The treatment of athletics in Scotland by the Press over the years has been varied. There have been many in my brief time in the sport who covered the sport well, or not so well, with Doug Gillon and Sandy Sutherland being quite outstanding. It was not always the case that athletics or any other sport was covered in isolation. For many decades there were sports columns that covered many sports – running, football, cricket, rowing and others.
In the 1880’s there was a lot of coverage but that was largely because
(a) there were sporting papers such as the Scottish Umpire and The Referee which needed copy;
(b) sports did not demand exclusivity from their members: sportsmen could and often did take part in a number of sports. The athletics/rugby pairing is well known through the exploits of such as Eric Liddell but the new harriers clubs had members who were also football players (many of the original Clydesdale Harriers were already members of The Rangers, and many Harriers (eg the Maley brothers) joined up with Celtic when that club was founded. The papers, as with the general population, were often following the individuals and their sporting careers;
(c) the sport in the beginning had a certain novelty value.
Coverage has fluctuated over the years and the best and most consistent reporting during my time in the sport has been from the ‘Glasgow Herald’ with such journalists/reporters as George Dallas, Ron Marshall and Doug Gillon having a large say in what appeared in the paper.
Given that this website deals almost entirely with the pre-1939 period, then we should give an overview and a wee flavour of the sport at various points during that period. Pre-1914, the sports pages covered football (both codes), athletics, golf, hockey, boxing, otter hunting, lacrosse, cricket, yachting, rifle shooting, chess, the turf, quoiting, polo, tennis and more! The best way to show this I think is to reproduce some columns that cover the range. I start with the ‘Sporting Miscellany’ column from the Glasgow Herald for summer 1912 and will have a new column frequently. These are intended to give a picture of the athletics season as it develops and of the relative importance of events given by the coverage and selection. The writer usually has the short local items first before the longer pieces about sports meetings, championships, Olympics, personalities come in. Items covered include the Police Sports being professional, Clydesdale Harriers in Clydebank, Queens Park FC Sports being cancelled Hamilton Accies sports being revived, etc, etc.
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