The winter season traditionally started with the Victoria Park AAC promotion, the McAndrew Relay. It was the one where you could see who had not been running all summer – they were the ones with white legs. No lightweight tracksters or leggings for the men at that time. The McAndrew was followed the following week by the County Relays – 4 stages of anything between two and a half and three miles. Then there were the District Relays and later on the National Relays would be added to make a natural progression – several teams per club for the McAndrew to help select the teams for the county championships, with another step up to the District Championships and so on. And all the while trying to get the runners ready for the eight stage Edinburgh to Glasgow in November. The Renfrewshire Relays were like the other counties held on the second Saturday in October and the list of past winners was dominated by Bellahouston Harriers and included both Greenock clubs, Paisley Harriers and Strathclyde University.
In 1970 another club was added to the list of victors. The ‘Glasgow Herald’ tells us “Glasgow Police win the Renfrewshire senior 10-mile relay title at Bellahouston Park by 80 yards from Wellpark Harriers in 55 min. 23 sec. Bellahouston Harriers, the holders, who were without Mike McLean, were unplaced. Results:-
1. Glasgow Police (J McMillan 14:06, N Scott 16:15, D Lang 13:40, S Irvine 13:22) 55:23; 2. Wellpark Harriers (C Spence 13:58, J Stevenson 13:46, W Stoddart 13:45, M Pollard 14:08) 55:37; 3. Glenpark 56:26. Fastest Times: 1. B Goodwin (Bellahouston) 13:02; 2. S Irvine (Glasgow Police) 13:22.
Youths five-mile relay: 1. Glenpark Harriers 23:04; Fastest Lap: L Spence 6:56. Senior Boys four-mile relay: Johnstone High School19:18. Fastest Lap: R Foy 6:03. Junior Boys four miles: Glenpark Harriers 21:41. Fastest lap: L Robb 6:40.
It is interesting to note that the reason given for Bellahouston being unplaced in a race held on their own turf, was the absence of their star half-miler. In the 21st century it would not, nine times out of ten, be a surprise for a half-miler to miss any cross-country event with the distance being seen almost as a sprint. When it came to the Midland District District Relays however, the Police team with the same four runners finished tenth out of the 40 finishing clubs with Bellahouston, including Mike McLean, seventh
In the Championships for 1970/71 just two months later Bellahouston had a much stronger team forward but nevertheless won neither individual or team honours at senior man level. They were in fact lucky to be second and not third because there was only one point in it. Results:-
Willie Stoddart (Wellpark Harriers, the former Scottish marathon champion, easily won the Renfrewshire six-mile title in 37 min. 25 sec.
Senior Race: 1. W Stoddart (Wellpark) 37:25; 2. S Irvine (Glasgow Police) 38:15; 3. J McMillan (Glasgow Police 38:23. Team race: 1. Glasgow Police 82 pts; 2. Bellahouston H 92 pts; 3. Wellpark 93 pts.
Youths three-miles: 1. L Spence (Glenpark) 19:19. Team race: Bellahouston 14. Senior Boys: A Hendry (Glenpark), Team race: Bellahouston; Junior Boys: 1. I Robb (Johnstone HS) 7:40; Team race: Paisley 12.
Eddie Stewart as a Senior Man running in the Edinburgh to Glasgow
The 1971/72 relay championship featured the first appearance in the Senior Championship of Lawrie Spence who was a first year junior. He acquitted himself well having joint fastest time with Brian Goodwin and seven seconds faster than Bill Stoddart. “Glenpark Harriers, Greenock, won the Renfrewshire relay title on Saturday. Bellahouston were second, and the holders, Glasgow Police,, third, more than two minutes behind the winners time of 55 minutes. L Spence (Glenpark) and B Goodwin (Bellahouston) both equalled the best individual time for the two and a half mile leg of 13:28. W Stoddart, the former marathon champion, came third in 13:35. Glenpark also won the junior three by one and a half miles race in 18 min 52 sec, and P McCarney (Glenpark) proved the best individual performer with a time of 5:49. Eastwood Secondary School took the Senior Boys three by one and a half miles relay in 20 min 14 sec., and E Stewart of the same school registered the best time of 6:31.”
There was another first appearance in the race – Eastwood Secondary had never won a trophy in the race before, more evidence of the successful spread of the sport in Renfrewshire, and the fastest time of young Eddie Stewart. Eddie of course would go on to run for Weat of Scotland Harriers and then for Cambuslang Harriers winning Scottish honours on the road and over the country. The school would go on from this first team and individual medal to even more success in the RAAA Championships in December 1971 as the report on the event shows.
