The Haskett Family in the 1930’s ….

George Haskett is third from the left in the back row

The above picture is of a group of Dundee Hawkhill runners in the 1930’s, almost certainly taken at a sports meeting, some of them wearing their Sunday best, some wearing a jacket over a running vest and one showing his running gear.  Unfortunately the emblem in the middle is not clear – but it was a picture of a Hawk.   Quite different to the current club vest.   At the turn of the century there had been no fewer than 12 harrier clubs in Dundee but by the 1930s the two big clubs were Dundee Hawkhill Harriers and Dundee Thistle Harriers which had been founded in the same year.   The Haskett family was always affiliated to the Hawks though.   The family members were all very active – George in particular was a member of the Dundee Thistle Cycling Club winning trials and handicaps and became its secretary at the AGM in 1937.   The Cycling Club had started up in 1929 at a time when the great Clarion Cycling Club, established in 1895, had seen the sport of cycling grow to the point where the Scottish cycling clubs formed a loose association named the Scottish Amateur Racing Association (SARA).   The family were also active in the Boys Brigade movement and all four boys were members of the Dundee 3rd (YMCA) Company and it is in connection with this organisation that they first appeared in the local papers in the 1920’s.

The running and the BB came together in fact in July 1928 when at the annual camp in Monikie, George was second in the 220 yards race at their sports day.  Athletically the Harriers did not take part in the National Cross-Country for most of the 1930’s which was probably due to the fact that they were held mainly in the West of the Central Belt at Hamilton Park Race Course for many years and transport would have been a problem.   Indeed it was a time when almost all men worked on a Saturday morning as a matter of course.   Travelling down, even in a private hire bus after a morning’s work would have been difficult.   The Boys Brigade was still active however and in 1930 on 6th June at the BB Battalion Sports at Dens Park, the finals of all the athletic events were held and J Haskett with L Fairweather was third in the three legged race.   The next Haskett to appear in the Courier as a member of the Brigade was 14 year old L/Cpl Charles Haskett who, in June 1931 was awarded his three years service anchor and a Discharge Certificate    

Then on 12th January 1932 there was the annual Harriers  v  Cyclists Race with a big entry of 19 harriers and 25 cyclists.   There were two laps, one of three and a half miles, one of two and a half, and both included stretches of ploughed fields.   Teams were selected by ballot and consisted of 2 runners and 3 cyclists.   The winning team was C Moncur (cyclist), J Haskett (harrier), R Colville (cyclist), A Imrie (harrier) and W Sloggie (cyclist).   The following winter, 1932-33, saw the Hawkhill Harriers win the East District Championships.   

Into the summer of 1933 and the Hawks ‘carried through a sports meeting’ at Caird Park on 5th June in which the Hasketts had an interest.   George won the 880 yards race and the future Mrs George Haskett, Janet Fransen, running from scratch, was second in the Ladies 100 yards; she also finished the meeting as part of the winning mixed Medley Relay team (2 men and 2 women.)    Two weeks later at the Midmill Sports, George Haskett was second in the half mile and the very next day, 20th July, another of the four boys, James this time, was second in the half mile at the annual Broughty Carnival.   George was the most successful in terms of results at this point.  He ran for the Hawks and was reserve for Dundee selects in contests such as the Carrie Cup inter-city cross-country match against Aberdeen.   Hawkhill were all running well at this time and it was difficult to get into their teams – George had been reserve for the East District Championships the previous winter and was again in 1934.   However when the club road championship was held on 19th March 1934 he was third behind Charles Smith and George Rudd.   Times showed that he was less than a minute behind the winner – 26:06 for first, 26:58 second and 27:05 for third.   

Chick’s silver East District Team Medal

The club’s annual prize giving was held on 3rd May, 1934 with the Ladies Track Champion being Miss J Fransen and no fewer than three awards going George’s way: winner of the 6 mile handicap, second in the Novice Championship and third in the Road Championship.   The track championships started on 20th June with three Mile races and the Senior Mile was won by George who at that point was fourth overall in the championships.   Came July and the BB Camp was held at Monikie and Lance Corporal J Haskett was noted as a member of the cricket team and as finishing third in the 80 yards race.   That winter the club had a runner in the National for the first time that decade – young George Keiller was third in the Youths, which was won by George Craig of Shettleston.   Keiller was an interesting runner – only one year younger than the second of the brothers, Chick, he would be one of his rivals within the club for several years.    Chick’s moment came on 30th December when he won the club’s New Year Race.   An interesting feature of this one was that the handicapper had both Chick and George down to run from the same mark of 2  min 45 sec!   There was an annual track and field match between the Dundee clubs and St Andrews University and on 17 May 1935 it was George who represented the City in the Mile.

