There is continuing interest in the athletic exploits of footballers. This has encouraged me to start printing reports of some of these exploits. I start with the Glasgow Herald report on Willie Maley’s victory in the SAAU 100 yards in June 1896. It reads: “The 100 yards was carried off by W Maley whose victory came as a surprise to many. A week ago we prepared ur readers for a turn-up in this event, and Maley’s name was mentioned as the one most likely to bring this about. The final was a close finish between Maley, Auld and Wilson who reached the post in that order. Wilson was not powerful enough to cope with the breeze, and it is the general feeling that he might have succeeded in retaining the title had the wind been in his favour and not against him.”
In 1893, Johnny Gow of Rangers and Clydesdale Harriers was a very good hurdler and won silver in 1889, bronze in 1890, silver again in 1891, nothing at all in 1892 before he won the SAAA 120 yards hurdles in 1893 and although praise was heaped on him by Andrew Hannah, all the ‘Glasgow Herald’ had to say was “JR Gow’s hurdles win was very popular.” He won silver again in 1894 (“In the 120 yards hurdles, last year’s champion JR Gow was beaten by Graham (1st LRV) who had the race won all the way.) making it one gold, three silvers and one bronze. Gow went on to become Secretary and then President of The Rangers. There is an interesting comment in the Herald report of June 1891 that the championships of athletics and cycling,“rid Glasgow of the reproach so often levelled against it of being wholly given up to the football worship.”
Charles Pennycook was a football player who became a runner. The following pen portrait appreared in the Scottish Referee of 9 June, 1890.
“C Pennycook: Vice Captain, Clydesdale Harriers
One Mile amateur champion of Scotland, he started as a half back in Strathmore FC, Dundee, before coming to Glasgow three years ago. There was no superior half back in Perthshire. At Our Boys FC Sports in Dundee he won the Mile off 50 yards. The handicapper predicted that he would be the best in Scotland. “Mr Pennycook knows that it is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success – they much oftener succeed by failure and knowing this he has always persevered until last year he gained highest honours and surprised himself and all his clubmates by winning the One Mile Championship in 4 minutes 29 and four fifth seconds. In Cross Country he takes a foremost position and has placed to his credit in this year’s SHU 10 miles Championships. 25 years old, 5’9” and 12½ stone he is of reticent disposition.”
At that point he had won the SAAA Mile in the time noted above which was the first Scot to run under 4:30 for the distance. In 1988, at Queens Park Sports he was timed at 4:31 and two fifths for the Mile and at Camelon Sports he ran the Mile in 4:32 3/5th (both times were off 15 yards in handicap races). He won the SHU cross-country championship in 1890 despite losing a shoe two miles from the finish, and in 1891 he defeated Andrew Hannah for the SCCU title. He remained active in Clydesdale Harriers until after the 1914 – 18 war but retained his involvement in football and when he was President of the SAAA in 1907-8 he represented Arthurlie FC.
More about the footballers to come!