Ron Morrison

Ron Morrison, SARon Morrison

When starting this profile, I mentioned Ron’s name to a former international athlete who started to smile, and after commenting on ‘his idiosyncratic laugh (!), went on to say  “Ron has done so much for the sport – Fife AC, coaching Lemoncello, the archive, etc, etc.   A nicer, cleverer guy you could not meet.”   These were typical of the other comments that were forth coming and noted his involvement with Fife from the very first, his coaching (where Andrew Lemoncello was the best known but by no means the only athlete to have profited from Ron’s coaching) and his work with the SAL website which included the comprehensive archive feature.   All true but so much that Ron has done is not included there – his running with Shettleston Harriers and Strathclyde University, his versatility as an athlete, his work as team manager for both Shettleston and Fife, as well of course as his administrative and organisational capabilities.   We should however start where he started – with Shettleston Harriers in the 1960’s.   Ron was kind enough to complete the questionnaire as follows.


Name:   Ron Morrison

Club:   Fife AC

Occupation:   Retired

How did you get into the sport initially:   I was born a Shettleston Harrier.

Personal Bests?    Here are the ones I have confirmation for:

800m:   1:59.5 on  27/4/72                            1500:   4:20.7 on 10/5/72

5000:   16:28.0 on 13/4/74                           10000m:

Marathon:  2:52:33 on 7/5/77                      3000m Steeplechase:   9:54.8 on 27/5/72

110mH:                                                               400mH:   59.4 on 7/5/72

High Jump:   1.52m on 6/8/68                     Pole Vault:   3.12m on 12/6/66

Long Jump:   5.43m on 13/5/65                   Triple Jump:   11.24m on 25/1/64

Hammer Throw:   31.06m on 5/8/65          Shot Putt:   10.25m on 20/8/78

Discus:   30.26m on 5/8/65                           Javelin:   36.75m on 15/4/72

Has any individual or group had any marked effect on either your attitude to the sport or your performances? 

I always admired the way the Ian Clifton (Secretary) and Bob McSwein (Treasurer) ran the business of the SCCU in the 70s and 80s. Alex Jackson and myself had their model in our head when we took over the SAL RR&CC Commission in 2008.

What do you consider your best ever performance?

Hard one that as none of them were very good. The most pleasure I had was in the beating my old University pal George McIvor in the East District Cross-Country Championships at Cupar in 1976. I had just pushed him into a ditch about 150 metres from the finish.   To this day he has refused to pay out the bet. I did have the moral high ground. Cross Country is all about beating up your mates.

I also remember turning up with Norrie Foster to a League match at Meadowbank and we finished 5th for Shettleston. There were only two of us present. Norrie did ten events and me nine

How and when did you start out as an official?

At Strathclyde University. It was easier to do the job than watch it being bungled.

Can you mention any major competitions at which you have officiated?

I have refereed 16 National Cross-Country and many XCR and district events.   The biggest events were the World Cross-Country at Edinburgh in 2008 and the Commonwealth Games Marathon in Glasgow in 2014.

What qualifications do you hold as an official and/or coach?

Grade 3 Official and grade 2 coach

What honours have you been awarded so far?

SAL Honorary Life Member

What has athletics brought you that you would not have wanted to miss?

As an athlete fun, as a coach helping talented people and as an official seeing a good job being done.

What changes, if any, would you make in the sport?

I am an iconoclast. I would change everything but it is not a good idea.


Born on 15th April, 1946,he says he was ‘born a Shettleston Harrier’.   It is no secret that his Dad was the well loved and respected David Morrison who started with the club in 1933 and continued for the rest of his life in the club and the sport and set world records as a veteran.   He was also a multi events competitor with a range almost as wide as Ron’s – I don’t remember his father doing a 110m high hurdles.   There is a profile of David at .   It was inevitable that Ron would start out with the club.    

His first race was at the age of 12 in October 1958 when he took part in the club’s trials for the Lanarkshire county championships.   Dick Wedlock who would go on to great things won the race and Ron was last.   One of the really great decathletes for Scotland was Norrie Foster who was also a member of Shettleston Harriers and, as they were in the same age group, they grew up in the sport together just doing every event.   (Norrie was fourth in the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica in 1966.)

Ron says that he was not ‘great at anything but just did everything.’    Nevertheless he appeared in the national ranking lists every year between 1964 and 1977 inclusive.   He first appeared in the Scottish rankings in 1964 at the age of 18 with a 3.05 metre pole vault which placed him seventeenth in the national rankings for the event.   Not at all a one off, he appeared in both 1965 and 1966 in the same event with vaults of 3.05m and 3.12m which ranked him twenty first and seventeenth.    His versatility is evident in his track and field ranking between 1964 and 1977.    Clearly a good club man, he was also ranked in the 400m hurdles ( 1972 and 1973 with 59.4 and 60.3 which placed him twenty first and twenty sixth), 3000m steeplechase (1970, 1971 and 1972 with times of 10:02.4 [25th], 10:03.2 [24th] and 9:54.8 [28th]) and hammer throw (30.88m in 1977, ranked 19th) but it was the pole vault with which he was most consistent – 2.74m (30th in 1972), 2.90 (21st in 1973), 3.00m (23rd in 1974), 2.90m (22nd in 1975) and 3.00m (24th in 1976).   These were events that he would return to much later in his career to help the Fife AC team in their quest for league points.   Competitively, he was Glasgow Schools discus champion at the age of 13 in 1959.   Ron was third in the SAAA Junior Hammer Championship in 1964 with 101′ 8″ and in 1965 he was second in the Junior Hammer with 122′ 0″.   He was also good enough represent Scotland against the British Army at Grangemouth as a Junior Hammer thrower.   He says, maybe wryly, that he was built like a hammer thrower but wanted to be an endurance runner!

We think of him as a cross-country man though and he was a member of the team (A Blamire, T Dolan, D Adams and Ron) which finished tenth in the Youths National in 1964.   Alistair remembers 1964 and meeting Ron and says I first met Ron at the Shettleston Youth club cross-country championships in 1963-64. I had joined the club when at Dumfries Academy, through an old Shettleston Harrier called Lewis Howitt, who lived in Dumfries.    I didn’t know anyone at first but remember Ron well from that time as he was known to be cleverer than everyone else, including me of course!   Although I went to Edinburgh University shortly afterwards I still ran for Shettleston from time to time and will always remember Ron as the man who could throw the hammer and run the steeplechase at the same meeting! Now, that must be unique because he was pretty good at both events – I think he finished runner up in the SAAA Junior Hammer in 1965.”   

Ron started his University career at Strathclyde University and ran for their cross-country team from 1964 – 1967, captaining the team in 1967.   Then running for Glasgow University in 1968 he was second in the second team race at the Scottish Universities Championships.   It was then on to St Andrews University when he was in the team that was third in the East District Relay Championships at Penicuik in 1972 with Stuart Easton, Philip Hay and David Lorimer.   His first Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay was for St Andrews in 1972 when the finished 16th with Ron on the last stage.   He was also for a time Secretary/Organiser for the Strathclyde University team and organised the annual trip to Lagan Valley Relays in Ireland.

 Ron ran in two Edinburgh to Glasgow races for Shettleston during this period: 1973 on the third stage after Lachie Stewart had come from 15th place to 9th and Ron ran well enough to drop only one place,  and 1974 again on the third stage when he hung on to twelfth place for the club.   He picked up a bronze medal in the National Cross-Country Championships in 1975 when he was sixth scoring runner for Shettleston in 114th place.   His first run in the National had been in 1964 as a Youth (ie Under 17).


They call this one ‘Two Wise Men’ – so that they can argue about who’s the odd man out!

His biggest success at this period however was not as a runner at all but as Shettleston Team Manager in 1970-’71.   The club cross-country committee at the times was made up of Ron (team manager), George Kay (president), Alex Naylor (coach), Davie Morrison (Ron’s cousin) and Bill Scally.   A formidable quintet combining experience and wisdom, they were clear that with the talent at their disposal that year they had to get everybody training and competing.    Their first action was to send out a letter to all members:   “We sent them to everyone,” recalls Ron Morrison, “recalcitrant non-trainers and superstars alike.”   It is fair to say that their efforts succeeded beyond their dreams and 1970-71 turned out to be one of their best ever cross-country seasons.  

They won  the McAndrew, Lanarkshire, Midlands and Allan Scally Relays, the Lanarkshire, Midland and National cross-country championships, the team race at the Nigel Barge classic in January and the Edinburgh to Glasgow eight stage relay as well.    Marvellous.   Then they sent a team to the English National.   The story is told in the club history:

With the team that they had, and after all the successes of the season, Shettleston sent a team down to the English National Championships to be held at Norwich.   After a long journey down and cramped and uncomfortable sleeping accommodation (camp-beds!) the team positions were Alastair Blamire 11th, Lachie Stewart 19th, Dick Wedlock 24th, Norman Morrison 32nd, Henry Summerhill 65th and Tommy Grubb 131st.   Ronnie Morrison is quoted in the club history as saying more than thirty years later, “It took some time for the result to be accurately announced due to the fact that we were unfamiliar with the disc system employed to count the team scores.   Tipton Harriers were announced as the winners with 287 points but after checking I knew I was holding a team packet with a total of 282 points.   There was some disbelief when I eventually located the scorers and after detailed scrutiny of the names, the were declared legal by SCCU official Ewan Murray.”    The history goes on “The most prestigious trophy, of what had been a momentous season was presented by the mayor of Norwich, after which the team bus headed north for a night of celebration.   “With victories in every senior event we entered, ” said Ronnie Morrison, “season 1970 – 71 can be described as a year of gold.”

Ron Plus TwoAlex Jackson, Ron and David Cairns

Ron had moved to St Andrew’s in 1971 and when the new Fife AC club started up in 1975 he became one of the members there and ran in the Edinburgh to Glasgow in their colours in 1976 (seventh stage) and 1977 (eighth) for the team that was finding its feet in this competition.  Indeed the team of which he was a member in 1976 won the most meritorious performance medals.  He was President of the club between 1978 and 1980.  One of his fellow members of Fife AC was Donald Macgregor and I asked him how they had met up in the first place.     He replied

“I met Ron on St Andrews University playing fields around 1970/71 when training. There are two versions – did I ask him to join us or vice versa – I think the former.   We did quite a lot of training together, in and around Anstruther (where he lived for a while)  and in Tentsmuir Forest on Sundays.Others who ran with us were Terry Mitchell and Ian Grieve, both initially ‘professionals -SHGA. 

 The weekly training pattern was long established: Monday fartlek, Tuesday longish run, Wed speed work, Thurs longish run, Fri easy 5, Sat race or 15, Sun 15-20.

I then went to Germany for a year and then 2 years in Dunoon. Meanwhile Ron was a professor. We became officials, and in due course both became presidents of the SCCU, requiring a lot of late night trips to Glasgow.”

