Ireland in the Cross Country International, 1930’s

From the Western Mail, 25 March, 1933

I once heard an Irish runner at the cross-country championships whether she ran for Northern Ireland or Southern Ireland.   “There’s only one Ireland!” was the rapid response.   This was not always the case and for a short time in the 1930’s there was only one in ‘the international’.   It was a good time for the Scottish team with 7 team medals (3 silver and 4 bronze) and 4 individual (1 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze), but not so good for Ireland.   It could have been better though but we should perhaps look at the situation that prevailed.   

1933 was the key year but a look back at the Irish team that competed in the event in 1932 would help.   There was an Irish team competing in 1972 which was made up of 7 runners from the NACA Championships and one from the NIACCA.   NACA was the National Athletics and Cycling Association which existed between 1922 and 2000 and was a federation of athletics and cycling clubs.  It affiliated to the IAAF on 11 January 1924, and sent teams to the Olympics of  1924,  .’28 and ’32.    It also sent 5 athletes to the 1930 Empire Games, in Canada.  In each case, the team was claimed to represent “Ireland” rather than the Irish Free State.   There was a separate body – the Northern Ireland Amateur Athletic, Cycling and Cross Country Association (NIAAA) – which was affiliated to the AAA’s and there was some animosity between the two Irish bodies.   In the 1932 International at Brussels, the NACA cross-country championships were held on 7th March and afterwards the team to compete in  Brussels was chosen.   It consisted of runners from (mainly) NACA and runners from NIAAA (including the first to finish for them – H McFall from North Belfast).   So far so good but ..

Early in 1933 problems started to arise.   There was a move to enter a separate Northern Ireland team in the championship while keeping the NACA selected team as an Irish Free State team.   Articles such as the following appeared

The Irish Press reported on the team to represent Ireland after the NACA Championships, and the hotel in which they would stay in Newport when they travelled to Wales for the International fixture.   The decision announced above to accept the NI entry was not without consequences –

How would the cat jump?   What would the International Board decide?   The Press continued with the build up to the race and the Welsh Western Mail had a long report in which it said that The Scots had high hopes for James Flockhart but it was asking a lot from a first year internationalist, and Scotland had Robbie Sutherland.   They concluded with a not of the festivities attached – 

A day later and the map reproduced at the top of the page was printed – an interesting map for what it shows of the nature of cross-country at the time.   Road crossings, stiles to negotiate, a hurdle, gates – vastly different from today’s manicured courses which at times resemble extended bowling greens.   The arguments were still going on in the back rooms though.   This was now the day of the race – 25th March – both Irish teams were in Newport and had completed their preparations for the event.    That morning there was an article, written on the 24th, in the ‘Northern Whig’, a Belfast newspaper headed “WILL NORTHERN IRELAND COMPETE IN TODAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP?”   and it began

“The Northern Ireland … team has left Belfast for Newport (Mon) where they intend competing in the international cross-country championships today.   A meeting of the International Federation is to be held before the race and the Free State body intend to oppose the admission of the Northern Ireland body.   Should the Federation admit the Northern Ireland Association to membership or permit their team to run in the contest, the Southerners will withdraw from the race.   

“France will vote for the Irish Free State”, said a French official to a reporter at Paddington yesterday when the French team together with the Southern members of the English team left for Newport.   “Our delegates have been instructed to press for the withdrawal of the Northern Ireland team on the ground that Ulster runners are included in the English side.”

“It is understood that the AAA (England) will have difficulty in obtaining the admission of the Northern Association to the Federation as membership can only be granted by a two thirds majority.   Only 12 delegates, representing 6 countries, will be entitled to vote on the matter, and if only one other association, besides the Free State, votes against it, England’s motion will fall.”   

The teams from both Irish Associations were listed, both were ready to run but it was up to the men in suits to decide.   On the day of the race, the meeting took place. This report is from the Northern Whig.

THE BOARD’S MEETING

When the Internayional Board met prior to the race the English delegate moved – ‘That the application of the Northern Ireland Association for membership of the Union be deferred for a year.’   The Free State representatives proposed a direct nagative, wn when the vote was taken the Free State, France and Belgium voted for the amendment, and England, Scotland and Wales against it.   The Chairman gave his casting votein favour of the latter and moved out of order a protest by a Free State representative that a two thirds majority was necessary to carry the original motion.

It was then proposed by England that Wales should invite Northern Ireland to compete in the race, and with France and Belgium abstainingfrom voting, the motion was carried by six votes to two.   It was then that the Free State intimated that their team would be withdrawn from the race.   It is understood that an appeal was made to them to allow their team to face the starter but they declined to depart from their decision to withdraw.   The official announcement issued after the meeting of the board:-

The International Cross-Country Board decided to defer for twelve months the question of the affiliation of the Northern Ireland Amateur Athletic Association.   It was further decided that they should be allowed to run today in the international race without prejudice to the future.”

The results were good for Scotland – Individuals first and then the team:

Where did the championships go from there?   There was only one team from Ireland from 1933 right up to 1938 when there were two teams.   That meant two trials – reports from the Belfast News-Letter:

and

How did the teams fare on 2nd April?   They were last and second last BUT – had they run as a sibgle team with the six best men scoring, they would have beaten Scotland for fourth place.   Reports said that there were two Irish teams for the first and only time – but there were two teams in 1939 just before the War started.  They were again last and second last – but after the War there was indeed a single team from Ireland and in 1946 it was one place and 65 points ahead of Scotland.

A Famous Club by A Ross Scott

The photographs and the article by A Ross Scott on this page were discovered by Hamish Telfer in The Athletic Field and Swimming World, 30th April, 1910, p269.   The pictures are among the earliest available of Scottish athletics clubs and Ross Scott was one of the timekeepers at the London Olympics and officiated at the Halswell race fiasco.   His watch is on display in the Sports Village in Aberdeen.   

This last is a very interesting picture indeed – note the men wearing the sashes – the pack leader, the ‘pace’, wore the green sash and the pack whip the red sash.   A ‘muster run’ usually meant a joint run with several other clubs, usually at the start of the cross-country season and this might be the case here – there is also the possibility of course that it is simply a joint run of all the club’s sections given the date and how few clubs there were active at that time.

Thanks, Hamish.

Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association: 1956 – 59

Having followed the AHCA from its beginnings in 1924 up to the War and then for the 10 years immediately thereafter, it might be right to look at the ‘product’ –  the development of the Association through the careers of some of the runners who were brought into the sport and up to national, and maybe international prominence from 1956.   There were many of them and they performed on track (John Boyd, Tommy Cochrance, Jim McLatchie, etc) on the road (Ian Harris, Danny McFadzean, etc) with distinction.   

Ian Harris (Beith):  Ian, pictured above,  joined Beith Harriers as a Youth (ie Under 17) and his first training run was in a thunderstorm on a dark night.   Then on his first race at West Kilbride he tried to jump one of those Ayrshire barbed wire fences when he came off the road and cut himself badly but surprised everybody by coming in first.  Beith was a strong club at the time and he was a near contemporary of Tommy Cochrane who won the South West District  Cross Country Trophy so often that when the association folded up he was given the trophy to keep.   Incidentally his first Senior victory was in 1960, the year before Ian’s first win in the event.   Ian’s career included a victory in the South West District Cross Country Youth Championships in 1953 and victories in the Senior event in 1961 and 1963.    He had a third place in the Scottish Youth Cross Country Championships behind Peter McPartland (Springburn) and after finishing seventh in the SCCU Championships, ran for Scotland in the 1961 international cross country championships.   Ian joined the British Army and had a wonderful career in athletics there too: read the full story  here.    He appears in the Scottish rankings in the 1960’s as follows:

1959

2 Miles 9.35.0 14

1963

Marathon. 2.25.32 1

1963

3000m S/c 9.15.8 2

1964

Mar 2.30.28 3

1966

3000m S/c 9.36.8 9

Jack Boyd (ASAC)   John Robert Boyd was born on 30th July 1933, won gold and silver at the SAAA championships, set a national half-mile record and won in a British vest .

1959

440y 51.4 20

1959

880y 1.52.4 2

1961

880y 1.56.2 16

1962

880y 1.57.9e 29

1962

440yH 60.5 19

Jack’s story can be read  at this link .

 

Danny McFadzean (Beith):  Danny was a member of Beith Harriers from 1957 who ran well but after joining the Royal Navy he really started to improve – his progression in the marathon was as follows.

Year

Event Time Comment

1964

Marathon .2:31.57 4th ranked Scot

1966

Marathon 2:23:52 Kosice 6th/GB team

1967

Marathon 2:22:06 Boston 9th

1968

6 Miles 30.19.6 Ranked 15

1968

Marathon 2.32.27 Ranked 9

1969

Marathon 2:30:54 Boston 21st/Team 1st

1969

Marathon 2.31.01 Ranked 14

Danny ran in the Kosice Marathon where he was sixth in 2:23  and also went to Boston with a Royal Navy team which won the team race in 1969 with the runners being Phil Hampton (9th, 2:23:46), Joe Clare (17th, 2:29:16) and Danny (21st, 2:30:54).   Danny went to the race in 1967 when he was ninth in 2:22:06, then in 1968 when he finished 9th again in 2:32:27; he next went to Boston with a Royal Navy team which won the team race in 1969 with the runners being Phil Hampton (9th, 2:23:46), Joe Clare (17th, 2:29:16) and Danny (21st, 2:30:54).

Tommy Cochrane (Beith): Tommy was a top class runner over the country where he won Scottish international honours and on the track.   His two years National Service were spent mainly in Germany and he did a lot of racing on the continent.   He was a very highly respected athlete on both sides of the Border and eventually settled in the south of England where he was a very successful coach.

