Andrew Hannah


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


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

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


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


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


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

Andrew Hannah: 1890


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


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


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


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


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


Best Champ Performance and Scottish


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


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

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

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

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

From ‘The Scottish Referee, 7th July 1890 

Andrew Hannah: Captain Clydesdale Harriers

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

Rangers Highland Games

William Wilton, Rangers Manager from 1899 to 1920.

The Rangers Sports are well known.   Not only did they have the very best of international athletes competing, but they held open handicap events alongside the star studded international spectaculars.   The service this did in raising the standard and motivating domestic athletes was incalculable.   It is impossible to envisage a meeting organised by any body in Scotland which involved invitation events for international athletes alongside open events for Scottish athletes.   However the club did more than host the annual amateur meeting on the first Saturday in August.   Several formats were tried such as the professional highland gatherings held in the early 1900’s.   

The following notice appeared in the Club Notices column of the ‘Scottish Referee’ and other newspapers in mid-June, 1903:





(under distinguished patronage)

IBROX PARK, Saturday 27th June at 2:30 pm


For the Mixed Style Championship of Great Britain, between ALEX MUNRO, Scottish Champion, and MATT STEADMAN, of England




Glasgow Cowal, (League Champions)  v

Kyles Athletic  (Holders of the Celtic Society’s Cup_


Gymnastic Novelties by The Marzelos

The following champions will compete:-  TOM KEANE (America’s Champion Sprinter),  JAS FERGUSON, Dundee, who recently defeated Callum of Cardiff, FRED E BACON (1 to 10 Miles Champion), CHAS THOMAS,( half mile champion.)


Admission  6d;                             Stands  6d extra


It was a new venture for the Ibrox club and the previews were all favourable – it was expected to be huge success, the club directorate were showered with praise and, it was said, there was enough talent to be seen for three meetings, never mind one.   The Scottish Referee promised that if the sports were as brilliant as they promised to be, then it would be another red-letter day in the Rangers FC history.   

Unfortunately, the weather did not do its bit to promote the meeting:  “the 27th was as dreary, disappointing and as disgusting as a November fog.   The worst of Saturday’s cruel experience was that it was somewhat unexpected, for the morning opened gloriously, the sky giving little or no indication of the rain which was stored up behind its azure shade.”  …  “the rain pitiless and pelting fell upon rich and poor.   The finest of fine millineries, the blaziest of blazy ‘bashers’, the daintiest of the dandy ‘dudes’, and the ‘prawest’ of the ‘praw’ Hielantmen who, in the garb of ‘Old Gaul’, paraded at Ibrox Park in the Rangers grand Highland fetes – all had their share of water.”

In brief it rained buckets.  The rain and its effects was mentioned in almost every paragraph of the reports – but the meeting went on and one of the most stirring events of the day was the wrestling match between Munro and Steadman.   “Regarded as magnificent specimens of our race, the two champions, apart from their ability, are a treat to look upon.”    As a battle between champions it was well received, and the victory of the Scot, Munro, was appreciated by all present.   He then further delighted the crowd by winning the caber tossing.   The piping and dancing?  A curtailment was requested by the press if they were to be included in future – there was just too much of each!   

The Scottish Referee recommended to other sports promoters that they take a leaf out of the Rangers book if they wanted to spice up their sports with shinty and the Marzellos, a group of talented acrobats taking turns in performing delighted the crowd.   The heading on the athletic results read:  MISERABLE WEATHER  –  CAPITAL ATTENDANCE  –  MAGNIFICENT WRESTLING


120 yards handicap:  Five Heats.   Final:  1st J Howden, Edinburgh, 9 1/2 yards;  Time  12 seconds

Putting the Ball:  1st A Cameron, Partick, 44 feet 8 inches

Half Mile:  1st W Struth, Edinburgh, 18 yards,  Time 1 min 56 sec

300 yards flat race:  Four Heats.  Final:  1st WA Robson, Edinburgh, 21 yards.  Time: 32 sec.

Vaulting with Pole:   1st A Liddle, Glasgow

One Mile Flat:  1st D Morrison, Strathblane, 90 yards.  Time 4 min 23 3-5th sec

High Leap:  1st  A Liddle, Glasgow,   5 feet 5 1/2 ins

Tossing the Caber:  1st A Munro, Govan

The name of W Struth, Edinburgh, competing at Ibrox, immediately leaps out at us.   Not only did he win the half mile, but he was second in his Heat of the 300 yards.  Looking at some of the times, the question is – were the measurements accurate and/or was the timekeeper qualified?   It had been a successful weather despite it all and the club was encouraged enough to hold another the following next year.   


The man from Edinburgh was again in action in the half mile on 18th June, 1904, but could only finish second this time in what was again described a a very full programme.   But were the Games a success?   They were covered in a favourable light – not only by the Glasgow and West of Scotland Press but also by The Scotsman in the East.   They started their report as follows:

“The second of the Highland Gatherings so auspiciously inaugurated by the Rangers Football Club last season, took place on Saturday at Ibrox Park.   Although the weather was somewhat cold and the sun obscured by threatening clouds, the attendance was very good.   The principal contest in the wrestling was between Alexander Munro of Govan and Alfred Kramer of Germany for a purse of £25.   The match was decided by the best of three falls in Cumbernauld, Scottish and Graeco-Roman styles.   In the first style Munro won two falls, and the German one fall; in the catch-as-catch-can, the foreigner lost the first two falls, the first in 3 minutes 10 seconds and 6 minutes 10 seconds respectively.   Kramer however gave a much better account of himself in the Graeco-Roman style.   From the start he forced matters and succeeded in pinning Munro’s shoulders to the mat in 4 minutes.   Munro won the two remaining falls in 4 minutes and 30 seconds and 8 minutes respectively. “

That   was not the only wrestling on offer – WW Bain, described as the middle weight champion of Britain, undertook to throw six opponents in an hour, at the same time as conceding a stone over his own weight.”    He was successful.   

The results: 

120 yards:  Five Heats.  1st:  J Ferguson (Invergowrie)  6 1/2 yards:  Time: 11.8 seconds

Putting 16 lb Ball:  1st:  Charels MacLean (Fort William)  45 feet 3 inches

Half Mile Handicap:  1st D Butchart (Leith) 48 yards;  2nd  W Struth (Edinburgh)  16 yards.  Time:  1:58.2

Throwing 16 lb Hammer:  1st:  J Morrison (Partick)  113 feet 9 inches

High Jump:  1st James Buchan (Partick)  5 feet 7 inches

Tossing the Caber:  1st A Munro, Govan

300 yards: Three Heats:  1st T Keane (America)  scratch.  Time:  31.6 seconds

Vaulting with Pole:  1st C MacLean (Fort William)  9 feet 9 inches

One Mile:  1st D Butchart (Leith)  65 yards.   Time: 4 minutes 31 seconds

There were also dancing and piping contests – and of course, more wrestling (wrestling Scotch Style, under 12 stones)

It had been another successful meeting.   


and that may have been it – there were athletic events held at Ibrox on every Saturday between the end of May and the middle of July in 1905 but none of them were hosted by the Rangers FC and they were all amateur meetings too.   A successful experiment, well favoured by the Glasgow public and it seems to have lasted for just two years.




MC Seton

Major MCC Seton

It is usually the case that when we look at historical figures from the earliest days of athletics, we see their performances with only a cursory glance at their later life.   Often not even that.   If we look at the 880 yards runners from the end of the 19th century this is even more true.   We might see the obituary for Walter Malcolm (SAAA half-mile champion in 1894 and runner-up in ’91 and ’92 and read: 

“Athletics are considerably poorer by the death of Walter Malcolm of Greenock Morton FC.   When he was but 19 years of age he won the Clydesdale Harriers Mile Novice handicap and three years later was the half-mile champion of Scotland.   Such rapid progress has few parallels even in these days of athletic phenomenons.   Though he often figured in 220 and 440 distance, sit was in longer distances that he excelled and has left his mark in the records of Scottish pedestrianism.   He holds the native records for the half mile and the 1000 yards.   His time for the latter is 2 min 31 sec.   Both Rodger and Mitchell once or twice attempted last year to reduce it but failed.   Whether Malcolm indulged too much in athletic exercise we do not care to say, but it is noteworthy that just as he was at his height, he contracted an illness which developed to such an extent that he was compelled to give up the idea of ever running again.   It was thought with care he might recover, but this was not to be and he died at the age of 34.   He wore his honours most unobtrusively, and his whole bearing on the track and off it was in consonance with his chivalry which is naturally associated with amateurism.   He was widely popular among all connected with athletics.”

Having read it we might lament the loss of a talented athlete at the age of 34.   There are other tales of champions who met untimely deaths, men who would probably have been saved today.   