Don refers to Ron’s academic career which was quite outstanding and I quote from the Wikipedia article:   Professor Ron Morrison was the head of School of the computer science department of the University of St Andrews and the inventor of the S-algol programming language, and co-inventor of the PS-algol and Napier 88 languages.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Note that although he is not only a distinguished academic with well over 100 published papers and ten books to his credit but a very highly respected lecturer and speaker into the bargain.    He was however also seriously involved in athletics embodying the principal that ‘if you want something done, ask a busy man.’

Ian, Bob and Ron WXC 2008

Bob McSwein, Ian Clifton and Ron at the world cross-country championships in Edinburgh, 2008

Having settled in St Andrews and become a member of the local athletic club he served as a committee member, ran, coached and at the same time was one of the hardest working members of the Scottish athletics Road Running and Cross-Country Commission.

His first year on the Scottish Cross-Country Union General Committee was 1979.   He became the East District Chairman and then President of the SCCU in 1985-’86 and was with the Scottish team at the World Championships in Neuchatel in March 1986 when John Ngugi of Kenya made his first winning appearance.

As an official, as opposed to his work as an administrator, Ron  has been consistently in action since 1988 when he refereed his first National Cross-Country Championship.   In the period between that meeting and the present he has held that post every year until 2015 making it 16 straight championships.   He was referee for the World Cross Country Championships in 2008 and the Commonwealth Games Marathons in 2014.   There have of course been many other events – Cross Country races including District Championships, league matches and open road races.

This was just at the time when Scottish athletics was starting to look to the future and contemplating setting up a more professional governing body.

One of his colleagues on many of the cross-country running committees was Alex Jackson from Edinburgh and he remembers an example of Ron’s forward thinking at the time in this story from 1984.   “I can recall an SCCU General Committee Meeting from late 1984, Ron had recently been elected vice-president of the SCCU.   He suggested that the future of cross-country running in Scotland should be with a joint governing body for males and females This was in the day SCCU competition was male only and I remember a sharp intake of breath that night at the very thought of it.”

  The Scottish Amateur Athletic Association and the Scottish Cross-Country Union were merged as part of a move to a more professional set up in the 90’s.   There were repercussions throughout the sport.   For instance, the old group coach for endurance events had been responsible for all distance events from 800m to the marathon plus the walks and was allowed to spend up to £240 a year, a derisory sum that was not enough to cover the phone calls.   His was also a part time position which was just not appropriate for the start of the twenty first century.   The other group coaches were run in a similar fashion and had to be brought up to date.   In addition, the split between the various organising bodies of the sport was also inappropriate for a sport in modern times with four main organisations in existence (SAAA, SWAAA, SCCU and SWCCU) as well as separate bodies for hill running and schools.   There had to be changes and Ron was in the midst of these.   Alex Jackson again:

“Ron was one of the driving forces behind not only a joint governing body for cross-country but also for all athletics disciplines which resulted in the formation of Scottish Athletics in 1992.    Through these years he was head of a large Computer Sciences School at St Andrews University so would disappear from athletics for periods when he had to concentrate on the demanding day job.   When he was concentrating on athletics, academics researchers who had come to St Andrews specifically to work with him complained they never saw him.   

He was also the driving force in putting in place a professional management system which resulted in the appointment of David Joy as the first CEO of Scottish Athletics in 1998.   A similar system was subsequently used by other athletics governing bodies in the UK.   

The Cross-Country and Road Running Archive that he set up leads the way in depth of results from past championships.   None of the other home countries have anything approaching the range and content.”

If we look at all that he was involved in at this time, we see first of all that in the shift from Scottish Amateur Athletics Association to Scottish Athletics Federation, he was on the SAF Steering Group with Alan Grassett and went on to be, first, Vice President, then President of the SAF from 1997 to 1999 and was made an Honorary Life Member.

With Neil Park, Bill Smith and Peter Carton he wrote the Vision and Business documents that were presented to the Sports Council to fund the present set up.   Ron adds, “As Alex says I then went back to work.”   He has been Convener of the SAL RR&CC Commission for 6 years between 2008-14.   I became a member of the SAL Board in 2012

He was convener of the Scottish Athletics Federation from 2008-’09 to 2012-’13 and has been responsible for the creation, development and maintenance of the Commission website since its inception.   It is fair to say that it is one of the best research tools and sources of information  available to Scottish Cross-Country historians and others interested in the sport.

He became a member of the Board in 2012 and the Scottish Athletics website summarised his career as an official and in the sport at large as follows:

Board Of Directors

Ron Morrison


Ron Morrison has an extensive background in the leadership and management of scottishathletics. An U21 Hammer Internationalist he is still semi–active and has won 9 Scottish Masters titles in various events. His love of cross country running saw him President of the S.C.C.U. (1985-6) and the S.A.F (1997-9) where he led the setting up of the current professional business structure of the sport. As an official his expertise has been recognised with the appointment as Referee at the World Cross Country championships in Edinburgh in 2008 and Marathon Referee for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. A professional background as Professor of Computing at St Andrews University, where Ron remains closely involved with coaching endurance athletes at the University and through Fife AC.

That was written in 2015 and this year Ron is in post as Past Convener of the Commission with the intention of standing down at the end of the year.

Giffordtown 2009 - Ron, Bob, Ron

At Giffordtown 5K in 2009 with Bob Stark and Ron Hilditch.

Don Macgregor’s involvement in the sport has several parallels with Ron’s which he comments on, but they are known as something of a double act as far as coaching in Fife is concerned.   Among the runners he has worked with are British internationalists Andrew Lemoncello (Steeplechase), Megan Crawford (Hills) and Victoria Gill (10K)  and Scottish internationalists Owen Greene (Hills), Andrew Liston (Hills), Morgan Windram-Geddes (Cross-Country), Hester Dix (10K), Jennifer Kibble (U20 track 5000m, HR U17, U20 twice, London).

Along with his long-time friend, Don Macgregor, he has coached many generations of St Andrews University cross-country and endurance athletes.

Don says:

“We became officials, and in due course both became presidents of the SCCU, requiring a lot of late night trips to Glasgow.   I stayed with Ron’s dad, Davie, when Davie and I both won world vet titles in 1980.

Ron started coaching in the late 1990s, and I joined him.   We are both still at it.   The schedules are written by Ron, but were originally based on my training diaries. Over the years some of our athletes have achieved considerable success, notably of course Andrew Lemoncello, but more recently Megan Crawford,  the women’ teams and the marathoners (female).   We coach a mixture of local athletes and students.   At present we have a coaching team of 5, but Ron is the boss. I admire his persistence and enthusiasm ( much of which I have lost).   Without Ron our athletes would not be nearly as successful.   However all are treated the same, from champions to debutants. Everything is voluntary (including our services!).   Apart from coaching, Ron has run the Commission, as you know and has been race referee on numerous occasions, incl the World Champs at Holyrood in 2008 and the Glasgow CG. He has in my view done more for Scottishathletics than most.”

Megan is the one mentioned above and is indeed very talented with experience of athletics at the highest levels – her first marathon race was in Inverness and she won that one in 2:46:37 taking two seconds from the record set by Ethiopian Mekash Tefara three years earlier – but Power of 10 lists athletes from the Under 23 age group to over 45.

ASTeam2003Don and Ron with their team which won the Allan Scally Relay in 2003

Ron receiving the trophy from his Dad, David.

Competition is not left to his athletes however.   Track league meetings reappeared in Ron’s schedule in recent years when he has represented Fife in shot and hammer and he has won gold in Masters Championships hammer throwing too.  His Dad and brother won Scottish age group medals, what has Ron done?   He has kept well up with them.   The list –

gold 1996 (M50) – PV, Hammer, 400mh, JT;

2001 (M55) silver HT (30.52);

2006 (M60) – gold HT (28.78), 300mh (no medal – 59.34);

2007 (M60) gold – HT (26.52);

2011 (M65) – silver HT (26.58);

2012 (M65) gold – HT (25.42)

2013 Gold HT (M6) 25.74

And as a man with a hammer thrower’s build who wants to be an endurance runner, he frequently runs in the St Andrews Parkruns over 5000m.   ‘The American ‘Runners World’ referred to George Sheehan who combined being a doctor with running long distances and writing for the magazine a Renaissance Man – what does that Make Ron Morrison?

SAL 4 stage 2012The Fife women’s team that he is coaching in 2015:   They won the Masters National and were third in the women’s National

We can finish on what his friend Alex Jackson calls ‘The Beard Story.’    It goes like this.

In 1980 there was an athletics film being made in which a scene with runners running along the sand at St Andrews was to be shot.   Donald Macgregor was asked to get together a group of runners as possibles for it.   His good friend Ron Morrison was put forward as one, he was accepted provided he took off his beard.   Ron was fond of his beard, declined and wasn’t in the scene.   He thought it was a little film which might not even make general release.   It was ‘Chariots of Fire’ which was nominated for seven Oscars and won four.  That scene in particular was described by Paul Gambacini as “One of the iconic moments in world cinema.”  If he had known that, the beard might well have come off.

Leslie Stillie Morrison

 Ron receiving the Tom Stillie award from Leslie Roy, President of Scottish Athletics

Alex Jackson

ajacksonCupar 5

Alex running in the Cupar 5

When Alex Jackson was made an Honorary Life Member of Scottish Athletics, Ron Morrison outlined his career in athletics.   I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing his remarks.

“Alex Jackson is a keen and still active road and cross–country runner with a marathon pb of 2.53.0.   It is however, as an administrator that Alex has proved to be an outstanding servant of Club (Ferranti AC), District (East) and Country (Scottish Athletics).   In 1978 Alex became a founder member of Ferranti AC and in 1983 he was elected a member of the SCCU General Committee where has served as the East District Cross-Country Secretary from 1988 to now.   He took on the SAL Road Running & Cross-Country Secretaryship from 2008.    Alex Jackson has also been the Secretary of the East District Cross-Country League since 1984, during which time he has grown the three races per year into the major Cross-Country races of the year in Scotland outside the Championships with the trademark of a very short timetable that accommodates both male and female races totalling about 700 competitors per event. See

 It is such long–term commitment that makes our sport what it is today.    Alex’s family, particularly his wife Jen and son Peter, are a constant at cross country championships taking entries and producing the best results service I have seen anywhere. In recognition of this the whole family were presented with the Tom Stillie award for services to Scottish Athletics in 2003.”

The  remarks indicate the length and quality of Alex’s career and the respect in which he is held by his peers and it is only right that we look at each aspect of that career a bit more closely and start where he started – as a runner – with his responses to the questionnaire.

Name: Alex Jackson

Club: Ferranti AAC

Date of Birth:  8th March, 1948

Occupation:   University technician.

