Shettleston Harriers

B Carty

 Brian Carty in the Six Stage Relay, 1986

Between 1949 and 1961 Shettleston Harriers won five team golds, six team silvers and one team bronze, and then between 1968 and 1978 they won five team golds, one team silver and two team bronzes in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay.   We have already looked at many of the top men in the club on other pages of this website – Graham Everett, Joe McGhee, Eddie Bannon, Paul Bannon, Lachie Stewart, Norman Morrison, Lawrie Spence, Alistair Blamire, Nat Muir and Dick Wedlock among others.   It is time to look at others of the club’s fast pack that made these triumphs happen.   The profiles on this page will be brief and are meant to indicate the quality of athlete who was vital to the club triumphs in which the stars had all the limelight.   Many names have been virtually forgotten and some are more easily recollected but I’m going to start with one of the former – Ben Bickerton.   Many of us remember seeing the credit below pictures in the ‘Scots Athlete’ which read  Photo by Ben Bickerton.    But there was more to him than that.

Ben Bickerton ran for Shettleston between 1943 when he joined the club and 1952 when he stopped running.   He returned as a veteran in the 1970’s and won more titles but we will come to that.   Joining the club in 1943, he won the unofficial Scottish Youth’s Cross Country Championship in 1944 before going on National Service to Aldershot with the Royal Artillery.   While there he won the Southern Command Mile Championship and then came second in the British Army Mile championships.   He came out of the Army and in 1949 won the SAAA Two Miles Steeplechase Championship and a year later won the SAAA Six Miles title.      He ran in five Edinburgh to Glasgow Relays and came away with two gold and three silvers – not bad.   The two golds were in 1949 when he ran the fourth stage in the April race and in November he had the fastest stage time on the seventh leg.   In 1951, ’52 and ’53 he covered the seventh, first and eighth legs in teams that finished second.   He ran in the London to Brighton 12 man relay twice – on the first stage in 1951 when the club was eleventh, and on the fourth in 1952 when they were seventeenth.   He only ran the National twice – in 1950 when he was fourth and second counter in the winning team, and 1951 when he was seventh and first counter in the third placed team.   He also had first and second team medals in the Midlands Championships and a first, second and third team medals set in the Midlands relays; he had first and second individual medals in the Lanarkshire Championships and won the Shettleston club championship in season 1950-51.

In 1952, he is reported in the club’s centenary history as feeling that he was becoming “stale” and so he gave up running to concentrate on his career as a photographer – which explains why the pictures in the SA were so good!   He made a come-back as a veteran in the M50 class in the 1970’s and finished twenty seventh (1973), covered the seventh, first and eighth legs in teams that finished second.   He ran in the London to Brighton 12 man relay twice – on the first stage in 1951 when the club was eleventh, and on the fourth in 1952 when they were seventeenth.   He only ran the National twice – in 1950 when he was fourth and second counter in the winning team, and 1951 when he was seventh and first counter in the third placed team.   He also had first and second team medals in the Midlands Championships and a first, second and third team medals set in the Midlands relays; he had first and second individual medals in the Lanarkshire Championships and won the Shettleston club championship in season 1950-51.

In 1952, he is reported in the club’s centenary history as feeling that he was becoming “stale” and so he gave up running to concentrate on his career as a photographer – which explains why the pictures in the SA were so good!   He made a come-back as a veteran in the M50 class in the 1970’s and finished twenty seventh (1973), fourteenth (1974), twenty third (1975), eighteenth (1976) and twenty fourth (1977) in the Vets National Cross-Country.

Henry Summerhill, a tall, easy-to-recognise runner with his spectacles and head to one side running action, is an interesting athlete.   He spanned the two groups noted above and ran with the best of both generations of stars, earning his place with them both.  He turned up at the club’s Christmas Handicap in 1955 as Eddie Summerhill’s wee brother and went on to out-do Eddie as a runner.   He was spoken of above as ‘spanning the generations’; for proof we only have to look at his record in the Edinburgh to Glasgow where he ran 15 time including a streak of fourteen right off the reel.

