Greenock Glenpark Harriers

"The Harriers"

Pre 1895

Greenock runners join the satellite branch of Clydesdale Harriers. The sport of running grows in popularity and numbers joining swell to over 50.

1895

Agreement is reached with Clydesdale Harriers to allow for the Greenock satellite branch to break away and form their own club. As a result Greenock Glenpark Harriers is formed in the October of 1895. Greenock Telegraph archives recorded the club holding 3 pack runs during their first month starting from Gourock Gamble Halls and Port Glasgow swimming pools.

The club saw their first success at National level when D.Mills won bronze for finishing 3rd at the Scottish Cross Country Championships

Early Club Champions

1898 – 1899:  A.C.Smith

1899 – 1900:  Adam Bone

1900 - 1901:  Adam Bone

1901 – 1902:  S.S.Elliott 

1902 – 1903:  S.S.Elliott 

1903 – 1904:  James A. Ure

1904 – 1905:  S.Elliott

20 / 01 / 06:   R.Sinclair 

02 / 02 / 07:   R.S.Aitkaenhead

23 / 01 / 08:   R.Macura

23 / 01 / 09:   R.S. Sinclair

26 / 02 / 10:   R.S. Sinclair

1910 – 1911:  D.McLelland

1911 – 1912:  D.McLelland

1912 – 1913:  D.McLelland

 

Greenock Glenpark Harriers club Championship trophy with the engravings of winners from 1898 to 1913. Thanks to Peter McLelland grandson of David McLelland for photograph,  - more information can be found on "Old Photos" page in Archive section of website)

 

The Harriers 1st club Champion was  DW. Mill in 1895, 96 and 97 (info from the GGH 1920 semi-jubilee programme)

Scottish Champions 1883-1919

Scottish AAA programme with the list of Scottish track & field champions from 1883 to 1919, which includes a number  Glenpark Scottish Champions and record holders.

    

Click on each page for larger image.

1915

Greenock Glenpark Harriers host the "Great Athletics & Military Gala" at Cappielow Park, Greenock on Saturday 31st July 1915, in aid of the Dependants of the Fallen. In the programme on the Harriers Roll of Honour their are 77 listed., including James Wilson's twin brother John.  Highlighting the carnage and devastation caused by the Great War. 

The programme included sprints, 1/2 mile, 2 miles, 220yard hurdles,  3miles, 440 yards, 220yards, and a football tournament with Morton, Hamilton Academicals, Ayr Utd, and the 3rd Royal Scots Fusileers. Also included at the Interval were "Amusing Events" such as "Tent pegging", "lemon cutting" "cutting the Turks head" and a football match between the Scottish Rifles and a Glenpark Harriers Select.

It was a top quality field with 4 Olympic Athletes competing for Glenpark, James Wilson , George Wallach, Robert Bridge Lancashire Walking Club and George Gray the Salford based British champion Hurdler. As well as a host of Scottish and Irish Champions.

Programme front cover here

Back cover here

Gala Day Report from the Greenock Telegraph click  here Part1 , Part 2

1920s

Membership grows to over 100 and the club attracts top class runners in the form of George Wallach and Olympic double medallist James Wilson . Wilson joined an elite group of Scottish Olympians to win more than one medal, winning bronze at 10000m and silver in the team cross country event. The 1920s proved to be one of the most successful decades (if not the most successful) in the club's history. In a four year period between 1920 and 1924 GGH accumulated two individual golds (Wilson and Wallach) and three team medals at the National Cross Country Championships, the blue riband event on the Scottish calendar.

1920 was indeed a golden year for Wilson. The 29yr old started off in low key fashion winning the club championship in February. In March he became the first Glenparker to be crowned National Champion when he won the Cross Country title at Rouken Glen Park. This earned him selection for the International Cross-Country Championships (a forerunner to the current World XC Champs). He was joined by Wallach and club coach Felix Kelly who was made national coach, a testement as to how well the club was doing at the time. The trio travelled to Belfast for the event where Wilson triumphed yet again defeating Vose of England by the comfortable margin of 27secs (Click here and here for race report). His win gained the attention of the olympic selectors who picked him to compete in the 10,000m at the Antwerp Olympics. He entered the final in a confident mood having comfortably won his heat. His confidence shone as he took the lead in the final, a position he held until the final lap when he was overtaken by the Finish olympic legend Paavo Nurmi and Guillemot of France. His brave front running was however rewarded with a bronze medal to become the 1st of only three British men to win medals in the Olympic 10000m. Not satisfied with one medal he then went onto compete in the Olympic Cross Country event and finished 4th overall and first GB counter to help the team to Silver Medal. In doing so he joined a small select band of Scottish athletes to win 2 medals in one games.

