One of the lesser known tracks in Glasgow was called Stanalane.   There are many buildings, churches and houses known as ‘standalane’ because of their lonely position and it is possible that Stanalane Road in Thornliebank was named after one of those.   Thornliebank is part of  Greater Glasgow, 6 miles (10 km) south of Glasgow city centre, and just outside the city’s administrative boundaries and is now part of the East Renfrewshire local authority.   It was set in woods; quite scenic but it is now gone to make way for a new road into a new housing estate.   The track was home to the venerable West of Scotland Harriers – at one point contesting the position of Scotland’s number one club with a host of champions and championships to its name and many of its athletes represented Scotland internationally.   It was like other small tracks and sports venues where many an athlete started in the sport, learned his trade and is fondly remembered by all who used it.   Norrie Dallas of West of Scotland Harriers looks back nostalgically with this beautiful piece.

Stanalane – memories of one harrier’s spiritual home

My first thought. I don’t know much about Stanalane. And then.

I joined the West of Scotland Harriers’ Club in September 1962, prior to that I probably didn’t know Stanalane existed.The small park about 6-7 acres on two levels just south of Spiers Bridge at the start of the Stewarton Road, was looked after by Rouken Glen Park. The lower part was grassland with a wide winding cinder track leading up from the entrance to the back of the pavilion. The black cinder track, at the upper southerly end of the park, was about four lanes wide, although much wider on the long home straight and was D shaped with the pavilion being half way along the vertical leg of the D with two tight bends coming into and out of the home straight, two short straights and a long bend. I understand the track measured 441 yds. (but there are other versions of the weird distance). I was also told that it was laid out for pony trotting, but I doubt if that would be so because of the shape, which I think would be due to the configuration of the site. There was also a long jump pit and board at the far end and a shot circle, (no stop board), at the start of the home straight both outwith the track. In the centre was a cricket wicket that appeared well maintained during the season and was used for home matches by Thornliebank CC and occasionally by Weirs Recreation Second II.

Concrete steps led up from the lower end of the park to the track level. The pavilion, about 7.2 x 3m, was of brick construction to the concrete and granolithic floor level and above that timber framing clad in weatherboarding painted green and topped by a corrugated pitched roof. Timber steps the full width of the pavilion took us to decking and the two changing rooms. We always used the left-hand room which had a kitchenette with a sink, gas ring and a large gas geyser whose pilot light occasionally went out and when relit went on with a loud pop that shook the whole contraption. There was no heating or lighting of any kind. Along the gable wall was a hinged bench, closed in to the front, which gave storage space for cricket items. Behind the door and under the window there was a slatted massage table which I was told had come from a Clyde rowing club via Govanhill Baths and had been carried to Stanalane. In the back corner the glorious single shower welcomed muddy tired elated harriers who crammed in. All that was the Left Hand room, the Right Hand being similar but without the kitchenette or massage table. On my very first run with the club we also used the Right Hand room. At basement level there was a 3rd changing room with shower and was used by the Stanalane Stompers (see below) during the summer when there was a cricket match.

After winter runs which often ended in the gloaming, we were welcomed by Johnny Todd with a cup of tea and two tea biscuits which never tasted better. We paid about 4d or 6d. Johnny Todd (always Mr) and Bob Smith (always Captain re his BB connections), were both still running in the early 60s. Only once did Mr Todd refuse to let us run and that was due to very thick fog. 

The pavilion was normally opened for us by Donald Fletcher (always Donald). He was the only park keeper at Rouken Glen, and was always uniformed. Other employees would be mainly gardeners I presume. Donald lived in a stone-built cottage on Rouken Glen Rd next to a park entrance ‘til retirement and Woodfarm thereafter. Sometimes he would leave us to lock up, which allowed him to get round the Glen’s gates before it was pitch black. We left the keys under the large roller that was chained and padlocked to the balusters at the LH end of the step

The Stanalane Stompers were a fluid pack of runners from a number of clubs that met on a Saturday afternoon and ran over the roads south of Stanalane by the Barrhead waterworks, Neilston and beyond covering generally about 8 1/2 to 18 miles. Gordon Porteous, Emmet Farrell (both Maryhill Harriers) and Gavin Bell (Bellahouston Harriers) were the ringleaders but Andy Forbes of Victoria Park was also a semi regular face. We would all set off together leaving the park at the far end and break into two packs after about 1/2 a mile. The last 2 1/8 miles were a welcome downhill. The sun always shone at least for the summer runs (funny how you block out grotty weather) and it was weary runners that crowded into the single shower. When cricket matches were on it was nice to relax sitting on the steps in front of the pavilion to the sound of leather on willow. Inevitably after a few balls the players would come in for a tea prepared by the ladies. Civilized game this cricket.