The case of Miles Seton was different.   He was born in 1874 and educated at Edinburgh High School and at Edinburgh University.   He was always a good athlete and while at University  he won the SAAA half-mile title on 22nd June, 1895 on a day with light winds, at Ibrox in the time of 2:05.4, with J Stirton of Edinburgh Harriers second.   This was at the time of the split in Scottish athletics when several clubs broke away and formed the SAAU.   The result was that in 1895 there were two Scottish championships – both held in Glasgow and on the same day.   When Seton won the half-mile at Ibrox, the SAAU race was won at Hampden by RS Langlands of Clydesdale Harriers in 1:59.6 which was not only a Scottish record but the first time any Scot had finished inside two minutes for the half-mile.   Langlands was a class act with several very good times to his name but for a check on how Seton compared to contemporary half milers we can look at other SAAA 880 yards champions: 

in 1891 R Mitchell won in 2:03.4;  in 1892 it was again Mitchell in 2:05.4, in 1893 W Malcolm in 2:01.2, in 1894 on a rainy afternoon at Powderhall, Mitchell again in 2:09.4 and in 1896 H Welsh in 2:04.  So his time stood up well 

Nevertheless, Seton had won the SAAA championship title and at the close of the meeting the selectors met and chose the team to compete in the international against Ireland at  Celtic Park on 20th July and the half milers were Seton and Stirton.   Unfortunately Seton was unplaced in this race, the winner being Archer of Ireland from Stirton in 2:04.2.

Other than that he was fairly anonymous as an athlete.   There was no note in either The Scotsman or the Glasgow Herald of him running that year other than in the races mentioned, and although he studied at Edinburgh University where he graduated MB and Cm in 1900, then again gaining the Diploma in FRCSEd in 1908, he is only mentioned in the official history of the EUAC in respect of his SAAA title.   

What happened next?   He went into the military and served as a Field Surgeon in South Africa, and then as a captain in the Cape Medical and Staff Corps where he won the King’s and Queen’s medals.  He stayed in Africa, came back to Scotland and then emigrated to Australia where he had a private practice and  was also employed as an anaesthetist in the Hospital there.   In 1915 he joined the Australian Army Medical Corps in which he served in Egypt and England.

We are told that he was the ‘representative of the male line’ of the family of Seton of Cariston in Fife, and indeed his full name was Miles Charles Cariston Seton.   

This is where the story really starts to unfold.   Colonel Rutherford had served as a medical officer on the Western Front for most of the War and was commended for gallantry and was mentioned in despatches.   His fellow officers testified that he was an affable, easy going and an able officer but liable to spells of  extremely violent temper triggered by seemingly tiny things.   These spells were short and he seemed to be dazed and tired and did not appear to have remembered them.   He had been married since 1902 and had several children.   A friend testified that he was at times very jealous of his wife even walking with a close family friend.   He developed a painful skin condition and was sent home from the front in 1917.   He was given a comfortable job back at home but asked to be sent back to France.   He seemed, according to friends, to be on a downward spiral of melancholia and sinking spirits.   Things got worse – after returning to France, he was kicked on the head during a rugby game and suffered a loss of memory for a time.   

His wife stood by him and sent him supportive letters but in September 1918 there seems to have been some incident because her attitude to him changed dramatically.   She is reported to have said that she ‘went through hell’ because of his treatment of her and that there was ‘no atom of love for him’ left in her.   He returned home in January 1918 and there are several reports of him dragging her into a room by the hair while she called for help from the maid.   In anticipation of his return she had told the staff to remove two pictures of Major Seton and hide them.   Seton was an old family friend, former colleague of Rutherford’s and godfather to their youngest child.    

One night after a letter from Seton had been delivered to Mrs Rutherford, Colonel Rutherford set out to the town, obtained the address of Sir Malcolm Seton, where Major Seton was staying.   He went there where Sir Malcolm, his wife and the major were in the Smoking Room.   He asked to see Major Seton, they went in to another room and 10 or 15 minutes later, there were ‘crackling noises’ heard.   Rutherford had shot the major.   There were 14 entry and exit wounds.

“Lady Seton exclaimed: “You have killed Miles!”   to which Colonel Rutherford replied, “Yes, I only wish I had a bullet for myself.”   Sir Malcolm said he appeared rigid and curiously calm and as if the situation was only gradually dawning on him.!

Sir Malcom went to find a doctor and the police while Lady Seton stayed with the Major and the Colonel who took out a letter and burned it – presumably the letter to his wfe.   Before going with the policemen, after collecting his hat and walking stick, he asked to send a message to his wife: it read “I am sorry.  an awful thing has happened.   Seton is dead.”

He was found to be guilty but insane which meant that he was admitted to Broadmoor but not hanged.   His wife tried to get a divorce but murder and insanity were not acceptable grounds as far as the law was concerned.   I quote Lord Birkenhead: “To some this may appear harsh and even an inhumane result, but such, my lords, is the law of England.”   She was granted a legal separation in 1922 and, after changes in the Divorce Bill, obtained a divorce in 1938.   She remarried and lived to be 100.   Rutherford co-wrote two books while in prison and was released.   Re instated to the Medical Register he practised in Vienna and Persia and died in South Africa in 1951 .   He asked to be buried with his tin hat from the trenches.


Major Miles Seton, former SAAA 880 yards champion, was shot and killed on 13th January, 1919.   

Queen’s Park Sports: 1896 – 1901

1896 saw a continuation of the SAAU/SAAA split and the Heart of Midlothian Sports were conducted under the rules of the SAAU.   Indeed the reports were that Hearts was the force encouraging the Edinburgh clubs to affiliate to the breakaway body. There was however no Queen’s Park Sports in 1896: the principal event in Glasgow was the Govan Police Sports at Ibrox and in Edinburgh the Hearts Sports led the way.   On the second Saturday of the month the Glasgow Police Sports and the Clydesdale Harriers Sports took place in Glasgow, and the Edinburgh Harriers held their sports in Edinburgh under the SAAA rules.   However there appears to have been no Queen’s Park event that year.   That doesn’t mean that Hampden was out of athletic action: while the SAAU championships were taking place at Ibrox, the SAAA championships were taking place at Hampden.   

But a year on, on 5th  June,1897,   they did take place and the Glasgow Herald report read: “The decision of the Queen’s Park executive to again cater to the tastes of amateurs was happily received in Glasgow and the West.   The fact that Saturday’s programme contained over 500 entries, accompanied by a large and fashionable attendance of ladies and gentlemen proves conclusively that our amateurs are still a body worthy of attention despite the recent inroads made by those who only participate in athletics when pounds, shillings and pence are at stake.”   

The programme included the following events (with winners):

100 yards:  17 Heats, four second round races and a final: RM Goldie, Airdrieonians FC

220 yards:   9 Heats: J Muir, QPFC

Half Mile:  T Robertson, Olympic Harriers 

One Mile invitation, 50 yards limit handicap: JC McDonald, Edinburgh

120 yards hurdles:  4 heats, 2 semi finals: AAG Stronach, Glasgow Academicals

High jump:  TR Milne, Dundee Harriers

Broad Jump:  W Bain, Maryhill Harriers

There were also three bicycle races.

4/6/1898  and the Queen’s Park Sports were back on the calendar.   “In some respects the fare provided by the Queen’s Park on Saturday was the best and most varied that has been served to the athletics loving public this season,and yet the attendance numbered only between four and five thousand, or little more than a fourth of the assemblage that graced the recent cycling carnival of the Northern CCC.   Even the Govan Police Sports, which are not to be compared in many ways with those of Queen’s Park, drew three times the number that were at Hampden Park.   Without stopping to enquire into the cause or causes of the disparity, we can only regret that the public are not a little more discriminating in their patronage.   The meeting at Hampden on Saturday was a model in point of management,  and there was not a break in the continuing of enjoyment which the different events contested with more than ordinary vigour produced.   If the sport was not strikingly brilliant there was at least a uniform excellence in all the events which accentuated public interest.”

The ‘Scottish Referee’ commented on the numbers competing and echoed the Herald’s compliments on the excellent management of the proceedings:   “In tackling a programme that contained over 730 entries the Queen’s officials had a Herculean task set them last Saturday afternoon.   It is most creditable to the management that in spite of this big handicap the meeting was run to the minute without a wait.   As a sample of the smart timing, we may mention that the twenty one heats in which the hundred yards flat was decided, was run off in twenty five minutes.   To the officials concerned in this excellent result, all prise is due, and they may stand as example for all others to copy and follow.   If not brilliant individually or generally the sport was of all round excellence.   An outstanding figure in the sprints was Hugh Barr, who is presently in excellent form.    His strong physique aided him no doubt, but his pluck and speed assisted him nonetheless to the tape.”    

There were certainly some talented and popular Scots in competition along with some English competitors.   Hugh Barr the long jump record holder and prolific title winner and international sprinter has been mentioned already, RG Murray title winner and record setting high jumper and W Robertson, title winner and cross-country internationalist from Clydesdale Harriers were all competing.   There was also a host of dignitaries fit to grace any meeting in the country.   The Referee lists Arthur Geake, William Sellar, William Maley, DS Duncan, Humphrey Jones, Alexander Blair, JA Crerar, Andrew Hannah, Andrew Rennie and the handicapper was Bob Livingstone.   