1963

3 Miles 14.37.8 25

1964

2 Miles 9.16.01 9

1964

3 Miles 14.32.8 17

1966

3 Miles 14.22.8 22

1966

3000m S/ch 9.31.2 8

Jim McLatchie (Muirkirk, Ayr Seaforth):  Very tall for a distance runner, he ran well on the roads and country but excelled on the track.   He became a top class coach working with Olympic athletes from Europe and the United States.   He has done so much in the sport you need to read his individual profile as a runner  here  and as a coach at  this link.   

Those are just some of the runners  who have started in AHCA races and gone on to really wonderful running careers.   If we look at some of the races organised after 1955, we get 

1955-56

District Relay 7/11/55 Wellpark Harriers T Stevenson

1955-56

Ayrshire Relay 26/11/55 Beith Harriers I Harris

1955-56

Ayrshire Championship S 14/1/56 Irvine YMCA I Harris***

1955-56

Ayrshire Championships Y 14/1/56 Irvine YMCA W Thomas***

1955-56

District Championships S 28/1/56 Wellpark H T Stevenson

1955-56

District Championships Y 28/1/56 Wellpark H W Thomas

1956-57

District Relay 3/11/56 Wellpark Harriers A Small & G King=

1956-57

Ayrshire Relay 24/11/56 Irvine YMCA S Cuthbert

1956-57

Ayrshire Championships S 12/1/57 Kilmarnock Harriers S Cuthbert

1956-57

Ayrshire Championships Y 12/1/57 Beith Harriers W Thomas

1956-57

District Championships S 26/1/57 Wellpark Harriers A Small (Plebeian)

1956-57

District Championships Y 26/1/57 Irvine YMCA W Thomas

1957-58

District Relays 2/11/57 Irvine YMCA W Thomas

1957-58

Ayrshire Relay 23/11/57 Irvine YMCA W Thomas

1957-58

Ayrshire Boys Championship 23/11/57 H Cameron (Doon) First running of this race

1957-58

Ayrshire Championships S 11/1/58 Irvine YMCA W Thomas

1957-58

Ayrshire Championship Y 11/1/58 - R Gray

1957-58

District Championships S 5/1/58 Beith Harriers W More Kilmarnock

1957-58

District Championship Y 5/1/58 - Race declared void

1958-59

District Relay 5/11/58 Beith Harriers I Harris

1958-59

Ayrshire Relays 26/11/58 Beith Harriers T Cochrane

1958-59

Ayrshire Championships S 10/1/59 Beith W Thomas

1958-59

Ayrshire Championships Y 10/1/59 Beith Harriers T Gilbert

1958-59

District Championship S 24/1/59 Wellpark Harriers T Stevenson24/1/59

1958-59

District Championship Y 24/1/59 Wellpark Harriers C Shepherd

1958-59

District Championship B 24/1/59 Doon Harriers E Hyde

***   Race run in a blizzard.

If we pause the results there and look back over the scene in Ayrshire, we see that the sport was in very good condition with honours being won by Beith, Kilmarnock, Irvine and Doon  and the first three always challenging at District level.   In the five years just covered, a Boys Championship over a mile and a half had been added to the Senior and Youths Championships and now in 1958 South West District had entered a team in the Inter-District Championship being held in Edinburgh.   First  SW runner to finish was WJ More of Kilmarnock who finished sixth.   More was another very good runner to come from the county: a tall, strong athlete he was fast on the track, often invited to run in short-limit handicap events such as a race at Carluke designed to set up a Scottish record for Graham Stark of Edinburgh, and a good steeplechase athlete.    He also ran for Glasgow University for several years.   A highly respected athlete.

 

Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association: 1945 – 1955

West Kilbride AAC 1948

Scottish athletics continued on a limited basis during the 1939 – 45 war.   The SAAA and the NCCU suspended activities for the duration of hostilities.   he sport was kept alive by servicemen posted to the area where there were large numbers of civilians engaged in war work at home.   They kept the sport going with club runs and inter club competitions.   There is more information on the start of this period at Peter J Allwell’s profile by Alex Wilson at 

http://www.anentscottishrunning.com/peter-j-allwell-the-Ayrshire-meteor/ 

There was therefor some club activity and in August 1943 clubs in the Midland and South Western Districts met at a meeting in the Blythswood Masonic Halls in Glasgow where the Scottish Cross-Country Association was formed with two aims: 

  1.   The desire to offer cross-country competition to suit current demand for those at home who loved the sport ; for Scottish youth at school and beyond, and for all interested servicemen stationed in Scotland; 
  2.    To preserve cross-country running in Scotland and present it in as healthy a state as possible to the post-war era.

The first ten years after the War will be set out in some detail to show the growth back to a fully functioning county athletics.

That first winter after the SCCA was formed saw 10 clubs in membership, but the following year with the Scottish Marathon Club formed in 1944, there were 24 member clubs in 1945.   The McAndrew Relay (held throughout), the Dundee Kingsway Relay (1942) and the Nigel Barge Race (1943) formed the backbone of competition.   There were also track meetings – a 2 mile winter track race at Ibrox, ‘Support the Soldier’ meetings were held at several venues.   New clubs appeared – St Modan’s FP’s, Vale of Leven AAC – and the Lanarkshire Cross-Country Association was also born.    The SCCA was disbanded in August 1946 and a start to normal athletics was made in season 1946/47. 

 In Ayrshire, the first South West District relay championships were held on 7th December 1946 at Johnstone with 18 teams from 11 clubs taking part.   West Kilbride won from Auchmountain Harriers.  Frank Sinclair of Greenock Wellpark had the fastest time.  Clubs had been in action before that however and the Beith Harriers Minutes from  12th October ’46 tell us that AF Neilson and J Calder were appointed representatives to AHCA.  The inter club scene was also pretty healthy with an instruction to the secretary to contact Jimmy Reid, West Kilbride, Lochwinnoch and Johnstone for inter club run.   On 1st February the District championships were held at Ayr and the individual title was won by J Reid of West Kilbride from W McLean of Greenock Glenpark.   Auchmountain reversed the result of the relays when they won the team title from West Kilbride.   

Track athletics were also starting up with an open meeting at Irvine in mid-June.   At the Stewarton Bonnet in July, there were representatives of Kilmarnock and Beith among the prize winners, there were also Ladies events with runners from Glasgow University and Kilmarnock Harriers, but there was also a big number of unattached runners who won or were placed in several events.   

The South West cross-country relays for the following winter season were held on 6th December at Beith with 15 teams from 10 clubs taking part.   The result was a victory for Greenock Glenpark Harriers by 34 seconds from West Kilbride.   The fastest times were by J Reid (14:22, West Kilbride AAC, W Williamson (14:31, GGH) and G Adamson (14:37, West Kilbride).   

Everyone was glad to be back in action and the following notice appeared in the ‘Scots Athlete’ at the start of 1948.

This was the first AHCA cross-country relays that were reported on with no mention in either the Glasgow or Kilmarnock Heralds, but no matter, the Association was back in action.   The South West District Championships were held from the Kibble School, Paisley on 7th January, 1948 and held over a very heavy two lap course.   There were 7 teams and 16 individuals running and the result was a win for J Fisher (Ayr AAC) from W Williamson (Greenock Glenpark Harriers) and W McLean (GGH).   In the team race, Greenock Glenpark won with 62 points from Doon Harriers (131 pts) and Kilbarchan (143 pts).   The other clubs competing were West Kilbride, Irvine YMCA, Auchmountain H and Greenock Wellpark H.    There have been many really hard working, as well as talented and able, men involved in the sport over the years and it would be wrong to skip over their careers.   We have already mentioned several at the start of the first page but there will be others.   One who was particularly thought of at this time was John Park and we reproduce the first page of his obituary from the August 1948 issue of the Scots Athlete below. 

Over the summer, sports meetings had been held at Kilmarnock, Ardeer, Stewarton, West Kilbride, Dailly and Irvine, with probably more that were not listed in either the Herald or the Scots Athlete.   The Ardeer Sports on the 3rd July was one of the biggest, incorporating the Ayrshire Schools Championship, cycle racing and a very full card of athletics – eg races for Youths as well as Seniors, races for Ladies as well as for men for whom there were 8 heats of both 100 and  220 yards with semi-final and finals,  plus field events plus five a sides (for both seniors and for locals) and the Stevenston Pipe Band playing all afternoon.   The sport seemed to be back on its feet.   

The South West Relays were held on 4th December, 1948 at Greenock, where the winners were the very good Greenock Wellpark team, followed home by Greenopck Glenpark and then Doon Harriers.   Fastest times were by Tom Stevenson of Wellpark (11:57) from Tom McBeish (12:00).   

The South West District Championships were run from the Kilmarnock Harriers HQ on 5th February, 1949, and the winner was Tom McNeish of Irvine by 10 seconds from  Tom Stevenson.   The winning team was Irvine, from Kilmarnock and West Kilbride, making it an Ayrshire 1-2-3.   

The team to represent Scotland in the International at Baldoyle Race course in Ireland in 1949 is pictured below where you will note three runners from Ayrshire – Tom McNeish from Irvine YMCA, James Reid from Doon Harriers and Robert Reid who had moved to England and ran for Birchfield Harriers.

