Andrew Hannah


 ndrew Hannah was at his peak one of Scotland’s most outstanding track and cross country runners.   Born in East Kilbride, he was brought up in Langside.   In 1887 he joined the Cathkin Cycling Club and in the same year tried the One Mile race at Cambuslang Sports.   He did not win there but also ran the event at the St Mirren and Royal Albert Sports.   He won both of these and joined the Clydesdale Harriers in winter 1887.   He remained a club member until his death in 1939.   A popular competitor he was reportedly renowned more for his grit than his pace.   Although equally good over the track his particular love was cross country running where he won the National title five times – a feat only equalled by Nat Muir in the 1980’s.   On the track his favourite distances were the one, four and ten miles and over a three year period he had 35 first places, 24 second places and 21 thirds in all races!   ie at least 80 track races in three years.   He won the SAAA Four Miles championship four times between 1889 and 1896 and in the same period took the ten miles championship seven times.      In the latter event he was the first Scot to run under 55 minutes.   In 1896 he broke all existing records from five to ten miles with his time of 53:26 – a record that stood for twelve years.   He retired from competitive running that same year.   He called his athletics career to a halt after his fifth National win but stayed in the sport as an official and administrator until his death in December 1939.


He joined the club in 1887 and his career bears examining in some detail.   By 1890/91 he was on the club’s General Committee as ‘A Hannah, Junior’ and also appeared on the Advising Board & Business Committee   as well as being the HQ District Leader for District Number 4 (Hutchesontown, Gorbals, Cathcart, Shawlands and Pollokshaws – for more on the Sections look at the ‘section’ on Andrew Dick).   His address at this time was at 2 Lindore Terrace in Langside.   Over that winter he won a Five Mile Open Handicap at Renfrew, won the breakaway SHU Championships and the SCCA Championships and although suffering from a severe cold travelled to the English Cross Country Championships where he was ninth.   In the summer of 1891 he won the 4 miles and the 10 miles championships and set a 2 miles record of 9:43.4.   1891/92 was a good year for the club at home with an average attendance at HQ Section runs of 57.8 runners.   The club awarded gold badges for specially good times and three were awarded with Andrew Hannah being one of them.   He won the SCCA Championship again and the annual report said:

“Ex-captain Hannah’s performances, especially in the early part of the Season call for Special Mention, amongst others the 10 Miles flat Championship in which he created records from 5 miles upwards.”    For his efforts on the club’s behalf he was presented with a safety bicycle at a smoking concert held in the club rooms in Dundas Street.   1892/93 was not his best year – he was still on the Committee but had moved his address to 5 Holm Place, Cathcart which was still in the Number 4 HQ District.   He won the club 10 miles open and club championship over the country but was only second to Charles Pennycook in the National.   Came 1893/94 and as well as being on the General Committee he was again Captain and a  member of the Advising Board & Business Committee.   That year he had 17 first places, one second and no third places.   He again won the clubs Open and Championship 10 miles at Cathcart.   He also won the 7 Miles contest and the National Cross Country Championship.    A novelty this year was an inter club race at Newcastle on 29th July 1893.   A team of four ‘Messrs Hannah, Robertson, McLaren and Russell took part and victory rested with the CH representatives who won handsome Gold Badges for each member of the team accompanying a Silver Challenge Cup put up by the Newcastle club.’


He was again Captain in 1894/95 and his running was better then ever.  He won the 4 Miles race at Cathcart and the won the 10 Miles Open and Championship for the fifth successive year and then won the 7 Miles at Pollokshaws.   He won the National Championship again and in addition to the usual trophy and medal, he won the Dick Cup for the second year.   The Dick Cup had been donated to the club by former secretary Andrew Dick, resident in Mombassa the previous year for annual presentation to the club runner who finished first for the team in the National Championship.   Then there was the Inter Club Challenge match against Newcastle Harriers at Newcastle which had been run the previous year for the silver challenge cup.   Clydesdale won the trophy for the second year and under the terms of the meeting were allowed to keep it.   The runners were Andrew Hannah, William Robertson and Andrew McLaren, and Peter McLean.   On the track he won the Scottish 10 Miles Championship breaking all existing records from 6 miles to 10 miles inclusive.   A month later he won the Scottish 4 Miles Championship.   The Annual Report commented: “At many of the Sports Meetings held during the summer months the contests between Hannah and Duffus will long be remembered.”   At the end of the year he won with the special badge for most prizes won – he had 59 points against W Robertson’s 55.   And of course there was another performance badge for times run.  