In January 1936 Telegraph preview of championships tipped Charles and John Suttie Smith for first and second with Chick Haskett a possible for third place but in the event it was the three Smiths (C, Js and G) who filled the first three places of the 20 runners with Chick in fourth.   Charles was often called Chick but, although the two local papers of the time always referred to him as Charlie, we’ll stick with Chick.   Both brothers represented the club that winter but when the East District Championships came around in February, Chick was in the team but the paper noted that George would not be running as he couldn’t get the time off work.   This was fairly common in the mid 30’s and there was a report of another runner who had good news: he had a job but unfortunately for the club it was of the Saturday kind and he was unavailable for club teams.   George was usually available but on this occasion they had to do without him.   In the championship proper the club was third team with Charlie 21st finisher.     Then came the bad news – on 26th February the club championship preview mentioned that there would be no J Suttie Smith (injured) or C Haskett: “Haskett has been in the hands of the dentist the past fortnight and will be out of action for some time.”  

It was George’s turn to uphold the family honour, and he was fourth in the club Five Mile Championship at Invergowrie as a runner.   Roll the calendar on to April and George won the first handicap in the Dundee Thistle CC road trial as a cyclist.

The annual match with St Andrews University was held in May and, because of the illness of his mother, neither J Suttie Smith nor his brother were available for the team.  So the younger members were enlisted to fill the gap – “Keiller is only 17 years of age, and Haskett is but a year his senior but both have proved their ability in cross-country circles.”    Keiller was selected for the three miles while Chick was picked for both the Mile and Three Miles races.   Chick was placed third in the Three Miles, ahead of Keiller, who was unplaced in the Mile.   

The following month was a fairly active one for the club with another annual meeting – versus the Boys Brigade this time – and Chick represented the Hawks and finished third in the 880 yards.   Not only did he compete on the track, when called on he did other events and on 19th June in the Club Championships he was third in the Novice High Jump with a clearance of 4′ 3″.   When it came to the Novice half mile however “C Haskett had an easy win.”   In the Mile he was third behind C Smith and Keiller.  The events were a week apart.   Then came another interesting event.

On 23rd July 1936  Arbroath FC Supporters Committee Sports were held at Gayfield  before a crowd of 5000.   The Courier contained this short paragraph: 

And further down the column both results were given.   Chrissie won the half-mile off 30 yards in 2:38.4 from Miss N Fransen (off 50 yards), and AMD won the open one mile handicap off 80 yards from C Haskett who ran from the 160 yards mark in 4:28.2 .   The interesting thing for us here is that Charlie would later marry Chrissie Donnet and his brother George would marry Janet ‘Nettie’ Fransen.    AM Donnet, noted here as a Hawkhill runner was actually a Dundee Thistle runner.    Later in the season, in August, Chick Haskett turned out for the Hawks in Aberdeen at King’s College grounds against Aberdeenshire Harriers, Aberdeen YMCA, Aberdeen University and Gordonians.

While Chick was running so well, George was still a racing member of the Thistle CC and at their Presentation at the end of October, 1936 in front of 300 club members, he was presented with first prize as the Club All-Rounder of the year, the first handicap for the Open ’50’ and second handicap in the Open ’25’.

The team was running well and in 1935 had been second in the East District cross-country championship; in 1936-37  they went one better and won the championship.  The National Cross-Country Championship was held on 5th March at Hamilton and there the team finished ninth.  The Evening Telegraph report is below.

There was no Dundee Thistle team out on the day but brother-in-law Donnet finished ninth.   There was another wedding however and the club made the headlines in the Courier on 10th August.

