The inter scholastics between 1900 and 1903 had been a success if the number of schools showing an interest had anything to do with it. If column inches were the key factor, then they had been more successful than many other single sporting occasion. If the area covered were most important, then the schools, and pupils, involved came from a very wide area – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee had all been represented with Aberdeen being the only city which had not; participating schools came from Rothesay, Dumbarton, St Andrew’s, Irvine and Greenock and more besides. The total list of schools that competed is as follows.
Allan Glen’s, Ardrossan Academy, Ayr Academy, Bellahouston Academy, Clifton Bank (St Andrews)
Dollar Institute, Dumbarton Academy, Dundee High School, Edinburgh Institute, George Watson’s,
Glasgow Academy, Glasgow High School, Greenock Academy, Hamilton Crescent, Hermitage School (Helensburgh),
Hillhead HS, Hutcheson’s Grammar, Irvine Royal Academy, Larchfield Academy, Morrison’s Academy (Crieff),
North Kelvinside, Rothesay Academy, Royal High School, Stewart’s College, St Aloysius,
St Mary’s (Greenock), Whitehill Higher Grade.
There were 27 schools who had been keen enough to take part in the venture, yet the four years to 1913 had respectively 10, 14, 10, 14 schools. The first meeting had had eight schools, all private schools taking part. Had there been a logical progression built on these schools to more private establishments with a gradual inclusion of State Schools to the total of 27, a massive meeting, dwarfing the SAAA Championships themselves would have been the result.
The problem of attendance seems to have been the withdrawal of such as George Watson’s Dollar and Glasgow Academy from the competition. Why was this?
*Was the standard of competition low? No, there were some very good athletes competing with each other.
*Was the selection of events and age groups not suitable? That does not appear to have been the case either, but had it been, appropriate changes could have been made.
*Were the facilities unsuitable? Nor was the fault there – in Edinburgh the schools’ own grounds were often used and the football grounds in Leith were also used; in Glasgow Hampden Park, Ibrox and Partick Thistle’s facilities appeared on the list. Officials too were of the appropriate standard.
The problem appeared to be with problems of status between the various private schools – particularly in Edinburgh. Fettes College just refused to be involved as did Merchiston Castle. This seemed to act as a deterrent to others who had been enthusiastic and successful contestants in the beginning. Glasgow Academy seemed to follow on because they also decided to boycott the championships – the only Glasgow school to do so. The boycotting schools were almost entirely fee-paying schools – Watson’s, Dollar, Glasgow Academy, Dundee HS, Clifton Bank being the main ones.
The scene seemed to change after the 1914 – ’18 war: Watson’s led the way and most of the private schools found their way back in and they were joined by the State Schools, initially in small numbers but they grew from there. The post-war scene is a different story to be looked at in its own right. But first what was the situation during the War?