In 1895 he became club president for the first time and as such was also on the Finance Committee as the Advising Committee was no called.   His running went from strength to strength.   In the 5 Miles Open Handicap at Whiteinch he was first man home, in the 7 miles team race at Pollokshields he was also first man home.   The club handbook contained the note that “it has been thought advisable to sever our connection with the SAAA and become affiliated to the SAAU, a new body that has come into existence owing to the strained relations existing between the SAAA and the SCU.”   So he just won the SAAU Championship 10 Miles breaking all Scottish records between five and ten miles inclusive.   He was elected president again in 1896/97, remained on the Finance Committee and was also the Committee’s representative to the Coatbridge Section.    The handbook announce “At the beginning of the season we introduced an innovation as far as Scotland is concerned, in the shape of a Cross-Country Handicap open to all Amateur Athletes.   ……….Andrew Hannah being first man home…..”   As he was in the 7 Miles HQ Handicap and the 8 Miles Open where he won the Handicap race and was also first man home!!!


The Handbook also comments that “The Club Championship was won by Andrew Hannah and the Dick Cup is now his property, he having won it three times”   He had won it three times within four years of its initial presentation (William Robertson won it in its third year by being one place ahead of him in the National Championship which doubled that year as the Club Championship).   He again won the 10 Miles Championship in the summer of 1897 and was part of the team that won the Davidson Trophy at the Heart of Midlothian Football Club’s Sports for the second time with Stuart Duffus, William Robertson and James McLaren being the other runners.

Andrew Hannah: 1890


As a runner he was very popular.   A profile in the ‘Scots Umpire’ said that he was “lithe and lion hearted’, distinguished for his staying powers rather than his pace and “in the home run he runs gamely, giving his head a characteristic lift to the side when he means to be in at the death.   He is not easily shaken off and when he makes up his mind to do a thing, funk and fear fly away and he spanks gamely home.”  


In 1997/98 A Ross Scott was club president but Hannah remained on the Committee and became the representative on the SAAA Committee and along with Ross Scott had been representing the club on the SCCU Committee so starting a long career as an administrator and official.   He had been elected Vice President of that body at the AGM in September 1896.    He had moved address again and by now was staying in Braeside Street off New City Road in Mayhill.   His competitive career was now at an end, he having retired after his fifth cross country championship victory in 1896.   In the next two seasons he was still on the Committee (by now also on the Handicapping Committee) and represented the club on both National Bodies along with A Ross Scott.    In 1900/91 he was still on the Club Committee and the Handicapping Committee, and representative to the Airdrie Section but was also representative to the SCCU.   The pattern was established – he was a working Committee Member but also with his deep love of the sport and long involvement at the highest competitive levels becoming a member of the national establishment.  


In 1903/04 the club handbook reported: “A cup, value £10, has been presented by Mr Andrew Hannah, to be competed for by Members of Clydesdale Harriers.   The Race will be run on the Track during the Cross-Country Season.   The Winner will also get a medal and hold the cup for one year.   The distance will be Three Miles.”   This was to be the Hannah Cup which has been competed for since – the latest valuation put it at approximately £6000.   He had offered to put the trophy, valued 10 guineas and there was some discussion as to how it would be awarded.   One suggestion, followed the following year was that it be awarded for a points competition over the club’s four open races.   The report on the first race was as follows:    “The Contest for the handsome Cup kindly put up by Andrew Hannah was a Three Miles Flat Race, decided at Meadowside, Partick and resulted in James Reston winning, with Saml. Stevenson close up and MF Dickson third”.   The three runners are worth commenting upon in their own right: James Reston was a Scottish International cross country runner who emigrated to the United States and was the father of James “Scotty” Reston of the Washing Post newspaper – a. internationally renowned reporter and journalist; Samuel Stevenson is dealt with elsewhere but he went on to become an Olympic athlete and MF Dickson is also written about elsewhere but was one of the longest serving of Clydesdale Harriers and SAAA administrators.   The race for the Trophy had its designation altered twice thereafter (in 1913 it was again altered to be for the first man home in the Western District Championship) and is currently for the fastest time in the club’s annual cross country handicap race.  This was as a result of a motion at the September 1927 Committee Meeting by T Kent seconded by J McNamara that it be awarded to the runner with the fastest time in the 7 miles handicap.  This has been the designation for almost of the trophy’s existence – ie the past 80 years.


