Dunbartonshire Amateur Athletic Association: 1946 – 51

The Dunbartonshire Amateur Athletic Association was constituted almost immediately after the War.   It was an interesting group of clubs which are worth a fairly close look.

  • By far the strongest club in the DAAA at the time was Garscube Harriers.   They would be third in the National Cross-Country in 1947/48 and fourth in 1948/49, third in the Midland Cross-Country in 1945/46, second (one place up on Maryhill H) in 1946/47 and  third in the Midland District Relays in 1947/48.    
  • The newest club in the group at the times was Vale of Leven AAC, a club which had been formed in 1945 and with the help of two well known Harriers from the  Bellahouston and Maryhill clubs had come to the fore very quickly producing runners like Walter Lennie and Willie Gallacher.   See the note below from the “Scots Athlete” of December 1946.

  • Clydesdale Harriers was Scotland’s first open athletics club with many honours to its name, a strong club membership and several very talented athletes.
  • Cumbernauld AAC was a club which would eventually switch to the Lanarkshire AAA because of its geographical location.   At the time in question, the County of Dunbarton was divided with what was called the “detached portion” of Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch, Lenzie and Kilsyth also being included despite being on the other side of Glasgow.   This led to county championships at times being held in Kirkintilloch.
  • Dumbarton AAC had been formed just after the First World War in 1919.   There had been several clubs in the town before the War – Boghead Harriers, Dumbarton YMCA and others – but afterwards there was only the new one.
  • Helensburgh AAC
  • Milngavie AAC

It was a fine mix and the biggest surprise right at the beginning was Vale of Leven winning the National Novice Championships on November 23rd, 1946.    It was not an easy win either, have a look at the team result.

Note the name of the fourth finisher for the team – Willie Gallagher, brother of the famous boxer Skeets Gallagher, and a runner about whom we will hear more later.    The formation of the DAAA was an idea whose time had come and the first step towards it was taken by the Secretary of the Vale of Leven, Willie Stevenson.   Other clubs were quick to get on board and the organisation took off.   

Dunbartonshire AAA Youths Championships was the first promotion by them and took place in March and it was noted in ‘The Scots Athlete’ as follows:

Have a look at these names.   JJ Duffy of Garscube Harriers who would win the National Novice title – see the photograph above, Robin Smith of the same club who would become an excellent runner, Alex McDougall of the Vale who would become one of the nation’s best marathon runners and compete in the 1956 Commonwealth Games at that event.   Less well known is Alex Hylan of Clydesdale Harriers who was a good runner but emigrated to Canada where he was in charge of the Canadian Junior Football team for some years.   

We know from the “Scots Athlete” fixtures list that there were DAAA Track and Field Championships on Thursday, 5th June, 1947 but no results could be found for it but it does tell us that the Association was never ‘just’ a cross-country grouping.   Later in the year, on 16th August, at the Milngavie Highland Games, there was an Inter-County relay race.    The race was won by the Dunbartonshire team of A Warton, A Cameron, DY Clark and R Sharp.   The strength of  Garscube Harriers was further indicated by the Hugh Hatrick winning the 880 yards and Alex Kidd the Mile. 

The Dunbartonshire AAA first ever AGM, was held on 26th September,1947, in Glasgow when the new committee was elected and arrangements for the upcoming year’s events were made.

The first race mentioned above – the cross-country relays – was held in Dumbarton on 29th November and won by Garscube Harriers team of Alex Kidd, Arthur Warton, D Murray and T Dailly in a time of 55 minutes 59 seconds with Vale of Leven second, half a mile further back.   Garscube B team was third.   Alex Kidd (Garscube) and H Cole (Vale of Leven) were fastest and second fastest with times of 14:13 and 14:53.

Alex Kidd (left) and Arthur Warton (both Garscube) in the McAndrew Relay.