Year Stage Run Team Position   Year Stage Run Team Position
1959 Five First   1967 Eight Second
1960 Four (Fastest) First   1968 Eight First
1961 Four First   1969 Seven Fourth
1962 Two Fifth   1970 Five (Fastest) First
1963 Six Fourth   1971 Eight (Fastest) First
1964 Two Six   1973 Eight Six
1965 Four Seventh   1975 Eight Fifth
1966 Six Seventh        

15 runs; Six gold, One silver; Three fastest times on stage.

Over the country, he was the same reliable, hard working, club runner but it was 1962 before he broke into the top team and finished twelfth and second counter (behind Joe McGhee) in the winning team.   In 1963 he was first counter when he was tenth in a team that was fifth; in 1965, he was first counter when he finished seventeenth in the fourth placed team; in in 1966 he again led the team home (twenty sixth) into fourth; in 1967 the order was Summerhill 19th, Wedlock 21st … with the team again fourth; 1968, Henry was twenty seventh, third counter and the team was fifth; 1969, he was twenty third, third counter in the second placed squad; 1970, he was twenty first, fourth counter in the third placed team; 1971 he was sixteenth in the winning team;   1972, twenty fourth and the team won again; 1973, fifty seventh and last counter in the silver medal team;    1974, nineteenth in the fourth placed team;   1975, twenty fifth in the third team and in 1976, Henry was fortieth and the team third.   Thirteen races, three golds, two silvers, three bronzes.   Not a bad haul.   And then there was the quota of District and County awards.   And the four London to Brighton relays.   And being in the winning team in the first Allan Scally relay, and in the winning team in the third Scally Relay.   Oh yes, and he was club champion five times!   Henry Summerhill was a very valuable member of several Shettleston teams.

On the track Henry raced in many team and open races and was ranked eleven times over seven years in the 60’s with best times of 9:20 (2 Miles), 14:29.0 (3 Miles) and 30:38.0  (6 Miles) with a third place in the SAAA Six Miles in 1962, but it is as a cross-country and road runner that he will be remembered by most of us.

Clark Wallace is another who will not easily be recalled by most on the present day endurance running scene, but he was an easily recognisable, good natured, hard running competitor at every distance up to the marathon and a key member of many club teams for a long period.   Off the track he was a tireless worker for the club too.   He had one international vest – in 1953 when he was thirty third finisher and a counting runner for the Scottish team.    He joined the club after the War at the same time as Willie Laing and both were to play big parts in the development of the post-war club.   Clark was a big heavy built man, not at all your typical distance runner, but if we look first at his results in the National Cross Country Championships, we will see how wrong first impressions can be.

Year Team Position Place   Year Team Position Place
1950 First Ninth   1958 Third Twenty Seventh
1951 Third Thirteenth   1959 First Twenty First
1952 Third Tenth   1960 First Twenty Fifth
1953 Second Seventh   1961 First Thirty Second
1954 First Sixteenth   1962 First Forty First
1955 First Seventeenth   1963 Fifth Sixty First
1956 Third Fifteenth   1964 Fifth Sixtieth
1957 Fourth Twenty Fifth   1965 Fourth Seventy Seventh

Sixteen Races; Seven Gold, One Silver, Four Bronze

In the same period he turned out in seventeen District Championships and won seven gold, three silver and six bronze medals.   In the Lanarkshire Championships it was five gold, one silver and one bronze.    And we haven’t even started on the relays.   He was equally at home on the road and he competed in nineteen Edinburgh to Glasgow Relays.   He ran in both 1949 races on the first stage and both times set fastest time for the stage, in 1950 he was fastest man on the fourth stage and in 1955 was again fastest on the fourth stage.   In total he amassed six gold team medals, seven silver and one bronze to add to his cross-country collection.   As a result of these he was an indispensable part of the London-Brighton team (the first two Scottish teams were invited to the National London to Brighton) and he took part in no fewer than eleven of these.   Always at home on the roads he was third in the SAAA Marathon Championships from Westerlands in 1963 – a day that Alastair Wood said was too warm for such a race.