If we look at his track championship record in tabular form, it is maybe even more impressive.


Year Event Position    TIME COMMENTS
1888 4 Miles 2nd Winning Time 21:17.6
1889 4 Miles 2nd Winning Time 20:56.2
  10 Miles 1st 55:30.4  
1890 1 Mile 3rd Winning Time 4:40.2
  4 Miles 1st 21:03  
  10 Miles 1st 55:39.6  
1891 10 Miles 1st 54:18.6 Scottish Record
1893 1 Mile 1st 4:36  
  4 Miles 1st 21:36.4  
  10 Miles 1st 55:12.6  
1894 4 Miles 1st 20:48.2 Best Championship Performance
  10 Miles 1st 54:02.6 Best Championship Performance
1895 10 Miles 1st 53:26


Best Champ Performance and Scottish


  4 Miles 1st 21:08 SAAU
1896 4 Miles 2nd SAAU: Winning Time 20:10.8
  10 Miles 1st 54:56.8 SAAU


The Cross Country Record is well enough known not to need re-emphasising.

As an official, he was appointed vice-president of the SCCU in 1896/97 and elected president the next year.   Not only was he president of the SCCU in 1897 but was also elected secretary of the West District Committee of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association.   He held this post for twelve years until his elevation to the position of SAAA President.   His administrative qualities had been recognised in 1908 when he was involved in the organisation of the London Olympics and in the Games itself he was one of the timekeepers.  

Like all the former athletes at this time he was an active club member and was prominent at all the major gatherings of the club including AGM’s.   In April 1928 for instance he presented the prizes to the winners of the cross country season and made a donation to the club.  He attended the 50th Anniversary Dinner in 1935.   There is a story originally told I believe by George Ferguson, one of his contemporaries, that well after his racing days were over, he was attending a Dinner in Glasgow when he was challenged to race a cab across the city.   He took up the challenge and set off in evening dress, bow tie and all, against a horse drawn cab across the city from St George’s Cross to the Maryhill Baths.  

He died in 1939 and the club AGM Minute of October 1939 recorded it as follows: “Mr Middler announced the death of Mr Andrew Hannah a founder member of Clydesdale Harriers and also one of the earliest Scottish Cross Country Champions.   Up to the time of his death Mr Hannah was an Honorary President of the club and still had an interest in same.   A Wreath would be sent by the club.”   He died having ensured his place among the greats of Scottish athletics as competitor, administrator and official.   His devotion to the club was constant and he should be remembered as probably the greatest Clydesdale Harrier of all time.

From ‘The Scottish Referee, 7th July 1890 

Andrew Hannah: Captain Clydesdale Harriers

 Grit is the quality in a man that makes him and it is this striking feature in the character of this popular pedestrian that has contributed in no small degree to his success on the cinder track.   Born in the upland heights of East Kilbride, he spent his youth in Langside.   He joined the Cathkin Cycling Club in 1887.   He raced ‘in vain’ in the One Mile at Cambuslang and then won the Mile at both the Royal Albert and St Mirren meetings.   This encouraged him to join CH in winter 1887.   Lithe light and lion hearted he is noted for his staying powers rather than his pace.   In 1888 he won the Scottish 10 Miles Cross Country Championships and twice since then.   At the Scottish Championships he has made three appearances being twice second in the Four Miles and once first in 21 mins 3 secs.   His qualities are not seen at their best in the Mile where he has a best time of 4 mins 33 secs.   In three years he has 33 firsts, 24 seconds and 21 thirds.   Last Saturday in the joint CH/Rangers Meeting he beat DS Duncan’s record for the two miles by 5 seconds when running 9min 43 and a fifth secs.   There is no more popular competitor for he is both modest and honest and never shirks his work.   His style is modelled on the great McLeavy.   He lifts very neatly and has a fine free movement.   In the home straight, he runs gamely giving his head a characteristic lift to the side when he means to be in at the death.   He is not easily shaken off and when he makes up his mind to do a thing, funk and fear fly away and he spanks gamely home.”