Patterson finishing the National

For 1981-’82, I don’t have any details of the McAndrew relay or the West District relay but the Lanarkshire Relay was again won comfortably in October with Cambuslang 200 yards behind in second.   The club’s most successful event over the years had been the National Cross-Country Relay, but this year saw a drop off as Devlin, MacDonald, Agnew and Fox could only finish in fifth place behind the winnes, Edinburgh Southern.   However a return to form saw a second place finish in the E-G, Ian Moncur leading off the usual names: Gilmour, Brown, unusually running the short third leg, MacDonald, McSloy, Graham, Devlin and Fox.   As a comparison, the time in second was over seven minutes faster than the previous year’s winning time.   Having checked out the West District winning time, Jim Brown finished second but there is no record of the team place.   However adding up the places of the six runners, the club should have picked up the bronze medals, bit of a mystery that one?   The National Cross Country at Irvine saw an improvement of one place on 1981, second team, again behind  Edinburgh Southern .    Ronnie MacDonald had an excellent run in fourth, with Jim Brown sixth, Brian Gardner with one of his infrequent runs north of the border thirty second, {Peter Fox thirty fourth, Andy Brown, now forty nine years old improving thirty eight places on last year’s run in fifty second, and Joe Small sixty seventh.   Excellent footage of this race can be seen in the video clips section of this website.

1982-’83 started with third in the McAndrew Relay with peter Fox running the third fastest time of the day and this was a good start to the season’s racing.   No details are available for the Lanarkshire race and the club did not feature in either the West District or the National relay, a sad state of affairs given the past years success in this particular race.

The decline continued with the club’s worst ever performance in the Edinburgh to Glasgow – twelfth place, a full ten places below the 1981 runners-up result, injuries taking their toll.   With no Graham, Gilmour, MacDonald or McSloy, there wasn’t sufficient strength in depth to sustain a challenge in an eight man relay.   Mainstays Brown, Devlin, Agnew, Moncur, Fox were joined by Bernie Kane, David and Willie Marshall – Willie being well into veteran status by this time.   This must be one of the few occasions when a father and son have competed in this race.   The run of poor results continued, at the District cross-country the club’s first finisher being Jimmy Geddes in 168th place!   The story continued at the National, Brian Gardner in sixty eighth being the first to cross the line with only Ian Moncur (79th) the only other finisher in the top 100.   Worse was to follow – the Six-Stage relay saw the club fail to even start a team.    The lowest point in Clyde Valley’s short history?

CV 5

Brian Gardner running for Scottish Vets.

By 1983-’84 the writing appeared to be on the wall for the club, the star names were in their late 20’s and early 30’s with the younger element not reaching the same high quality, however we weren’t dead yet!   The Edinburgh to Glasgow in 1983 produced an excellent third place.   The return of Ronni MacDonald, John Graham and Brian McSloy together with Brown, Devlin, Fox, Small and a first appearance from Steven Marshall produced something akin to earlier results.   Steven Marshall on the fifth leg was second fastest only four seconds slower than Evan Cameron and as a first year junior he showed great promise.   However the revival appeared to be short lived.   Come the National, Brian McSlow in forty seventh was the first Clyde Valley man to cross the line.   There was no team in the Six Stage Relay.   Thus ended another poor year!

1984-’85 turned out to be Clyde Valley’s last year of existence.   Internal divisions, which were never properly addressed over the lifetime of the club, saw the break-up of the five sections and a return of the individual clubs which had amalgamated ten years previously.   A final appearance in the E-G saw a worst finishing place of fourteenth, never recovering from Peter Fox’s twenty first position on the opening stage.   This, in spite of Brown, Graham, Devlin, Small, David and Stevie Marshall all running.   A ninth place team finish in the National was the last result for that race, for the record the six counters were Peter Fox, David Marshall, Joe Small, Bernie Kane, Eddie Devlin and Steven Reid.   Stevie Marshall was runner-up in the junior race running in the colours of Dundee University.   Fifteenth in the Six Stage Relay was the final winter outing again the team being David Marshall, Stevie Marshall, Neil Agnew, Eddie Devlin, Kevin Newberry and Joe Small.

CV 6

Peter Fox: Six Stage: 1986

To summarise the Clyde Valley story, the club had four top class athletes in Jim Brown, Ronnie MacDonald, John Graham and Ian Gilmour.   Together with the likes of Brian McSloy, Peter Fox, Brian Gardner at the next level, followed by good class club runners mentioned above, Eddie Devlin, Colin Farquharson, Ian Moncur, myself, David Marshall, Neil Agnew, etc, success was achieved at National and District events as well as the usual open races and relays.

One criticism that could be brought was the inability to field the absolute strongest possible team.   Due in part to injury, illness and runners having their own agendas and targets, the club never managed to win in my opinion the biggest prize – the National cross-country title – something which should have been within our grasp.   I’ve gone on long enough and would just finish by saying that this is by no means an in-depth history, purely a personal recollection of events based on memory and informantion available to me: the full story remains to be written!

Back to The Fast Pack