The sprints were the main thing according to the Referee.   The 100 was won by Barr who did not participate in the 220 because he entered the long jump where he was second..   Popular winners of their heats in the 220 (which only had nine heats) were AS Maley and J Muir but neither were in the hunt when it came to dishing out the prizes.   AAG Stronach won the hurdles easily but how about the Mile?   There was a field of 78 runners on the track at the same time.   “there is no doubt that the sight was a pretty one to see the kaleidoscopic changes in the multi coloured costumes of the aspirants for honours as they moved round the track.  The scratch men had no earthly chance of getting through the multitude and they gave up long ere the finish.”   It was won by David Rennie of Whiteinch Harriers (155 yards) from Brown of Bellahouston (120 yards).  There was also an invitation mile (26 entrants, 13 starters) , won by Robertson in 4 min 25 3-5th sec.   The half mile handicap was won by Bell of Airdrie.  

The Herald also tells us that it was the ‘largest programme in the history of the club.’   Another successful sports meeting for Hampden.

Andrew Hannah

Held on 3/6/1899 , the report on the meeting started: “the Queen’s Park FC Sports on Saturday were replete with interest.   There were no individual achievements of an outstanding character, the excellence was more general than special, and from this point of view the meeting will rank as one of the best of the long and brilliant  series of functions held by the Queen’s Park.”

The ‘Scottish Referee’ added that a ‘good crowd was induced to attend’.   

There may have been no individual achievements of note but there  were individual of note competing.   One was the reigning British one mile champion WH Welsh who won the mile in 4:27.2 and the article pointed out that the time is a better performance than it looks.   Welsh’s best for the season up to that point was run on a heavy track with a ‘heavy breeze’.   None of the short limit men in that race ran in the open mile so the men on the big handicaps had it all their own way.   There were 58 in the race – all on the track at the same time – which was won by Robertson of Maryhill Harriers, off 125 yards, who was 30 yards clear of the second man, Parlane of the Rangers FC who was off 130 yards.   Hugh Barr and RG Murray competed in the field events.   Murray also ran in the 100 yards (20 heats), winning his heat but nowhere in the final which was won by Buchanan of Rothesay AAC who also won the 220 yards.   The half mile as won by Dunn of Clydesdale Harriers in 2:01.2.   The 120 yards hurdles was unusual that AAG Stronach won his Heat but was unplaced in the final which was won by D Carr of Maryhill.   Murray and Barr were second in the high and broad jumps, although they each put in the best performance of the day.   The broad jump was won by Blaney of a club called Dunaskin AC.     

There were also the usual bicycle races.

RS Stronach, standing, right.

The 1900 meeting was held on 2nd June: 

This important amateur meeting was held at Hampden Park under most favourable weather conditions on Saturday afternoon.   There was a large and fashionable attendance and the music supplied by the Glasgow Highlanders was much appreciated.”   The athletics was as enjoyable as the weather with many close finishes.    Events and results:

100 yards:   J Ford, Motherwell Harriers, 4 1/2 yards,  10 1/5th sec

220 yards:  J Geackie, Springburn Harriers, 15 yards,  23 1-5th sec

half mile:  HL Allan, Ayr Parkhouse, 55 yards  2 min 2 4/5th sec  

one mile: J Paterson, Watsonians, 20 yards (back marker), 4:28 3-5th sec

120 yards hurdles:  AAG Stronach, Glasgow Academicals

Broad jump:  RS Stronach, Glasgow Academicals, 21′  (+ 2′ handicap  =  23′)

high jump:  Dead heat: JB Milne, Dundee and RG Murray, CH, both scratch, 5′ 9″

There were also four bicycle races.

In 1901, the position vis-a-vis the back markers and high handicap men was reversed with the back markers doing relatively well.   Results:

100 yards: Dead Heat:  J Ford, Motherwell, 1 yard and JA Campbell, Watsonians, 1 yard    1 seconds

220 yards: J Steel, Clydesdale Harriers, 10 yards, 23.6

Half Mile:  PM Marshall, Clydesdale Harriers, 20 yards,   2:02.6

One mile:  A Wright, Wellpark Harriers, 50 yards, 4:27.6

129 yards hurdles:  RS Stronach, Glasgow Academicals,  18.6 sec

High jump:  JB Milne, Dundee, scratch

Broad jump:  D Carr, West of Scotland, handicap of 3′ 3″

In 1902 the sports were held on Saturday 6th but the rain in the morning was only one factor leading to a poorly attended function.   The ‘Scottish Referee’ had this comment to make.   “At Hampden Park where the last sports to be held under the auspices of the premier club but £80 was drawn.   Whilst the weather accounts to some extent for the poor patronage, still it has to be feared that the public interest in athletics is not what it used to be.   Since the decay of cycling, there has been a lack of novelty in our sports and in order to revive interest it may be well dor club committees to consider whether or not they can invent some royalties that will add a spice of variety and relieve the sameness of the pedestrian events.

Another factor which is acting against athletics is the want of men like Downer, Auld, Welsh,Hannah, Duffus and Robertson.   Our present day sprinters and distance men are not of the class of these once famous athletes, and they fail to thrill the public by their performances.  ….  Time was when Queen’s Park introduced many leading Irish and English athletes, but for the past few seasons they have relied on native talent.   This, however as we say, is presently so mediocre that it is difficult to be enthusiastic over it.   In the sprints on Saturday they had a resident “foreigner” in SP Watson of Edinburgh University, an ex-London Hospital athlete.   He was virtual scratch man in both 100 and 220 but  showed no particular brightness in either event.   …  The winner of the 100 was found in JP Stark of the High School who had 5 yards.   He ran with power and judgment and followed up his victory in the school event by taking this open event.”

Further down in the article he commented on the need of Queen;s Park as a club to recruit new men for the committee, concluding “never in the history of the club, since its institution in 1868 has it stood in greater need of leaders.”   The article is one that it is worth reading in its entirety.   However the sports themselves were very good.

There were twenty four heats of the 100 yards, four semi finals and the final which was won by JP Stark, the 220 had nine heats. and was won by Hutcheson of Kilbowie Harriers.   The half mile was won by Small of Paisley Harriers from John McGough,  with WH Mill, West of Scotland, winning the Mile.    In the field events, RG Murray won the high jump from scratch.

JP Stark

It might be of interest to note some of the achievements of some of the competitors at the sports and their track performances in this decade:   

Hugh Barr:  7 times Scottish Broad Jump champion; one 100 yards championship; two international victories.

Andrew Hannah: once mile champion, three times four miles champion and five times ten miles champion; five times cross-country champion.

James Paterson: twice Scottish one mile champion, four times four miles champion, once ten mile champion; two international victories

H Welsh: Twice 880 champion, twice mile champion.   Six international victories including twice winning both half and mile v Ireland.   

The reporter from the Scottish Referee might have been right about the poor standard of athletics in 1902 but the Queen’s Park meeting had at least two who would go on to great things in the sport.   JP Stark would win many national titles and compete in international athletics; John McGough (below) would also win many SAAA titles at various distances and compete in the Olympics.   But this would be the last QPFC Sports until 1907 – and even then there were committee members against holding them.  

Queen’s Park FC Sports: 1891 – 1895

“The Queen’s Park Sports held on Saturday at Hampden were a great success.   At the start there was a small attendance, but as the afternoon wore on, the numbers were largely augmented.   It was indeed estimated that between 8000 and 10,000 persons were present.   The weather was delightfully fine from a spectators point of view, but from a competitor’s, the high wind had an influence on the running, only the men in the best of training being able to cope with it.   The entries amounted to a record, the aggregate being 348.   Mr James Allan was convener of the Sports Committee which consisted of seventeen members.   The judges were:-  Messrs AM Donaldson, Thomas Fraser, Thomas Lawrie, A McNab, F Matheson and John Mellish.   Referee of Foot Races: Mr AM Hunter; Handicapper: Mr R Livingstone; Timekeeper: Mr AG Rennie; Starter: Mr Robert Hindle; Clerk of the Course: Mr Stewart Lawrie.   The proceedings were enlivened by the band and pipers of the Scots Fusiliers.”   