One Saturday afternoon Danny Cowan of Maryhill Harriers and I took a number of the boys over a hillside field on the left of the Stewarton Road just beyond Deaconsbank golf course. We had never run there before, all our country trails being on the other side of the road. We were bowling along near the edge of the field when a Land Rover stopped on the other side of the fence and a well-dressed lady alighted and asked us very politely if we wouldn’t run over the field as she was concerned about damage to the fences due to their condition. We chatted and readily acceded, the field being pretty boring anyway. On cue, Danny rested his foot on the fence rail and it snapped. 

The following is a Stompers tale. Rab and George were two quite elderly runners; possibly Vicky Park. They sometimes came to Stanalane on a summer Saturday afternoon, and, always going out together after the pack had left, enjoyed a short slow-ish run together, usually being changed by the time we returned. One day I entered the park first, just in time to see George disappearing down the steps. The rest of the boys returned shortly and we realized that there was a set of extra clothes on a peg. “Must be Rab’s.” I said. I volunteered to see if I could find him and jogged up the Stewarton Road where I found him opposite the rugby club, making his way very slowly. “Hi Rab, you ok?” “Two left feet today,” he replied. “Aye, we all have runs like that sometimes.” “No, no,” he went on, “I really do have two left feet. I have two pairs of running shoes the same and in my haste to get out I grabbed two lefts, but just decided to have my run anyway.” We made our way back, one hobbling, the other mulling over the sanity of runners.

The last run from Stanalane was on Saturday 15th of January 1977, (no bugles no drums). The next week was the Western District CC at Loudon Castle, Galston and then it was Eastwood Baths. The lower park to the north is now a wooded bank at the roundabout to the east end of the Rouken Glen Road which is now re-aligned to take account of new houses and a new road layout. The flat southern end that was the site of the pavilion and track housed a new Deaconsbank Golf course club house with a driving range and is now the location of a David Lloyd sports centre.

Stanalane was everything it should be for a cross country runner or a road-runner; rural, picturesque and with basic facilities that just mirrored the sport. What more could you ask? If you stand there on a still and peaceful autumn evening you might just hear a distant pop. The geyser’s gone out again!

Norrie Dallas

Still in two relationships – one to my lovely wife and the other, the West of Scotland Harriers.


Hamish Telfer, a friend of Norrie’s has his own memories of the track and describes the venue as he remembers it.

“Stanalane was a simple green hut with two ‘back to back’ changing areas each with a single shower.  The single shower was ‘powered’ by a temperamental boiler which kept conking out OR chucking out ice cold water.  Donnie the Parkie had to keep the thing going long enough for us to get a modicum of water over ourselves. We did this by trying to cram 3 of us into a single shower cubicle at one go.  I remember myself, Norrie Dallas and Cammie McNeish all in there together with Davy Wyper trying to get in too. He was successfully repelled! Only one of the changing areas was ever used (the left hand one in the picture).
Saturday afternoons in the winter had all sorts of runners there at times.  Emmet Farrell was a relative regular as it was local, as was Gordon Porteous. I remember Donnie the Parkie liberating a large roller so that Ian Walker, Cammie and myself could roll the track flat when it was a foot deep in snow so we could do reps.  The track itself was some weird distance; something like 327 and half yards right round (it wasn’t that but it was a weird distance). It was also on a run from there out towards Barrhead that a farmer shot at us on our way back as we crossed a field.  Johnny Todd got us back very rapidly.
As with many clubs, it was about sixpence for a cup of tea and a biscuit and I made tablet (quite a skill for a 15/16 year old) which I sold for club funds.”


