Lanarkshire Amateur Athletic Association: ’49 – 80 A Recap

A Lanarkshire track competition at Coatbridge with Alaister Russell (Law & District) leading Alex Chalmers of Springburn with Scottish Junior international David Donnet (Springburn) and J McLuckie (Larkhall) also clearly seen.

The Lanarkshire Amateur Athletic Association was formed in 1949 by a purely local initiative for the good of athletics in the County.   We have now reached 1980 in our review and it seems appropriate to do a recap of progress made.   

  1.   It has organised athletic meetings with the annual county championships being the major one,
  2. It was so successful that the number of member  clubs grew until by 1980 there were Airdrie, Bellshill YMCA, Clyde Valley, East Kilbride, Larkhall YMCA, Law & District AAC, Motherwell YMCA, Shettleston Harriers, Springburn Harriers and Strathclyde University. 
  3. It has organised road relay championships in October and cross-country championships in December every year since then.   The championships were taken all round the county venues – Airdrie, Barrachnie, Bellshill, Carluke, Coatbridge, Larkhall, East Kilbride.
  4. It has organised road races and
  5. It has been responsible for selecting and organising the county team for the inter-counties championship.   
  6. It has also been responsible for encouraging the young athletic talent brought into the sport by the clubs and given them a first taste of competition outside the club
  7. It has also given its support to new athletes moving in to the area and competing for the clubs.   

The list below of athletes who have competed in the league between 1949 and 1980, the vast majority of whom have been brought up through the age groups and which is certainly impressive,  is almost certainly not comprehensive.

OLYMPIANS:  Paul Bannon (Shettleston)Frank Clement (Strathclyde University)Ian McCafferty (Law & District)Tom McKean (Bellshill YMCA), Lachie Stewart (Shettleston):  FIVE

COMMONWEALTH GAMES:  Lawrie Bryce (Strathclyde), Graham Everett (Shettleston), Doug Edmunds (Strathclyde University), Norman Foster (Shettleston), John Graham (Motherwell YMCA and Clyde Valley), John Linaker (Motherwell), Stewart McCallum (Shettleston), Joe McGhee (Shettleston), Norman Morrison (Shettleston), Eddie Stewart (Cambuslang), Dick Wedlock (Shettleston and Motherwell YMCA), Graham Williamson (Springburn). ELEVEN

GREAT BRITAIN and SCOTLAND:  Ben Bickerton (Shettleston), Alex Brown, Andy Brown (both Motherwell YMCA  and Law & District), Jim Brown (Monkland and Clyde Valley), Alistair Blamire (Shettleston), Mike Bradley (Springburn), Adrian Callan (Springburn), David Cairns (Springburn), Ian Cloudslie (Shettleston), GM Craig (Shettleston), David Donnet (Springburn), Gordon Eadie (Cambuslang), Stuart Easton (Shettleston), Jim Egan (Larkhall YMCA), Hugh Forgie ( Law & District  and Larkhall YMCA), Hugo Fox (Shettleston), D Frame (Law & District), A Gibson (Hamilton), Alex Gilmour (Larkhall YMCA), George Jarvie (Springburn), Jim Johnstone (Monkland  and  Law & District), John Kerr (Airdrie),  Eddie Knox (Springburn), Alastair Macfarlane (Springburn), Pat Maclagan (Strathclyde University), Ron McDonald (Monkland and Clyde Valley), Bert McKay (Motherwell YMCA), John McLaren (Shotts Miners Welfare), David McShane (Cambuslang), Brian McSloy (Clyde Valley), Pat McParlane (Springburn),  David Marshall (Motherwell and Clyde Valley), Steven Marshall (Clyde Valley), Duncan Middleton (Springburn), Nat Muir (Shettleston), John Myatt (Strathclyde University and Law & District), Tom O’Reilly (Springburn), Alan Partridge (East Kilbride), Alaister Russell (Law  District) David Simpson (Motherwell YMCA and Law & District), Eddie Sinclair (Springburn), Tommy Tracey (Springburn), Jim Thomson (Law & District),  Iain Young (Springburn):  FORTY FOUR.

Eddie Sinclair winning the Youth Ballot Team Race in Clydebank

Of course for the athletes to develop there needs to be coaches and there are at least four who ran themselves in the Lanarkshire championships and are pictured on this page: 

  •  Eddie Sinclair of Springburn had a very good career as an athlete with international vests and track championships before becoming the coach at Springburn responsible for all their young athletes teams as well as many top class individuals such as Adrian Callan, Graham Williamson, Iain Young and many more;
  • Tommy Callaghan at Monkland and then Clyde Valley who also ran well in all the major Scottish championships and events (such as the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay) before coaching many talented athletes, notably Jim Brown and Ron McDonald;
  • Tommy Boyle was a member of Bellshill YMCA who went on to coach many of the very best Scottish athlete Tom McKean, who also ran in the Lanarkshire promotions as a Boy and Youth athlete, and many more;
  • And Alex Naylor of Shettleston, the Big Daddy of Scottish endurance running coaches who coached Nat Muir and many, many many more.  Not many people realise that Alex was a runner himself – he ran in championship races as well as open road races such as the Clydebank to Helensburgh 16 miles;
  • There are many others who gave sterling service for years, like Bob Anderson at Cambuslang.   There are others like Alex Perrie at Larkhall YMCA who was a BAAB Senior Coach,helped many athletes perform to their best, eg Hugh Forgie, although he himself never ran in the League.

Tom Callaghan as a young athlete

Without the Association’s unremitting work, 12 months a year, the valuable experience of those taking part in the races would have been harder to obtain. Without the races

  • the coaches would have missed a very useful stepping-stone competition for young athletes and
  • athletes using them as part of a rehab programme would also have been deprived.   
  • The medals won always provide feedback to athletes of all ages and a measure of their progress but
  • for those who do not win medals, The Association provided the Standard Certificates for notable performances in County events.  

The Lanarkshire athletes have a lot to thank the officials for.   These officials of course had almost all been runners themselves, they were now the ones who stood at the side of the finish line be it track or country, who took the entries, issued the numbers and laid the course for the races.   

These officials were also happy that so many top class athletes, so many good class club standard athletes and so many individuals supported their efforts by turning out in the races, so making their work worth while.

Alex Naylor taking the baton at Cleland Estate

The Association had indeed been well served by its committee members who all filled multiple roles – they were administrators, they were officials, they were starters/timekeepers/judges/stewards who were out in all weathers, and often enough they were runners as well.   They did not do it for any financial gain, they paid their own expenses and bought their own equipment.   They did not spend time raising big money to put on sporting spectaculars – they did it to promote the sport in their area and right well did they do it.   

Tommy Boyle   doing what he does best

… and looking ahead to a Lanarkshire championship in the early 1980’s 

Sam Wallace (36) … and look at the officials: Bob Peel, Harry Quinn, Alex Naylor, Brian Goodwin, Des Yuill … and look at the running action of number 16.