RENFREWSHIRE TITLE FOR STODDART
Willie Stoddart (Wellpark Harriers), aged 40, won the Renfrewshire cross-country championships at Larkfield, Greenock, beating the second placed runner, Lawrie Spence (Glenpark Harriers), by about 120 yards. Glenpark took the team title. Results:-
Senior Six Miles: 1. W Stoddart (Wellpark) 33 min 22 sec; 2. RL Spence (Glenpark ) 33:41; 3. R Hodelet (Glenpark) 34:17. Team race: 1. Glenpark (2, 3, A Law 4, T Dobbin 7, J Smith 14, R Hyett 20) 50 pts; 2. Wellpark 67; 3. Glasgow Police 94.
Youths Three Miles: 1. D Gormley (Glenpark) 16:26. 2. I Porteous (Eastwood High School) 16:36. Team: 1. Glenpark (1, 5, 10) 16 pts; 2. Eastwood HS 18; 3. Bellahouston 21. Senior Boys two miles: 1. H Cox (Glenpark) 11:54. Team race: 1. Eastwood High School (2, 4, 6) 12 pts; 2. Paisley Harriers 32; 3. Glenpark 34. Junior Boys one and a half miles: 1. P McCarney (Glenpark) 8:19. Team Race: 1. Glenpark (1, 6, 7) 14; 2. Bellahouston 16; 3. Paisley Harriers 23.”
Glenpark took three team titles out of four (third in the other race) and three individual titles (second and third in the remaining race). A very good day for the club and the appearance of young Hammy Cox as a Senior Boy – son of Berties and another who would win Scottish honours. Glenpark had several family ties among their members – look at the second placer in the Senior race for evidence of that. Hammy (2039) seen below as a Senior racing Alex Gilmour and Graham Crawford (17).
Time for the 1972/73 cross-country relays and this is where it gets difficult. The Renfrewshire Association is organising the event, the clubs are supporting it but the relevant copies of newspaper coverage are missing from the archive.
A similar story in the winter 1973/74 season with the bulk of the space on the Monday athletics area going to a discussion on why Lawrie Bryce was not going to be selected for the Commonwealth Games in 1974 which left only enough space to cover the Lanarkshire AAA road relays. Came the county championships in December and only the Lanarkshire championships were covered in any detail with a brief mention of the Dunbartonshire championships – no Renfrewshire or Ayrshire.
Season 1974/75 through to 1977/78 results were supplied by Colin Youngson from Athletics Weekly and they are presented below.
The individual and team championships were held at Linwood on 30th November and the title went to Cameron Spence. The County associations all had somewhere in their constitution the remit to develop the sport in their area and one of the signs that the Renfrewshire AAA were doing so was the development of new clubs prepared to take part in the championships, note the appearance again of Eastwood in the event along with the Spango Valley outfit. It is an interesting report, noting as it does the fact that Cammie Spence’s brother Lawrie won the Lanarkshire title on the very same day. The team race went once again to Bellahouston Harriers who won from Glasgow Police and Paisley Harriers.
Cammie Spence running in the 6 Stage relay in the colours of Spango Valley AAC
1975 saw a second title win for Cammie but this time from team mate Graham Clark by a mere 22 seconds although the team race title was taken from Bellahouston by Paisley with Greenock Wellpark in third. Teams making a rare appearance in the prize winners category this year was West of Scotland (2nd in the Youths race) . Among the young’uns coming through were Peter Fleming of Bellahouston and Willie Toole of Paisley.
The 1976 championships report from the A.W. is reproduced in its entire page setting because there are other news stories of interest to an endurance running population. For instance the obituary of Pat Spence after her tragic death is there as is the result of the SCCU National Relay Championship. Note in the RAAA Championships the three Youths from Bellahouston who would be sub 2:20 marathon runners (Fleming, Daly and Getty), the Junior Boy R Hawkins from Kilbarchan who would become Scottish marathon coach and father of Derek and Calum; and Olympic 1500m runner Frank Clement from Bellahouston winning the Senior title from previous winner Cammie Spence. Note that Eddie Stewart, formerly of Eastwood HS, running for West of Scotland Harriers, on the way up while previous winners Bill Stoddart of Wellpark and Dick Hodelet of Glenpark were further down.
The Renfrewshire Road Race Championship was always well contested and 1977 was no different from any other year. The report below from Athletics Weekly was supplied by Graham Getty who appears in the Youths race result:
The Renfrewshire Relays were held on 8th October, 1977, but the result was subsumed in a larger report and, like Dunbartonshire, they were below the Lanarkshire Relays in the Herald and only the minimum was included.
If you have been paying atention to the results of age group races so far, you will have noticed Hammy Cox working his way through from the Boys age group to this year when he not only won the Longbar Cross-Country race but had the fastest time in the Renfrewshire Relay Championships. His team, Spango Valley won from Bellahouston with a team consisting of himself, Cammie Spence, Graham Clark and Martin Coyle.
Graham Getty was on hand again to provide the results of the RAAA Cross-Country Championships on 2nd December, 1978 – again the whole page will be shown since the other results are of interest; in this context of County Associations, the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire results are also here and the quality in the three events is very high indeed.
The Road Championships went on of course earlier in the year and the numbers and standard remained high.