That is the entire report of the Sports held on 6th June, 1891 – apart from the results of course.   There were twelve Heats of the 100 yards and there were several well known names among the Heat winners.  eg Finlayson of Queen’s Park (4 yards), Alf Downer of Watson’s (6 yards), W Maley of Celtic (5 yards), T Maley of Celtic (2 yards), JS Weir, Milngavie Club (2 1/2 yards) and H Espie, Glasgow Academicals (5 yards).  There were four semi finals and the first three in the final were Lander (EUAC), Carswell (Clydesdale FC) and Young (WSH).   27 started in the mile with holder, ‘the veteran Duncan’ off scratch.   It was won by J Hindle of St Mirren off 70 yards from JS Morrison of Edinburgh Harriers 40 yards, and Charles Pennycook, Clydesdale Harriers off 25 yards.   The 440 was an interesting race in that John Blane of Clydesdale Harriers, a noted miler, was was running off 15 yards. The final was won by Woodburn (WSH)from Currie (unattached) and Young (WSH).   The half mile was won by Morrison of Edinburgh (15) from Malcolm of Clydesdale Harriers (10).   J Gow of Rangers won his Heat of the 120 yards hurdles but as he ‘skipped a hurdle’ he was disqualified, the race going to Carswell of Clydesdale Football Club.   The 600 yards race was won by Hindle (St Mirren) running from 15 yards from T Blair (QPFC) who was scratch man.   The high jump was won by R Williams of EUAC,    There were also several good cycle races with top men such as RA Vogt competing.

It had been a good day and takings amounted to £170 and the attendance was a record for an athletic meeting.   

AR Downer

In 1892 the “Scottish Referee” reported that “Never in the history of QP has such a successful meeting – financially and as regards the quality of the sport – been held by the premier club than that of last Saturday at Hampden.   Despite the wet weather, between nine and ten thousand spectators braved the elements,  and eagerly watched the various events.   Public interest of late has developed to a   remarkable degree in athletic matters.   Principally this is due to the the great performances of our crack cyclists, one or two of whom are every now and again smashing records.  …   We heartily congratulate the QP on their successful meeting and a word of praise is due to the admirable manner in which all the arrangements were carried through by the officials,  not a moment being lost in facilitating the progress of various events.”   

Some of the track running highlights:

  • Hugh Barr, Clydesdale Harriers,  international long jumper, won the 100 yards.  NA MacLeod was second and the comment was that all three had physiques far above the average.
  • George Woodburn (WSH) won the 440.
  • Two runners were conspicuous by their absence: JR Gow (Rangers) missed the 120 yards hurdles because he felt a bit stiff, and sprinter McCulloch missed the train from Helensburgh.
  • Mitchell beat Malcolm in the 880 yards, both of scratch, in 2 min 01 3-5th sec.
  • Pennycook we see has resorted to hils old style of throwing his head back.  This means a loss of about 30 yards in the mile.  and we would advise him to  adopt the style he was running in early in the season.

The handicapper also came in for some criticism: the winner of the miles was Gavin Stevenson and Pennycoock had said it was useless to try to beat him.  The ‘Referee’ said this showed wisdom: apparently they had both started off scratch earlier in the season and now Stevenson was off 40 yards.   “It seems inexplicable,” said the reporter.   Although the sports had been a success, the club itself came in for some criticism: the pavilion was quite inadequate to accommodate all the participants and the recommendation was that the tent should again be called into requisition.   


June 3rd, 1893, and another successful meeting at Hampden.    Over £300 taken at the gate, glorious weather, a good programme and the “classic slopes” were packed.  A crowd of almost 15,000 was in attendance on the day, and the stand was particularly patronised by youth and beauty.   Records were set in the cycling and although Alf Downer could not make it, McCulloch from Helensburgh, the favourite was beaten in the 100 yards.   RA Vogt was unquestionably the most popular of the top cyclists and, just returned from racing in Paris, he turned out here to the delight of the crowd.   Lacaille was one of the top cyclists and he was the source of some controversy – which could well have repercussions later in the season.   I quote from ‘The Scottish Referee’:

An incident of the meeting was Lacaille being handicapped on the ground and allowed to start in the mile handicap by Judge Kettles, who probably allowed his sportsmanlike feelings to override his judgement and the Union’s rules.   The judge of the Three Miles was AM Donaldson, whose more legal mind could not brook the inconsistency of opening the entries for the sake of one man, which would not have been tolerated had he been a second rater, and he requested Lacaille not to start in that race.   It is all very well to ask the permission of the other competitors, but the usually have the choice of saying “yes” or appearing unsportsmanlike, and their good nature should not be taxed to that extent.   Rules, especially those of a Union, were not made to be broken, and those who conform to them should not be placed at the mercy of those who do not.”

The acceptance of late entries by ‘big name’ athletes in competitions or road races is still at times a source of controversy more than 125 years later.   As far as the track was concerned, one of the best English cyclists was quoted as saying it was a good track but would be better if it were banked.   Although it was somewhat narrow it compared favourably with some of the English tracks.  Cycling was indeed having a purple patch as far as sports meetings were concerned but it would not last and ten years or so later the tale would be different.   Some of the 1883 results from Hampden:

100 yards:  D Vass,  Ayr FC,  9 yards,  10 3-5th sec; 220 yards:  DR McCulloch, Clydesdale Harriers, scratch, 23 3-5th sec

120 yards hurdle race:  1. J Lander, EUAC, 15 yards;  2. J Gow, Rangers FC, 25 yards;  3. A Graham, 1st LRV, 18 yards

Quarter Mile:  R Shandley, Celtic FC, 25 yards,  50 4-5th sec; Half Mile: J Hindle, St Mirren FC and Clydesdale H, 10 yards 2:02

One Mile:  A McDonald, Abercorn FC, 50 yards,  4 min 33 sec; 

Broad Jump:  1.  Don C Sillars, QPFC, 22′ 1″;  2.  Peter McCallum, QPFC, 21′ 6 1/4″  ([Sillars was QP team captain, and McCallum was ex-President]

High Jump: Murray, Rangers, 10″ handicap, 5′ 9″

The top cyclists of the 1880’s-90’s

2nd June, 1894 and again the ‘Scottish Referee’ and other papers were looking forward to another successful QPFC Sports.  BUT

  “All the work of the past month , the care bestowed on the track by Mr Geake, the perfect arrangements made by the secretary  and committee for the successful working of the annual carnival at Hampden, and the presence of a large number of the youth and beauty of Crosshill, Langside &c, had no effect on Jupiter Pluvius, who, at the worst possible hour of the afternoon, made his unwelcome appearance,  and succeeded in completely spoiling the financial success of the sports.   But although the QP executive were robbed of financial success, so well deserved, that not even J.P. could rob them of an athletic triumph achieved under conditions which might have damped the ardour of the most enthusiastic.   

“From the opening Heat of the 100 yards to the presentation of prizes by Mrs WH Berry, every item on the programme was carried out with that promptitude and accuracy which has all along characterised Queen’s Park meetings, and has made them so deservedly popular with the public.   AG Stronach, Glasgow Academy, competed in the high jump at the Queen’s Park Sports.   He got over 4′ 10”   

That’s twice in two meetings that the reporter has mentioned the ‘youth and beauty’ of Crosshill and Langside!

It was in many respects quite an amazing meeting.   For instance the committee had decided to run ten men in each heat of the 100 yards.   “It was a striking scene to see the sprinters tearing down the turf in such numbers.”    They were lucky in that the wind and rain were behind them; the final was won to everyone’s surprise by Gordon of Hamilton Academicals from Frame of Carluke Beagles.   49 men were on the cinder track, in the rain for the Mile, won by McMorrow of WSH and Celtic FC.   The Long Jump was won by WC Taylor (handicap allowance of 1′ 9″) from T Vallance, a nephew of the jump record holder.    AAG Stronach was second in the high jump to Carr of Maryhill Harriers.   

Despite the weather, the meeting was a success after all.   Apart from anything else, the sight of ten men sprinting side by side with the wind and rain hurling them down the track must have been wonderful.   Just to confirm how bad the conditions were:,the ‘Glasgow Herald simply reported “Unfortunately the weather completely broke down immediately after noon, and rain descended in torrents about two o’ clock thus completely spoiling the meeting, both from a sports point of view and the attendance of the public.”


But all was not well in the world of athletics and there was a split between the biggest and most powerful club in the land, Clydesdale Harriers, and the SAAA which led to the former setting up an opposition organisation called the Scottish Amateur Athletic Union.   There were rival meetings and there were two Scottish Championships held in Glasgow on 22nd June, 1895: SAAA at Hampden and SAAU at Ibrox.   There was also an SAAA sponsored meeting at Hampden on 3rd June.   If there was a separate QPFC meeting in 1895, it was not in May or June.   The assumption is that it was just squeezed out, a victim of a feud not of their making.   There does not seem to have been a QPFC Sports in 1896 either – the Govan Police Sports at Ibrox on the first Saturday and the Glasgow Police Sports on the second Saturday along with the Clydesdale Harriers Sports on the same day were the only meetings in Glasgow in the first half of the month.   