How did you get into the sport initially:   Working at Ferranti, Crewe Toll, Edinburgh in 1970 I started running at lunchtimes .   The main influences were Eric Fisher and Claude Jones, members of Edinburgh AC, who also worked at Ferranti.   Did little racing until the formation of Ferranti AAC in 1978, from then I was a regular at Cross-Country and Road Running.

Personal Bests:

Marathon 2:53:47 at Motherwell.          Half Marathon:   1:23:10  Great North Run on a sweltering day.   10 Miles:   57:58   Tom Scott

5 Miles:   27:48   Haddington.        These personal best times were all set in 1984, my best year.

Has any individual or group had a marked effect either on your attitude to the sport or your performances?   As a runner it was going to races with my clubmates at Ferranti AAC, the banter before and after the races was always great.  As an administrator, working for 6 years with Ron Morrison who was chair of the Cross-Country and Road Running Commission was nearly always enjoyable.

What do you consider your best ever performance as a runner?    My marathon pb.

 Alex Edinburgh 83

Alex in the Edinburgh Marathon, 1983

The names of Eric Fisher and the late Claude Jones that Alex mentions appear frequently in Scottish athletics of the period: Claude was one of the real driving forces behind the many successes of Edinburgh AC and Eric was a medal winning athlete who joined the club from Ferranti.   They influenced many athletes during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with Eric still being active as a coach and administrator in the sport.      Note too that he is still running with Ferranti AAC of which he was a founder member.    In that capacity he influenced many other athletes – Brian Howie of Edinburgh Southern Harriers started his running at Ferranti and commented on his time in the club:

“I took up running just after my 28th birthday in 1978. This was just before the mass running boom of the 1980’s when people used to point and stare at runners in the streets of Edinburgh.   Now they don’t seem to bat an eyelid.   They just stand transfixed like sheep as you motor on towards them just to dodge the same way as you at the last minute.    

We called it the Ferranti Un-Athletic Club since twice a week a few of us went to Saughton Park from Ferranti at Robertson Avenue.   The Ferranti Athletic Club at the time comprised of giants in Scottish Athletics such as Bob Coburn and Alex Jackson.”   

Brian goes on to talk about the club, training and the influence of fellow Ferranti runner Evan Cameron on him – with athletes like Eric and Evan as members, Ferranti had quality athletes (whatever Brian had to say!).  While still running and racing seriously, and before his best year of 1984, Alex became club representative on the East District Cross-Country Committee in 1982 and in 1983 was elected to the Scottish Cross-Country Union General Committee.   After serving on the District Committee for six years he was elected to the post of East District Secretary in 1988 and he  remained there till 1992 when Scottish Athletics came along.   The Cross-Country and Road Running Commission replaced the SCCU and in 2008 Alex became Secretary of that body.

While that was proceeding, he was not idle!    In 1984, the day after he set his marathon pb, there was an East District Cross-Country AGM at which he was elected Secretary – he says because no one else would do it.    However that may be, he is still there in 2015, 31 years later.   However, he has no ambition to become the longest serving official in that role – the late  George K Aithie held the post from 1928 to 1977.   That’s 49 years!   Nevertheless Alex has done 31 years and is still going strong in a job which is no sinecure.   It is one of the biggest cross-country leagues in the UK and it is one of the most runner-friendly too.   As he says, “It has a simple turn up with your number on your vest and run.         It’s frustrating now to see online events that fill up hours after they go online and months before the event is due to take place with a huge ‘no-show’ element  when the event does take place.”    Many of us would echo these sentiments but the number of races which take entries on the day is dwindling – the sport could do with more of Alex’s philosophy.

Athlete, administrator – and Alex also qualified as an official and has a UK Athletics Level 3 Coaching Certificate.

Alex_Jackson_UK_Awards_2008 (1)Alex in the back row with the beauties, at the British Awards ceremony in 2008.

When the World Cross-Country Championships were held in Edinburgh in 2008, Alex had the honour of being Competition Manager.  This was a major undertaking by any standards.   There were no fewer than 57 nations taking part with a total of 447 athletes involved.   There were four courses of different distances to be laid out around Holyrood Park from 6.04 kilometres for Junior Women to 12000 kilometres for Senior Men.   It was the year that Kenenisa Bekele won for the sixth time becoming the first man to do so.   The event was reported at length in the ‘New York Times’ and in the ‘Herald’ and for the IAAF.   The eyes of the world were on Scotland.    The only pity was that there was no Scottish team competing.  The event was a resounding success although domestic coverage was shaded a bit by the fact the some Eritrean athletes defected and joined Shettleston Harriers.    However Alex’s contribution to the undoubted success of the meeting did not go unnoticed.

Later that same year, he was nominated as Scottish Off-Track Official of the Year.   He  was also UK Athletics Official of the Year in 2008 and the report on the event at read as follows.

The background. Official of the Year Alex Jackson worked as secretary of the East District cross country for more than 20 years and has also served off-track athletics with his road running and cross country event organisation. This year he took a key role in the organisation of the World Cross Country Championships that took place in Edinburgh – culminating in a highly successful weekend following months of hard work.

Pile of silverware. Jackson’s award marks the end of a successful few weeks which also saw him awarded Scottish Off Track Official of the year the week before at the scottishathletics Annual Awards Dinner in Glasgow. 

And the award goes to. Speaking of his moment in the spotlight, Jackson said: “I’ve never experienced anything like this before, its like the Oscars without the split screen showing the other nominees. In Birmingham there are five other nominees, I listened as each of their background information was read out, they all have a wealth of experience and service to the sport and I was humbled to be in such company. 

Cross Talk.  In receiving his award, Jackson also paid tribute to his colleagues involved in the World Cross Country organisation: “I know that my involvement in the successful IAAF World Cross Country Championship in Edinburgh in March was a big factor in me winning the award, so to all the great Edinburgh Local Organising Committee, Officials, Volunteers etc, thanks, a measure of my large magnum of Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Champagne is for you.”

Sri Chimnoy 2007

Alex Jackson at a Sri Chinmoy Meadows race with Eddie McDonald his long time friend and running rival behind

In 2011 Alex Jackson became a Life Member of Scottish Athletics and it was in this regard that Ron Morrison made the comments quoted at the top of this article.   I would like to finish with more of Alex’s responses to the questionnaire.

Out of them all, what was the best moment?   In 2003 the Tom Stillie Award for contribution to the sport was presented, not to me, but to the Jackson family.   My wife Jen has been doing declarations/results for many years, and son Peter producing computing results using programmes that he had developed.

What has athletics brought you that you would not have wanted to miss?   As Competition Manager for the World Cross-Country Championships in Edinburgh in 2008, I was part of the team who went to the World Cross-Country Championships in Mombasa in 2007 to see how the championships were done, or as happened in some aspects, how not to do them.   A memorable trip.

What changes would you like to see in the sport?   I would like to see more clubs coming forward to host the Scottish Athletics Cross-Country Championships.   The burden of hosting seems to fall on the same clubs again and again.

You can’t keep a good man down and at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 Alex was Assistant Referee for the Marathon.  Again it was a major event – 27 entries from 16 countries in the men’s race, and 21 entries from 10 countries in the women’s event running round Glasgow on a Sunday morning.   There were many officials involved in the event in many capacities but only three were ‘marathon only’ specialists – Alex, Ron Morrison and David Cairns – all in the picture below in that order.

AJ and CG

Many officials are ‘runner’s officials’ – and Alex is certainly always conscious of what the runners need and want, some officials are ‘official’s officials’ in that they will do whatever is asked of them, often away from the sunlight working hard on behalf of the sport.   Alex comes into both categories.   His capacities are undoubted: from the growth of the East District Championhips to his work at the World Championships and Commonwealth Games are testimony to that.

Alex Jackson with Clyde

Alex Jackson with Clyde

Alex maybe thought that he had received all the honours that were coming away – this truly modest man had simply been engrossed in the sport and done what he could.   So he just continued working away – albeit a bit harder than many if not most.   Then came 2018 when the Jackson household was honoured yet again.   First of all he was awarded a unique MBE in the Queen;s Honours list – unique that it was for services to cross-country which was a first ever.   No award had ever been given for cross-country.   The award was reported on the Scottish Athletics website in June 2018 as follows: 

“Alex Jackson has landed a richly-deserved honour in the Queen’s Birthday list – with the award of Membership of the British Empire.   It is a wonderful moment for a man far more accustomed to handing out cross country medals than receiving one.   To make it even more special for this huge stalwart for athletics in Scotland, we believe Alex to be the first in  the sport to be recognised for his contribution to cross country (rather than other disciplines).

Many congratulations to Alex from all at scottishathletics after almost 35 years in roles as a cross country official and administrator, notably with the East League from 1988 and with SAL from 2008 to 2015 and including a role as Competition manager for the World Cross in Edinburgh 10 years ago.”

Then in November 2018 he was awarded the Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Lifetime Achievement in Sport Award.   This too was covered by Scottish Athletics:

“An Edinburgh athletics official has been recognised for his years of dedication to the sport after winning sportscotland’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteering.   Alex Jackson MBE is one of athletics most committed, respected and well-known volunteers, fulfilling countless roles in his 40 years as an administrator in the sport.   Alex picked up his award on an evening where inspirational coaches, officials and volunteers from all over Scotland were celebrated across 13 categories for their significant contribution to sport over the past twelve months.   The sportscotland Coaching Officiating and Volunteer Awards 2018, were held at Glasgow City Chambers on Thursday, November 15th where leading athletes congratulated the winners and thanked them for their work in supporting and developing sport in Scotland.”

Every year at the Scottish national cross-country championships the announcer covering the event is media star Brian Burnett and he also takes part in many other functions.   He it was who presented the latter award and recognising Alex from the many events at which they had both officiated (Great Edinburgh Cross-Country, National Cross-Country, etc) said during the interview that he was surprised that Alex was getting an award for volunteering as he had always thought he was employed by Scottish Athletics.   

As for Alex?   He is not unaware of the significance of the honours and says, like Kenny Dalgleish when he was awarded the kinghthood that “It’s a bit embarrassing.”   Aye, well, there might be more embarrassment before you’re finished, Alex..


Ian Clifton

anent Ian Clifton 1Winning the Lincoln County Mile, 7th May 1955

Ian Clifton has been one of the most well-known officials in Scotland for decades.   I have been on various committees at different times – eg SCCU as club representative in the 60’s, SAAA in 1977 – but Ian had been on them before I had and he stayed on them and developed his involvement long after I had switched to concentrating on coaching.    Before that he had been a runner, running in Scotland and England with some success.   He is still, in his 80’s, officiating at cross-country events in the Scottish winter which means a lot of standing out in the typical weather suffered between October and March every year.

Ian Clifton was born in Drem, East Lothian 20 miles south of Edinburgh in 1932.   He joined Edinburgh Southern Harriers in 1947 and became their Youth champion in season 1949-50. 1949 was a good year for Ian.  He won the Edinburgh Battalion of the Boys Brigade Track and Field Championship and also the Battalion Cross-Country Championship and finished second in the East  District Under 17 Cross-Country championship.  Clearly a runner with some talent, he was selected for the classic Edinburgh to Glasgow eight stage relay and ran  on the 7th leg in November that year.