The winter of 1937-38 started with the sad news conveyed by the Courier on 19th Nov 1937 that “Charlie Haskett has not yet commenced training and therefore drops out of the Hawks team.”  Less than a  month later, on 10th December 1937, George was elected Secretary of the Dundee Thistle CC but this was followed in the Evening Telegraph round up of the various sports clubs on 31st December where they said that “Ernie Kay, Charlie Haskett and Dave Stibbles are not now running”    

That he was back in action by February was indicated, when the reports in both papers had a look ahead to the East District Championships, which had been won by the Hawks the previous year.   This meant that it would be a seriously weakened squad that contested the event since all of the previous year’s team were now ineligible.   Chick and Dave Taylor were not able to run as they had missed the event last year.    In the event they lost the title but were third with Chick finishing 18th.   After the District came the National and there the team finished sixth.   The Telegraph commented on the club’s ‘many misfortunes both before and during the race.   Charlie Smith had a bad day finishing 17th, his worst yet.   Shoe trouble forced John McIntyre to retire, while George Rennie just couldn’t get going and finished over the 100 mark.    Keiller (35), Haskett (43)  and Bradley (44) were the Hawks who excelled themselves.’   

The headline and a major part of the article was devoted to the non-selection for the International team of Alex Donnet who had finished ninth.  The team selected had included 38 year old RR Sutherland of Birchfield.   It had been Donnet’s third senior national and his progression had been 18th in his first run, 11th in his second and now ninth.   His time had come though because he was first reserve for the team and when there was a call off, he was drafted into the Scottish squad and finished 47th in the event which was held at the Balmoral Showground in Belfast.   


At the end of March the club held its annual 5 miles road race which was won by J Suttie Smith but there was a new trophy for the Junior Champion and that was won by Chick Haskett.   The first three finishers were Suttie Smith, then Haskett with G Keiller in third.   The new trophy – seen above being presented to Chick by Mr PD Henderson – was called the Canada Cup and had been donated by Mr Henderson.      

The cross-country season was well and truly over by then and the first track event was an inter-club match at Dundee on 30th May.   It was the annual match between the Dundee clubs and St Andrews University which became a quadrangular meeting when the Dundee City Police had a team forward.   St Andrews won the competition comfortably.   Chick was selected for the Mile and the Three Miles.   Unplaced in the former, he was third behind Ewan and Gowans of Thistle in the latter.   He was also listed as part of the possibles for the medley relay.   There were other inter-clubs of course and at the start of June the match between  Hawkhill, Thistle, Robert Gordon’s and the RAF took place at Montrose Aerodrome.    Chick was third in the 3 miles behind Alex Donnet and A Hay of Thistle,  Donnet also won the half mile in 2:12.2.   The result of the 3 miles team race was a win for Thistle while Chick led the Hawkhill team into second place.   

The first appearance in the sports pages for George after his marriage was on 28th July when he was the starter at the 3rd BB (YMCA) Company’s sports at their annual camp in Monikie.   

The cross-country season came along and the newspapers previewed the teams for the East District relay: Chick was only a reserve for the Hawkhill team although Alex Donnet was a sure starter for the Thistle.   He was picked though for the Dundee v Aberdeen match but had to withdraw through injury.   The National Cross-Country Championship was held on 4th March 1939 at Lanark Racecourse but there were few Dundonians on the starting line.   There was no team entered but George Rennie was 18th and George Keiller was 135th.   Dundee Thistle were 5th team with Alex Donnet again placed ninth.    The season finished as had the previous one with the Hawks 5 miles road championship.   GL Strain won the Canada Cup for the first Junior – Chick Haskett who had won the first race for the cup, did not run.

There were articles in both local pagers in the middle of May saying that the season would start the next week.   There were two new trophies to be won for the Hawks championships.    Mr JD Poustie (referred to as the fastest sprinter ever to run for the club) donated one for the club novice championship, the other was presented by Mr WR Rennie, father of George Rennie, for the junior cross-country, and was to be called the Melbourne Cup.  

The Courier also noted that Hawkhill had permission to run a medley relay at the match between the Harp and the Violet  East End Park.   It was not the first time for them – and they had run medley relays at half time at other grounds – the intention being to hold a collection for the club funds at half time.   Chick Haskett was to run the 880 leg for the A team.   This was followed a week later by a similar event at North End Park to raise money for the Infirmary’s funds.   Chick ran for the ‘Royal Blue and White’ team against the ‘Whites’ and the ‘Dark Blues’.   In both cases he was probably running the 880 yards stage. 

Chick was running well but, like many others, he found his running career interrupted by the War which started in September 1939.    Running – cross-country, road and track went on but there were no championships at all: some races were called championships but they were not recognised as such officially.