On the track, he was second in the SAAA Two Miles Steeplechase in 1954, third in the 3000m steeplechase in 1955 and second in 1956 and 1958.   He was to be seen in all the summer races – championships, open meetings and highland gatherings running as an individual on the track or out on the road and also in Two and Three Mile Team races.

Men like Clark are worth their weight in gold to any club and he had a wonderful career in the sport although, if he had one regret, it must have been not winning his own club championship.

Hugh Mitchell came to running, like many of his generation, from cycling.    The club’s centenary history says that he joined the club at the age of 28 to get fit while recovering from an injury sustained while cycling.  Hugh’s talent for distance running would soon become apparent, though as he said himself’ he always got left in the sprint at the finish.   On the other hand he  also said that distance didn’t bother him, he forgot about time when he was running.   He ran in road and cross country races including the E-G and the National but it was when he finished second to Alastair Wood in the SAAA marathon in 1964 that he started to get recognition at national level.   He was runner-up again in 1969, this time to Bill Stoddart, in 2:31:20.   He ran a high weekly mileage, often as much as 200 miles in a week, and this set him up for ultras such as the Two Bridges, the Edinburgh to Glasgow 44 and the Liverpool to Blackpool 48.   He finished fourth twice in the London to Brighton.     After his first ultra, the Isle of Man 40, in which he finished second, 34 seconds behind John Tarrant, the Ghost Runner, the press report said : “The biggest cheer went to Scot Hugh Mitchell from Glasgow who made the Army man fight all the way over the savage climb of The Mountain.  ‘I just  couldn’t catch him,’ said Hugh afterwards, ‘I got a bad patch of cramp up top, but it’s not a bad performance for a novice, is it?'”

The history continues, “Four years later, Hugh returned to the island to win the race in 4 hrs 12 mins 07 secs.   He ran the 44 mile race from Edinburgh to Glasgow  six times setting a new record in 1968 of 4 hrs 39 mins 55 secs. “   His ultra running ability was famous as was his weekly training load.      His marathon pb was 2:26:11 and he was ranked in the marathon every year from 1963 to 1967, with one exception.   He also ran a Six Miles in 31: 42.4.

He ran in many under distance races such as the Dirrans 13 miles and the Springburn 12 Miles.    In fact I first made his acquaintance at a Springburn 12 when we both arrived outside the Springburn Harriers clubhouse and we had to sit on the ground, leaning against the wall, for 20-25 minutes in the sun waiting for the building to be opened.    He is a very friendly chap, easy to get on with but a hard racer.    He ran in four Edinburgh to Glasgow Relays and won a gold in his very first race.   In 1959, on the third stage, he took over first and preserved the lead with equal fourth fastest time; in 1962, the team was fifth but Hugh maintained third place on the third stage;   in 1964, he pulled the team from seventh to sixth on the fourth stage;   and in 1966  he dropped from sixth to seventh on the fifth stage.   In the National, he was in the team  five times between 1958 and 1968.   It was bronze in 1958 and gold in 1959 but no more medals despite several good runs in the event.   Hugh was a consistent and consistently good club member who specialised at distances much greater than most of his team mates with enormous success.