He joined the Civil Service and worked in Lincoln in 1950 but that was the time when all young men – unless they were in a reserved occupation or had a deferment for some reason – had to do two years National Service.    Most did it and most athletes gained something from it.   Ian was called up and in 1950 and served until 1952.    He had a good posting and served in Egypt from April 1951 to November 1952.   While there he kept running and competed in the Middle East Track and Field Championships in 1952.  On demob he in 1952 he returned to Lincoln where he joined Lincoln Wellington AC.

Ian competed for them until the Civil Service posted him again in 1955 but before then he enjoyed his athletics with the club.   During this period he competed for the club and also for the County team in Cross-Country events.   On the track he was less fortunate: despite winning the County track trials in both 1954 and 1955, Ian was the only winner not t be selected to represent the County at the White City on the grounds that he had not been born in Lincolnshire.   At that time there were several road relays sponsored by the ‘News of the World’ and Ian ran in the Manchester to Blackpool local relay and also in the bigger London to Brighton.    Not only competed but was also in the team that won the most improved team award for the former.   If you add in the Edinburgh to Glasgow run in 1949, Ian had the possibly unique record of having run all three NoW Relays.

Away from the track, he transferred to the Customs & Excise in 1955.   This was unfortunate for his athletics career as it entailed constant movements throughout the country in the course of his employment.   He did however manage to compete for South Shields for a period in 1956  whilst working in the Newcastle area.   His next move was back to Edinburgh in 1957 on a more permanent basis – and also to get married.   He rejoined Edinburgh Southern Harriers and ran for them for some years.

However it is as an official and administrator that Ian is best known.  Like all officials he began with his club committee to which he was elected in the early 1960’s becoming president in 1970-71 and again in 1980-82.   He was elected to the General Committee of the S.C.C.U. in 1969 and became Vice-President in 1977, and President in 1978  where, as Chairman of the World Cross-Country Organising Committee for the World Cross Country Championships in Glasgow.  In 1980 he was elected Assistant Secretary of the SCCU and in 1982, he became Honorary Secretary in succession to John Hamilton – a post he held until 1995.   At that point he also completed a BA degree at the Open University after four years study, graduating in 1984.   He was also during this period General Secretary of the Scottish Athletic Federation Road Running and Cross-Country Federation,   Secretary of the UK Road Running and Cross-Country body. This was a difficult time for the SCCU.   He did not have an easy ride in the post.

Ian’s spell as secretary was a time of change and there were several big events which had the Honorary Secretary, as the spokesman for the organisation and its many sub-committees, right in the front line.   For instance the question of amateur status was continually raising its head with payments becoming more open and more frequent.   These questions went from the six top athletes in the UK being paid £15,000 each by the governing body for up to 6 races a year right down to the payment of expenses for individual athletes attending local gatherings.   At times it was mildly embarrassing for him.  For instance after the SCCU Championships in 1985, Edinburgh Southern Harriers had been reported to the committee by the meeting referee.   They had just completed a sponsorship deal with Marshall’s Chunky Chickens and had been wearing the sponsor’s sweat shirts with his name in bold on them.   The ESH team manager Sandy Cameron was summoned and reprimanded and Ian Clifton had to face the press and tell them that ‘this is against the rules and we will be issuing a written reprimand.’   The fact that he was a member of the offending club had an irony not lost on him.

More seriously, in 1987 Scotland was unceremoniously turfed out of the World Cross-Country Championships – as were England, Wales and Northern Ireland – in favour of a single GB team.   This rankled with anyone involved in the sport and in 1992 the Scottish Union proposed a Commonwealth Cross-Country Championship, the inaugural event to be held at Irvine in 1994.   Again, by virtue of his post, Clifton was the spokesman.

”This will again give Scots the opportunity to win a national vest,” said Clifton. ”We have been acutely aware of how badly the sport was hit by the International Amateur Athletic Federation stopping us from competing, and I am delighted for the athletes.

‘The matter was raised at the Commonwealth Federation meeting in Barcelona, and this week the Scottish Commonwealth Games Council’s secretary, George Hunter, has confirmed that the federation has raised no objection.   ‘We already have a sponsor and venue,” said Clifton, whose brainchild the event is. ”It will be backed by Irvine Development Corporation.

Then there was the transition from the SAAA/SCCU to the SAF which took several years, necessitated several public meetings and led to several stormy SCCU AGM’s before the transition was complete.

These few example – money being awarded as prizes, the change from the SAAA/SCCU to the SAF, the unceremonious exit from the World Championships – are enough to demonstrate that he did not have an easy ride through these difficult years.

Ian was Course Director for the European Cross-Country Championships in Edinburgh in 2003 and when the World Championships were next held in Scotland in Edinburgh in 2008 Ian contributed yet again by acting as the organiser of the officials for the event and member of the Local Organising Committee for that event.   His time as secretary of the SCCU lasted until the formation of the SAF in 1992 and thereafter until 1995. During that period Ian was also President of the UK Cross Country Union 1989-92.

anent Ian Clifton

Ian as we know him: on duty at Meadowbank

While Ian’s first love may be Cross Country he is also an enthusiastic follower of Track & Field Athletics. In 1966 he took the exam to become a qualified Track & Field Judge – just in time for the Commonwealth Games.  As a Grade 1 Track Judge and a Grade 1 Jumps Judge, Ian was appointed Chief Jumps Judge at the successful Commonwealth Games where he was responsible for introducing new measuring technology.   As a result of this involvement, he was asked if he would organise the Civil Service Track & Field championship which had been in abeyance for two years.   Ian took on the task and the event was held at the Civil Service grounds in Edinburgh in 1972 and at Meadowbank in 1976.   He went on to become founding secretary of the Scottish Civil Service Association and was a member of the principal Executive CS Sports Council until he resigned in 1986.   When the Commonwealth Games returned to Edinburgh in 1986 Ian was heavily involved as that year’s President of the S.A.A.A.   A member of the British Athletic Federation from 1991-93, Ian was a Team Manager for various British teams between 1989 and 1993.

Ian was a foundation Trustee of the George Dallas Trust and was awarded MBE in 1997 for services to Athletics. Having refereed many National Cross Country and Road Race Championships he is still, as noted above, very active as an official: that’s him on the right below with his good friend and fellow-official, Robert McSwein.

Bob and Ian

John Hamilton

Committee Ron

SCCU General Committee in Centenary Year, 1990

(Click on the picture for a bigger version)

John Hamilton, athlete. administrator and international team manager, died on 5th July, 2014.   I only knew John slightly, having first spoken to him in 1975, but he was for many years one of the top officials in the sport and well-known throughout Scottish athletics.   This short profile should start with the obituary notice written by his friend Ron Morrison for the Scottish Athletics website.

“John Hamilton started running in the Edinburgh Rover Scouts and is recorded as having won a National U17 team silver medal when he finished 8th in 1952. When the Rover Scouts morphed into Braidburn AC John followed them and ran in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay, a race he loved dearly, for the first time in 1954. However it is as an official and administrator that John has proved to be an outstanding servant of Scottish Athletics at both Club and National level. 

John joined the Club for which he is known, Teviotdale Harriers, when he moved to Hawick for work purposes in 1957. He served as President and Treasurer on numerous occasions. From 1964 he represented Teviotdale Harriers on the East District Cross Country Committee and took over as chairman in from 1963 to 1967. These duties entailed serving on the Scottish Cross Country General Committee where he became President for the 1969-70 season. After his Presidential year John served as Honorary Assistant Secretary from 1972-9. Not content with all that John took over as the International team manager in 1979 for the rest of the years that Scotland ran as a separate team in the World Championships. 

While John’s first love may have been Cross Country he was also an enthusiastic follower of Track & Field Athletics. He represented the club on the Scottish Borders A.A.A. where he was President on several occasions. After serving many years on the S.A.A.A. General Committee he was elected as President in 1981. Furthermore at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh John was the Assistant Team Manager for the Scottish Team. 

John was an Honorary Life Member of SAL and in 1988 was awarded the prestigious Tom Stillie Award by the S.A.A.A. for his contribution to the sport. 

People in our sport that knew John will remember a modest, well-mannered, good humoured contributor with a sharp mind. As Team manager he was liked and respected by the athletes and left his peers wishing there were more like him.”

Ron refers to John’s running career as a member of Edinburgh Rovers and Scouts and we can have a brief look at it here.   His first championship appearance with them seems to have been in the East District Championships in 1952 where he finished fifth in the Youths (Under 17) race for the winning team.   Then in the National Championships he finished eighth in the Youths race.   One of the members of the senior team from the same club was Neil Donnachie who would go on to be not only a fellow member of Braidburn AC but a prominent official at national level in his own right.   As was noted above the team was second, behind Cambuslang but ahead of a Bellahouston Harriers team for whom the scoring runners included R Penman 9th, F Nelson 10th, J Connolly 15 and R Nelson 23 with J Irvine being a non counting runner.   Not a bad team to beat.

He seemed to miss most of the championships in 1952-53 but in 1954 he turned out in his first Edinburgh to Glasgow relay – an event in which he was to appear thirteen times in the 1950’s and early 60’s.   This first run, in November 1954 was on the fourth stage and he maintained the club’s seventeenth place with a solid run that decreased the gap on those ahead.    In the East District Championships that year he finished 38th in the team that finished fourth and in the National he was 39th in the Junior championship.    On to the 1955-56 season and he was a member of the Braidburn team that finished second in the East District Relay, having run on the second stage, and followed this with a good run on the third stage of the Edinburgh to Glasgow where he picked up from 18th to 16th with the eighth fastest time on the stage .   In the District Championships, John was 30th but was not out in the National event later that year.   His third Edinburgh to Glasgow in November 1956 saw him run on the fifth stage again where he held tenth place for the team.   He was  29th in the District Championships at the start of 1957 and 43rd in the National.    In the 1958 Edinburgh to Glasgow he was back on the third leg where he maintained seventeenth position.    In the National Championships, John, having moved to Hawick,  appeared for the first time in the colours of Teviotdale Harriers, the club with which most of us associate him, and finished sixty first – second counter for his new  club.   In the Edinburgh to Glasgow of 1958 he ran on the fearsome sixth stage for Teviotdale and maintained the eighteenth position that he inherited.   Twelve months later, in 1959, the Teviotdale squad won the medals for the most meritorious unplaced performance in the race and John  ran that time on the fifth stage for the team that was sixth: he ran seventh time on his stage.   Earlier that winter, 1959-60, he was in the Teviotdale team that was third in the East District championships: other team runners were B Mather, RK Hartley and J Jack.   He was also in the team that was second in the East District championships at Hawick that year finishing 13th to be third counter.   The club  was tenth in the 1960 National with John second man home in 44th.