 

On 21st January 1950 the County 7 Miles Cross-Country Championship was held at Kilmarnock and was won by J Reid from G Adamson (both West Kilbride) with W Martin of Kilmarnock in third leading his club to team victory.  Irvine was second and West Kilbride third.   The District Championships were held on 4th February with J Reid first, A McLean second and W Williamson third.   In the team race, Greenock Glenpark won with Kilmarnock and Paisley second and third.   The following season saw 16 teams from 7 clubs start the District Relay and only 12 finish.  The winning club was  West Kilbride from Irvine with Glenpark third.   Fastest times were by Adamson from S Cuthbert of Irvine and Frank Sinclair of Wellpark third.   The Ayrshire championships were held at Kilmarnock on 20th January and were won by G Adamson from T McNeish and D Lapsley (West Kilbride).   The team positions were West Kilbride with 43 points from Irvine on 61 and Kilmarnock on 81.   In the District Championships at Dalmellington on 3rd February, Adamson defeated Tom Stevenson by 17 seconds and in the team race Irvine won from Glenpark and Wellpark.

In 1951/52 the District Relays were held on 3rd November with a win for Irvine YMCA from Greenock Glenpark Harriers and West Kilbride ASC.  Fastest times were by A Smith, Plebeian Harriers,  and Tom Stevenson of Wellpark Harriers.   Plebeian Harriers was a club from the south side of Glasgow and had been established at the start of the 1920’s.    They had been a very good club indeed but by 1950 their best days were behind them.   The Ayrshire 7 Miles Championship was held on 19th January 1952 when Danny Lapsley of West Kilbride defeated Harry Kennedy of Irvine by only one second.   Trevor Coleman of West Kilbride was third.   In the team race, Irvine YMCA won with 45 points (Kennedy, McNeish, Andrew, Butler, Cuthbert, Alexander)  with West Kilbride second on 61 points and Kilmarnock third with 82.   In the South West District event, on 2nd February, 1952, Irvine again won the team race, this time with a team of Kennedy, McNeish, Andrew, Cuthbert, Andrew, Allan and Butler, from Plebeian and Paisley Harriers.   The individual title was won Tom Stevenson (Wellpark) from Harry Kennedy, and George King of Wellpark.   There was also a Youths race which was won by D Lapsley from K Alexander and I Jesmond.   

Season 1952/53 started with the District Relay Championships at Paisley on 1/11/52, being won by Greenock Wellpark Harriers (King, Anderson, J Stevenson, T Stevenson) with Irvine second (Dempster, Butler, Cuthbert, Kennedy) and Plebeian Harriers 3rd.   John Stevenson had the day’s fastest time..

The County Championships were held on 17 January 1953 at West Kilbride where the title again went to Irvine YMCA who won with 50 points from Kilmarnock (78) and Beith (83).   The familiar faces were in the Irvine team – Cuthbert 2, Andrew 3, Butler 5, Alexander 11, Allan 13, Dempster 16th.   The individual winner was D Lapsley who won comfortably from Cuthbert and Andrews.    

On 31st January, 1953, the South Western Championships were held at West Kilbride and the winners were the Stevenson brothers with Tom defeating younger brother John by 7 seconds with A Napier of Paisley third.   In the team race, Greenock Wellpark defeated Irvine YMCA by the use of a new tie-break rule, both teams having finished with 102 points.   In the Youths race, Ian Harris of Beith Harriers won from J Barr of West Kilbride with Wellpark Harriers victorious in the team race from Kilbarchan.

If we stick with cross-country for a bit and tackle track and field in a separate page. we see that the 1953/54 cross-country season started for us on 7/11/53, with the South West Relay which was held at Kirkstyle, Kilmarnock where Wellpark (G King, Frank Sinclair, J Stevenson, T Stevenson)  defeated Beith Harriers (Kenny Phillips, George Lightbody, JW Armstrong and Ian Harris) by 10 seconds with Kiolmarnock Harriers third.   Fastest times were by Sinclair, J Stevenson and G Adamson (West Kilbride).    This was an interesting race for several reasons and the entire ‘Scots Athlete’ report is reproduced here.

The consistency throughout the second placed Beith team was a real feature with only 16 seconds separating the fastest and slowest whereas the winning team had a 54 second difference and third placed Kilmarnock had a 35 second difference.   The Ayrshire Relays were on 28th November when West Kilbride (Coleman, Barr, Lapsley and Adamson) defeated the odds-on favourites, Beith Harriers (who fielded the same quartet) by 100 yards with Irvine YMCA 70 yards further back.   Fastest times were by Coleman, Harris and Lapsley.   In January, 1954, the County Championships were held on the 23rd at Kilmarnock.   Beith won the team race with their counting runners placed Lightbody 4th, Harris 6th, Phillips 7th. Armstrong 10th, Maxwell 10th, McGookin 19th.   Irvine was second team, with 21 points more.   The individual race was won by Lapsley (West Kilbride) from S Cuthbert (Irvine) and Adamson (West Kilbride).     Two weeks later, 6th February, 1954, the District Championships were held at Beith and were won by John Stevenson (Wellpark Harriers) from his older brother Tom and Napier of Paisley Harriers.   How did the race go?  The winning team was Paisley Harriers with 84 points which was 7 less than Beith Harriers in second place.   In the Youths race, Irvine won from Kilmarnock and West Kilbride.   Individually, Simpson of Plebeian won the gold with Blakely of Irvine taking silver and Barr of West Kilbride the bronze.    –

We finish this section with the 1954-55 winter when the South Western Relay was held on 6th November at Paisley.   This time the favourites were Greenock Wellpark Harriers who won by approximately 100 yards form Beith Harriers, about 120 yards in front ot Plebeian Harriers.   The winning team featured, of course, the Stevenson brothers.    Fastest over the course were John Stevenson, Alec Small (Plebeian) and Tom Stevenson.   16 teams had taken part from 10 clubs.   27th November saw the Ayrshire Relay Championships held at  Kilmarnock and Beith regaining their championship title.  They won by 70 yards from Irvine YMCA with holders West Kilbride third.   Fastest times were by Colquhoun (14:10), Harris (14:21) and Cuthbert (14:24).

The championships were held, as usual, in the New Year on 15th January and the team race was won by Beith who defeated Irvine by 29 points.   Again, the packing was very good with the team being Armstrong 2nd, Harris 3rd, Lightbody 5th, Phillips 8th, Maxwell 12th and Walker 16th.   Lapsley won the individual title from Armstrong and Harris.   In the Youths race, Kennedy of Irvine won from T Shields of Beith and  Irvine defeated Beith for the team race by the narrow margin of 2 points.   The 29/1/55, South Western Championships, held on 19th January, 1955 at Deafhilloch Hotel in Johnstone, was won by John Stevenson (Wellpark) from Lapsley (West Kilbride) and Napier (Paisley)   The winning margin was 37 seconds.   The team race was also won by Wellpark Harriers by over 50 points from Paisley with Beith the first  Ayrshire team to finish when they were placed third.   In the Youths race, Irvine YMCA  were again the winners, retaining their title, with R Black of Kilbarchan winning from M Thomson of Glenpark and W Davidson of Beith third.

The immediate post-war generation is often spoken of as a ‘golden generation’ of public spirited men and women who would work tirelessly for their fellow citizens and their community without thought of reward or public recognition.   If you look through the results of the AHCA runners of the 1950s – all easily available on the net or through public libraries or back numbers of newspapers and periodicals you will see names like some of those mentioned above – Harry Maxwell, Kenny Phillips, George Lightbody, etc who continued to give back to their clubs and communities in return for what they themselves had received.

 

 

Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association: Some Notables

 

Post 2nd World War, the AHCA, collected a small group of enthusiasts to act as Officials at track meetings and to lay the trail at cross country meetings. Even when the Ayrshire Athletic Club was formed and Beith Harriers was the only club affiliated to the AHCA, this small group was encouraged to continue. Some of these are noted below.

Willie Fulton, Irvine YMCA and Irvine Athletic Club, on the left in the picture above, was a pre-war cross country runner and cyclist. Kept on coming up with new ideas for promoting sports meetings. He organised

*the annual dance for the South West cyclists, inviting Willie Ross, a personal friend and Secretary of State for Scotland,

*Annual Harriers Vs Cyclists cross country race,

*Round Arran Relay,

*Round Cumbrae 10 miles,

*Annual Marymas Sports, acted as Starter and Timekeeper buying and maintaining the expensive guns and watches which he later bequeathed to AHCA.

He would also be found raking the long jump sandpit himself, he would appoint others to get experience of being Referee, Clerk of the Course, Starter, Timekeeper, Judge at the different track & field events. This was all in addition with his wife, Annie, to fostering 30 orphans over many years and transporting them and athletes to sports meeting in his old minibus.   He was also officiating at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and in the 1990 SAAA official handbook, he was on the officials list as a grade 1 starter as well as having qualifications for timekeeping, starter and marks man (now known as a starter’s assistant).   

His favourite annual summer holiday was to the Isle of Man to see the motor cycle races. He once taught Frank McCarvel of Ayr Seaforth a lesson. Frank was a good sprinter but was in the habit of not settling down on the starting line and doing false starts to upset the other runners. Willie thought it was a waste of his expensive cartridges and, after Frank moved, Willie fired his gun once but not twice to bring the runners back. Frank, knowing that he had a false start and expecting the second gun, stopped and was going to protest but changed his mind.

Harry was born in 1925. His father, Tom, and uncles competed in the 1920s and 30s.  Harry accompanied his father to the meetings. After leaving the Navy about 1948, he joined Eglinton Harriers, who were members of AHCA and Kenny Phillips remembers him running in a cross country race at West Kilbride but I don’t think that he actually raced much after that.  When Eglinton Harriers disbanded he and his brothers, Steve and Willie, joined Beith Harriers.   He was very active in the club but there were  three times in particular in the coaching schemes: 

First,  in the 1940s and 50s:   This was organised in Kilmarnock in conjunction with the Ayrshire Youth Organiser Walter Howie, Ayrshire Schools Physical Training Organiser Alistair Aitkenhead, the Jordanhill Teacher Training College’s Physical Education  Lecturer, and the top UK Coaches in specialist subjects.  The Ayrshire Club coaches were taught the rules of the various events, how to record, judge, set out and administer the events and what advice to give to their athletes at the Youth Panel coaching schemes.   The lectures, videos and discussions were a great boost to Ayrshire athletics and helped the confidence of the club coaches when they all received a Certificate.