1921 started with a bang as GGH were invited to take part in a New Years Day team race involving the best 12 Scottish clubs at of all places Celtic Park. The race involved 4 laps of the track before heading out to 5miles of cross country before heading back into the stadium for 1 lap and it was Wilson he yet again triumphed crossing the line before the 2nd placed runner even entered Parkhead. The club didn't fair too badly either, losing out to 1st place by only 2pts to Garscube Harriers. Two days later the club participated in a 1.5mile track race at another football ground, this time Morton's with the club winning this time with Wilson again victorious in a time of 7min43secs. Wilson was then unfortunately hit by a leg injury forcing him to miss the West Districts XC Champs. He wasn't missed that much however as Davie Cummings grabbed the limelight for once to win the West title ahead of over 300 other runners. Again the club finished 2nd and again they lost out to Garscube Harriers. With Wilson unable to defend his title through injury the club still managed to achieve their first top 3 finish at the Nationals resulting in no fewer than 4 Glenparkers (Cummings, Wallach, Wilson, Whitelaw) being selected to represent Scotland at the International XC held in Cardiff in March.

Having won bronze in 1921, GGH went one better the following year. Strangely enough Wallach won the individual title in 1922 but for reasons unknown he was not included as one of the six team counters. If he had the club would had snatched glory a year early. GGH made amends the following season to snatch the team gold title. Below is an extract from the Greenock Telegraph report covering the national event from 1923.

Glenpark Team’s Great Win – Exciting race at Bothwell

The Cross-Country Championships of Scotland was run on Saturday within the Bothwell Castle Policies near Uddingston. There was an entry of 20 teams and 6 individuals from the leading cross country clubs. The course was one of ten miles, made up of 3.5 laps of the grounds surrounding the old historical Castle of Bothwell. The condition of the trail was to the heavy side, and proved too stiff a task for a number of competitors, only 139 finishing out of 236 starters. This was a record number of starters in the premier Scottish cross country competition, and is sufficient proof that the sport is becoming more popular than ever.

The start was a splendid one and on a huge field spreading itself out it was seen that AB Lawrie of Glenpark, was in the lead by about 10 yards from JG McIntyre (Shettleston Harriers) and Wright (Clydesdale Harriers), a position he maintained for 3 miles. Wright at this stage began to overhaul Lawrie, and on entering on the 2nd lap was leading from McIntyre, Craig (Bellahouston), Neilson (W.S.H) and Lawrie. The stiff going in the first round had by this time wrought a considerable change on the placings of the other competitors, and amongst the fancied teams for honours there were spirited tussles for supremacy. Greenock was well represented by teams from Wellpark, Auchmountain and Glenpark Harriers. The latter had great hopes of succeeding after their efforts at Musselburgh last year.

They were well to the fore on the completion of the second round. It was seen that a great contest was taking place between the teams representing Garscube, Shettleston and Glenpark for the leading place. Wright was giving a brilliant performance and still led McIntyre by about 30yds with Craig, Neilson, Lawrie and Cummings following. Going on for the third lap Garscube was slightly better than Glenpark by a few points, but a great recovery by Lawrie, who on going round for the last time had taken third place, Glenpark’s chances were strengthened. Wright by this stage was still leading by 50yards and, running strongly, finished a great winner from McIntyre of Shettleston with Lawrie finishing 80yds behind McIntyre.

The excitement was intense when Glenpark’s second man AT Whitelaw arrived 6th after a great tussle with Calderwood (Maryhill) and McIntyre (Garscube). Although Glenpark had two home to one of Garscube it was still in doubt as to which club would secure the prize, and it was only by the great running and support of Davie Cummings (15), Robb (21), B.Dawson (24) and A.Pettigrew (25) and with a total number of 95 points against that of 100 points for Garscube Harriers, Glenpark Harriers have for the first time in the club’s history brought to the town the honour of the national cross country champions. The contest was one of the best that has ever taken place in Scotland, and the performances of all the winners was brilliant over such a heavy trail.

G. Wallach was unable to appear. Glenpark for their success now hold the handsome shield of the NCCU for one year and the members received gold medals as emblems of their positions as champions of Scotland.