Bill Scally   came into the sport at a time when men in every club followed the mantra ‘You do what your club needs you to do.’    Bill exemplified that with his service to Shettleston Harriers as a committee man, team manager and all round supporter going beyond reasonable expectations.   However in this brief profile, we will deal with his running.   Unless anything to the contrary is said, the medals mentioned will all be team awards.  On the country, he ran as a Youth in the National championship in 1959 (bronze) and 1960 (gold), as a Junior he ran in the 1961 and 1962 Nationals and as a Senior he ran in the championships in 1964, ’65, ’66, ’67, ’68, ’69 (silver), ’71 (gold).   He returned when the club needed him in 1982, ’83 and ’84.   As a veteran, he ran in 1982 (gold), ’83 (bronze), ’84 (gold – team was Lachie Stewart second, Bill third and Brian Carty fourth), ’85 (gold), ’86, ’88, ’90.   He picked up the individual bronze in ’82, ’84 and ’85.   Internationally as a vet, he was second in the World M50 25Km in 1992, and in the European championships was third in the M45 25Km in 1988 and won the M50 half-marathon in 1995.    36 years of running in major cross-country championships.   In the District Championships, he ran in nine between 1963 and 1964 winning two gold, two silver and two bronze medals.   When the club called again in 1980, he ran in the 1980, ’83, ’84, ’86 and ’87.   In the Lanarkshire Championships he picked up two gold and three silver medals.   His only regret must be that he never won the club championship but, being the clubman he is, he would be pleased that the club standard was so high at the time.

He was also no mean road runner.   Apart from most of the road races around the country, Bill ran in nine Edinburgh to Glasgow races between 1963 and 1974 winning two gold medals and two silvers.  When the club needed him again, he ran in 1980 (eighth), ’81 (second), ’82 (sixth), ’83 (second), ’84 (fifth – son Brian ran on the third stage and the team won the most meritorious medals), ’85 (fifth), ’86 (eighth).   He ran on stages two, four, five, six, seven and eight.   As a result of the club’s running in the Edinburgh to Glasgow, the invitation was forthcoming to turn out a team in the London to Brighton Relay and Bill ran in it in 1961 and 1962.   The name Scally is a famous one in Shettleston Harriers and across Scotland.   Bill’s father Allan was a very good runner and an even better coach and when the club started the four man Allan Scally Relay over a longer distance per stage than the early winter relays in 1061 it was inevitable that it be named after Allan Scally.   It was therefore quite fitting that Bill ran in the very first race in the winning Shettleston team, where he was third fastest.    He was also in the team in 1962 which also won the event.    In the more traditional road relay of the McAndrew which traditionally starts the winter season, he was part of winning teams in 1967, ’68, ’70 and ’71.   It’s another remarkable record of success over a fairly lengthy period – even making the club four was harder than some races!   He even tried his hand successfully at the marathon with a pb of 2:24:05 run in London in 1984.

Bill was also a track runner of some ability.   He had pb’s of 31:33.2 for Six Miles, 8:44.2 for Two Miles, 14:40.7 for 5000m, 31:11.0 for 10000m and 9:45.2 for the 3000m steeplechase.   He was even known to turn out in track league fixtures when team manager to fill a gap.   Bill is the kind of club man that any team in the country would give its eye teeth for!

I asked his friend Tony McCall, a member of Garscube Harriers at the time, who had trained with Shettleston Harriers for a while, for some comments about Bill and his reply involved several athletes mentioned on this page so I will quote it in full.   “I first met Bill when I moved to Garrowhill and Shettleston were kind enough to let me train with them .   This was in the early 70’s.   Bill took me on longer steadier runs to begin with; showed me the longer runs around the area – Blantyre, Westburn, Tannochside, Coatbridge, Lenzie and even towards Kirkie.   As I got fitter the runs got faster.   Henry Summerhill was with us on a lot of those runs, eventually longish fast bursts were a feature particularly towards the last few miles.   Of course they were both superior runners to me and I always got blown away but I was happy.     Also we would have fartlek sessions around the clubhouse grounds at Barrachnie when there were plenty of guys around.   Another session we did was a paarlauf around Mountblow and it was approximately a mile to the lap: it was very competitive.   Henry was a very tough competitor and it was not unknown for some of his guys to give up because of his relentless pace.  

From my own point of view the emphasis was on mileage primarily with faster pace introduced as I got fitter: that was always Bill’s way.   Bill kept an eye on the runners, looking for tiredness and flagging.   His favourite expression to me was “How are you feeling?”   Funny he always said that when I was obviously tired!  