Second, in 1954, Harry lobbied Councillor David Savage to build the Dirrans Ash track in Kilwinning and sponsor the Annual Dirrans Sports Meeting.

Third, in 1966 Harry Maxwell and Kenny Phillips were appointed Secretary and Treasurer of AHCA.   1967 Harry, who lived in Kilwinning at that time, organised weekly practical training of Coaches and Athletes under John Anderson, National Coach.

In the 1970’s there was a fashion of clubs joining up to form bigger and stronger clubs and Ayrshire was not immune from this movement.   In 1974 Ayrshire Athletic Club formed from several other clubs, the biggest of which was Ayr Seaforth AAC, leaving Beith Harriers the only Athletic Club affiliated to the AHCA.   At this point,  Harry and Kenny were  again appointed Secretary and Treasurer of AHCA.

In 1975 National Coach Frank Dick and Senior Coach Alex Naylor were engaged by AHCA to train the club coaches for their Coaching Certificates.   During the discussions, it was apparent that there was disagreement about some of the training methods.  All the club coaches applied for and gained the Ordinary Coaching Certificate and Harry and Kenny were failed for the Senior Coaching Certificate.

 

 

Ken Phillips, second right

Kenny Phillips, Beith Harriers, Twice Treasurer of AHCA.   Kenny was a founder member of Stewarton Sports Association, and organised Stewarton Cross Country Races for 30 Years. He also helped Alex Johnston with the funnels for the famously well organised Women’s 10kOK annual road race, and the Glasgow Colleges cross country races. Alex made and bent some cross country markers out of high tensile steel wire, which was light and easy to carry instead of wooden or iron markers. A piece of yellow ribbon was tied to the top of the 3’ high marker and was easily seen at 10m intervals, except at Pollok Park, where  the trail went through a field with a “Host of Golden Daffodils” and some students got lost.  1,000 such markers were made for the AHCA and loaned out to other clubs and some, not returned, still turn up at sports meetings. At a national event, where the trail was being laid by AHCA, it was discovered that someone at Scottish Athletics had engaged a contractor to erect an expensive balloon above the finish line without considering the danger of it being blown down in the high wind and causing injuries.     SAL invited two UK Officials, a lady and a gentleman, to a meeting in Glasgow to explain the proper way to form the finishing funnels at races. They were not following Alex Johnston’s approved design of 10m slowing down distance and Kenny wondered why Alex had not been invited to the talk. After the meeting, he discovered that the gentleman was one of the athletes he had trained with at Horwich Mechanics Athletic Club in Lancashire in 1960 but had not recognised after so long.

Bob Reid, as a youth, was a member of Kilmarnock Harriers but after getting pneumonia was unable to compete. He formed a youth club at his local village, Ochiltree, and attended with the members at the Youth Panel events. At one cross country event he altered the position of a few marker flags at a corner which had been laid by a tennis club member and who then wanted Bob to be banned from any further connection with the Youth Panel. Kenny Phillips managed to convince the committee to take no action and Bob and Kenny went on to receive a 40 years memento from the Youth Panel for 40 years service. Bob developed his skill at laying cross country trails and soon was pre inspecting, planning, drawing plans, laying flags and bringing them back in after the sports for the County, District and National events.

Jim Young at the World CC at Edinburgh in 2008, Alex Jackson beside him, the races had just finished and they were two relieved guys that the day had gone so well.   It could not have gone otherwise with that two involved!
 

Jim Young was one of the best known men in Scottish Cross-Country for many years and was always identified with Irvine for the national – there were other causes for his popularity but maybe best known for the Irvine connection.   We start here with an extract from his obituary by Ron Morrison, and follow that up with his friend Kenny Phillips’s comments.

Jim Young was born in Tarbolton and remained an Ayrshire man all of his life. After returning from sojourns in New Zealand and Canada, Jim eventually settled down with his wife Betty in Irvine.   Jim’s first Club was Ayr Seaforth, where he was club champion and soon afterwards Irvine AC where he remained a loyal member for the rest of his athletic life.

However, Jim did not restrict his contribution to athletics in Scotland to one club. Locally Jim will be remembered with Betty as the driving force behind the Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association for over 30 years.

It was there that with his constant pal Bob Reid that Jim set up a team called the Ayrshire Volunteers who specialised in building cross country courses.

Jim was also instrumental in bringing major events to the area such as the thirteen National Championships held at Beach Park and the Celtic Nations Cross Country Championship that was established by him.

Jim’s skill was soon deployed nationally. He served on the General Committee of the Scottish Cross Country Union (S.C.C.U.) in the mid 1970s and continued through the RR and CC Commission until he retired in 2010 due to ill health.

During that time he held the position of Championship Convener usually working in tandem with Betty who was heavily involved in organising the championships.

For those of you who have travelled to compete in a cross–country race wondering what the course will be like and who makes sure that it goes through enough mud, water, plough etc. then the chances are that if you have run in a cross country championship (Scottish Schools, Scottish National, 4K championship, 4/3 stage XC relays, Edinburgh International Cross, District and Inter–District) in the last 30 years – then Jim Young and his team have been involved in inflicting either great joy or otherwise in setting out the course for you.

At so many of these events they laboured – always being first there to set the course and last away home after breaking it down again.

The greatest challenge for Jim’s Ayrshire Volunteers was in setting the courses for the 2003 European Cross Country Championships and the 2008 World Cross Country Championships at Holyrood Park. The courses brought great praise from the I.A.A.F.

Jim served as S.C.C.U. President in 1982-3 and was awarded the Tom Stillie Trophy for services to athletics in 2008. Jim and Bob Reid were presented with long-service awards at the National Cross Country Championships in 2011 for inventing and deploying their world class course building techniques in Scotland over many years.

Kenny has this to say about Jim and Betty: Betty used to bake delicious cakes for the Officials at the Ayrshire Track & Field events. Jim stored heavy iron posts at his home and carried them in his car to all the sports meetings to mark off the starting points and finishing funnels, He traveled to the Irvine Valley factories at his own expense to obtain free rolls of silk to mark off on the ground the cross country trails. The silk was strong enough to withstand the wind and ensured that the athletes knew exactly where to go. The silk usually got wet and was discarded after use but was later replaced with plastic similar to that used by the public utilities.  The problem with Jim was that he could not turn down any request for help. One time at the International in Edinburgh, SAL asked him and the AHCA to mark off the cross country course using 6’ x 4”x 4” fencing stobs and wire. I had to complain to SAL about Health & Safety and them even considering asking a group of old age pensioners in their 70s and 80s to tackle such heavy work.

Others who really should be known – Jim Young led the team that built the courses for the European CC in 2003 and World CC in 2008 both times spending a number days in Edinburgh while they built them.   Bob Reid, Kevin Martin, Matt Ferguson all part of that team.

Nat Taylor, Girvan Athletic Club, who organised Girvan Lowland Games,  the Saughhill Race, the Merrick Hill Race.   Lowland Games are one of several sorts of summer athletics  events held across Scotland – Highland Games and Border Games are perhaps the best known but they are all community events as well as sports events and take a lot of organising; The Merrick is at 2, 766 feet the highest mountain in Scotland and as part of the Range of the Awful Hand is in territory that is wild and pretty remote, it would be a very difficult race to organise without any mishap.   

Kevin Martin, Manager of Magnum Sports Centre, Irvine.   The Magnum is legendary and it is source of great regret that it is now gone for good.   Continued to help with trail laying even after retirement and failing eyesight.   It contributed greatly to the success of the national and other cross country championships held there – the big games halls made available for changing, the theatre for the presentations, the secretarial help and the pinning up of the results for all to see, the patience of the staff in putting up with the many demands made upon them by the hordes of athletes from 11 years old to 70 years old (and older!) made for an exceptional experience for all taking part in national, veterans, schools, county championships.

Matt Ferguson, Kilmarnock Harriers.   Matt Ferguson and his wife were members of a motor cycle club.  His wife did a lot of baking for Kilmarnock events.  Matt and his son Stewart were both counting members in Kilmarnock team events.  He also organised the ‘Roon the Toon Road Race’ very efficiently and  continued to compete and lay cross country trails even after being badly injured in a motor bike accident.  Stewart was liked by the children when he was engaged as one of the four coaches for after school athletics in the primary schools of Beith, Dalry, Kilbirnie and Glengarnock.  Matt’s wife died when they were approaching retirement age.   Despite having 2 degrees, Stewart died two weeks after being offered as job as classroom assistant. There is a memorial seat to Stewart in  the Ayrshire Athletic Arena.  Matt continues to soldier on.  

So far we have been looking at men who worked mainly, but not exclusively, in cross-country events.   Glen Harrower was almost entirely track and field oriented.   What follows is taken from the Obituary by Matt Vallance published in the Scotsman in August 2012.