Queens Park FC Sports: 1886 -1890

From the ‘Glasgow Herald’ of 6th September, 1886:  “On Saturday afternoon the Queen’s Park FC held their annual sports at Hampden Park.   The weather was highly favourable and there was a large attendance of spectators.   The meeting being now regarded as the principal one in the West of Scotland, several famous athletes competed, together with some Englishmen, and the various events were upon the whole keenly contested.   In the one mile open handicap DS Duncan , the champion was defeated.   He gave up running at the end of the third lap, the pace being evidently too fast for him.   Stevenson and Anderson kept at it, the latter winning a good race by three yards.    During the day, Ray of Ulverston gave a good display of pole vaulting.   He endeavoured to defeat his record of 11 ft 5 1/4 in made at Whitehaven a fortnight ago, but in this he failed, only managing 10 ft 10 in.   The arrangements for conducting the events were excellent and altogether the sports were a complete success.   The band and pipers of the Royal Scots under the leadership of Mr SG Griffiths supplied excellent music.   At the close of the competitions Mr Cameron Corbett , MP for Tradeston, made a short speech after which Miss Scott presented the prizes.”

The events on the afternoon included a 100 yards open handicap with 6 Heats, 220 yards  open handicap, a 440 yards open handicap, 440 yards confined, 880 yards confined,  one mile open handicap, high jump, two bicycle races and a one mile tricycle handicap.   

DS Duncan

Withe the football season beginning on the first Saturday in September 1887, the Queen’s Park FC Sports were held on 4th June.   The clash with the established sports in Greenock and the Heart of Midlothian Sports in Edinburgh did not seem to affect the proceedings at Hampden for this preliminary meeting.   “The preliminary events in connection with the annual sports of the Queen’s Park Football Club was carried through on Saturday afternoon in presence of a fair gathering considering the unimportant character of the sports, which were only preliminary events to the excellent display to be made next Saturday when the programme proper will be gone over. ”   

The sports began with the Heats of the 100 yards confined, went on to an extended four a side competition featuring Rangers No 1, Clyde Strollers, Cambuslang Strollers, QP Strollers, Rangers No 2, Gordon Athletic, Rawcliffe, Vale of Leven, Abercorn, Partick Thistle, Royal Albert, Clyde, Kilmarnock, Rutherglen, Cartvale, Drumpellier, Cambuslang, Battlefield, St Mirren, Dumbarton Athletics, Cowlairs, Victoria and The Etceteras (QP).   Four of the above teams did not appear and the semi finals between Dumbarton and Dumbarton Athletics  and  The Etceteras (Queens Park) and Cambuslang would be played the following Saturday, as would the semis and finals of the confined 100 yards.

The weather the following Saturday was reportedly not of the best and there was not a big crowd at the start, either in the ground or in the stand.  The first event was the half-mile confined and when this was ‘got out of the way’ the 100 yards open handicap runners took to the track for one of the feature races of the afternoon.   The track was ‘in capital going order and fast’.   There were ten Heats of the race and many very good athletes were among them.   The Maley brothers, Willie (3 yards) and Tom (1/2 yard) both qualified for the second round, with Tom winning the final after a hard race against AS Blair by half a yard.    Queen’s Park Etceteras won their semi-final and then defeated Dumbarton in the final.   The athletics programme included all the usual events from 100 yards to one mile with some confined events mixed in with the open handicaps but the cycle races were regarded as the big draw with English champions competing, there was also a tandem race and a tricycle race.   

Tom Maley

The sports in 1888 ere held on 9th June in weather so bad to start with, there was torrential rain for an hour before the start, that there was talk of them being postponed.  There were no records in the races, nor were there any double winners but it was reported to be a good meeting.   The 100 yards open handicap was won by RA Taylor of EUAC from T Maley, Clydesdale Harriers and A Hastie, Clydesdale Harriers and the 120 yards hurdles was won by JT Ward, Clydesdale Harriers, from A Watt of Queen’s Park. .   JR Gow of the Rangers FC won his Heat of the 100  but failed to make the final. AT Symington won the 220 yards.  R Welsh of Ayr won the 440 yards, J Allan of Queen’s Park won the 600 yards from T Blair, also of Queen’s Park.   The one Mile was won comfortably by A Hannay, Clydesdale Harriers and Rangers FC 

The preview of the sports in 1889 was:   “The annual sports of the Queens Park FC come off on Saturday on their beautiful ground at Hampden – the best adapted enclosure for athletics in Scotland.   Great pains are being taken to have the cinder path in prime order, and with favourable weather the surface should be smooth and suitable for fast performances.   The cream of athletes and cyclists have entered, and the sports promise to rival all previous enterprises of a similar kind held by this club. ”   

Glasgow Herald, June 3rd, 1889

Quite the build up but would the sports live up to this billing?   Seven days later.

“Another instance of the apathy of the Glasgow public to athletics meetings was forthcoming on Saturday when the Queen’s Park held their annual sports.   The weather, it is true, was not very inviting but had it been a football match thousands would have suffered, without raising a murmur, any little discomfort that may have been caused through the rain.   We cannot comprehend why the Glasgow public should be so one-sided in their taste.   Football unquestionably is a great game but there are physical traits, if we may so speak brought to the surface as our athletic meetings which are every bit as interesting as the pluck and determination usually shown in a football match.   Last year the Queen’s Park dropped £70  on their meeting, and the loss on Saturday will not be much less than that amount.   We hope better times are in store alike for the QP , and all those clubs who are doing so much to give athletics a firm, solid footing in Scotland.”     So thanks to the weather  the attendance was poor.   The meeting itself, according to all the reports was a good one with the Mile being specially mentioned.   John Blane of Clydesdale Harriers and Maybole could not run, which was a real pity, but the race between Charles Pennycook, Clydesdale Harriers and Arthurlie FC, off 15 yards and AM Marshall of Irvine FC, off 20, was a good one with Marshall just winning,.   Robert Mitchell of Clydesdale Harriers and St Mirren FC won the 600 yards, DK Gow of the Rangers Fc won the 100 yards handicap, and JR Gow, of Clydesdale Harriers and Rangers FC won the hurdles.   Where the athlete had joint membership, both clubs have been shown to indicate that it was a time when no sport claimed exclusivity and all clubs had multi-talented sportsmen representing them in open competition.   


On the second Saturday in June, 1890, the report in the ‘Glasgow Herald’ read:

“Beteeen five and six thousand spectators assembled at Hampden Park on Saturday afternoon, in brilliant weather to take part in the annual sports held under the auspices of the club.      An interesting programme was named, and all the finals with the exception of the two miles safety race were keenly contested, the excitement was well sustained to the finish.   In the two mile bicycle race, Young, who rode a pneumatic tyre machine,  again demonstrated his  superiority, winning handsomely by about 20 yards in the good time of 5 min 44 sec.   ….     The 600 yards scratch race was looked upon as one of the events of the meeting.   Both Mitchell and Logan had kept themselves in it, and as Mitchell held the record at 1 min 52 secs, the contest excited great interest.     The race was at a good speed throughout, Blair of the Queen’s Park winning on the tape by a few inchesbut the time was 6 1-5th seconds slower than Mitchell’s record. … ”   Results: 

120 yards hurdles:  TM Duncan, EUAC, ; 2,  TW Young, Clydesdale Harriers; 3.  TE Maley, Clydesdale Harriers

400 yards open Handicap:  FD Watson, Stewart’s College  7 yards; 440 yards open handicap: W Martin, Newmilns, 26 yards

600 yards scratch race: 1.  T Blair, QPFC;  2.  R Mitchell, St Mirren FC;  3.  J Logan, Vale of Leven

880 yards handicap: J Taylor;   one mile open handicap:  A Hannah, Clydesdale Harriers, 20 yards.

T Blair, Queen’s Park FC 


When many of us came into the sport we took changing accommodation for granted.   Not just the presence of such at every event and recreation ground (and nowadays there are many races at venues without dressing rooms) but the fact that they were more than just functional boxes but almost works of art.   This page will have pictures of some of these pavilions that we took for granted.

Knightswood Pavilion: Dating from 1929, it is described officially as – The pavilion at Knightswood Park, serving both the bowling green in the foreground and the tennis courts in the background, 1947.   Provision of amenities for leisure and recreation often lagged behind the building of houses in Glasgow housing schemes, but Knightswood fared better than most areas. The Corporation acquired 148 acres for Knightswood Park in 1929. In addition to the two bowling greens and four tennis courts, the park included a golf course, pitch and putt course, boating pond, running track and cricket pitch.

The running track was short and almost circular but was used for sports meetings and inter club fixtures pre- and post-war.    

Kings College Aberdeen: You can read about it at this link


Westerlands, Glasgow: Read about it here


Garscadden Pavilion – In 1933 Glasgow University purchased ground at Garscadden for the construction of a sports pavilion. In 1936 the Garscadden Sports Pavilion was designed by T. Harold Hughes in an Art Deco style, the same year that he won the competition to design the University’s Chemistry building (now the Joseph Black Building).   The pavilion was extended in 1958 by Alexander Wright & Kay.