As you know, Bill went on to have a very successful career as a vet, I would say that he was very single-minded.   He set out his goals and trained accordingly.   What he did with me and some others was always based on mileage.   The more miles the better.   We never went near a track, speedwork was always done on the road.    Some really hard runs took place from start to finish, especially with Bill and Henry.   I couldn’t live with them.   Then into the equation came Hughie Mitchell.   Bill turned to Hughie to help him prepare for his marathon career.   As you know Hughie was virtually an ultra distance man.   One of the sessions they did was over the old Shettleston marathon trail.   I wasn’t with them, it was just Bill and Hughie.   I was in the clubhouse when they came back in and it was obvious that a huge effort had been put in by both.  

Bill was meticulous in his preparation.   Once he had a schedule made up, he carried it out and most of the time he did it alone.   For example I had gone down to Hamilton Road for a pint or two one Saturday night and there was Bill coming up from Blantyre flat out: he must have run from his home in Dennistoun.   This was around 10 o’clock on a Saturday night!   To sum up: clear thinker, schedule put together, let’s get on with it.   And he took a lot of advice from Hughie.   Of course he always came on training nights for runs with the boys, but the rest of the week he would pile in the miles.   London was a great example of everything coming together for him.   Hughie Mitchell and Ben Bickerton would come out with us, mainly Ben who could show the youngsters a thing or two.”

Tom Malone   came from Coatbridge and joined Shettleston at the age of 15.   He was club and Lanarkshire Youth champion in 1956 and club novice champion in 1959.   In the National Championships he was twenty sixth in the Youths Championship in 1956 when his team finished fifth and fourth in 1957 to be part of the winning team.   As a Junior he was twenty ninth in 1958 and ninth in 1959.   He was a member of two winning Senior teams in 1961 (he was twenty third) and 1962 (thirteenth).   He ran in four E-G relays between 1958 and 1965 winning two golds and one silver, and was also part of two winning teams in the McAndrew relay in 1959 and 1960.  Because of the club’s good performances in the E-G, they were regularly invited down to the London to BRighton and he raced in four – 1959, ’60, ’61 and ’62.   On the track he had best times of 14:36.6 for Three Miles and 30:28.6 for the Six Miles – both times run in 1961.   He emigrated to South Africa where he joined the Germiston City Sports Club  and started running in ultra races with great success.   Having won the Korkie Marathon 33 miles from Pretoria to Germiston in 1966 in record time and then, one month later, went on to the Comrades Marathon which he won in 6:14:07.   In 1967 he was second by one second after a dramatic race in which he collapsed less than 75 yards from the tape by a spasm which laid him low when attempting to sprint for the tape; he got up and made for the line but was passed almost literally on the line after 55 miles of hard racing.   That was the second of ten attempts but it was to be several years before he had another run in it.

Tom Patterson   was a member of the club right from his days as a Senior Boy.   He won many team medals in the National cross-country championships at all age groups before turning out for the Senior team.   As a Senior Boy he was twenty eighth in 1964 and twentieth in 1965, being in the winning team each time.  As a Youth in 1966 he finished thirteenth and again was in the winning team and then as a Junior in 1968 (ninth) and 1969 (eighth) he won two more gold team medals.   It was to be 1971 before he was a counting runner in the Senior age group but he them won gold in 1971 and 1972 (twelfth on both occasions) and silver in 1973.   There were also two more team victories in the District Cross-Country championships to be added.   On the road he ran in five E-G Relays and won four gold and one silver medal.   In 1963 he turned in the fastest time n the third leg to be in the winning team, in ’64 he again ran third and pulled the club from sixth to fourth to see it finish second, in 1970 he again ran the fastest time on the third stage and was part of the winning team, just as he was in 1972 when he was seventh on the first leg.