Glen Harrower was 73 when he died on 4th August 2012 but was youthful and vital with one big passion, football and Kilmarnock FC, and one huge passion: athletics and Ayr Seaforth AAC.   He was even known as “Mr Seaforth” and his huge contribution to the club and Scottish athletics was recognised when the governing body brought Lord Sebastian Coe to Glasgow to present Glen with an honorary life membership in 2009.   That contribution was underlined by the packed congregation at his funeral.   Ayr Crematorium staff said this was the biggest funeral there since that for Ally McLeod, like Glen a Glaswegian who claimed a very special place in the affections of Honest Men and Bonnie Lasses.   Glen’s family first moved from his native Glasgow to Stirling where his interest in sport and athletics was nurtured at Stirling High School where his gym teacher was then Rangers and Scotland goalkeeper Bobby Brown.   Glen always cited Brown as a major influence for the way he encouraged boys in his care at school to strive for excellence on the sports field.   Glen certainly was encouraged; he had trials with Stirling Albion, Falkirk and Dunfermline, but he himself admitted, while he had plenty of pace, he wasn’t good enough for the professional  game.   In any case, his preference was always for the running track.   In his youth he had run for St Modan’s AC, and right up to 2011 he was competing in Masters events around Scotland.   At Primary School he met Maureen, whom he was to marry in 1962.   Theirs was a life long love match, sadly ending with Maureen’s untimely death in 2002.   They had two children, Lauren and Douglas, and it was Lauren who was to be match-maker for the other great love affair in Glen’s life when she decided that she wanted to run and sought to join Ayr Seaforth.   

In the early 1970’s he took Lauren along to Dam Park where Ayr Seaforth consisted of long serving official Ernie Thursby and some ten athletes.   The once flourishing club which had seen the road runners do their own thing and the track athletes become part of Ayrshire AC.   Glen and Maureen got involved.    Glen felt that the club had an independent future, if young talent was nurtured, but to do this he and Maureen had to become team managers for the boys’ and girls’ teams, as well as coaches.   They set to work and built the club back up until in the 1980’s and 1990’s Seaforth began to dominate the Scottish Young Athletes League and international runners such as Brian Whittle began to appear in the white strip with the distinctive red saltire.  

Numbers have dipped slightly since, but today Seaforth is still a thriving club with some 300 members, mostly young athletes, using the excellent facilities at Ayr’s Dam Park.   Along the way Glen and Maureen did every possible job.   Glen had been President, Secretary and Treasurer and publicity officer, but his favourite job, and in his view his most important, was as a coach – something he was still doing right up to his death.   His philosophy was always “the athlete comes first”, and he moved heaven and earth to so his bets for his young charges.   He lived and breathed athletics, only occasionally switching off to go and watch Kilmarnock FC.   Early retirement gave him even more time to devote to his sport, and athletics certainly kept him going following Maureen’s death.”

I knew Glen slightly when we were both team managers in the Young Athletes League in the 80’s and early 90’s but the one incident that stands out was when he disqualified a runner in a meeting at Scotstoun.   It is commonplace now for field events athletes to be given coaching advice during the actual competition between trials but it is not legal for track runners even now to get such assistance.   Glen was track referee in a match when the Under 15 boys’ race was being run and the coach and father of one of the runners was running a diamond shape round the infield giving his runner instructions every 100 metres or so.   After the race Glen disqualified the runner (who won the race) because he received outside assistance.   The coach/father rushed the infield and challenged Glen to change his ruling on the grounds that he was at fault not the runner.   Glen held his ground against the chap whose face had gone from red to pale white with rage and anger.  Challenged to fight like a man, he refused to give in.   The incident was defused and the meeting progressed.  In over 60 years in the sport, it was the only time I’d ever seen such a situation arise and Glen handled it well.   

As a team manager, his team sheets were always in order and seldom changed – some team managers were in and out of the recorders box at all times during the afternoon changing runners, changing relay orders, asking what the rules were for starting heights or distances, asking how to verify a Scottish or League record and so on.  Glen was seldom in that category, never flustered.   A model team manager who also handled his athletes well on the day.

    

 

AHCA Constitution

The Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association

Name

The Association shall be called the Ayrshire Harrier Clubs’ Association and shall have the short title “AHCA”.

Membership

  1. *Membership of the Association shall be confined to athletics clubs affiliated to Scottish Athletics Limited based in Ayrshire and Arran, member groups of Jog Scotland based in Ayrshire and Arran, sports promoting bodies, schools, colleges and youth clubs based in Ayrshire and Arran.                                                                                                 
  2. All applications for membership must be made in writing to the Secretary and shall be submitted to the Committee at its first meeting after the application is lodged. The membership fee must accompany the application.
  3. Any organisation wishing to resign must give notice to the Secretary prior to the Annual General Meeting. If this is not done, liability for a further year’s subscription will be incurred and if this is not paid then the organisation will be liable for this subscription before it can rejoin.

Objects

The objects of the Association shall be:

  1. To further the interests of athletics by endeavouring to secure the formation of new clubs eligible for membership.
  2. To encourage clubs by promoting individual and team competitions, county championships, inter-county contests and international matches.
  3. To assist schools by encouraging the promotion of athletic competitions.
  4. To assist youth clubs by offering advice to members and encouraging the promotion of area and inter district youth panel sports meetings.

Government

  1. Each year at the Annual General Meeting a roll of patrons shall be drawn up.
  2. The office bearers of the Association shall be appointed annually and shall consist of a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman, a Secretary and a Treasurer. The offices of Secretary and Treasurer may be invested in one person. Each member organisation shall be obliged to supply a Secretary if this is necessary and shall do so in alphabetical rotation. All office bearers other than  Secretary and Treasurer must be appointed from Delegates duly authorised by member organisations. In addition the AGM may appoint an Honorary President. The Delegates will be elected by the member organisations with each organisation electing two Delegates.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  3. The management of the Association shall be vested in a general committee consisting of Delegates elected as described above and the office bearers. This committee will meet periodically whenever business demands it with a minimum of four meetings each year over and above an Annual General Meeting. A quorum for all committee meetings shall be fixed annually at the Annual General Meeting. The two Delegates from each member organisation shall have one vote each. Office bearers who are not Delegates shall also have one vote each. The Chairman shall have a casting as well as a deliberative vote. Ex-officio office bearers shall have one vote but only when the proposal comes within their area of responsibility and at no other times. Four Delegates/office bearers shall form a quorum at the AGM.

Meetings

The Chairman and Secretary shall decide the times and places of all meetings. At least fourteen days notice of a normal committee meeting shall be given to secretaries of affiliated organisations.      The  Annual General Meeting  shall be held no later than the end of November each year. This meeting will receive the Secretary’s and Treasurer’s annual reports and office bearers will be elected by a show of hands.  At least twenty eight days notice of the AGM shall be given to the secretaries of each affiliated organisation. This notice shall be accompanied by a provisional agenda. Notice of any business which an affiliated organisation wishes to be placed on the agenda of the AGM must be in the hands of the Secretary fourteen days before the date of the meeting.

Special General Meetings

A Special General Meeting may be convened provided the request is signed by the secretaries of three affiliated organisations and is placed in the hands of the Secretary at least fourteen days before the date of the proposed meeting. The business to be discussed must be specified. The Secretary will then give all affiliated organisations seven days notice of the meeting and specify the business to be transacted. A majority of the Delegates/office bearers present shall decide such business as submitted except that in the case of an alteration to the rules, a majority of two thirds of Delegates/office bearers present shall be required.

Annual Subscription

The annual subscription shall be fixed at the AGM and shall be paid not later than the end of the calendar year.

Discipline

The general committee shall have the power to suspend temporarily or permanently from AHCA organised or supported events, any person or affiliated organisation considered by the general committee to have brought the sport of athletics into disrepute. The decision shall be based on a simple majority of Delegates/office bearers present at the meeting. Misbehaviour might include betting or unfair practices connected with athletics such as failing to observe the rules. A person or organisation so disciplined shall have the right to appeal to a Special General Meeting. A two thirds majority shall be necessary before any decision shall be implemented at such a meeting. The decision of the Association shall be conveyed to the governing body.

Alteration to the Rules

These rules shall not be varied or amended except by the votes of not less than two thirds of those present at an Annual General Meeting or at a properly convened Special General Meeting called for the purpose.

Executive Committee

An executive committee consisting of the Chairman, Secretary and one other Delegate or Office bearer shall be appointed at the AGM to deal with any matter which may arise when there is insufficient time to call a committee meeting. It may also deal with any business which the general committee may remit to it.

Standing Orders

  1. A suitable account shall be opened at a branch of a bank approved by the AGM. This account shall be operated by the Treasurer.
  2. Sundry receipts of cash shall be banked whenever the amount exceeds £50.
  3. A cashbook shall be kept by the Treasurer in which shall be shown all intromissions supported by relative vouchers for either income or expenditure.
  4. The financial year shall end on the 30th September and a statement of income and expenditure prepared for the approval of the AGM.
  5. An auditor shall be appointed by the AGM. He will conduct a complete audit for the year and submit a report to the AGM.
  6. The four statutory meetings of the general committee shall be held in the months of November, February, May and August with the November meeting coinciding with the AGM.

Rules For Championship Events

  1. Eligibility of competitors shall be as defined by Scottish Athletics Limited.
  2. The rules for all events shall be as laid down by Scottish Athletics but in addition the following local rules shall apply:

Individual and team Championships promoted by AHCA or authorised sports promoting bodies shall be open only to (a) all members of our affiliated athletics clubs whether first or second claim, (b) people who reside in Ayrshire or Arran (c) all members of schools and youth organisations in Ayrshire and Arran. However anyone whose eligibility stems from (b) or (c) shall not be eligible if they are a member of an athletics club affiliated to Scottish Athletics which is based outwith Ayrshire and Arran.