Greenock Glenpark Harriers Scottish Cross Country Champions 1923. Click on link to view larger image: http://webzoom.freewebs.com/glenparkharriers/scottish xc champs 1923web.jpg

1940's & 1950's

Link to article on the "Ardbruach" website on the successfull team of the 1950s
 



1960s

The 60s proved to be a more successful decade for the club, helped by introduction of some new blood. Club stalwarts Jim Sheridan and Richard Hodelet joined the club at the beginning of the decade. 1960 also saw the first running of the Harris Cup in memory of ex president Tommy Harris. In 1961 Mrs Kirkwood who had donated the club grounds to Glenpark died and kindly left the land to the club in her will, providing long term financial security to the club. In 1962 Auchmountain Harriers sadly folded with the club gaining a few old Auchmountain boys into their ranks.

By 1962 Hodelet was challenging Jim Spence for the senior championship eventually finishing 2nd in 62/63 season. They would go on to exchange the title throughout the sixties. The year also saw the emergence of Tommy Dobbin who would win both the Renfrewshire and West XC Champs before narrowly missing out at the 1963 National XC Junior Champs were his finished a close 2nd.

In 63/64 Richard Hodelet went one better to overtake Spence to win his first club championship. He would go onto even greater feats later that year winning his first Scottish title on the track that summer in the 880yds. This achievement would be matched by his junior team-mate as Dobbin also won the junior 880yds. Undoubtedly the club now had the best middle distance talent in the country. For their efforts both were made life members of the club. Both athletes went on to successfully defend their titles in 1965 with Dobbin winning silver at the UK Championships in a time of 1min56secs. Dobbin and Hodelet then helped the senior team to their first West Districts Relays title in years at the end of 1965. Club spirit was obviously good with lots of social outings including a trip to Glasgow to see "The Sound of Music". 1965 finished on a high with the club recording a club record time at the EtoG Relays, finishing 12th in the process.

The famous Glenpark Hoops Vest was introduced in 1966 with D.Kennedy taking credit for the design. Thankfully he didn't score an own goal by replicating a St Mirren shirt. After a years break R.Hodelet won back the club championship, sharing it with I.Hopkins. 66 saw the emergence of another fine junior in Robert Love who would go onto win the Scottish BB XC title and challenge the seniors in club championship races. Jim Spence won back his club championship titles in 67 & 68 with his brother Laurie Spence coming to the fore at the end of the decade, winning silver in the junior National XC Champs in 1969.

The 80s and early 90s

GGH enjoyed their most successful period since the 1920s during the mid 80s and early 90s. Helped by the 80s running boom the club saw dozens of new members take up the sport taking the membership close to 100. Success bred success as the club won their first national cross country individual title since 1922 with Tommy Murray (pictured left) winning the event in 1989, having finished 4th in 87 and winning bronze in 88. Murray followed this up by winning the West XC Champs two years in succession in 89 and 90. The club performed consistenly well at the West Champs during this period with consistent top 10s with three team bronze medals in 88, 94 and 95. Murray wasn't the only individual winner either as Alan Puckrin reached his peak on the country in the 90s to win gold in 1994 as well as two bronze medals in the years either side.

[Profile on Tommy Murray click HERE ]

 

From 1984 to 1996 the club were rarely outside the top 10 at the National XC Relays and whilst they never matched the team of 1923 the club did win the National Cross Country relays in 1988 with Phil Russell joining Alan Puckrin, Hammy Cox and Murray in winning the title. 1988 was a brilliant year in terms of the relay team with the club almost making it a clean sweep winning at McAndrew, Renfrewshire, West with the only blip taking place at Kilbarchan where they finished 2nd.

 

Success was not only confined to the country with numerous talented juniors coming thru the ranks to succeed in the senior events. Alan Puckrin, Pat Duffy, John McFadyen and Billy Jenkins to name but a few all succeeding in 10000m, 800m and 3000m steeplechase.

The club were also touched by the marathon boom and produced several excellent endurance runners who would put the majority of today’s runners to shame, no more so than Hammy Cox who represented Scotland all over the world and recorded a club record of 2hrs 18mins.

 

The club led the way with the introduction of the Inverclyde Marathon in 1981, long before the first London Marathon. The club continued to support the event thru the 80s and 90s until its last show in 1998.

 

The 1980s also saw a major change with the introduction of female members into the club. A special meeting was convened in October 1986 attended by a record turnout of 47 members with the majority voting in favour of the motion. By the end of the year more than a dozen women had joined the club.