John Hamilton 3John Hamilton taking the baton in the 1959 Edinbrgh to Glasgow

from George Meikle

The picture above came from Alex Jackson.   Alex spoke at the Teviotdale Harriers 125th Anniversary Dinner earlier this year and there were four of the team that won the medals in 1959 present:  Brian Mather (2nd stage), George Meikle (4th stage), John Hamilton (5th stage), Jim Jack (6th).   They were introduced and received a great round of applause from the gathering.

 In the 1960 Edinburgh he ran the third stage: taking over in twelfth from George Meikle he picked up to eleventh before handing the baton to Peter Roden and ran the fifth fastest stage time of the day.   It was more silver at the District championships when he was a counting runner for the Teviotdale team that was second.   In the National in 1961 he was 64th and the team was eleventh – one place behind Braidburn!    Braidburn was also one place ahead of then in seventh in the East relays in season 1961 with John on the third stage.   He picked up a place for the Edinburgh to Glasgow team which finished sixth and in the National that year he was 95th.   The E-G relay in 1962 was another good one for John who picked up two places – from seventh to fifth – with third fastest time of the day, possibly his best ever run in the event.   He wasn’t making the top four for the short relays but was a real asset in every race.   In 1964 he ran the last stage where he ran in a ‘vacuum’ and held on to seventh position.    In the Districts that season he was forty second and a member of the second placed Teviotdale team.    Not in the counting six in the National, he was appearing in fewer championships by this time .     He was nevertheless out in the Edinburgh to Glasgow the next year and ran eight, maintaining eleventh place.  In the National, he was still running in the top 100, finishing 93rd.   He did miss the next Edinburgh to Glasgow though and the one after that but was recalled to duty in 1968 when he held his position on then eighth stage.   That was his last run in the Edinburgh to Glasgow where he had run thirteen times and on stages 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.    He only ever dropped one place in any of them.   He had won gold, silver and bronze team medals at District level and in general had had a good record in the sport.

I have spent some time on his career as a runner because it was where he started and had a great deal to do with his career in administration and as an official from 1964.    You can’t fool runners – if you have run in all the major cross-country and road events, if you have run in the wee local meetings, it shows in your approach to any of the many problems, large and small, that crop up at meetings, whether on the country, the road or on the track.   In John’s case, it showed to the international squad where he took over as team manager in 1979, only ten years after he had been a serious competitor.

Commonwealth 1986

Commonwealth Games squad 1986.

John is in the middle of the front row protecting his sporran

Like all members of SAAA committees he started as a member of his club committee.   He had joined Teviotdale Harriers after moving to Hawick in 1956, was elected on to the committee and went on to be Treasurer and President (from 1970).   He was the club representative on the East District Committee and was Chairman of that body from 1963 to 1967.   The next step up was as President of the Scottish Cross-Country Union in 1969-70 and was the first man from the Scottish Borders to hold that office.   When he became Scottish team manager in 1979, the club centenary history tells us it was a role that would take him to Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Norway, United States, Holland, Spain, France, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Israel.   When talking to cross-country runners about the team managers they have scarcely disguised contempt for some, amused indulgence for others and for some, genuine affection and respect.    John was without question in the latter category.   It may have been his friendly manner, it may have been his common-sense approach but I think it must have had a lot to do with his own background as a runner.   One of the many internationalists said that “Such an unfailingly cheerful, pleasant positive man.   For me he was a familiar face to josh with before, or after, races and an ever-pleasant helper for decades.   He had a great memory for names too.”   Athletes need positivity from someone who knows the sport before a race, and John exuded that with a calmness which was also very necessary.

He was SCCU rep on the SAAA General Committee from 1970 and was active in track and field athletics, and represented his club on the Scottish Borders AAA Executive Committee.    Although from a distance running background, he was not only a Grade 1 Track Judge, but was also Grade 1 for Throws and Jumps.   President of the SAAA in 1981, he was a British selector by 1986.   John was also of course in action at the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games.   In the former he was a recorder for the marathon and walks and in the latter, as well as being Assistant Team Manager, he was secretary of the Athletic Technical Committee.   When the SAAA became the Scottish Athletics Federation, John continued to  serve the sport and is listed in the 1995-96 Handbook as Grade 1 Track Judge, Grade 1 Field Judge and Marksman (or Starter’s Assistant) and noted as available to work as Press Liaison Officer.

Modest, well-mannered, good humoured with a sharp mind” said Ron – John was all of those and an athletes’ man first and foremost.

RL McSwein

Bob and Ian

RL (Bob) McSwein, left, as we normally see him these days, with Ian Clifton, right.

RL McSwein (born on 6th March, 1935 and better known as Bob) has been involved in Scottish Athletics for over 50 years. He is one of the best liked, most respected and level headed officials and administrators of the very top flight.   His father Duncan was heavily involved in the sport and was treasurer of the SCCU from 1948 to 1972, and his brother, also Duncan, was President of the SCCU and of the Scottish Schools Athletic Association.    Bob is also that rare bird – an athletics official who is a runner in the truest sense of the word.

He joined his local club, Greenock Wellpark Harriers in 1947 at the age of 12 but in those days there was no competition allowed until the age of 15.   Frustrated, he had to wait the three years before he could take part in events outside his own club.  On reflection he now feels that it is no bad thing for young athletes to wait a few years before getting into the demands of racing.    Unlike many who were more gifted, Bob just kept on running while he was developing his career in administration and officiating.   In the 1970’s when the ‘running boom’ was taking off, many of the top men in the sport were saying that running was good for your health and should be taken up by everybody who cared about their own well being.   One even came out and said on TV that all you needed were a pair of shorts, a vest and a pair of running shoes and Bob, as they say, was your uncle.   Very few in positions of power actually took their own advice.    Bob had in fact never stopped so he didn’t have to start again.   Not international class at any time but a man who runs because he likes it and loves the sport.   The first record I have for him in a championship is in 1954 and he was still running in 2011 – 57 years later.   In his early days he says that he raced in Dunlop Green Flash tennis shoes and had the temerity to ask the local cobbler to add a sliver of leather under the heels.   He ran in three Glasgow Marathons – 1982, 1983 and 1984 – with a personal best of 3:22 at the age of 48 in 1983: he says he was up at 50 or 60 miles a week at that time.    He was still running in 2011 when a bad road accident (not his fault) broke his neck in two places.    He is now fully recovered from that and plays golf about three times a week but has had to stop running.   Like all runners he has kept a training diary and if you do your adding up properly, you will see that his lifetime mileage is over 48,000 miles.

RLMcS NS Mile 61Bob winning a mile race in 1961 when on National Service

Bob is an Honorary Life member of Scottish Athletics for all that he has done in and for the sport.   If we look at the 1995 – 96 SAF Handbook we see a list of the various posts that he has held.   It tells us that he was at that time  Convener Road Running and Cross-Country Commission;   Road Running and Cross-Country Representative to SAF; delegate to UK Cross Country Commission.    If we delve a wee bit further and check on past holders of the principal offices of the Scottish Cross-Country Union, we find that he was Treasurer from 1972 -93, succeeding his father Duncan who had held the same position from 1946 to 1972.   In other words, the post had been held by the same family, father and son, for a total of 47 years.

Although he liked running, he seemed to decide early on that he could best contribute by becoming an administrator and official and contributing to the sport in that way.  Starting as secretary of Greenock Wellpark Harriers from 1958 to 1963, on moving to Nethervale Avenue on the south side of Glasgow he joined up with Paisley Harriers and immediately was voted into office as secretary of the club, a post he held from 1963 to 1969.   Elected to the post of secretary/treasurer for the South Western District in succession to George Pickering  in 1962 he held this until 1969, combining it with the same roles for the Renfrewshire AAA’s from 1965.

RLMcS Glasgow 1982Glasgow Marathon 1982

 Bob was by now on the SAAA General Committee (elected in 1965) and for a while, four threads – Club, County, District and National – were running in parallel.  Staying on the SAAA  until 1977, he was Honorary President in season 1975-76.    Like all Presidents he was SAAA representative to the British Amateur Athletic Board for three years along with Ewan Murray, SAAA Secretary, and George Donald, SAAA Treasurer.

 In  track and field athletics, two of the high spots had to be when he was a track umpire at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and marathon referee at the 1986 Games.  He did his share of work with SAAA track & field teams as wellbut it should not be forgotten in this litany of posts held and honours gained that he only operated at the ‘top’ end of the sport.    He was to be seen at many events at local and national level too.   One of his experiences of travelling with Scottish Track and Field teams was the trip to Iceland in the mid 80’s with George Donald.   When they arrived, it was made clear to them that they were expected to sleep on pallets on the floor of a gymnasium.   George and Bob made it clear to the Icelandic authorities that unless there was alternative accommodation provided then the Scottish team would not compete – at that point they were found rooms in the College of Agriculture!   The match went ahead fairly successfuly.

RLMcS Iceland 75

Iceland, 1975.   Bob, left, George Donald, Treasurer of the SAAA, right with the President of the Icelandic Association

Bob worked on the National Committees of both track (SAAA) and Cross-Country (SCCU) disciplines simultaneously.   By 1971 he was well enough known to be elected to President of the SCCU and the following year, 1972/73, he took  over the treasurer’s seat from his father, Duncan, who had been treasurer from 1948 to 1972.  The handover made the headlines in the ‘Glasgow Herald’ of 30th April 1973: McSwein Hands Over To His Son. ‘   He held that post until the formation of the SAF in 1993.    With the formation of that body, Bob ensured a smooth transition by acting as the Commission Convener for 4 years.    Scotland was represented in the international cross-country championships until combined with a GB team in 1967, and Bob served as part of  the SCCU administration at world cross-country championships from 1971 to 1987.     It was a period when the Scottish cross-country running was at heights unreached since the 1930’s and Bob managed many teams to events abroad and within the British Isles.   He also worked with British squads and teams during this period.

As Treasurer of the S.C.C.U., Bob was heavily involved in the staging of the World Cross Country Championships at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow (1978) and held the post of Financial Director.    Thirty years later when the World Championships were next held in Scotland (Edinburgh 2008) Bob acted as Chief Judge.    During the intervening years, and to this day, Bob was and is very active as an official.