Front row seated: Hamish Telfer, with a leg in plaster just poking up; Davy Wyper, Dougie Marr and Stuart Mc?
Second Row: George Cutler, Ian Walker then two youngsters, one of whom on the extreme right was possibly Dougie Marr’s younger brother;
Standing are Norrie Dallas, then Donald McFarlane and finally ‘Donnie’ the park keeper (The Parkie).
About the personnel in the photograph, taken in the early 1960’s.   
Hamish Telfer was a good club standard runner who went on to become a very successful coach with athletes from club level to British international standard.   Away from the sport, he was an academic with a serious long standing interest in the beginnings and development of the Scottish harrier cubs.
*  Davy Wyper, David was a good runner with the West of Scotland Harriers who was very successful over the marathon (pb 2:24:35 in 1972 when finishing second in the SAAA Marathon Championship) and ultra marathon distances.   He was also secretary of the Scottish Marathon Club.
Davy went on to become a high powered Prof in medical physics. 
*  Ian Walker ran for Scotland over 440/400.   Ranked nationally in all events from 100 yards to 440 yards, he had best times of 9.9 (100), 22.1 (220), 49.3 (440)  and  47.9 (400).   He also won two silver and two bronze medals in the SAAA Championships between 1968 and 1973.   Ian is now a folk singer doing the village circuit with his wife Mo.
*  Hamish Telfer tells us about Donald: Donald McFarlane (Mr McFarlane as he was always known) was an interesting man. None of us really know what his background was other than he ran for Plebian in his day.  He was unkempt and smoked a pipe almost non stop.  He suddenly appeared one night a number of years earlier (1967?) at the Toryglen track where we used to train in the summer. Our then ‘Trainer’ Johnny Todd seemed to know him and tolerated him and Donald ‘helped’ by holding a stopwatch on occasions. His timing was always suspect! Coming to the club was however, the only real thing in his life.  He was always very cagey about his past and where he stayed but Norrie recalls that he had digs with a some old dear in Govanhill and indeed there was only occasion that Norrie can remember when he saw the inside of Donald’s digs and his memory of his single room is of it stacked with athletics material.. Donald died in very poor circumstances in Poor Lodgings at 100 Duke Street in March 1978 from a senile/dementia related illness.  His occupation was noted as a retired Warehouse Despatch Worker and it was in fact his old employer who paid for his funeral 
After the war, West of Scotland Harriers trained at the venue as did Bellahouston Harriers, the above is from the ‘Scots Athlete’ of August 1946.  Now note the following result from the Glasgow Herald of 29 November, 1958, 12 years later:
Bellahouston Harriers, see the result of their race above,  only trained there for a few years and Jimmy Irvine, 14th in the Brampton to Carlisle result in the clipping above, had this to say about the track:
“It was a very poor cinder track D shaped ,it was reputed to be 8 yards over the 440 distance with a slight up hill on the back straight , no one ever measured  it to verify this . It was never used for any championship races , our club used it for a few years before we moved to Nethercraigs . We ran a few races there but I personally  felt the times should not be recognized as the track was doubtful . In later years we had a wee pack of veterans used to meet up on Saturday for a longish run including  Andy Forbes, Bobby Calderwood  and others.   It had a wooden shed with one shower on each end ,the Parky would come and open it up for us and charged us – I think it was a Shilling.   It was pretty primitive but serviced its purpose .” 
Two things confirmed there then.   One was the importance of the Parkie – or is it Parky? – and the other is the odd shape of the track.   In the 1960’s, various other runners trained there – international middle distance runners Duncan Middleton (Springburn H) and Hugh Barrow (Victoria Park) both did sessions there from time to time although it was far from their regular training venues.  One of the runners spoken to said the track was “kind of an odd shape”. 
Hamish Telfer again: “It could have been over distance rather than under but it certainly was nowhere near 440. WSH met in the winter at Stanalane throughout the 60s but migrated to the new track at Toryglen for the track season. We ran mid week from Calder St Baths in the ’60s.
I certainly remember Andy Forbes running with us from Stanalane and others (I remember Andy’s plastered Brylcreem hair that stayed intact in all weathers and conditions). Primitive was certainly the word.  I can certainly say that by 1962 (my first winter season) there was no ‘big County occasion’ at Stanalane any more.  I think the immediate post war periods of late 40s and the 50s decade was the end. The black cinder track was in very poor repair by the time I was hoofing up and down it. Weeds and all sorts!”
Not many know of the Stanalane track: a poor track of doubtful distance and irregular shape but one that was used by some of the country’s best athletes and coaches –  and the source of many fond memories.