The official ‘News of the World’ picture of the Maryhill E-G winning team in 1939
Back Row: Bob Bell, Donald Robertson, unknown, Gordon Porteous, Mr Murdoch (Club President), Andy Coogan, Peter Hanlon and AH Blair
Front: Bobby McPherson, Emmet Farrell, Willie Nelson and Archie Peters.
Not all names were known but most of those were identified from Andy Coogan’s autobiography, referred to below.
That the Second World War disrupted athletics and the sporting careers of many fine athletes in many countries and sports is generally accepted: but the fact that it created an artificial stop/start point for historians is perhaps neglected. For instance, the starting point for this website is generally 1945 although in several cases where athletes or clubs had successes that straddled the war. In the case of Maryhill Harriers, to start celebrating the success of a particular generation of runners in 1945 is to miss the rich vein of success that ran from the end of the Twenties right through to the early 50’s and the careers of men such as Donald Macnab Robertson, John Emmet Farrell and Dunky Wright must be looked at across the divide. These men have all been profiled elsewhere on this website but they were only the very tip of the club in which they needed many other good men to have the success they achieved at club level. If we look at the Edinburgh to Glasgow Road Race and start just before the War, in 1937, we get a able like this (bold indicates fastest time on stage).
|Year||Stage 1||Stage 2||Stage 3||Stage 4||Stage 5||Stage 6||Stage 7||Stage 8||Comments|
|1937||L Tongue 4th||DM Robertson 4th||AH Blair 4th||R Osborne 4th||G Porteous 4th||D McLean 3rd||R McPherosn 2nd||W Nelson 2nd||Third fastest on two and five|
|1938||A Coogan 6th||R McPherson 3rd||P Randolph 2nd||AH Blair 1st||D McLean 2nd||JE Farrell 1st||G Porteous 1st||W Nelson 2nd||2nd fastest on two, three, five, eight|
|1939||A Coogan 1st||R McPherson 1st||W Nelson 1st||AH Blair 1st||DM Robertson 1st||JE Farrell 1st||AT Peters 1st||G Porteous 1st||second fastest on seven, third fastest on four|
|1949 Apr||G Porteous 6th||TK Wilson 8th||T Harrison 5th||R Brymner 5th||S Wright 5th||J Hoskins 5th||J Wilkie 5th||J McBride 5th|
|1949 Nov||J Wright 4th||G Porteous 11th||G Anderson 11th||TK Wilson 10th||J Brymner 10th||JE Farrell 8th||R McDonald 8th||R Brymner 8th||Fourth fastest on Stages 6 and 8|
|1950||HB Morrison 17th||JK Wilson 15th||T Harrison 15th||G Porteous 12th||R McDonald 10th||JE Farrell 8th||J Wilkie 9th||R Brymner 8th|
Looking at the National Cross Country Championships for roughly the same period and only looking at the first six (scoring) runners we get this table.
|Year||1st Scorer||2nd Scorer||3rd Scorer||4th Scorer||5th Scorer||6th Scorer||Comments|
|1936||JE Farrell 5||W Nelson||D McLean 18||DM Robertson 26||D McPherson 35||D McL Wright 45||2nd Team|
|1937||JE Farrell 2||R McPherson 11||DM Robertson 13||D McLean 31||AH Blair 33||W Nelson 35||2nd Team|
|1938||JE Farrell 1||R McPherson 12||W Nelson 15||G Porteous 18||AH Blair 25||D McLean 28||1st Team|
|1939||JE Farrell 2||R McPherson 5||DM Robertson 15||G Porteous 18||AH Blair 32||AT Peters 42||2nd Team|
|1947||JE Farrell 3||G Porteous 6||J Bissell 21||J Wilkie 23||A Stevenson 31||H Scholes 36||3rd Team|
|1948||JE Farrell 1||R Mathieson 18||G Porteous 29||J Wilkie 34||H Scholes 36||HB Morrison 40||4th team: 8 points behind third.|
If it is clear that they preferred the country – and Emmet Farrell was quite clear that he did – they were no slouches on the road either. If we speak of a fast pack, then the runners above did constitute such a one.
Some of the men’s records:
AH Blair: 1 gold and 2 silvers in the E-G and 1 gold and 2 silvers in the National
D McLean: 2 silvers in the E-G and 1 gold and 2 silvers in the National
R McPherson: 1 gold and 2 silvers in the E-G and 1 gold and 3 silvers in the National
W Nelson: 1 gold and 2 silvers in the E-G and 1 gold and 3 silvers in the National
Gordon Porteous 1 gold and two team silvers in the E-G and 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze from the National
These are in addition to the many medals won by Emmet Farrell, Dunky Wright and Donald Robertson who are the subjects of separate profiles. Six different men ran fastest times on their stages of the E-G at one time or another. Andy Coogan has not been mentioned here but he was a really good runner and his autobiography “Tomorrow You Die” tells of his time with Maryhill Harriers and love of the sport as well as his time in Japanese hands during the War. Well worth a read – buy it, the money will be well spent, if you can’t buy it, get your Library to buy it and let others get the benefit. Gordon Porteous has written a short history of the club, with the help of Robert Stevenson, and you can read it here ..