There had been much talk about an Inter-Scholastics Sports for at least a decade before the first such competition took place in 1900. As we might expect the private schools were in the vanguard of such a movement and although there were several such schools in the west of Scotland most of the early was made by those in Edinburgh. We will start with the scene in 1898 but note that links to the annual championships from 1900 to 1919 are at the foot of the page.
The following article is from the Scottish Referee of June 8th, 1898. The Bairns does not refer to the Falkirk Football Club but to the younger generation involved in sport. It follows an article about the School Inspectors Cup, a competition restricted to Edinburgh and district schools with the final to be played between St Leonard’s and Dalry at Tynecastle on 11th June and preceded by the final of the School Board Cup competition in which Merchiston would be playing either Regent Park, Leith Walk or Canonmills and Dean. It reads –
The origins of the inter-scholastics as they were called go much further back than that with Tom Jack traced the origins of the championship much further back than 1898 when he wrote in the history of the SAAA in 1933’s “Fifty Years of Athletics”. It can be found at the link below.
The Inter-Scholastic Games – Anent Scottish Running
Noted athletics historian Hamish Telfer has looked at the event. He says:
“It would seem that this originated as a peculiarly east of Scotland affair (specifically Edinburgh). It also seems that it has its roots in the 1860s. In one report it mentions inter-scholastic sports held ‘annually in Edinburgh’ in the 1860s and it involved Royal High School (J Brewis ran in them), Edinburgh Academy, Loretto, Merchiston, and Dreghorn Castle School which started life as Grange School (photo attached). Some schools came in and Dreghorn dropped out in 1869. Glenalmond joined in 1873 but the headteachers decided to cease involvement in the competition in 1875. It came back again in 1898/99.
Part of the issue seemed to be the organisation of the meeting and it wasn’t until the Edinburgh University club picked it up temporarily that it staggered forward again. One of the other reasons stated in trying to resurrect the Games was the number of new cinder tracks becoming available by the end of the century.”
It continued to stagger. Originally in 1900 there were several of the principal private schools represented – George Watson’s, Glasgow Academy, Dollar Institution – but there were others not represented – Fettes, Loretto, etc – and they increasingly called the tune. This was to the extent that in 1908 there was a championship but no team or inter-school competition incorporated into it. Read this from the ‘Edinburgh Evening News’ of Monday 18th May, 1908.
We can study the origins of the championships separately and at length in a future page on the website but this page will deal with it solely since the SAAA supported it in 1890. We will continue the story of the inter-scholastics as far as 1914 and although it continues through to the present day, the path was not always smooth. Links to the championships are below.