Craiglockhart, Edinburgh: read about it at this link   

Myreside, Edinburgh

Bruce Street Baths, Clydebank

This is a good example of a now rare building type of public baths with an adjoining swimming pool complex. Once a relatively common building type in urban Scotland, public baths have become obsolete and modern leisure centres have largely replaced traditional swimming pools. It is an important streetscape feature and it was purposefully designed to match the style of the earlier, 1902 Municipal Buildings in Dumbarton Roadby the Glasgow architect James Miller. Together, the buildings form the major part of a complete block and form a coherent civic heart in Clydebank Public baths and swimming pools grew in popularity particularly in the second half of the 19th century and most of the surviving ones date from this period; some with intricately decorated interiors. Many people had no access to running water in the home and public health was becoming an increasingly important issue. In 1846, the Act to Encourage the Establishment of Public Baths was passed and the majority of public baths began to be built after this time. Built in the 1930s, this is a relatively late example and probably indicates that there were still a significant number of homes in Clydebank at this time with no bathing facilities. The Bruce Street Baths was designed to replace the nearby Hall Street Baths (now demolished) which were becoming too small. The plans were approved by the Council in 1929 and the baths were opened in 1932. It originally had a variety of facilities, including Turkish Baths, Russian Vapour Baths, a laundry and a massage room. (Historic Scotland)

The Baths are no more.  The headquarters of Clydesdale Harriers from the time they opened to their closure, they were described as one of the best winter headquarters in Scotland.   Many events used the Baths as their HQ.   Only this side wall remains. 

Whiteinch Baths, Glasgow – “Whiteinch Public Baths was built between 1923 and 1926 by the Office of Public Works. Currently in 1999 it is Category B listed.” This page goes on to describe the smaller pool as being “in a room with arched ceiling and cubicles to either side. The doors of the cubicles are painted with cartoon characters. This is a smaller, shallower pool for learners. It has a frieze on the rear wall depicting children at a beach. This room also has a blue and white colour scheme. ”   Whiteinch Baths was for several decades the winter headquarters of Victoria Park Harriers and prior to that it was used by the local section of Clydesdale Harriers.   The original McAndrew Relays were run from these Baths.   

Mountblow, Clydebank: A sports pavilion that is now simply a really neglected football pavilion.   It was for decades the home of Clydesdale Harriers and used by runners from many other clubs – eg the Victoria Park cross-country team of the 1950’s trained there on Sundays.  The Clydebank Cricket Club and the Singer Factory Cricket Club played there and it was a genuine local sports facility.

It was officially described as – A rare example of Modern Movement sports pavilion surviving largely unaltered and occupying original recreation ground setting. 2-storey and raised basement, 5-bay, rectangular-plan on sloping site with cantilevered balcony, oversailing flat roof and tall off-centre curved stair tower with vertical glazing breaking eaves. 2 flights of steps to walkway above basement. Rendered brick. Horizontal-pane glazing in metal-framed casements, predominantly tripartite and bipartite, now with later metal grilles to exterior. Later metal roller shutters to entrance doors. INTERIOR: largely intact floor plan. Ground and first floors similar with concrete floors. Changing rooms lead off central corridor, each floor with bathroom with showers. Some early timber benches and coat hooks. Stair with horizontal metal banisters.

Goldenacre, Edinburgh

Rangers Sports: 1882 – The quest for the ‘second annual’

Start of the Police ‘Catch the Thief’ race: a feature of the first Rangers Sports – and of the Police Sports mentioned below

Quite often the description of a sports meeting which starts ‘First Annual … ‘ expresses the good intentions of the promoting club which are not followed through by the next year’s committee.   This could be because of a change of personnel or of a change of priorities or some new factor coming into play.   However it pans out, a good percentage of ‘first annuals’ are not followed through.

In August 1881 both Third Lanark and the Rangers held their ‘first annual’ sports’ a week apart, Thirds being seven days before the Rangers event.   The search for the ‘second annual’ begins on  Saturday, 1st April, 1882 when there were no athletics meetings reported in the ‘Glasgow Herald’.    The ‘Herald’ is the newspaper of choice for the search since the two clubs we are interested in here are Glasgow clubs.   The following Saturday, 8th April, there were what were called ‘National Sports’ at Shawfield.   In front of a crowd of 1500 people, 36 entered the 160 yards handicap and 29 in the 600 yards handicap which was run as a single race and included a two miles race.   The National Sports included highland dancing, bagpipe playing, heavy events, etc and most of the competitors were professionals.   On the same day there was a foot race between two men for £4 at Longbar, Beith.   Other than a professional walking race in Edinburgh, that was it for the second week in the month.   Came  15th April and the main fixture was an amateur athletic meeting run by the West of Scotland Cricket  Club at Hamilton Crescent.   A well organised meeting, it was not the first in the series, and it included two- one- and half-mile bicycle races, and 100 yards, 120 yards hurdles,200 yards, quarter-mile, half-mile, one mile and, as a source of amusement, a steeple chase with 4 water jumps.   There was also an Indian tug of war over water.  At Shawfield there were the usual professional races – on this occasion there were the preliminary rounds of a 333 yard handicap race, no fewer than 16 of them.   As at the National Sports, the bookies were very busy.    On the east coast there were the games of the Edinburgh High School.   On 22nd April, the Kilmarnock FC annual sports had their first meeting with the conclusion being held the following week.   The main attraction was the football tournament but there were several athletic events – a 100 yards confined to the club, and a mile confined to the second eleven.   Larchfield Academical Club also held their sports on that day.   These included a 120 yards hurdle race (won by A Vallance of Rangers FC), a 100 yards, a 200 yards, a quarter-mile handicap, a half-mile handicap, and one mile.   On the last Saturday of the month, the National Sports took place at Shawfield (“Mr Gilmour’s grounds) involved Donald Dinnie and W Cummings.   Kilmarnock FC Sports reached their conclusion with the open athletic and cycling races taking place.   In Glasgow, the Glasgow Academical Club held their annual sports on Kelvinside Grounds with a mix of confined and open events.   


The Glasgow Academy Sports is one of the very oldest in Scotland.   This winner’s ticket is to JM Bishop

(Grandfather of Scottish International Miler, Hugh Barrow)

Into May and the first events were contested on 6th May.    The big report was on the Glasgow University Sports at Gilmorehill with the only other event being the weekly day’s professional sport at the Shawfield Grounds.   On 13th May, top item in the Glasgow Herald was Watson’s College Sports at Myreside, closely followed by the Edinburgh Royal Gymnasium Sports, which was a professional event with, for example, a prize of £15 for the Mile, watched by a crowd of 2000.   Then there was the weekly  professional Shawfield Grounds event in Glasgow which this time included a 200 yards dog handicap race.   The final of the 333 yards handicap was run and there were great shenanigans in one race with runners being tripped up, cries of foul, the tape being broken by the judges and ‘no race’ being called.   And that was just in the heats.   The dog race was won by Mollincott from Poodle and Gip.   The owner of Poodle claimed that his dog had won and said he would write to the press.    There was a foot race in Beith over 160 yards for a £10 prize – two runners forward.    There was an amateur sports at Vale of Leven organised by the local cricket club where 3000 spectators watched athletics, cycle racing and four a side football.   The next Saturday was the 20th May was the date for the big amateur athletic meeting in Greenock organised by the Greenock Cricket Club, Greenock Wanderers Football Club, Greenock Amateur Bicycle Club and the West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club at Glen Park.  “The above four clubs intend, it is understood, making the Glen Park Sports an annual event.   The name chosen for the sports is of interest because the Greenock section of the Clydesdale Harriers was given its independence in 1892 and took the name of Greenock Glenpark Harriers.   That was the only event of the afternoon and many of the contestants were representing football clubs with a big group from QPFC.    .The already well established Alexandra Athletic Club Sports was given top billing on 27th May for their event at Kennyhill Park.   Petershill defeated Alexandra Athletic in the four a side football tournament and again, the prize winners lists were dominated by representatives of football clubs with the Queen’s Park athletes but T Dingwall of Third Lanark won the handicap mile confined to the West of Scotland and was second in the Open Mile handicap.   The National Games at Shawfield where one of the attractions was to be Donald Dinnie lifting a 230 pound dumb bell from the ground to arm length above his head – this was successfully accomplished: he also won putting the stone, throwing the hammer and tossing the caber.  In the wrestling Dinnie qualified for the final when – “When he came to meet Dinnie, Harrison advanced, as is customary, to shake hands, Dinnie refused to accept this token of friendly rivalry.   The crowd repudiated this act, and loudly hissed the champion.   A rather lengthened struggle took place and Dinnie had some trouble getting the mastery but ultimately threw Harrison heavily twice in succession and won.   Harrison was warmly greeted when he left the ground.”   There were annual sports held at Dumbarton that day and in the east, Edinburgh Royal Gymnasium held their sports before about 2000 people.

