Alexandra Athletic Club Sports: 1875 – 1882

The Alexandra Athletic Club Sports for 1875 took place on 24th April on their own Kennyhill Ground.   Athletes came from Edinburgh, Dumbarton and all over Glasgow and events covered running and jumping events.

It would be a mistake to think of Alexandra Athletic Club in athletics terms solely as a promoting club.   It’s members took part in other clubs sports, the club itself recruited from other outfits.   The cutting below testifies to the involvement of their athletes (eg NC McDonald in the 100 yards) and as for the second – look at the result of the One and  Two Mile Flat Races above and note that George Phillips of Rangers FC  was third in the One and first in the Two.   Then look at the result of the Mile at the meeting below.   Note too that DH Watson who won the open quarter-mile “with consummate ease” was also an international rugby player.


Yes, that’s G Philips contesting the Mile and getting a nasty squeeze in the process.   It was not unusual for athletes to be part of several different clubs for different sports.  It seldom happens now – maybe a football player also belongs to a golf club, and then there was the case of Andy Goram the Rangers goal keeper being a wicket keeper for a cricket club during the summer months.   But the first is simply because golf for them is a leisure activity while Goram is known to us all because he was a genuine exception.

The sports in 1876 were on 22nd April and the Herald reported as follows but seemed yo find the crowd more interesting than the sport.   Amusement seemed to be his watchword the sport ‘lacked interest’, ‘the close of the amusements’, ‘much amusement .. over the sack race and the tug of war’,   and ‘the steeplechase was an absurd and unsatisfactory performance’.   

The complete results from the same paper read:

If we look at the athletes involved, we see that George Philips was again representing Rangers FC and won the One Mile, Thomas Vallance also Rangers, was second in the Place Kick competition and among the other football clubs with men in action were Queen’s Park, Clydesdale, 1st LRV and Lennox FC and  the Clyde Rowing Club was in there too.   

On 20th April, 1877, this appeared in the “North British Daily Mail”

There must have been a sports meeting on that date but unfortunately we couldn’t find any report of the day (although the search goes on . . . . .)    However the notice below appeared in the “North British Daily Mail” for Saturday, 11th May (note the word ‘today’) but unfortunately no report could be found until Alex Wilson came up with this one. 


  In 1878, the following appeared in the 

One week later, 18th May, 1878, this one did not seem to be giving prospective spectators much notice of the meeting.   It did however give details of how to get there listing four trains.   


It may be a printing error but the programme seems to have included a 12 yards hurdle race.

The “Scotsman” of Monday 26th May, 1879, informed us that the “Glasgow Alexandra Club Sports had on Saturday again to be postponed  on account of the unpropitious nature of the weather”.   The word ‘again’ will have been noted, there should also have been and again and again and again!   The report from the “North British Daily Mail” is below and will explain.

The field for the events was smaller, the number of stars available had diminished and even the six-a-side football had become a four-a-side.   That one was won by Queen’s Park who defeated Alexandra AC 2 – 0.   Results:

Beveridge and Crerar (3rd Lanark RVAC) were both in action again and note that the Athletic Club, whose main passion was football, was hoping to host a cycle meeting a month later! 

As can be seen from the award above, the Alexandra AC Sports were held on 1st May in 1880 – which was the same day as the Glasgow Academical Sports.   This was lamented at the latter event and the report in the ‘Scotsman’ reported that “Sheriff Spens, the president of the club, congratulated the members on the success of the annual games and expressed regret that the Alexandra Club did not see fit to fix on some other day for their sports.”   They had held them tough, and the report in the “Glasgow Herald” said: 

Not a word about the Academical annual games in the Glasgow paper.    Results:

There were many notable names among those entered – eg W Beveridge, champion sprinter, James A Crerar, another top class athlete and member of the LRV, Dinnie giving an exhibition, Tom Vallance of the Rangers FC, and of course there was a six-a-side football competition in which Alexandria defeated the Rangers in the Final by one goal to a touch – clubs could score touchdowns in the short sided football games.   Rangers also won the tug-o-war and the steeplechase kept its place in the programme.

The 1881 Sports were held on 21st May and no postponements were required,’ the weather being good’.  A novelty was perhaps the spectating from vehicles in some cases!  Previous advertisements had prices for horses (2/6d, and carriages (5/-) but not for vehicles.  The “North British Daily Mail” report was brief but the results were not.   The report first.


The results below are interesting for many reasons such the number of clubs represented – note that the West of Scotland Football Club was probably the rugby club.   Tom Vallance of the Rangers FC won the 120 yards hurdles – an event that would see his brother Alex win the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association title in 1888; and TG Connel, third in the 250 yards   and second in the quarter-mile was not only a member of the West of Scotland Football (ie rugby) Club but a founding member of the Glasgow HS Rugby Club.

Into 1882 and there was a notice announcing – the Alexandra Athletic Club preliminary sports.    Several clubs had two meetings,

  • in some cases, such as Rangers and Celtic, these took the form of the ‘big’ meeting on the Saturday with a ‘supplementary’ meeting on the following Monday or Tuesday;
  • in other cases, such as St Mirren FC, there was a preliminary meeting which was confined to club members with preliminary heats of an open event for the following week, on the Saturday before the ‘big’ meeting.

The Alexandra notice read –

The 20th May event may well have been the confined events and coverage was not found in any of the three papers searched but the meeting on 27th certainly took place and it rained a bit but it ceased after a bit and there was plenty to ‘amuse’ the Herald reporter including a Donkey race!   The  “Glasgow Herald” report reads:


The actual results were – 

Although the meeting went off well it is maybe fair to say that the standard of athlete was not what it had been with no BIG name like Dinnie, Hindle or McLeavie on the programme and there was no Rangers or Queens Park in the four-a-sides either.   The prize values held up though – with prizes worth, eg 12 guineas and silver medal.   

The meetings had lasted from the founding of the club in 1873 and featured some of the biggest names in athletics and several top cyclists, it was one of the few sports meetings that included the steeplechase event, and it was always conscious of the responsibility to entertain the paying public, hence the band playing throughout, the novelty races such as the Sack Race and the Three-Legged Race.   As a mainly-football club and also aware of what the public at the time wanted, the short sided football matches were also included.    Among the athletes featured, besides those alreadt mentioned, Peterkin won the 100 and 220 yards at the 1883 SAAA Championships, Harvie won the 3 Miles Walk in 1883 and 1884