  1. The venue of Championships shall be the headquarters of (or other premises arranged by) the host club. Each club shall have the honour of promoting the competitions in turn with the host club being decided by the AGM.
  2. (a)The trail for all championship races shall be chosen by the host club. (b) The office bearers of the Association shall have the power to change the trail if they consider it unsuitable. (c) The promoting club shall give the Secretary a description of the trail including distances so that member organisations can be informed as soon as possible. (d) A plan of the courses shall be prominently displayed on the day of the races.
  3. The distances for all competitors shall be in accordance with Scottish Athletics rules for the various age groups.
  4. All entries must show the competitors name, date of birth and organisation. Declarations will close 30 minutes before the start of the event. The Chairman and Secretary may scrutinise entries.
  5. The entry fee will be decided at the AGM.
  6. The Association shall appoint a referee and not less than two judges, two timekeepers, a starter and such stewards as may be thought necessary. These officials will be responsible for the conduct of the races and/or meeting. Each affiliated athletics club will be expected to nominate at least two officials.
  7. The general committee shall decide the number of competitors to count in team events and the number and value of awards for different events.

Winding Up

The winding up of Ayrshire Harrier Clubs’ Association shall require a vote to be taken at an AGM or a properly convened Special General Meeting. At this meeting the Delegates from all the affiliated organisations present at the meeting shall have to vote in favour of the proposed dissolution before it can take place.

Disposal of Assets

In the event of Ayrshire Harrier Clubs’ Association being wound up, any surplus funds left over after all our financial obligations have been met shall be dispersed equally amongst our affiliated athletics clubs.

Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association: Part 1: 1924 – 39

Ayrshire Championships, 1938, in Benwhat

The Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association was founded in 1924 and has been a force for good in athletics for almost 100 years.   It is not just another County Association.   It was established early in the 20th century and is still going strong in the 21st.   There were five clubs in the Association in the beginning and in 1990 there were 11 clubs in membership of the SAAA, and the AHCA was also affiliated.   In Dunbartonshire, Dunbartonshire AAA was only established after the second world war, the Glasgow Association did not last long and its members are scattered all around the city – Shettleston and Springburn are in Lanarkshire, Maryhill, Victoria Park and Glasgow University are in Dunbartonshire and Belllahouston is in Renfrewshire.     

Among the clubs which are or have been in the AHCA are –

Afton Water AC, Ailsa Harriers, Ardeer AC, Ayr AAC, Ayr Seaforth AC,  Beith Harriers, Cumnock AC, Dalry Thistle, Doon Harriers, Eglinton Harriers, Girvan AAC, Irvine YMCA, Kilmarnock Harriers, Loudon Runners, Muirkirk Harriers,  Stewarton, Troon Tortoises AC, West Cumnock Harriers and West Kilbride AAC.    Strangely, the short-lived Ayrshire AAC never joined the AHCA.

 It has organised the County Championships and Relays, the South Western District Relays and Championships, the Ayrshire  v  Renfrewshire match, County track championships and assisted at lots of local events.   Ayrshire of course is famous for cross-country with races which are noted for being tough courses.   If you want flat grassland, don’t come to Ayrshire.   Burns spoke of ”the lang Scots miles, the mosses, waters, slaps and stiles’  and that pretty well described the local country side.   We all have memories of the trails there.   

How did the Ayrshire Clubs Association come about and how did it develop ?   A major factor  in the development of the sport in the county was the Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association.   There had been a thriving cross-country and athletics scene in  Ayrshire before 1924 of course with several well known and successful clubs.   Alex F Neilson of Beith Harriers was a close friend of George Dallas, and was a founder of the Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association in 1924. He was president of the National Cross Country Union of Scotland 24 years later in 1948-49.   (32 years later he was still involved in the sport, and on 20th April 1956  Beith Harriers held a Presentation of Prizes where Alex was presented with a wrist watch in appreciation of his long years of service as President of the Club)

 Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association was founded in 1924 and its first championship (for season 1924/25) was on 17th January 1925.   More than 60 runners took part on a 7 mile circular course starting and finishing in Rugby Park.   The race was won by Saltcoats Harriers.   The following preview is from the Kilmarnock Herald & North Ayrshire Gazette of Friday 16th January, 1925.   

AYRSHIRE CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP

For the cross-country championship of Ayrshire, to be decided to-morrow (Saturday), there will be five clubs aspiring for the honour.   These are Beith, Kilmarnock, Mauchline, Saltcoats YMCA and West Kilbride.   The individual championship will bring out Calderwood of Maryhill (in West Kilbride colours), Quinn of Garscube (Saltcoats) and McIntyre of West Kilbride.   These three alone should provide a good race, and after Miller of Mauchline’s splendid show at the Western District Trial on Saturday, he cannot be overlooked as a ‘probable’.   The race is to commence from Rugby Park, which will also witness the final sprint.   Messrs Geo. Dallas and J.C.A. Bogie are expected to assist the County Committee in carrying out the arrangements.”

Unfortunately the next issue did not contain the result of the race in detail but the preview does show the ease with which runners could at this time turn out for clubs other than their own regular first-claim teams when it mentions the presence of Calderwood and Quinn.  

The Beith Harriers minute book gives us some useful information about the county athletics scene in the 1920’s.   On 1st February, 1925. the club  held an Emergency Committee meeting. There was a Financial Statement which had an Abstract of the Accounts of the AHCA showing a deficit of 8/9d, this entailing an additional 1/9d from each club as per their guarantee.  Payment of this levy was approved and the Secretary instructed to forward the required amount.  At 1/9d per club, there must have been 5 clubs in membership (5 x 1/9d = 8/9d    The early date in 1925 implies that they were probably in existence in 1924 and founder members.   

As an example, the year for Beith Harriers was typical of all the county clubs and indicates, as below, that cross country in Ayrshire was very active at the time – 

  • 14/03/1925: Beith Harriers had an inter-club run at Dalry
  • 17/03/1925 Letter from Saltcoats YMCA inviting club to a rally of all Ayrshire Clubs at Saltcoats. This invitation was accepted, and the club agreed to encourage as many members as possible to travel to it.   .
  • At the AGM on 14/09/1925 fixtures with Maryhill, Saltcoats YMCA, Paisley Juniors, Mauchline Harriers were announced.   Inter-club runs were popular all over the country at this time with no problems for Glasgow or other central belt clubs It is interesting to see how far clubs such as Beit were prepared to travel.
  • 27/09/1925 Committee  Accepted invitations to Maryhill, Saltcoats YMCA and Irvine Harriers.
  • 12/01/26  Team selected for Ayrshire Championship at Mauchline.
  • 14/ 01/1926  Beith Team 2nd in Ayrshire Championship which was won by James Mitchell of Kilmarnock Harriers.   
  • 23/08/1926  At the Beith Harriers AGM  T McGill was appointed representative to Ayrshire Association.
  • 26/08/1926  Committee Meeting:  Interclub runs proposed with Maryhill, Plebian, Irvine YMCA and Garscube.   It should be noted that these were probably the strongest clubs in the West of Scotland and indicates that the county was not just a rural backwater but a real part of the Scottish athletics scene.

The Beith Committee Meeting held on 26th October, 1926, was an important one.   The proposed constitution for the Ayrshire Association had been received and was read by R Black. Ii was the unanimous finding of all present that rule No 11 should have an additional phrase as follows. “7 days before the meeting” and rule No 7 of the championship races rules be altered to, “The venue of the championship be the headquarters of an affiliated club and such club to secure the honour in order of seniority.  When every club in the County has been visited thereafter the venue to be obtained by ballot, visiting a Northern section and a stipulated Southern area alternately.”  The only other change was rule No 9 – rules governing championship races.  Instead of a mile road to start and a mile of road to finish it was suggested that half a mile would be ample to meet any congestion at the first obstacle.

The club’s opinions were forwarded to the 27th October, 1926 Committee meeting of the Ayrshire Association

The documentation associated with the above indicates that the five early clubs were Beith Harriers, Dalry Harriers, Saltcoats YMCA, Mauchline Harriers and Irvine YMCA Harriers, unless some of them joined after 01/02/1925.   One might have expected Kilmarnock Harriers to be there.

*

The Saltcoats YMCA team that won the Scottish YMCA title at Thornliebank almost exactly one month before the County race in 1925.   Then their runners were D Lambie (1), T Maxwell (2), T Linney (6), J Conn (9), W McMillan (10), A Little (12), A Allan, jnr (13), W Lindsay (21)

*

The Glasgow Herald of 17th January, 1927 (season 1926/27) we see that the Ayrshire championships have been held two days earlier and their report reads:

THE AYRSHIRE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Catrine was the scene of the third annual seven miles Ayrshire cross-country championship on Saturday.   Nine teams, a record for the competition, started.   The course, which was of seven miles, was rendered extremely heavy by recent rains.   During the race the competitors had to contend with extremely unfavourable conditions.   R Miller, Mauchline, who was generally fancied to have it all his own way, set the pace.   He increased his lead mile after mile until ge ran out a winner by 400 yards from P Nicol, Kilmarnock Harriers.   J Roxbugh, Catrine, was third[ M Stobbs, Catrine fourth; CP Wilson, Irvine YMCA, fifth; J Quinn, Garscube Harriers, sixth; J Calder, Beith seventh; and H Todd, Kilmarnock eighth.   The winner’s time was  47 min 48 sec.   Team placings:- 1.   Beith – J Calder (6), A Fitzsimmons (9), G McKechnie (11), DF McKechnie (13), D Jamieson (23) and DG Gray (38) – Total 100 points.   2. Kilmarnock Harriers – P Nicol (1), H Todd (7), E Thursby (12), C Richardson (24), P Highgate (31) and E Loudon (39) – 114 points;   3. Catrine AC – J Roxburgh (2), M Stobbs (4), J Robertson (16), G Clark (26), J Nicol (35) and E McAdam (37 – 120 points;  4. Eglinton Harriers (123); 5.  Irvine YMCA (135); 6.  Mauchline (141); 7.  Barleith (241); 8.  New Cumnock (401); 9. West Kilbride AC (454).   P Nicol, Kilmarnock Harriers, was declared the winner of the junior championship.”

