Club History

Overview

The club was founded on 2nd of November 1888 at Canniesburn Smithy by Gilbert Thomson, John Smith, Eric Langlands and a medical student Peter Marshall who became the club’s 1st champion in 1889 and initial winner of the Langlands Trophy.

Maryhill affiliated to the Scottish Cross Country Union in 1891 but it took 8 years before winning the juniors C.C title thus enabling them to compete at senior level, where they finished 2nd in their first Championships. In the earlier years a Maryhill runner finished 2nd in 1897 junior championships and 3rd in 1897 championships. Maryhill’s 1st National Title holder was the high jumper James Mcfarlane in 1897, jumping 5-71/2. In 1899 he cleared 5-9* several times and was favourite for the Scottish Title, but injury ended his career as a high jumper.

In 1906 George Dallas joined Maryhill and immediately displayed a rare versatility by winning cross country and sprint events. His first major victory was in 1910 when winning the western district C.C title, thus helping Maryhill to win the team race. George was selected to run for Scotland against Ireland in 1912 and duly finished 2nd in 880 yards. After the First World War, George with the help of the club secretary Teddy Watt set about transforming Maryhill into a major force in Scottish athletics.

The first visible signs of this endeavour was the club’s victory in the first ever Medley Race Championships in 1919, which they dominated for most of the next decade. George won various titles in the early 20s and in 1921 became secretary of the Scottish Cross Country Union which lasted for 40 years.

George was mainly responsible for getting publicity for athletics, ensuring newspapers received press releases for all events and was appointed athletics correspondent for the Glasgow Herald which he held until the mid sixties. During the 20s the clubs performances continued to improve and in 1927 they won the first of six consecutive victories in the Scottish C.C.Championships, with Dunky Wright taking the indivdual title. The reason for this supremacy lay in the calibre of runners the club could call upon. Athletes like Dunky Wright, Donald Robertson, Walter Calderwood, David Muir, Tom Blakely and Donald Mclean; every one a Champion or National Record Holder.

In the 1930s Maryhill held sway in road races with Dunky Wright and Donald Robertson dominating the Marathons. In 1936 three Maryhill runners were selected for the Olympics, Tom Blakely, 5000m; Robert Graham 1500m and Donald Robertson Marathon. Blakely had to withdraw due to injury, Graham was eliminated in the heats and Robertson finished a credible 7th in the Marathon. By 1937 all Scottish middle and long distance records were held by Maryhill runners. The Club Jubilee Year in 1938 was celebrated by winning the National C.C team Championships with J.E Farrell winning the individual title, a feat he repeated 10 years later. Maryhill won the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay for the first time in 1939.

In the 1940s relay races, McAndrew and Kingsway saw Maryhill victorious in most of them. In 1943 the Nigel Barge Road Race started on the 1st of January. It is still being organised by Maryhill Harriers today. During the 1950s and 1960s membership dwindled to the low 20s. The principal causes being the lack of facilities for the athletes in the area and the depopulation of the Maryhill district, affecting all sports. 1970 saw the end of 49 years of the club members being secretaries of the Western District through George Dallas, Dunky Wright and Fred Graham. Fred was appointed team manager for the 1970 Commonwealth Games and elected president of the S.AAA in 1972.

The 70s also saw the start of the Scottish Veteran Harriers movement and Maryhill once again showed they were a force to be reckoned with by winning the British Vets over 50 Championships team race in 1971-72-73, and various individual title British and Scottish Championships. The 1980s and 1990s have been rather lean years for the club, especially at junior and senior levels. It has been left to the veterans of the club to keep Maryhill Harriers in the news, through`World, European and British victories by Gordon Porteous.

by Gordon Porteous/John Reid