Walter Menzies Campbell was without doubt one of Scotland’s greatest ever athletes. Multiple champion, British team captain, Olympian and record holder, he had it all. Des Yuill, former member of Maryhill and Cambuslang Harriers, SAAA official, noted administrator and known throughout Scottish athletics has a tale to tell abou the night he raced Ming. He says:
The idea that there is a book in every one of us is a fallacy. However it is thought that over the yearsmost people have experienced a single incident that is unique to them and well worthy of a story. I experenced one such incident – it was over 60 years ago, in June 1956. It was
THE NIGHT I RACED MING
“Ming lived in Glasgow’s West End and attended Hillhead High School. I also lived in Glasgow’s West End and attended Woodside Secondary School. The two schools were about one mile apart.
During the summer, an evening of football took place in the playground at Woodside and all were welcome. Ming used to play and was a fast raiding winger. However as the playground was only about twenty five yards long, he couldn’t raid very far. I also played and was a goalie.
One evening when Ming arrived, his jersey was adorned with rosettes. When asked, he explained that he had competed and won them that afternoon at Hillhead’s Sports at Hughenden. In doing so he had become Hillhead’s Junior Champion.
Two days earlier I had competed at Scotstoun in Woodside’s Sports and amassed sufficient points (no rosettes) to become Woodside’s Senior Champion.
As is the way with lads, a challenge race was arranged to take place at half time. The trail was agreed. We would run round the perimeter of Woodside starting from the gate in Woodlands Road, heading towards Charing Cross, a right turn into Eldon Street, right again into Park Road and right again to finish at the gate we had started from. This gate now leads to the Stand Comedy Club – well worth a visit if you haven’t alreeady done so.
Then someone had a great idea. As I was a couple of years older than Ming, I should give him a start. You couldn’t make this stuff up!
The time keeping was arranged. Someone had a wrist watch, so when the second hand reached twelve, he would shout go and Ming would go. When it moved on to five, he would shout go, and I would go. Raymond Hutcheson eat your heart out.
What we didn’t know at this stage was that in five seconds Ming would cover about 50 yards, and just about did. I set off more in hope than in expectation, but on reaching Eldon Street saw he was still well ahead. However when I turned into Park Road, I was encouraged to see that he was not that far along and moving in a very upright, prancing style. As a result I caught him, but seeing he was exhausted I stopped and we walked up to the finish.
Victory was never mentioned and rightly so. It was never a fair match. Ming was at least two years younger. We were running in a clockwise direction which, as a left hander, suited me and not Ming. He had also raced several times that afternoon.
In the years since, I have never mentioned this to a living oul. In the life Ming had led with success galore, he, I am sure he doesn’t remember anything about it
It is my unique single incident.
PS: We did finish the football!