Heart of Midlothian Sports: 1891 – 95


The Hearts Sports of 1890 followed the practice of several other clubs by having a preliminary meeting followed a week later by the athletic sports the following Saturday.   In 1891, the second meeting with almost all the athletics,  was on 6th May at Tynecastle  Park before a crowd of about 5000 including ‘not a few ladies’.   Given that the Queen’s Park FC Sports were being held in Glasgow on the same day with a crowd of 8000, most of the sportsmen were from the east of the country.   The turn out was nevertheless a good one with ten heats of the 100 yards starting the afternoon.   The closest finish was in the ninth heat where the judges could not separate the first two runners (Watson of Edinburgh Harriers, and Bryden of Edinburgh Northern Harriers) so there was a run off to decide who went through to the second round.  Watson won the decider easily and went on to win the second round race and then victory in the final in 10 1/2 sec (“a shade over”).    Watson also won the quarter mile off a mark of 13 yards (he had 3  yards in the 100) in 53 seconds from Anderson.    

 There were 22 runners in the half mile including SAAA Champion RH Mitchell of St Mirren FC) who was not among the prize winners.   The limit men ‘made the pace so hot’ that the back markers ‘were soon out of it’ and the eventual winner was JC Somers of Hearts FC in 53 seconds with Mitchell unplaced.   Somers and second placed R Smith of the |Harriers were both off 40 yards and the winning time was 2 min 4 1/2 sec.   The Mile was also won by a back marker in McLagan of Edinburgh Harriers off 85 yards with second placed Mercer of Leith Hibernian was off 90 yards.   18 ran in the race which was won in 4 min 40 sec.   The two miles race was won by JW Pollard of Edinburgh Harriers off 25 yards in a field of six runners in a time of 10 min 05 sec.   

Hearts won the football tournament (11 a side) from Leith Athletic by one goal to none.   There were also 3 cycle races.

In 1892 the second Saturday was the 4th June, and the report was in The Scotsman of 6th June,    The star name had to be that of AR Downer (above).  Downer would go on to win the :triple triple” (ie the 100, 220 and 440 yards at the same SAAA Championship) in 1893, ’94 and ’95.   He won the 100 yards from a handicap mark of 1 1/2 yards with the previous year’s winner, Watson, in third.  Winning time?  11.4 seconds.   The Scotsman report minus the detailed list of results (including the cycling and five a side football, is below.

Results:  100 yards:  1.  Downer;   2.  Simpson (St George’s AC);  3.   Watson      10 Heats.

440 yards:   1. J Hurry (EH  26 yards);    2.  W Arnot  (EH 22);   3.JF Brand (EH – 23 yards);     9 ran

Half Mile:  1.   JB Hume  (EH  15);  2.  TK FaArnotir  )EH  40);  3.  WCS Heathcote (EH  50).  2 min 4.6   23 ran

Mile:  1.  RA Bruce  (Watson’s College  70);  2. J Hutchison (ENH  125);  3.  W Blackley (100 yards)   4 min 36.  23 ran

Two Miles Inter Club for the Davidson Trophy:   1.   1  Edinburgh H (1  Pollard,  2  Carment,  3  Hunter,  4  McLagan);   2.   Northern Harriers.   9:54 

Hearts won the football final beating Leith Athletic by 2 goals and one point to nil.

One of the more interesting runners of the afternoon was William Miller Carment who was an excellent runner and one who ent on to become one of the country’s foremost officials including President of the SAAA in 1910-11.   You can read more about him   here  .*

1893 :  Unfortunately we could not find the results in either the ‘Scotsman’ or ‘Glasgow Herald’ for 1893 but the hunt will go on.   So we go straight to 1894.   

There were some big changes in 1894, the main one being a switch from a two day meeting with events confined to club members on the first and the open amateur sports on the second.   The report in the Scotsman reads:

So there it is.  Heart of Midlothian became a professional football club in 1894.    The extract above is also interesting in that DS Duncan was a Judge and WM Lapsley – owner of Powderhall and promoter of sporting events there was again handicapper.   As far as the sports went, there were nine heats of the 100 yards but the sixth heat ‘resulted in a fiasco on account of the starter’s pistol snapping.’   This was AR Downer’s heat and it had to be re-run.   The result was a win for Downer, “the crowd fairly rose at Downer, as he bounded off his mark in beautiful style, much better in fact thand was his wont.   Keeping at it, he reached the tape first amid a scene of great enthusiasm.”   And that was just a heat!   There were two heats and Downer was in the second, the first having been won by James Richardson of Cupar FC.   “Downer ran very unsteadily coming up the straight and failed to catch Home (Motherwell Harriers) but managed to qualify for the final.”  In the Final, Downer (scratch) won from Home (5 1/2 yards) and Richardson (8 yards).   Downer just won on the tape in a time of 10.2 seconds.   

Downer appeared again in the Quarter Mile but “raced himself off his feet and had to retire.”   The race was won by RA Bruce of Watson’s from .J MacRitchie, also Watson’s College, and JD Hill. Edinburgh Harriers in 53 seconds.

  F Bacon, one of the country’s top runners, was favourite for the Half Mile Handicap but running from scratch he had to be content with second place behind TRH Scott of Edinburgh Harriers running from 55 yards who won in 1:59.4

The One Mile Handicap was won jy J Harris of Elderslie Harriers (145 yards)with D Urquhart, Edinburgh Harriers (155 yards) second and A Reid, Edinburgh Harriers (115 yards) third.   The winning time was 4:25.4.    

In the Three Miles race for the Davidson Trophy, the first mile was run in 5minutes 01 second, the second in in 10:20 and the third in 15:21.6.   The winning team was Clydesdale Harriers with 11 points from Edinburgh Northern (20 points) and Edinburgh Harriers (21 points).   “Robertson and Duffus bore the brunt of the work at the outset, though the numerous admirers of Welsh noted with satisfaction that their favourite always held a commanding position.  Three laps from home it was a nice race between the three, and with Welsh in the rear it hardly looked as if he would be able to make it up on his men.   Going round the bend for the last time he, however, made his effort, and from that point the race was never in doubt, for he sprinted in beautiful style, and won amid loud cheering.”

WH Welsh

It may be that because of the club’s transition to professional status the sports were dropped at that point but we could find no results or any word at all of a Hearts Sports meeting after that date.   In 1895 there was a meeting organised by Edinburgh Harriers on that date – and in 1896 and 1897 too.   On 10th June, 1895, Edinburgh Harriers held a sports meeting at Powderhall before a crowd estimated at 2000+.   The officials included WM Lapsley and F Lumley; the athletes included H Welsh and Hugh Barr, seven times SAAA LJ Champion and also an international sprinter.