On 3rd June the Kilmarnock Amateur Bicycle Club had their annual sports.   One of the most popular of the sports, it was held on the Rugby Ground where although there was a football match and two foot races, it was almost entirely a cycle meeting.   The Ayr Academical Sports (which are much looked forward to by the youth of the town) were held on 10th June and had races for all the schools in the area as well as a few for senior athletes and a football match was also incorporated into the programme.   There were sports at Shawfield Grounds again – this time mainly heats of a 200 yards race with the final to be held the following week.   There were also sports held at Johnstone under the patronage of Colonel Sir Archibald Campbell and held on the ground of the Johnstone Football Club.   Donald Dinnie was in action again at Greenock in the National Games held there and in the Borders, the games held in connection with the Hawick Common Riding went off successfully with the main events being wrestling, running.   Chief among the wrestlers was G Steedman of Drybeck “against whom none of the competitors had the slightest chance.”   The proprietor again presented a very popular show at Shawfield Grounds on 17th June with the finals of the previous week’s 200 yards race plus a half mile handicap.   Crescents Park in Pollokshaws was the scene of another popular annual sports.  Well attended as these were, the meeting at the Renton in Dunbartonshire was the biggest with 4000 spectators present.   The Edinburgh Institution held their annual sports too on that afternoon.   The annual Games of the Kilbirnie Football Club took place on 24th June at Stonyholm Park, the Edinburgh University Cycling Club Sports took place at Powderhall with several foot races in the programme and the Shawfield Grounds events took place but were now reported in a separate ‘Pedestrianism’ column.   

Donald Dinnie

We are now three months into the summer athletics season and so far not a sign of the second annuals of either Rangers or Third Lanark meetings.    It is of course true that their first annuals were in August but dates can change for all sorts of reasons, and because the events are annual, it does not mean that they are inevitably on the same Saturday v=every time round.   July is a busy month for summer sports enthusiasts despite the Fair Holiday fortnights taking place.    The last Saturday in June saw the South Western Annual Sports in Copeland Road grounds, Govan.   As was to be expected many of the local football clubs were represented.   This first day of the meeting was largely four a side football with a confined 100 yards and a place kick competition.     The seventeenth annual sports and bicycle races of the Edinburgh University AC took place at Corstorphine, and there was a meeting held at Plains, Airdrie.    

Into July and the second day of the South Western Sports which was mainly an amateur athletics meeting plus the final of the four a side football.   There were over 30 entered for the open 100 yards and all events were well supported.The Edinburgh Annual Games took place at the Royal Gymnasium, Edinburgh, and the Jedburgh Annual Games started with the quoiting at 10:00 am and included athletics.   The prizes were of a high order an included silver cups with the 300 yards hurdles winner collecting a purse of gold, second also had a purse of gold and third took home a purse of silver.   On Saturday 15th July the Balfron National Games took place.   The title has nothing to do with the governing body (if there were one!) but everything to do with national pastimes.   The meeting started with a ploughmans’ 100 yards, and included running, jumping, wrestling,  quoiting.   and a brass band competition with prizes of £12, £7 and £2.   There was also the Denny Scottish Games which were professional and after a lapse of ten years the Stirling Highland Games appeared on the schedule: this was largely because the Strathallan Games could not take place that year.  It was the success of the Strathallan Gathering that had caused the Stirling meeting to be dropped some years earlier but in the absence of this competition, Stirling filled the bill.   The Johnstone Games took place as did the West Kilbride Annual Games and the West Fife Gymnastic Games.  There was no football at any of these Games but that would be put right in the final weeks of the summer.    On 22nd July the preliminary events for the St Mirren Sports took place with the football maybe taking pride of place.   Teams involved included Queen’s Park, Dumbarton, Queen’s Park Rovers, Craigielea Academicals, Arthurlie, Johnstone Rovers, Argyll, St Mirren, Woodside, Thornliebank, Beith and Johnstone Athletic.   There were a few cycle and foot races at this meeting.   Falkirk Football Club also had a meeting that day – but without any form of football.   The Queen’s Own Yeomanry Athletic Sports took place after a space of six years on the South Haugh of Hamilton on 29th July where there was a great variety of athletic events including ’tilting at the ring’.   The Glasgow Police Sports took place on Glasgow Green – described as an inaugural sports and in addition to the more usual athletic events there was a ‘Catch the Thief’ race where the policeman, wearing the day uniform gave the thief 20 yards start.   On this occasion the thief eluded his pursuers.    The Colinton and Currie Games, and the Dalkeith Gymnastic Games took place in the east and Kelso Gymnastic Games in the Borders.    

August was when the Third Lanark and Rangers first annual sports took place in 1881,   In time the first Saturday in August would be the Rangers Sports day for many decades but on 5th August 1882, the only meeting reviewed in the Glasgow Herald was the Nairn Games where there were ‘athletic sports, bagpipe playing and dancing.’   The big event on 12th August was the Bute Highland Games at the Public Park in Rothesay.   There was a very long programme involving athletics, dancing and wrestling with separate races for amateur and professional runners.   After the founding of the SAAA in 1883, amateurs would not be allowed to compete in the same meeting as professionals but in 1882, it was thought to be appropriate.   There was also a big meeting at the Shawfield Grounds.   One of the runners in the sprints was cautioned for not trying and the winner of the mile was Moore – ‘a Glasgow ped who  is credited with being a genuine “square” runner’.   The prizes were all cash.   There were Land Sports at Dumbarton Pier organised by Dumbarton Football Club.   Another football club – St Bernard’s FC – had their sports at Powderhall: again they were labelled the ‘first annual’.   The football competition here was a five a side as opposed to the more numerous four a sides.   The Lauder Games and Horse Races were also held – so far we have had what we were taught as the long jump called the wide jump, the long leap, the broad jump, the running long jump and Lauder referred to it as the Running Spring’ as opposed to the ‘High Spring’.   On 19th August the Ayr Academical Athletic Club’s Autumn Sports were held at Springvale Park in Ayr.   There were flat races both open and confined, field events (throws and jumps), cycle races, and the report concluded with the remark that there were several other interesting events on the programme without saying what they were.   The by mow customary meeting was held at Shawfield, and Crieff Highland Games were held in Market Park before an amazing assembly of the great and good.   There were no athletics competitions of any sort reported on in the Glasgow Herald for the last Saturday in August but the Queen’s Park FC meeting was there in its place on 2nd September.

The band of the HLI played throughout the afternoon and there were bicycle races as well as foot races.   The great WG George of Moseley Harriers competed and won the mile and half mile but was only second in the quarter mile. The most successful of many nglishmen was DH Brownfield who won three events – including the broad jump.    Although there were many football players among the prize winners, there were none from either the Rangers or Third Lanark.    The only athletic opposition that the organisers faced was the professional meeting at Shawfield.    A week later, 9th September 1882, there was the usual professional meeting at what was called this time round the Shawfield Recreation Grounds and there was a meeting organised by the Dunfermline Cricket and Football Clubs.   Away from the central belt there were annual games at Lockerbie and the Edinburgh, Straiton and Pentland Games were held.   There were sports organised by the Volunteers but they were the 1st Dumbarton and Renfrew Artillery Volunteers.   The only entry under the heading ‘ATHLETICS’ on 16th September was the Paisley Bicycle Race Meeting which was confined to cycle racing with no athletics, football or even tug of war to break the pattern.     23rd September was again a good day for Shawfield with the regular 2000 spectators turning out for the pro sports and the only other event was the small Rosewell Games.   The season was effective ended  on 30th September when Shawfield saw what was said to be the best running of the season and there was a meeting at the Edinburgh Royal Gymnasium’s own grounds.   A match for £10 a side over 150 yards ‘level’ was held at Powderhall and that finished the summer season.   

Having looked at what was on offer ever Saturday, as reported in the Glasgow Herald’ from the start of April until the end of September without sight of a sports promoted by either Third Lanark or the Rangers, it would seem that no second annual was held.   It should be noted though, that the search was limited to reports in the ‘Glasgow Herald’ Monday editions.   The events could have taken place and not been reported;  or they may have taken place on days other than a Saturday.   These both seem unlikely.   

Football Clubs and Athletics

Queen’s Park FC

Let’s get the question of whether the connection with football was good for athletics out of the way to start with.   A very large number of senior and professional football clubs was established in the 1870’s – Queen’s Park FC was set up in 1867 with Kilmarnock FC two years later, but we note that Dumbarton 1872, Third Lanark (1872), Rangers (1872), Hamilton Academicals (1874), Hearts (1874), Hibernian (1875), Falkirk (1876), St Mirren (1877), Arbroath and Airdrieonians (1878) all appeared within seven years of each other.   It might be a useful exercise to see what the Scottish athletics scene was in 1871 and compare it with 1879 to see what differences, if any, appeared.     