Brian Carty, pictured above,  does not feature significantly in the National or Edinburgh to Glasgow results but was a very good athlete and club member nevertheless.   Hugh Mitchell and a group of his workmates used to go out running at lunchtime from the British Leyland factory at Bathgate: Brian Carty was one of the others.   It didn’t take Hugh long to see that the man was a talented distance runner.   Brian ran his first marathon in Glasgow in 1982 at the age of 39 and clocked 2:40 – but his name is not in the results sheet because he ran under the name of one of his workmates!    By the spring of 1983 he was a Shettleston Harrier and that year he was fourth in the Jimmy Scott race, third in the Motherwell Marathon in 2:32:57, fourth in the SAAA Marathon in 2:33:45, before finishing his season with 2::26:15 for fifth place in the Inverclyde Marathon in August.   The high spot of his career however had to be on 1st June, 1986 when he won the SAAA Marathon championship.   During that summer he had been fourth in the Clydebank half-marathon, second in the Monklands half-marathon and did a lifetime best performance of 68:37 in Livingston.     Now aged 42, he was surprised by his victory in the SAAA event.   He had entered the Edinburgh Marathon, which incorporated the championship,  to keep his friend Robert Birt company but at the start of the race, Robert told him just to go off on his own.   Brian did and won in 2:23:46.  He is quoted in the club’s centenary history “One Hundred Years of Shettleston Harriers” as follows.  “Totally unexpected.   After passing Donald Macgregor at 17 miles I realised I was in a strong position but it was only at 21 miles when I was told by someone following the race on a bicycle that I only had to keep to my pace that I realised that I would win”.

Colin Youngson and Fraser Clyne in their excellent book “A Hardy Race” which chronicles the Scottish Marathon Championship 1946 – 20000 covers the winning marathon in some detail.   “This race was to be the battle of the veterans – Donald Macgregor, the favourite, and Brian Carty of Shettleston Harriers.   The latter, a steadily improving, strong looking man, had finished second in the Scottish Veterans cross-country championships although he much preferred road racing.   Brian remembers that he was wary of going too fast too soon, on a hilly course, so he stayed with the second pack some distance behind the group of six leaders.   As far as he could see, Donald Macgregor was playing ‘cat and mouse’ with them.   Eventually Donald went off into a clear lead until Brian came through and caught him at Cramond (17 Miles).   Carty’s coach, Hugh Mitchell had advised him, ‘When you catch someone up, talk to them – it shows you’re fresh.’   So Brian asked how Donald was feeling and shortly afterwards began to draw away.   He finished very strongly indeed although Donald faded.      ……     Brian’s training was not unlike Hugh Mitchell’s twenty years previously.   Overcoming initial reluctance he gradually built up to a very strenuous regime indeed.   On weekdays he might run thrice:   Twelve or fourteen miles to work at British Leyland, four miles of fartlek at lunchtime and another ten to twelve miles home.   He remembers many hard sessions in the Bathgate hills.   In total he might run 120 or even 150 miles per week.   So his 1986 triumph was hard-earned indeed.”

The big miles are corroborated in an email I received from Graham MacIndoe when I was actually writing about Brian.  He  says, “Hugh Mitchell and Brian Carty worked at British Leyland where my dad also worked.   I remember my dad telling me how Brian used to run 8 – 10 miles a day to the factory, then be jogging on the spot waiting for the lunchtime bell so he could get in a run and then at the end of the day he’d run back to Blackburn via the Bathgate hills.   Sometimes on Sundays he’d run through Livingston and Broxburn up to Linlithgow, wind his way through the Bathgate hills to Armadale and then back to Blackburn.  It must have been 20+ miles, easy.   I went with him and a couple of others a few times and it was relentless – used to take me days to recover and I didn’t do the whole distance.    My dad got Hugh to give me a training schedule when I was about 19.   It had so many miles on it I thought it was a joke.   I was at that time trying to break 32 minutes for 10K on the road on about 45 – 50 miles per week.   He had me on 100 mpw for starters.   I got to the 80’s but kept getting injured.   He was still running fairly recently my dad said”    Corroboration of the huge distances involved – corroboration of his recent running would also be of interest!