At that time Scottish teams were very popular in Europe  and in addition to World Championships, three and four man teams were invited to prestigious local races in Elgoibar, San Sebastian, Madrid and so on.   He recounts the story of the World Championships in San Sebastian when Jim Brown, after winning bronze and silver in the two previous years, finally won gold.   Later that night when they went to the banquet Jim announced that he had lost the gold medal.   No joking, he had lost the medal.   They all went back the way they had come searching for the medal which was finally found in the gutter at the side of a road!    The quality of the teams was very high – witness the Junior team that he travelled with to Madrid – Ron MaDonald who won, Jim Brown who was second and Frank Clement who was twelfth after leading the first of three laps.  The result was a team victory – a rare occurrence on European soil.  He twice went to Elgoibar with Lachie Stewart who was, he says, better known in Spain than he was in Glasgow.   He also adds that Lachie never asked for expenses on tha grounds that if ‘they’ (the SCCU) were good enough to take him to a big race abroad, he wasn’t going to ask for the local expenses.   Expenses requested are another thing altogether – there was one international athletes who included on his claim form ‘two sticky buns’).

RLMcS NYRRC Central Park 841984, NY RRC 10K race in Central  Park

When the SCCU gave way to the SAF in 1993, Bob was elected as first convenor of the Cross-Country and Road Running Commission.   He is still officiating at cross-country events – last seen at the Scottish Cross-Country Championships at Falkirk in 2014 at age 79 – and is hoping for many more.

Such a career, with so many tasks performed so well over such a long period, has inevitably seen his the quality of his work recognised.   These honours include

* receiving the first ever award for  Services to Sport from the Sports Council in 1990;

*Lifetime Achievement Award by Scottish Athletics in 2012 (jointly with Ian Clifton).

Bob has also been secretary of the George Dallas Trust since 1997.  The trust had been set up in 1982 and its function is described in its own literature as follows:

The Trust annually awards the George Dallas memorial Trophy to the person or persons who in the judgement of the Trustees, have achieved distinction in, or made a material contribution to, cross country, road running, track and field or hill running in Scotland in the preceding calendar year, whether they be athletes, administrators, coaches or otherwise involved in the sport. Previous recipients of the awards include Allan Wells, Yvonne Murray, Liz McColgan, Tom McKean, Tommy Boyle. scottishathletics remains extremely grateful to the George Dallas Memorial Trust for its continued support of Coach Education in Scotland, and  for their support of the Coaches Conference in particular.

A married man with two children and five grandchildren (one is a member of Kilbarchan AAC), Bob plays golf three times a week when the Scottish weather is kind enough.   He is of course still to be found at road and cross-country races at all levels around Scotland.

RLMcS Glasgow M 83Bob, 1442, in Glasgow Marathon in 1983

Anna Poulton

Anna PoultonAnna Poulton

There are many families known for a tradition in the sport – the Hasketts and the Gunstones  in Dundee, the Martins in Dumbarton and so on.    Anna Poulton came from such a background.   Her father John McClurg was one of the best known and respected in the sport.   He worked with his own club, he was on the SAAA Committee (as representative of the National Association of YMCA’s)and several sub-committees and was one of Britain’s best timekeepers.   I knew him as a member of the SAAA General Committee in the late 70’s – he was first elected to the Committee in 1960 and when I was elected in 1977, he was John McClurg, BEM.   He was a Grade 1 Track Judge as well as a timekeeper known the length and breadth of Britain.,and also the man in Scotland involved in grading timekeepers and was an Honorary Member of the SAAA.   He had been President in 1968 as the representative for Motherwell YMCA.

His daughter Anna followed in his footsteps.   One of the really nice things about their officiating career is this.   In 1970, John was Chief timekeeper at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games while Anna (by now Anna Poulton), along with Duncan McSwein, George Dallas and Raymond Hutcheson, was one of his team of timekeepers.    At the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Anna was Chief Timekeeper and among her team, which included Duncan McSwein, was John McClurg.   They had each been chief timekeeper at a commonwealth games and they had each worked under the other as a timekeeper at a commonwealth games.   It must have been a source of great satisfaction to both of them.

Anna married John Poulton – one of the regulars in the great Motherwell YMCA team of the 1960’s.   His first run in the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay was in 1958, his last was in 1966 – many of the top runners defected to Law and District in 1967 – and he won team medals of every colour as one of the squad.   He also won gold over the country including in the National.

The best single account of her career in the sport came in a blog that she wrote for the Scottish Athletics website on 12th January 2010, and I reproduce it here.

Most Saturdays you would have found my father, my husband and myself at some athletic event or other, my father officiating, my husband competing and me being unable to run (pregnant) until, one Saturday, I was handed a watch and told to do “something useful.” 

That was in 1964 and I have been doing “something useful” (with a watch) ever since. To be graded at that time you had to have three watches: one 1/10th of a second for sprints, one to 1/5th for 880 yards upwards on the track, and then a time of day chronograph for any races out with the Stadium. These watches had to be sent to the National Physical Laboratory in London to be tested as per the set rules of the day. I think that’s why all “older” timekeepers are round shouldered, bearing the burden of all these watches.

 Several years prior to the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, a meeting was held of all officials – the SAAA East/West/North and Borders, plus SWAAA – at which a committee was formed with one representative from each area, plus a representative from each discipline. This was the beginning of the original Training Committee. Sub committees were then raised for each discipline to raise the standard of all officials for the Games.

 A number of “trial runs” were made at Meadowbank prior to the Games. At the time it was discovered that the seats which were to be used by the Timekeepers had all been sold to the public! That was eventually corrected and all 28 timekeepers had seats, although unfortunately the seats were next to a passageway used constantly by the public, and you can imagine the “fun” we had trying to see the starters. My father was the Chief Timekeeper. (Photo finish was in its infancy then, and manual timekeeping was the main – hence 28 timekeepers.)

 Going on to the 1986 Commonwealth Games where I was Chief Timekeeper with JO Scott, you can imagine the laugh we had when it was discovered that the seats for the timekeepers had again been sold to the public. This time there were only 15 timekeepers (photo finish had started by then) and we were given a raised dais in front of the stand.

 Back then, it was thought that timekeepers would be redundant by today, but we’re still required.  So a message to all you budding timekeepers – get to the training courses – you’re still required – there are very few meetings at local and international level where the photo finish has worked 100 per cent. What would we do for Cross Country, Road Races etc if we had no manual timekeepers???

 I’ve officiated at athletics events including

*   local schools,

*   local clubs,

*   District Championships,

*   National Championships,

*   Disability Championships,

*   UKA meetings,

*   Internationals,

*   Europa Cup,

*   two Commonwealth Games,

*   World Championship Cross Country

*   and local road races up to Championships,

but give me my “wellies,” a waterproof suit, and stopwatch (only one required now!) and I’m happy, no matter where it is, what level it is, and how bad the weather is!

I have separated out the different meetings just to emphasise the range of work undertaken.   Anna was a pleasure to work with – when I did the basic Timekeepers course, we were all given specific advice and were told to bring our sense of humour to every meeting.    We smiled politely and went on our way.   It soon became evident that it was a necessity when we met the conditions encountered by all track officials.   Anna always had her sense of humour but was probably the most professional official I ever worked with – a hard call to make given the number of quality men and women we have officiating at our meetings.    Anna died on 29th December 2013.






James P Shields

 “Jim was one of the four pillars of the club with Andy McMillan, Dan McDonald and John Morgan”    (Alex Hylan)

Jim Crop

Jim Shields in the centre

Jim is in the dead centre of this photograph taken in the late 1930’s in the basement of the Bruce Street Baths in Clydebank.  behind and to the left of Little Johnny Morgan.   Jim did not appear in many portrait pictures or photographs where he was the main focus, but he was always there and always in the background.   Never a seeker of the limelight, he was one of the best and hardest workers in Scottish athletics at a time when it was blessed with hard working officials.   He is included here partly because of that but also because his time in the sport covered the immediate pre-war period when numbers in all clubs were low and Committees had to work hard to keep the clubs going, and the post-war period when the sport was starting up again, and on through to the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and beyond.   His career is a kind of chronicle of the sport for that period.

Jim Shields joined Clydesdale Harriers in the 1930’s and was one of the men who kept the club ticking over during the hostilities.   He started as an office bearer during the war when he was club assistant secretary in 1939, after the war he was treasurer from 1946, and finally secretary from 1967.   You will note that both were serious working positions in the club and to my mind it was unfortunate that he did not ever occupy the position of club President.   His brother Arthur was also an office bearer in the club

 Jim was also one of the best and best known officials and administrators at National level in Scottish athletics.   He officiated at local meetings, Championships, international fixtures and at the Commonwealth Games.   As an administrator he would surely have been President of the SAAA had his job not sent him abroad when he was Vice President of the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association where he had also served on many sub committees.      A lot of his correspondence, notebooks and some commemorative medals are included in the Clydesdale Harriers archive in the Clydebank Public Library which will soon be available to the public.

Having been a committee member before the war he first held high office in the club when he was elected secretary in 1944 and at the first post war AGM in September 1945 he read his first secretary’s  report.   In it he said he thought the club was definitely round the corner on the way to a revival.    There was now a membership of approximately 50 (excluding those in the services), about 18 of those being Juniors.   Attendances at the track had been quite good and a lot more like normal times.   We had managed to run a points competition for the Youths and the winner was Thomas Tait with 10 points ahead of Sam Wotherspoon on 9 points and two more on 8 points.   As regards the season coming on he said the SCCA proposed a full programme of races and he hoped the club would manage to run some of the usual races and he hoped for a good turn out at training and at Saturday runs.”   His career as an official would carry on from that point.   More used to being treasurer he was elected to that post the following year.

Described by one of his contemporaries as one who was always there, not much of a runner but always turned out to support the club’   and described by Alex Hylan as ‘a real nice man, Jim was always polite and helpful to the members.’    The club in this period were always thinking of ways to raise money and Alex, as Assistant Treasurer suggested that the club get a Co-operative Cheque Number.   The Co-op had a system whereby regular shoppers had a number that they quoted when they made a purchase and received a receipt when they left the shop.   At the end of the year, each member received a cash dividend depending on how much they spent and what the percentage was that year.   Jim took it up with gusto.   He would harangue the members to use the number for the benefit of the club.   Jim Young apparently got into trouble with his Mum for using the Harriers number instead of the family number: they were short of cash too!  The club made some money from the scheme though.   Willie Wright bought all his training needs through the club number at the Co-op.

Post-War Group

This picture taken just after the War shows Jim with a group of club members at Mountblow – Andy McMillan is at the left in the back row with John Morgan, who was in Burma during the War, standing on the right with Jim in the white shirt on the right of the back row.     It is a remarkable photograph – taken on the spur of the moment with a simple box-camera immediately after the war with the sun shining, some of the men had been involved in the hostilities but the country had triumphed and spirits were high   A contrast with the dreadful atmosphere after the first war.