The summer season in 1871 starts for us with the Glasgow Academy Sports on the last Saturday in April and the Glasgow High School Athletic Sports one month later on 27th May.   Both were reported extensively in the ‘Glasgow Herald’ with some interesting comments in the latter on the place of athletics in the life of the pupils after they left school.   These events, like those at Dumfries Academy on 17th June, were not of course available to the general community.   However the Pollokshaws Star Quoit Club held a sports meeting on the 17th and a week later there was an athletic meeting held at Vale of Leven organised by a Committee which had some wee hiccups – I quote: 

“We append the results of the matches which came off, but about one third of what were on the programme were not gone on with, partly on account of the dissatisfaction of the committee with a number of the competitors from a distance, whom the supposed to be more anxious to get the prizes than to compete fairly for them, and partly, we understand, that the drawings at the gate did not sufficiently supplement the subscriptions which the committee had received.”

Into July and the 10th RRV organised the Greenock Highland Games where several noted athletes took part, and the following week saw the Dunblane Highland Games and the Campsie Athletic Games.   I have noted the various organising bodies as an illustration of the haphazard nature of the organisation of the sport at the time -schools doing their own thing,  a quoiting club, a local committee, the 10th RLV, and local Games Committees which were self perpetuating bodies.   This diversity in provision led not unnaturally to local distances and events – a 250 yards race at one venue, a 4 miles race at another, a Beaters Race, and throws events such as ‘throwing the sledgehammer for height.   The nature of the Games as a social event on the local calendar is perhaps best illustrated by the Balfron National Games and Horse Racing.    The National Games were traditional Scottish events including races for local boys (living within 5 miles of Balfron),     The competitors included top men such as Donald Dinnie, ove of the best Scottish throwers ever, and Alex McPhee (Paisley) who won many races around the country and was father of Alex, junior, and Duncan McPhee who were Scottish champions on the track and over the country for Clydesdale Harriers and West of Scotland Harriers.   The athletics were followed by the horse racing where the star turn was a beast named Snorter.   In August  there was a meeting at Milngavie organised by Sir George Campbell, Bart, on the same day as the Strathallan Gathering at the beginning of the month,  there were others at Paisley, Kilbirnie and Crieff in August.

The picture is anything but clear but what we can say is that whether an event occurred or not depended on the interest of a particular group or individual.   eg with hundreds of RLV’ in the country, what inspired the 10th RRV to put on a meeting?   Or later the 1st or 3rd RLV organisations?   Why a quoiting club?   The provision was patchy and irregular.   The events were staged in local fields.   The fields being of different sizes, the distances were often of different lengths – the 250 yards above was replaced by a 150 or a 300 or a 330 yards at other venues.   The middle distances were poorly represented although there were enough at one mile, four miles, two miles, or whatever to earn a fair amount for runners like Alex McPhee.   There was no standardisation of distances between venues and the measuring was almost certainly of variable accuracy.   There were for a few years in the 1870’s Inter-University meetings but there was a break after 1873 (held at St Andrews) and 1889 when they were resurrected at King’s College in Aberdeen.  Finally there is no description that uses the word ‘amateur’ in any of the reports on the meetings – nor do they use the word  ‘professional’ either.   Given the frequent mention of known professional athletes and the fact that we know meetings such as Dunblane and Strathallan were professional at the period (although they later ‘turned amateur’), it can be assumed that most meetings were professional.

There is a marked contrast with the 1879 season.   

Many clubs held athletic sports and not just the top level clubs such as Rangers, Celtic, Hearts, Third Lanark, etc: annual sports were held by Royal Albert FC, Parkgrove FC, Hurlford FC,  the Crescent FC, and Maybole FC among many others.   Parkgrove was based in Govan with headquarters in Copeland Road while the Crescent FC team hailed from Ardrossan.   Just looking at the fixture list for 1879 we see that the following teams hosted their own sports:

Arbroath FC (24th May), Kilmarnock FC (17th June – co-hosted with Kilmarnock Cricket Club), Hurlford FC (28th June), Johnstone Athletic FC (19th July), Parkgrove FC (16th August), Cartside FC (23rd August).   There may well have been more.   They were usually all well attended and included sports other than athletics, mainly variations on the football 5-a-side although some of the meetings held a single match between two local teams as part of the programme. eg at Hurlford,  Hurlford won from Kilmarnock Hibernians.  Confined races were also usually part of the programme with races confined to locals, or members of the sponsoring football team, but occasionally groups like carters  or ploughmen had their own races.   The prizes for these sports were not negligible either, at times they were better than many of those handed out in the second half of the 20th century!    For example the Sports at Ardrossan had among the prizes (these are just examples but typical of all events – including the three legged race, the sack race, the Mile handicap, etc)-

100 yards:  1st silver mounted crystal biscuit box;  2nd silver plated inkstand

Half Mile:  1st Gladstone travelling bag; 2nd silver mounted oak butter cooler

Football contest: 1st four gold badges;  2nd  four silver Maltese crosses

Given the amount spent on the awards, it is clear that these clubs valued what the event would bring to them in return.  Running a sports was not a small undertaking. 

In addition the standard of athlete was high (JA Crerar of Third Lanark, and J Finlayson of QPFC were among the prize winners at this meeting).   Obviously, the nearer the venue to any of the big cities, the more players from the big teams there were.   The Parkgrove FC meeting in Govan had competitors from QPFC (incl JW Harvie, BB Sykes, JD Finlayson), Rangers FC (A Watson) and LRV (JA Crerar, J McKay) as well as from assorted other football clubs noted only by their initials – JCFC, WPFC, and others.   The prizes awarded were often listed in reports but the only one noted at the Parkgrove meeting was for the 300 yards handicap (confined) and was a sterling silver cup worth 30 guineas – ‘presented by the ladies of Govan.  To be won three times.’   The last qualifier was important since many athletes thought winning a cup once meant you kept it.   Even stipulating three times was not a tight enough definition either – did it mean winning the trophy three times was enough or did it mean that it had to be won three times consecutively?   Nevertheless 30 guineas was a big sum in 1879.

The bigger clubs such as Kilmarnock FC, St Mirren  FC, St Bernard’s FC. Hamilton Academicals and Airdrieonians had their own meetings with their own variations on the format.   Hamilton Academicals had their sports over two consecutive Saturdays.  eg on 5th July 1884 they held the first day’s sports where the main events were the football competition which was won by Cambuslang, the place kick won by H Reid (Rangers FC) from H McHardy (Rangers), 100 yards heats with final the following week, and the confined 440 yards.    On 11th July, there were eleven events, 100 yards (open), 100 yards (confined), 440 yards open handicap, scratch half mile (confined to clubs from Lanarkshire), half mile open, one mile handicap,  120 yards hurdles, obstacle race, consolation race, one mile cycle race, two miles cycle race.   The prize winners were almost all from football clubs – Cambuslang FC, Dumbarton FC, Pilgrims FC, Rangers FC, Royal Albert FC, Vale of Leven FC, 3rd LRV FC and Hamilton FC with some athletes from the universities (a few) and other clubs such as Golfhill Tennis Club.   That same day, Airdrieonians had their own two day event with an amateur athletic sports on the 12th and was mainly composed of confined events plus a four a side football competition with the final to be held the following week.   Came the 18th and it was an athletics meeting that we would recognise as such today.   There were several names which were well known at these Sports around the West of Scotland – A McNab (3rd LRV) was a prolific prize winner, JG Cleland (Royal Albert) and “the sack race was an easy thing for ‘Tuck’ McIntyre’ who was a member of Rangers FC who, as well as being an excellent sprinter in open events, was making a habit of winning or being placed in the obstacle race and the sack race.  Before playing for Rangers, from 1883, he had been a member of Alexandra Athletic – a club that had a long history of promoting amateur sports back into the 1870’s.   Also on that afternoon were the St Bernard’s FC Sports at Powderhall and the West Kilbride Annual Sports at Seamill.   

When St Mirren opened their new grounds at Westmarch in Paisley on 23rd July 1883, they did so with an amateur athletic sports meeting.   Founded in 1877, theirs was one of the oldest annual sports meetings on the calendar, late July every year, having been started in 1881 and continuing from there.   Greenock Morton, founded in 1874, was there too with a first rate annual sports,usually towards the end of May, where the feature race was for many years the quarter mile with such as Eric Liddell racing at Cappielow for Edinburgh University as an individual and in the relay too.   

By 1880, there were many more athletic meetings available to the athletes of the country and a lot of that was down to the football clubs using their own grounds as a venue and making at times considerable amounts of money from them.  The increased number of clubs in the central belt meant that there were that many more meetings in a relatively small area and the regular runners became known and developed their own supporters.   The more they raced, the better they became as runners and the standard in the country rose.   In addition,  the fact that the clubs had standardised ground sizes meant that the running distances were also standardised which helped the runners judge their efforts more accurately.       In short athletics gained

* More Meetings

*Standardised Track Sizes

*Standardised Distances

*More and better publicity

*Because of the above, more recruits to the sport

Of course the football clubs also gained – money from the crowds that rolled up and fitter players among the benefits but the contrast between athletics provision in 1871 and 1879 was marked.