The result of the championship races on 10th January are unfortunately not available but the clubs were running well as was shown by the result of the Midland District Championships where the winner was Bobby Boyd of Clydesdale Harriers with Walter Lennie from the Vale second.   The team race was won by Garscube Harriers with a team of A Kidd 4, A Warton 5, RJ Mulgrew 10, T McGinley 11, J Gunn 15, and D Murray 29.   They defeated the powerful Maryhill Harriers by 74 points to 110.    Clydesdale was fifth and Vale of Leven eighth.   

17th April 1948  saw the Balloch to Clydebank road race, started by Clydesdale Harriers before the War but now being organised and run under the auspices of the DAAA, was won by G White.  The brief report read:

George White had been a cyclist before taking up running.   Regarding himself as a track and cross-country runner he had to be specially persuaded to enter the Balloch 12 mile road race.   The County Track Championships were to be held at Mountblow Recreation Ground on 20th May.  

Like all such organisations, there was a constitution which was contained in an annual handbook with other details such as membership and championship winners.    The Dunbartonshire AAA Handbook for 1948/49 with all these details can be seen by clicking on the link.

Walter Lennie, Vale of Leven AAC

The cross-country relay championship of the county for 1948/49 was held on 16th October and was won by Vale of Leven who led all the way to win comfortably in 40:30.   Clydesdale Harriers were second 200 yards back with Garscube third another 200 yards back.   Walter Lennie of the Vale ran the fastest time of the day.   Result:  1.  Vale of Leven (F Lacey 12:54, A Campbell 12:40, W Gallacher 12:09, W Lennie 11:47);  2.  Clydesdale Harriers (W Andrew 13:06, D Scott 12:58,  G White 12:06, R Boyd 12:01);  3.  Garscube Harriers (D Murray 12:57, A Warton 12:44, A Kidd  12:04, R Smith 12:53).

In the Seven Mile Individual and Team Championships, Alex Kidd won comfortably to beat Boyd who was the reigning Midland District champion.   The Senior Race Results:

  1.   A Kidd (Garscube) 41:04;  2.  R Boyd (Clydesdale); 3.  G White (Clydesdale).   Team Race:  1.   Garscube (A Kidd 1, R Mulgrew 4, T McGinlay 5, D Murray 6);  2.  Clydesdale 22 pts;  3.  Vale of Leven 46 pts.   Three Miles Junior:  1.  F Robertson (Garscube) 16:16; 2. W McCallum (Clydesdale);  3.  R Steel (Vale of Leven).   Team race:  1.  Garscube (F Robertson, E Murray 4, M How 5)  10 pts.

Another interesting field with Garscube minus Arthur Warton still being good enough to win the team race as well as the Junior event where their second counter was Ewan Murray who would become one of Scotland’s most experienced officials and long-time secretary of the SAAA.   Later in the year – 30th April – the county road running championship from Balloch to Clydebank was won by Willie Gallacher of Vale of Leven in 70:03 from T McGinlay of Garscube 200 yards back and Alex Gold (Garscube) third.   

Willie Gallacher, Vale of Leven AAC

Into October and the third Saturday of the month was the appointed day for the County cross-country championship.   The report from the “Scots Athlete” reads:


The Track and Field Championships were held at Scotstoun on 24th May and again it was Garscube Harriers that made the headlines:

John Hume’s Victory in the 440 yards in the match against Ireland at Milngavie

The Milngavie Highland Games on 19th August again held an Inter-County Relay but this time the winners were a Glasgow Select.

The Scottish Marathon Club had been founded in 1944 – before the English Road Runners Club – and there were many members of Dunbarton clubs as members.   That maybe had some influence in the organising of a road race between Clydebank and Helensburgh.   To start with it was run from Helensburgh to Clydebank although it would became a classic event that was run annually in the opposite direction.   Lots of interesting names to look at – and note how far down the field was Emmet Farrell.