Jim was the club representative on the new Dunbartonshire Amateur Athletic Association committee for many years but he was a regular and well-kent face on the National scene as well.   He was the representative to the SAAA for several years and worked his way up to vice president and, as was the custom,  would have been the next SAAA President when in 1961 he was sent by the Singer Factory to their plant in India.   He had a very responsible position in Singer’s factory in Clydebank in the finance department.   He was involved in the introduction of the Time and Motion Study System to the factory which was not a popular innovation at the time.    When the Indian branch was opened up, Jim was the man who went and unfortunately missed out on the chance of the highest position in Scottish Athletics at the time.   The ‘Clydebank Press’ reported “On Wednesday evening at the monthly committee meeting a little ceremony took place.   Treasurer Jim Shields was present to say ‘au revoir’ to the club prior to his departure for India on behalf of the Singer Manufacturing Company for a period of possibly three years.   President D Bowman in presenting him with a fountain pen as a token of esteem from club members said that Jim had served the club faithfully for 27 years.   He was the perfect example of an enthusiastic club member, in his earlier days as an active club runner, for the past 17 years or so as first club secretary and then treasurer.  

 An additional job which he undertook was that of correspondent to the ‘Clydebank Press’ where readers will better know him as ‘The Whip’.   Mr Shields in replying thanked him and the club and assured them that the Clydesdale Harriers would always take highest place in his affections.   He also said that in his opinion we had one of the happiest clubs in the sport and as long as that spirit prevailed we would never fail.”     

When he had successfully worked for the company in India and Iran,  just like a multinational company, when he returned his job had been given to another and he was looking for work.

 Jim was very quiet and never pushed himself forward but if we look at his record in it totality we get the following remarkable record of service to the club – and note that it does not include time spent as Assistant Treasurer or Assistant Secretary:







Assistant Secretary












































General Committee




General Committee




General Committee


















General Committee

Almost immediately on his return he was warmly welcomed back into the club – and on to the Committee for second stint as Secretary.   The lesson for all future Committee Members is maybe not to do a job too well or it’s yours for good!    The War Time Committee went on to organise a series of top class events and James P Shields was involved with every one of them.   When the SAAA held the international cross-country championships in Clydebank in 1969, Clydesdale Harriers was seriously involved and Jim was one of the men who helped make it so.   But the club was also involved in bringing to Clydebank such events as the Scottish Schools championships, the British Schools Cross-Country Championship, the Scottish Women’s Cross-Country Championships and and the Scottish Veterans Cross-Country Championships.    Jim was a lynch pin in the organisation of those.

On the track,he officiated at both Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, at several International and Invitation Meetings across Scotland and was at almost every track and field sports meeting or amateur highland games held in the country at one time or another – at many of them he was an annual fixture.

A good and conscientious club man and a superb administrator, the club was fortunate to have Jim as a member.   Even after he ceased work on the Committee through illness he still came to several club races and there were also donations to the club for many years.

In the picture below, taken at Whitecrook in the 1970’s, Jim is on the right with Jimmy Young (left) and Frank Gemmell at Whitecrook running track.   All three were top class officials at local and national level – Frank sorted out the cross-country trails for all the major races, including the 1969 international and officiated in the Games while Jim was club president when the Schools and other internationals came to Clydebank and also worked at the Commonwealth Games.

James P Shields, Frank Gemmell and Jim Young

Raymond Hutcheson


Raymond Hutcheson and Cecil McPhersonRaymond on the right with his friend and fellow time-keeper Cecil McPherson

I first met Raymond at the SAAA Championships in 1966.    We both got off the train at Grangemouth at the same time, and although we didn’t know each other we fell into conversation and made our way to the Stadium together.   He had his haversack over his shoulder and I was to become familiar with the sight of Raymond with that rucksack over the years to come.     We weren’t great friends, we met too seldom for that, but Raymond got on well with everybody and I was to find out in the course of many conversations of his mountaineering and hill-walking (he climbed the Munroes twice!) and railway walking – he was interested when I moved to Lochearnhead because of the many old railway lines up here.   Born in 1930, he died in 2007 at the age of 77.    What follows is a personal tribute from one of his closest friends and colleagues, Graham McDonald.

“My early memories of Raymond were about 1957 at  Inter Club Meetings when Pitreavie AAC hosted many enjoyable friendly evening matches with Larbert AC, Tillicoultry & Hillfoots AC, St Modans AC as well as some of the Edinburgh clubs at the then very new cinder track at Pitreavie.

Raymond came through to do the timekeeping with Larbert AC where his friend Bert Allan tells me he had been a member since least 1948. Our club secretary was always pleased to see that Raymond had arrived because that solved the problem of having a good timekeeper.

However, I kept embarrassing him about one of the sprint relay races where there was a very close finish with Larbert just pipping Pitreavie. I was sure we must have beaten our club record but he had been so excited that his team won that he forgot to stop his watch on us. He kept apologising for many years.     

Raymond did compete at club level for a while but became more interested in timekeeping. Although not an official SAAA timekeeper at the time, his enquiring mind soon had him questioning the accuracy of times being returned by official SAAA timekeepers at some meetings.

After he became an official SAAA timekeeper he was concerned that there were no tests or exams for timekeepers in Scotland. Raymond got himself down to England to find out how the AAA conducted their timekeepers’ tests under their timekeeping guru Harry Hathaway who had written the AAA guide to ‘Timekeeping’.

I well remember in Oct ’72 when I working down south and had been persuaded to take a timekeeping test at Motspur Park, Raymond arrived on the overnight sleeper to take the test. He had already done the test the previous year but he wanted to take it again to make sure he was keeping up to standard

With support of others, he was instrumental in starting training courses, and introducing testing and grading of timekeepers in Scotland. When timekeepers wanted to buy a good quality stopwatch, they were told by their colleagues ‘see Raymond’ and he would advise on the best watches available and arrange the purchase for them. 

 He was Chief Timekeeper at many on the major meetings in Scotland at Meadowbank and Kelvin Hall as well often being invited to officiate at Internationals at Crystal Palace.   He officiated at the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

He had become involved in organising the first Scottish Men’s T&F League in the ‘60s and tried to get a Scottish Inter Counties T&F Championships off the ground around the same time but he didn’t get much support for the latter it only lasted a couple of years.

 One incident of controversy he was involved in was at Kelvin Hall when it was thought that Colin Jackson had broken the World Record for the 60m Hurdles and it was reported throughout the media. Raymond’s drive for accuracy made him re-check the photo-finish film several times which showed that Jackson had equalled the record, not broken  it. BBC news bulletins later in the evening had to retract their earlier reports.

Raymond told me he received an irate phone call at home from Tony Ward after midnight.  

When the early photofinish camera systems were introduced he became an expert in setting up and operating them. They were just ‘up his street ‘as it were. Being an Industrial Chemist with ICI in his working life and interested in photography he was in his element mixing up the chemicals in his white lab coat. However, the electrical connections in the system did not always work properly – not much change there – so Raymond was often heard to apply the high tech solution ‘gie it a dunt,  Jim’ and that solved the problem.

One story he told against himself was when reading the time off the photo-finish film of a ladies race, he had lined up the cursor against the ladies knee until a colleague informed him where the ladies torso was. His excuse was that he was a bachelor!

The Two Bridges Race.

This was the Ultra 36 mile Road Race starting in Dunfermline’s Pittencrieff Park and routed through Fife , over Kincardine Bridge, Grangemouth, Bo’ness and back over the Forth Road Bridge finishing in Rosyth as the Civil Service Club.

This became a major annual event for Raymond. He was Chief Timekeeper from the time it started in 1968 till its untimely demise in 2005. He also measured the course each year on his bicycle to make sure check on any new road works which might have affected distances.

The map of the course given to his timekeepers gave the precise location of each point to the nearest lamp post or manhole cover.

For 38 years he organised his team of timekeepers and recorders and after each race produced a booklet of results with photographs which contained not only the finishing times of each runner but also their 5 & 10 mile splits, average pace/mile, marathon time,  course record times and past winners. Every competitor and official was sent a copy.

The Two Bridges became a social event for his loyal team and the date was one of the first to be pencilled in the diary each year.

 Quiet and unassuming he gained the respect of the athletes and his fellow officials. He was meticulous in every way. For instance, Colin Shields tells me that Raymond attended the Olympics in London in 1948 and he wrote down every performance of every event for every competitor including wind speeds.

Although the modern term carbon footprint would be an unfamiliar to him, he must have had one of the lowest. He travelled everywhere by public transport. Who can forget the bundle of timetables he would pull out of his rucksack. 

Outside of athletics, he was an avid lover of the outdoor life and the Scottish Mountains.

The first weekend of every month was walking weekend. He had climbed all the Munro’s and later on had started walking and collating notes and details about the old abandoned railway lines. 

The Sport of Athletics should be grateful for the personal dedication Raymond gave to it but for most of us I guess that the most important thing is that it was our privilege to have known him. We are all the poorer for his passing.”

 That is Graham’s appreciation of and tribute to Raymond which gives a full account of his career as a timekeeper and of Raymond’s many interests.    There was some extra information in the obituary in The Scotsman and I will quote some of it here.   There will be some duplication, but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.

RAYMOND Hutcheson was a modest, unassuming Falkirk man who built a formidable reputation for his expertise, diligence and knowledge in a wide range of disciplines.   His working life was spent at ICI Grangemouth, where he was an integral member of the lab team, working initially on research into dyes and pigments, and latterly on the testing, trials and development of new products.

As a teenager, Raymond’s interest in science led him to build a laboratory in the family home at Kersehill, Falkirk.   There, he would conduct experiments and learned how to develop his own photographs, a skill which would later serve him well in his role as an athletics photo-finish expert.

As a teenager, Raymond’s interest in science led him to build a laboratory in the family home at Kersehill, Falkirk.   There, he would conduct experiments and learned how to develop his own photographs, a skill which would later serve him well in his role as an athletics photo-finish expert.

Raymond had a passion for the outdoors. His love of the Scottish hills was deep, and at an early age he joined the Scotsman Mountaineering Club, which in time became the Ptarmigan MC, with Raymond variously acting as club secretary and archivist. He attained the status of Munroist in 1980 – an achievement all the more impressive since he never held a driving licence, travelling to the remotest corners of Scotland on foot, bicycle or public transport.

He was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about trains, and active in many train-related societies, including the Railway Ramblers, a hardy bunch whose aim is to locate and walk the routes of abandoned railway lines.

Raymond was also the first-call for road-race measurement duties, a thankless but nevertheless vital task, if race times and distances are to be accurate.   He became a kenspeckle if not downright suspicious figure who was sometimes approached, or escorted, by the police in the wee small hours while undertaking these measurements on his bicycle, when the roads were quiet.  

He insisted on using solid rubber tyres for this task, an uncomfortable option, but Raymond did not want his measurements compromised by inaccuracies, however minute, caused by pneumatic tyres contracting and expanding due to temperature changes.

He was chief timekeeper for the Two Bridges Ultra 36-mile road race from its inception until its demise in 2005.   For 38 years he organised his team of timekeepers and recorders, and after each race he produced a booklet of results.    Every competitor and official received a copy of this booklet. 

In 2004 Raymond received a lifetime award for services to Scottish Athletics.