Nine clubs  had taken part and a runner from Garscube Harriers had also been allowed to run.   Interesting too that a Junior championship was being held as part of the race.   That the Association was now very much a part of the scene on a year round basis was indicated by an entry in the Beith Harriers Minute Book for 15th September, 1927, referring to the fact that the club would donate as a prize to the AHCA Free Gift Scheme a Whist Table to be valued at £2.   

The next big event over the country for the Association was at the start of the next cross-country season, 1927/28, and was the relay championships.   The extract below is also from the Glasgow Herald report.   note that from five clubs at the start in season 1924/25, there were nine in January 1927, and now there were eleven clubs contesting the events in December 1927.

“The Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association decided their ten miles cross-country relay championship at New Cumnock on Saturday under favourable weather conditions.   Eleven teams of four runners took part, each runner following a circular trail of about 2 1/2 miles.   In the first lap, James Mitchell, Barleith Harriers, the ex-Scottish 10 miles champion completed the circuit in 12 min 2 sec, being followed by J Calder, Beith.   In the second lap, DM Jamison brought Beith into first place with T Meikle, Barleith, lying second, and in the third lap Fitzsimmons still held the lead for Beith  with G Dick (Doon Harriers) close up.   In the final round, Adam M Hattie (Doon Harriers) finished strongly in front of DF McKechnie, Beith Harriers man.   Results – 1.  Doon Harriers (Alex McHattie, W Dick, G Dick, Adam McHattie).   2.   Beith Harriers (J Calder, DM Jamison, A Fitzsimmons, DF McKechnie)   At the end of the race the prizes were presented by Mr W Macfarlane, the president of the Association.”

The progress continued: on 14th January 1928 the championships were held at West Kilbride..   There were eight teams out this time including Walter Calderwood and Tom Blakely, both Maryhill.   Calderwood was a Scottish champion and record holder, Tom Blakely had set a Scottish record for the three miles and Calderwood would win the Ayrshire Mile title in summer 1928.   

There were of course sports held in Ayrshire over the summer and while they were of course run by the local clubs, with the involvement of AHCA in county championships – this is from the Ben’what Sports of 16th July, 1928.

Maxie Stobbs had a good, if strenuous day, winning the two longest distance races on the programme – he would go on to join Plebeian Harriers.   There were other sports meetings held in the county over the summer but the big one that year turned out to be at Beith at the end of July (20th) where there were no fewer than six county championship events as well as three Ayrshire Schools Championships, a Boys Brigade Championship and invitation events.   The ‘Glasgow Herald report read: There was only one outstanding amateur athletic sports meeting in Scotland on Saturday, and it took place at Beith where the local athletic club re-entered the list of sports promoting clubs.   It was a most successful gathering from a sporting point of view, and a large crowd watched the proceedings under ideal weather conditions.   The promoters set out to make matters pleasant for spectators and competitors alike, and in this they succeeded, everything being managed with a smartness that might be copied with profit by other  more experienced promoters.”   

It continued with a description of the meeting pointing out that English and British internationalist Cyril Ellis was competing  in his last events before travelling to Amsterdam for the Olympics.   The country championship results: 

AYRSHIRE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIPS

100 yards:  1. TJ McAllister, Beith H;  2.  W Wright, GUAC;  3. N Harrison, Beith H.   Time 10 4-5th sec

220 yards:  1.  TJ McAllister, Beith H;  2. J Calder, Beith H;  3.  AW McCulloch, Glasgow H.  Time 23 4-5th sec

440 yards:  1.  J Calder, Beith H;  2.  TJ McAllister, Beith H;    Time   5  1-5th sec *

Four Miles:  1.   T Blakely, Maryhil;l H;  22:23 3-5th sec.   Others did not finish.

Relay Race:  1.   Beith H (J Calder, N Harrison, NT Finlay, TJ McAllister); 2.  Eglinton H.   Time: 4 min 14 1-5th sec

High Jump:  1.  D Law, Beith H;  2.  A McHattie, Doon H.   Height: 5  ft 6 in.  

Two points emerge from these championship results: First, The names of TJ McAllister, J Calder will be familiar to followers of the cross-country results as good runners throughout the winter season and yet they were running comparatively good time on a grass track.   Second, it would be interesting to know what the qualifications for the championships were since Donald McLean of Maryhill was also present and competed in the Open Two Miles Race and dropped out, and was ‘handicapped out of it’ in the open Mile.   He did not take part in any championship event.   However, the AHCA championships were a big part of a very successful meeting.   

The winter season came round and in December, the AHCA organised 10 mile relay was run at Beith on Saturday, 8th December.   The report from the Kilmarnock  Herald described that afternoon for us.

AYRSHIRE TEN MILE RELAY CHAMPIONSHIP

The second annual cross-country cross-country Relay Championship held under the auspices of the Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association was decided at Beith on Saturday.   By courtesy of Mr BJC Govan of Geilsland House, the competitors were given stripping accommodation in the garage behind the mansion house, while the race started and finished at the entrance on the Lugton Road.   Eight teams of four started on the course which measured about 2 1/2 miles.   The trail was laid over country to the north of the Lugton Road, starting in the direction of the town, then circling to the right and coming back on to the road about half a mile from the change-over.   Keen frost made the going very hard, but otherwise conditions were excellent.   At the end of the first round, Barleith Harriers (T Meikle) led Beith Harriers (DF McKechnie) by a couple of second with Eglinton Harriers (G Evans third and Doon Harriers (Alex McHattie) fourth.   On coming round a second time (half distance) the local club’s second man (A Fitzsimmons) was now leader, Eglinton (A Little) were second and Barleith (J Clowes) third, while Kilmarnock (E Thursby) had moved up to fourth place.   From this point on till the end, Beith Harriers had the issue well in hand.   G Ferguson and J Calder both increasing their advantage, the latter finishing a minute ahead of the Barleith representative.   Results:-   1 – Beith Harriers (DF McKechnie, 13 min 4 sec, A Fitzsimmons 14 min 17 sec, G Ferguson 14 min 5 sec, J Calder 13 min 57 sec)  Time, 54 min 5 sec;   2 – Barleith Harriers (T Meikle 13 min 4 sec, J Clowes 14 min 36 sec, J Scobie 15 min 40 sec, J Mitchell 14 min 51 sec) Time 56 min 53 sec;   3 – Doon Harriers, holders (Alex. McHattie 14 min 11 sec, W Dick 14 min 33 sec, G Dick, 14 min 43 sec, Adam McHattie, 13 min 45 sec) Time, 57 min 30 sec.   The other placings were:- 4.  Kilmarnock Harriers, 5. Eglinton Harriers; 6. Eglinton Harriers B;  7. Doon Harriers B;  8  Barleith Harriers B.   The fastest lap times were  13 min 40 sec  T Meikle (Barleith);  13 min 42 sec DF McKechnie (Beith), 13 min 43 sec   Adam McHattie (Doon) .

   *

The January 12th, 1929, version of the championships was a bit different from the previous ones. The report in the Glasgow Herald read as follows.     “The Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association held their fifth annual team and individual championships  from the Railway Institute, Barleith, by Hurlford.   Excellent weather conditions favoured the fixture and there was a fine attendance.   The entry of eight clubs (twelve to run, six to count) included all the leading runners belonging to county clubs with the exception of ex-Scottish champion James Mitchell, Barleith Harriers (Ayrshire champion in 1925) who was indisposed.

Owing to the introduction of a new rule, two past winners, R Miller (1924 and 1926), and WC Calderwood (holder), both of Maryhill Harriers, were debarred from competition through not being first-claim members of an affiliated club.   A new individual champion had therefore to be found but, with Beith Harriers having five of last year’s winning sextette, the team honour was not expected to change hands.   

An excellent trail of some seven miles was laid by the local club, the course being to the south of the village , starting and finishing with half a mile on the Mauchline Road.   The going was slippery in places and although there was not a great deal of ploughed land to be traversed, yet the course was a stiff test of stamina and pace.   The field of over 80 competitors was started by the Asociation president , Mr G Laurie, Eglinton Harriers.   Owing to a haze the progress of the runners could not be followed, and it was only when they came into view in the last half mile of road work that it could be seen that the leader was Maxwell Stobbs, Catrine AAC.   Not far behind came T Meikle, Barleith H., and as they neared the tape, the local lad made a splendid effort to get in front.   He probably would have succeeded had not the crowd closed in so as to leave a narrow ‘lane’ that there we no room to pass.   It was a rayher unfortunate happening, particularly as Meikle seemed to have the stronger finish, but Stobbs was a very plucky run indeed.    So far as the team race was concerned, Beith Harriers confirmed popular opinion by scoring their third successive victory, although their winning margin was slightly less than that at West Kilbride last year.”

Result:  1.   Maxwell Stoibbs, Catrine AC,  43 min 12 sec;   2.   T Meikle, Barleith H,  43 min 12 1/5th sec;   3.  AM Hattie, Doon H, 43:37.

Team Championship:   1.   Beith H, 73 pts;   2.  Eglinton H   92 pts;   3.  Kilmarnock H  133  pts.

There were trophies for each race – first individual won the Lieut-Col  JT Moore, CBE, MP  challenge cup and the winning team received the William H Campbell, Esq, Challenge Cup.   

The next fixture where the Association was heavily involved was on 9th March at Saltcoats where the second annual Ayrshire  v  Renfrewshire Inter-County match took place.   The Ayrshire team consisted of CF Wilson (Itvine YMCA 2), E Thursby (Kilmarnock 4), J Park (Doon 6), R Maxwell (Eglinton 10), G Evans (Eglinton 11), DF McKechnie (Beith 13), H Tod (Kilmarnock 14), P Highgate(Kilmarnock 16), D Kerr (Irvine 18), D Fitzsimmons (Beith 19).   Renfrewshire won with 99 points to the home team’s 112.   