The next county promotion was the cross-country relay championship, held this year in the Vale of Leven with results printed in the “Scots Athlete”.    Four clubs took part with 9 teams in competition.   Three teams each from Garscube (winners) and Vale of Leven made up the first six.

The Inter Counties Cross-Country Championship would become a serious fixture but this one had four counties turning out teams – Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire. Stirlingshire and Renfrewshire  They met head-to-head at Stirling over 6 miles and Lanarkshire ran out winners     Dunbartonshire were second, Stirling third and Renfrew fourth.   Result:

Less than a month later the county championships took place from the Brock Baths Dumbarton and the four clubs which would form the base of the DAAA for years to come were all in evidence.   Garscube, the Vale, Clydesdale and Dumbarton would be the sole protagonists until the dissolution of the Glasgow AAA when Victoria Park, Maryhill Harriers and Glasgow University would be accepted into membership.   Numbers in membership at one point were approximately a dozen and included Stirling University.   However, the results of the championships in 1951:

Before that race however, the Dunbartonshire AAA had organised the Clydebank to Helensburgh on 1st January.   Despite: Chick  the date of 1st January for the race there was a goodly number of runners, and runners of high quality at that.   Just look at the number of International athletes out there: Chick Robertson, Jack Paterson, Emmet Farrell, Alex McLean.   Four top men head-to-head.   

There was no note of the DAAA Track & Field Championships for 1951 in any of the fixture lists published by “The Scots Athlete” (which does not mean that none were held) but the clubs continued to hold  their own (eg Vale of Leven AC) and support local sports meetings (eg Singers Sports in Clydebank were largely organised by Clydesdale Harriers members).  

When the new (1951/52) season started the cross-country relay championships took place on 20th October from the Garscube headquarters at Westerton and Clydesdale won from the home team by 9 seconds.   George White had the fastest time of the afternoon.   

The Seven Miles Individual and Team Championship was held on 5th January and won by Willie Gallagher of Vale of Leven from Alex Kidd of Garscube Harriers with JJ Duffy of Garscube third.   There was 100 yards between first and second and over 200 yards between Kidd and Duffy.   Garscube won the team race with 16 points, Vale was second with 28 and Clydesdale third with 51.   There was a Youths championship which was won by K Campbell of the Vale in 20:40 from club mate G Crawford with H Carson of Garscube third.   Vale of Leven won the team race with 7 points, Dumbarton and Garscube were second and third with 19 and 20 points.

January was a busy month for the County Association – The Clydebank to Helensburgh on 1st January, and the County Championships on  the fifth , then there was a team to select and get to the Inter-Counties which was held at Westerton on 12th of the month.  Not a good result for the DAAA – defeat by 113 points by Lanarkshire but at least there was a team out – where were Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and the rest?

On 16th August, 1952, the Milngavie Games were a great success with Invitation events included as well as the now-traditional Inter Counties Medley Relay.   The Dunbartonshire team won and was made up of J Hume, J Weir and , W McDonald and D McDonald – the first and third were from Clydesdale Harriers, second and fourth from Garscube.   Renfrewshire was second and Lanarkshire third.   The relay was run with a first leg of 880 yards followed by 2 of 220 yards and finishing with 440 yards.   With international runners on the two long stages of 880 and 440, it was always going to be a hard team to beat.   

The Association had now been in existence for six years – it had held championships on the track, on the road (in the Balloch – Clydebank) and over the country; it had promoted its own events such as the Clydebank to Helensburgh Road Race and entered teams in the inter county events on the track and over the country.   It had more than justified its existence.    Where would it go next?

Dunbartonshire AAA 1952 – 56        Dunbartonshire 1956/57 – 1959/60   Dunbartonshire AAA 1960 – 1966   Dunbartonshire AAA 1966 – 1970   .Dunbartonshire AAA 1970 – 1975

Some DAAA competitors in pictures

Dunbartonshire Constitution & Handbook   Dunbartonshire AAA Track & Field Championship Programme, 1973   .