In conclusion an example of Raymond’s standing in Scottish Athletics.   In the early 1980s the Tom Stillie Memorial Trophy was donated by the family of a long serving Borders official.   It was to be awarded each year to the person considered to have contributed most to Scottish Athletics.   The first recipient of the award was Alan Wells the Olympic 100 metres Champion.   The following year it was awarded to Raymond Hutcheson.

I would like to add just a few comments of my own.   The Two Bridges race was a genuine classic and it was a serious loss to Scottish athletics when it went.    Runners came from all over the world – from the old world (with runners from several European countries running), from the new world (many good Americans took part too) as well as from the Antipodes and even Africa.    They came from all over the British Isles and the runners from Tipton, Wakefield, Bolton and Leamington  came among many others.   It was also a social weekend and many lifelong friendships were made.    Raymond and Graham were among those who made it so special.    Raymond’s results booklet was a wonderful creation – most would never have attempted it, some might have done it for a few years, but Raymond did it year after year after year.    He would remark to Graham after the race that he was away to wrap a wet towel round his head!   I will put one up in its entirety as a separate Gallery accessible from the Galleries page  here.

Raymond was also very approachable – there are officials who never reply to questions from runners or coaches during the afternoon, there are many more who are quite friendly and if approached in a civil manner will give them what information they can, some are notoriously irascible but Raymond was never like that.   Helpful at all times – I took a new sprint coach up into the photo-finish box at Kelvin Hall so that he could see what went on there and ask for a copy of the photo of the finish of the last 60m race: the photo was produced very quickly and with a pleasant manner.   That was always his way.

The 1975 Record Booklet can be seen via the Galleries page of this website.


Raymond Hutcheson

Jim Morton

Molly Morton

Jim Morton with Molly Wilmoth

Jim Morton was a Springburn Harrier all his life – first as a runner, then as a good committee member – who represented his club at national level in both SAAA and SCCU.   I knew him as a genial and insightful member of the SAAA General and West District Committees in the late 1970’s and a finer committee man I never met.   Colin Youngson who was a member of several Scottish groups who trained at Cleland with Jim’s teams said, “ everyone found him to be motivating, efficient, supportive, cheerful, pleasant and very easily the best and most popular of all the top officials/team managers”   He is almost certainly remembered by those of mine and succeeding generations as an administrator and official, he was a very good runner too and we will begin this profile by looking at his career as a runner.

Jim really arrived on the Scottish distance running scene in the Midlands Championships of 1939.   Colin Shields describes the event for us: “There were three ex-Novice champions in the Midland Championships at Pollokshaws – R Simpson (Motherwell), WG Black (Plebeian) and D Fyfe (Springburn) – but there was a surprise winner in James Morton of Springburn who was later to become Union President.   Morton defeated D Fyfe by seven seconds when winning Springburn’s club championship a week earlier.   Running with fine judgment and plenty of spirit he finished with a fine sustained challenge over the final half-mile to win the 7 mile race by 7 seconds from WG Black.   Morton had, to that date spread his talents equally between hockey and running but this win encouraged him to concentrate on cross-country with many rewarding events both competitively and administratively  resulting from his choice of cross-country as his main sporting interest.”    

He had in fact been third in the National Novice championship in 1937 behind R Reid and AT Peters in 1937.   Click on the date for a report on that race.   He continued to run regularly for his club although like many of his generation the War probably deprived him of what would have been the best years of his running career.   His next notable run over the country was in the Midlands Championships of the 1950-51 season when he was eighth and third counter for the second-placed Springburn team.   The eight-man Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay was started up in 1930 and Jim ran in it a total of six times between 1938 and 1952.   His performances are summarised in the table below.

Jim’s Six Edinburgh to Glasgow Relays

Year Stage Position Team Place



7th to 6th




10th to 9th


April 1949


6th to 6th




9th to 7th




6th to 4th




12th to 13th


His career as an official and administrator overlapped with the end of his running career and developed quickly at National level.   He was always an athletes’ man   I remember on one occasion at a West District Committee of the SAAA Committee Meeting, when it was asked to have an exact timetable for the various events, the secretary of the time said it was difficult to do because the officials needed a break in the middle of the afternoon because they couldn’t be expected to stand as timekeepers or judges otherwise.   If they could hurry the events along early in the meeting, then they could have a break.   The vote was a close-run thing and the status quo (ie no timetable) was maintained.    Administrators such as Jim (along with others like Colin Shields , Eddie Taylor and  Alex Naylor ) always stood up for the athletes.   Another example of this is the SAAA post-mortem on the team at another Commonwealth Games.   Another highly respected official was waxing eloquent on the shameful behaviour of some male athletes spending time with female athletes (who were accommodated on a different floor) and what they might have been getting up to.    The speaker was on the left end of the top table, Jim was at the right end of the table.   He looked directly along the table and said in a good-natured way, “Come off it, X, you know that the officials were all at it as well.    If you’re going to criticise the athletes, then let’s be fair and bring out all the names.”   Am effective contribution.

There are often times when competitors complain about ‘officials’ when their complaints should be directed to the administrators – Jim served in both capacities and no athlete or coach that I knew of ever complained about either.    His efficiency as an all-round track official and more than capable referee ensured that he was the sole track referee appointed for the 1970 Commonwealth Games.

Bob Club Gp 62

Jim Morton, third from left in the back row at a Springburn Harriers dinner in 1962

Colin Shields tells us that Morton had been, along with his son Forbes, an Assistant Secretary of the SAAA and was a top-class track referee – occupying this position at the 1970 Commonwealth Games at Meadowbank Stadium.   He delighted in telling the story of the 10000m race on the opening day of the Games, won by Lachie Stewart in record time from Ron Clarke of Australia and Dick Taylor of England.   Such was the downpour of rain throughout the race that the recorders lap scoring sheets were soaked and reduced to mushy pulp.   It was only after Morton took them home, and dried them carefully in his gas oven, that they could be deciphered to determine the finishing order of runners after the first three medallists and discover the intermediate lap times of all the runners in the race.”

Jimwas also involved in officials’ education and is quoted as saying to some intending timekeepers that they needed concentration, good eyesight, keenness and a strong bladder because you were out there for the duration of the meeting.

He was Scottish cross-country international team manager from 1968 to 1979 and it was during this time that Scottish middle and long distance running reached a peak never since attained.    Runners such as Jim Alder, Lachie Stewart, Ian McCafferty, Ian Stewart, Jim Brown, Ron McDonald, Fergus Murray and many others were to represent their country in the world championships.    Teams under Jim’s control performed well as can be seen from the statistics below.

Record as Scottish Cross-Country Team Manager: 1968 – 1979

1968:   Tunis:   Team 4th.  First Scot:  Ian McCafferty 10th

1969:   Clydebank:   Team 5th.   First Scot:   Ian McCafferty 3rd

1970:   Vichy, France: Team 5th.   First Scot: Lachie Stewart 12th

1971:   San Sebastian: Team 9th.  First Scot 7th

1972:   Cambridge:   Team 4th.  First Scot

1973:  Waregem, Belgium:   Team 8th.   First Scot   N Morrison 13th,   NB:  Jim Brown 1st Junior

1974:   Monza, Italy: Team 7th.   First Scot Jim Brown 4th

1975:   Rabat, Morocco:   Team  6th (of 23)   First Scot Ian Stewart 1st

1976:   Chepstow, Wales:   Team 10th   First Scot  Jim Brown 24th

1977:   Dusseldorf:   Team 10th.   First Scot Allister Hutton 14th

1978:   Glasgow:   Team 9th.   First Scot Nat Muir 7th

Performed well certainly, with some outstanding individual performances too, but over the piece there was  a feeling of disappointment.    In 1968 new manager Morton made his intentions clear with a very professional approach to the team competition.   Colin Shields tells us that The preparations for thr ICCU International Championships at Tunis were the most methodical and carefully organised that the Union had ever carried out.   Monthly training sessions were carried out under the supervision of team manager Jim Morton at Cleland Estate, Motherwell, where a mock-up course, shaped like the one the runners would encounter at Tunis was available for practice.   Arrangements were so precise that, on the day of travel, a training run was arranged for the team at a sports ground near London Airport to alleviate a two hour delay between planes.   The careful preparations were fully rewarded when the Scottish team returned their best performance in 32 years by finishing a close-up fourth of thirteen competing countries.   The Scots were not to the ore at the start and the first five counters were scattered up to fortieth position at half distance.   In the final three miles of the race the Scots improved greatly, and Ian McCafferty who had achieved two individual wins in Belgium during a severely restricted competitive season, again showed his great ability when he charged through the field to gain seven places to be the first Scot home in tenth place.   His achievement was matched by 35 year old team captain Andrew Brown who after placing 48th in 1966 and 43rd in 1967, drove the team nwards while pushing himself into the first 20 finishers.   From a team score of 172 points at half distance the Scots gained an average of six places per man for a final total of 137 points, just eight points behind Spain who gained the bronze medals with 129 points.”

Fifth in Clydebank a year later, they could have been among the medals but there were under-performances from some athletes who were normally reliable and a fifth place in the event won by Gaston Roelants, and in which Mohammed Gammoudi dropped out less than a year after winning two medals in the Olympics in Mexico, was a disappointment.    Ian McCafferty had a first class race to finish third with Lachie Stewart twentieth and Fergus Murray twenty third.   Even ‘Athletics Weekly’ considered the team capable of medals.   Ian Stewart was third but several established stars failed to reproduce their best form and the country was fourth.   Jim was quoted at the time as saying, “This should have been Scotland’s year.   It can only be called a bloody disaster.  When the established men let you down, and can give no explanation afterwards, then there’s something far wrong.   It’s time for a major rethink on the Senior men’s team.”  

Jim was the man in the hot seat in 1973 when the IAAF decided that the event became a true world championship with its first race at Waregem, Belgium n 1973.   The team was 8th

His and Scotland’s hopes were really high in 1978 – his last year in the post and a race in Glasgow.  Unfortunately all did not go smoothly for the team.   Let Colin describe the event.   “His high hopes were quashed when Ian Stewart who had finished second in the English National Championships, caught ‘flu and had to drop out of Scotland’s team, joining Rees Ward who had earlier withdrawn due to injury.   On race day the weather deteriorated badly and appalling conditions of rain, hail and sleet were blown by strong winds horizontally into the faces of runners and spectators.   Twenty year old Nat Muir, judged too young to compete in the Senior  National race was selected for the World Championship Senior team.   He started slowly in the race and worked his way through from mid Twenties to fourth at one point before slipping back to finish seventh.   The team finished ninth of twenty teams.”  

Jim had done a good thorough job during his years and the Scots team had some results that were the best since the thirties with individual victories in both Senior and Junior races as well as silver and bronze medals and the team with two fifths and a fourth did not do badly.   Jim had worked so hard over the period that he really deserved at least one set of team medals.  He had been a runner and he remained a runners’ man.