Tom Maxwell: Read about his son Harry Maxwell on the ‘Notables’ page.

The Association was now five years old and was already a substantial body organising championships – cross-country relay, cross-country championships, track and field championships, helping the various clubs with their own meetings, selecting the County team for the Inter-County competitions  and once the South Western District was set up from the old West District, no doubt organised those championships held in Ayrshire with the clubs concerned.    

The relays, organised ‘under the auspices of the Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association’, were run on 7th December, 1929, at Mauchline.  Irvine YMCA won from Barleith followed by Kilmarnock, Beith and then Irvine B team, then Eglinton, Doon, Catrine, Barleith B and Mauchline. 

*

On 11th January 1930 the championships were held at Saltcoats again and the report in the Glasgow Herald on the following Monday read 

IRVINE YMCA HARRIERS’ SUCCESSES

Irvine YMCA had a successful afternoon at Saltcoats on Saturday.   The occasion was the sixth annual team and individual championships open to all clubs affiliated to the Ayrshire Harrier Clubs Association and the Irvine club eas successful in gaining both titles.   Each win was accomplished with something to spare.   This year’s team conditions differed from those in the past in that, instead of being confined to runners of junior status they were open to seniors also.   The immediate effect of this new rule was was that ex-champion Jas. Mitchell ran in the Barleith team, while Irvine YMCA had the services of CP Wilson who, like Mitchell, is an internationalist.   It had, however, no bearing on the result such was the margin of points – 49 – in the winners’ favour.   While the entry of only five clubs was disappointig, , the only notable absentee was WH Calderwood, who was County champion two years ago.   Calderwood i8s now debarred by reason of his being a first-claim member of an outside club – Maryhill Harriers.   There were twelve runners in each team, and the aggregate number of the first six determined the order of the teams.   There were also two individual entrants, M Stobbs Catrine AC (holder), and WH Dunlop, Glasgow University Hares and Hounds, so that the field totalled 62 runners.   The course measured 6 miles 918 yards and consisted of one circuit , the start taking place in Argyle Road and finish on the promenade.”

The first three individuals were R Wilson, Irvine YMCA;  2.  CP Wilson Irvine YMCA; 3.   M Stobbs, Catrine AAC.    and the first three teams were

  1.   Irvine YMCA (R Wilson 1st; CP Wilson 2nd; D Aldie 9th, D Kerr 10; D Fry  13; J Watson 15th)  60 pts
  2.  Barleith Harriers (J Mitchell 3rd; T Meikle 5th; J Rennie 16th; E Malcolm 19th; J McDade 26; J Cowan 31st)  99 pts
  3.  Eglinton Harriers (H Davidson 4th; R Maxwell 7th; G Evans 11th ;  J Hamilton 18th; R Reid 21st; W Kelly 30th)  101 pts.

PJ Allwell

More work came the way of AHCA in February 1930 when the South West District was created from the old West District.   It would consist largely of Ayrshire and Renfrewshire with some clubs from Galloway also involved.   The association would inevitably be involved with the various host clubs organising the trail on a fairly frequent basis.   The first championships of the new association were held in that same month of February 1930.at Eglinton Castle.   The first three individuals were M Stobbs, Catrine AC, R Wilson, Irvine YMCA and T Tod of Kilmarnock.   The first three teams were Irvine YMCA, Eglinton Harriers and Paisley Harriers.   There were 12 teams taking part in the event.

The work of the Association progressed through the 1930’s and the results, where available, for the County Championships and Relays plus those of the District Championships are noted below.   They show the range of clubs involved as well as the number of individuals who recorded victories or fastest times in the various events.   They are not all, or anything like all, that AHCA did – eg the track championships are not here, nor are the District Relays which ran from 1929/30 through to 1938/39.    There is a lot more information on the latter part of this period in Peter Allwell’s profile by Alex Wilson  at http://www.anentscottishrunning.com/peter-j-allwell-the-Ayrshire-meteor/

Season Race Date First Individual First Team Comments
1930/31 Ayrshire Relay 13/12/30 M Stobbs [fastest] Beith H
1930/31 Ayrshire Champs 12/1/31 D Fry [Irvine] Doon H Held at Benwhat
1930/31 SW District 7/2/31 M Davidson [Eglinton H] Beith H Eglinton
1931/32 Ayrshire Relay 28/11/31 A McHattie [Doon] Doon H Benwhat
1931/32 Ayrshire Champs 16/1/32 M Stobbs [Catrine AC] Kilmarnock H Beith*
1931/32 Ayrshire Champs 23/1/32 M Stobbs[Catrine AC] Kilmarnock H Beith**
1931/32 SW District 6/2/32 T Tod [Kilmarnock] Kilmarnock H Held at Irvine
1932/33 Ayrshire Relay 3/12/32 W O'Neil [Doon] Eglinton H Riccarton
1932/33 Ayrshire Champs 14/1/33 M Stobbs (Catrine) Kilmarnock H Irvine
1932/33 SW District 4/2/33 W O'Neil [Doon] Eglinton H Milliken Park
1933/34 Ayrshire Relay 2/12/33 D Fry [Irvine] Irvine YMCA Catrine
1933/34 Ayrshire Champs 13/1/34 D Fry [Irvine] Irvine YMCA Ayr Racecourse
1933/34 SW District 3/2/34 J Miller [Beith] Greenock Glenpark H Held at Irvine
1934/35 Ayrshire Relay 8/12/34 HW Davidson [Eglinton] Eglinton H Irvine
1934/35 Ayrshire Champs 14/1/35 HW Davidson [Eglinton] Eglinton H Riccarton
1934/35 SW District 2/2/35 A McDonald [Auchmountain] Auchmountain H Held at Beith
1935/36 Ayrshire Relay 29/11/35 WC Murdoch [Beith] Eglinton H Hurlford
1935/36 Ayrshire Championships 11/1/36 M Stobbs [Kilmarnock] Beith H Ayr Racecourse
1935/36 SW District 8/2/36 W Kennedy [Kilbarchan] Beith H Inchinnan
1936/37 Ayrshire Relays 5/12/86 J Barr [Beith] Beith Ayr
1936/37 Ayrshire Champs - - -
1936/37 SW District 6/2/37 W Fulton [Ardeer] Irvine YMCA Eglinton
1937/38 Ayrshire Relays 6/12/37 PJ Allwell [Ardeer AC] Ardeer AC Kilmarnock
1937/38 Ayrshire Champs - - - -
1937/38 SW District 5/2/38 H Livingston [Kilmarnock ] Greenock Glenpark H Johnstone
1938/39 Ayrshire Relays 4/12/38 R Reid [Doon] Beith H Benwhat
1938/39 Ayrshire Champs 14/1/38 - -Ardeer**
1938/39 SW District 4/2/39 R Reid [Doon H] Gteenock Wellpark Beith

* The championship at Beith in January 1932 was headlined as ‘a fiasco’.  Read the Glasgow Herald comments:   “The stormy weather on Saturday completely spoiled the Ayrshire Championships.   The high-lying Beith countryside got the full force of the gale and it was impossible to lay a paper trail.   A course was hurriedly set with the aid of flags, but this did not prove entirely satisfactory, with the leaders having difficulty in following the latter part of the trail.   In consequence of this, Irvine YMCA lodged a protest, which was upheld and the race was ordered to be re-run next Saturday at Beith.   Saturday’s race, such as it was, proved most interesting and it was unfortunate that, through no fault of their own, Maxwell Stobbs (Catrine AC) and Kilmarnock Harriers were denied the success which their efforts merited.”

** The most satisfactory feature of the re-run Ayrshire Championships at Beith was the confirmation of the successes achieved the previous Saturday by Maxwell Stobbs (Catrine) and the Kilmarnock club.” 

**  Meeting cancelled because of fog.  “PJ Allwell was another prominent runner deprived of a race when the Ardeer event was called off.”

Several of the runners from Ayrshire mentioned ran cross-country for Scotland, either in this period or subsequently.   Names like James Mitchell  (1925, ’26), R Miller (1926, ’27), CP Wilson (1929, ’31), M Stobbs (1930, ’31, ’32), D Fry (1931), T Tod (1934), PJ Allwell (1938, ’39),   R Reid (1939, ’46, ’47, ’48, ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52).

There was a thriving athletics scene in Ayrshire before 1924 but the Ayrshire Harriers Association added a structure and greatly helped the development of the sport there.   Meanwhile we show below the report on Beith Harriers’ third consecutive victory in the South West District Relay in 1934.

 

 

Rangers Sports, 1962

1962 was the last ever Rangers Sports – it had been a wonderful meeting that had outlasted all of its rivals.   Largely because of the driving spirit of William Struth, a former professional athlete.   The Celtic Meeting might have lasted too had the original date been earlier in the year and it was organised by Willie Maley, with the two – Maley and Struth – being great friends as well as rivals.   

 

 

 

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Rangers Sports Programme, 1936

You will note from the large print in the middle of the cover that this was the 50th annual sports held by the club and it was a big occasion.   One of the features was the large numbers of competitors – eg 145 entries in the Mile handicap!   A lot for the back markers to wend their way thrpugh if they were going to do anything!

 

..

Celtic Sports Programme, 1935

Celtic Sports ended in the late 1930’s simply because the football season started earlier than had been the practice and the earlier dates in the season were pretty well blocked in by established Sports such as Greenock Glenpark, Queen’s Park FC, the Rangers FC and so on.   This programme was sent by John Mackay and it shows how well the sports were doing when they were brought to an unfortunate end.

 

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