   

1983 also saw the first of the Glenpark Xmas Discos to raise funds. Due to the success of a post marathon disco that year the club decided to hold a christmas event and have never looked back since with cracking nights being held in the Rankin Park, the Town Hall before moving to the current location at the Greenock Dockers club.

 

By 1996, the popularity of running had decreased with a corresponding reduction in membership which was now back down to approximately 60. By this time most of the best runners had left the club thru retirement or resigning to join other clubs. 

2000 to 2009

The decade was one of few successes from a senior perspective  (although they did win the county xc title in 2003) but a relatively successful period at the other two ends of the spectrum in the juniors and the veterans. Whilst the seniors performed poorly at the National XC Champs the juniors in the early years of the new millenium were winning numerous individual a team medals. Stephen Trainer won a bronze as an U13 in 2001. This was followed up in 2002 with two team medals with the U13 girls winning bronze with the U17 Boys team of Butcher, McCall, Bryson and McGuiness narrowly losing the gold by just 2pts. Success continued in 2003 when David Butcher won the Silver in the National having won gold at the Renfrewshire and West. 2003 also probably saw the best ever junior girl performance when Debbie Miller slaughtered the field at the U15 West XC Champs.

The seniors reaped the benefits with Chris Mackay, Chris McCall helping Robert Docherty and Stevie McLoone finish 10th at the National XC Relays in 2004 to record their highest finish for 8yrs. Mackay would go from strength to strength in the following years and became one of the youngest club champions in 2004. He would go onto break the club's Chisholm Mile record as well as representing Scotland on the both the track and the country before winning his first Scottish title in the Scottish 10km Road Race championships at Vale of Leven in 2007. Sadly, he resigned from the club shortly afterwards.

As the decade came to a close the club enjoyed a membership boom even greater than the marathon boom of the 80s, with over 140 members as 2009 came to a close, with a healthy junior membership and a record number of women members. 

Glenpark's Olympians

Greenock Glenpark Harriers have had 5 athletes represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games. First was George Wallach and race walker George Bridge at Stockholm in 1912, and  and then after the war when James Wilson won Bronze in the 10000m and team silver in the 5mile cross country at Antwerp in 1920. Also competing at Antwerp was George Gray in the 110m Hurdles & 400m Hurdles. Finally was David Cummimgs in the 3000m steeplechase at Paris in 1924. Below is a brief article on five of the clubs most succesful athletes.
 

George Wallach (1883-1980)

Although Scottish-born, George Curtis Locke Wallach , moved to England in 1905  but returned regularly to Scotland for the Championships, winning the Scottish AAA 4 miles in 1911 and 1913, (pictured left leading 4mile championship) and the 10 miles in 1913-14, setting a new Scottish record in both years. Wallach won the Scottish cross-country in 1914 and 1922, and between 1910 and 1924 represented Scotland nine times in the International Cross Country Championship, all the more remarkable as the International was suspended for the duration of the First World War.

Wallach’s athletic career was eventful. Arguably his finest run was in his first international championship in Belfast in 1910.  Having achieved 3rd place in the English championships in 1910, he was selected by Scotland to run in Belfast. Approaching the final run in at Belvoir Park, Wallach was forcibly removed from the international race by the police while in first place. Police officers had noticed that his shorts had been substantially torn while negotiating the barbed wire fences of the course and on grounds of public decency, removed him. He was forced to watch Wood of England and Essex Beagles run past and win the individual title, a result that cost him the title and the Scottish team a certain second placing in the team contest.

Wallach went on to represent Great Britain in the inaugural 10,000 metres at the Stockholm Olympics of 1912. His outstanding cross country achievement was second place in the international cross country championships of 1914. Despite leading for most of the race at Chesham, Wallach fell at the final water jump and could not catch Nicholls of England who had overtaken him.

George Wallach, was an outstanding athlete; in his final representative honour gained in 1924, he was the first Scot home , two days after celebrating his 42nd birthday, this when the average life expectancy of the time was between 45 to 50 years of age. The twelfth of eighteen children, he died aged 96 in 1979.

Wallach’s achievements for Scotland in the international cross country championships were outstanding with one silver, one bronze, two fourth placings plus a further two top ten places spanning his nine representative appearances over fourteen years. 

From Colin Shields book Runs Will Take Place Whatever the Weather: The Centenary History of the Scottish Cross Country Union 1890-1990.

James Wilson (1891- 1973)

Further article on James Wilson here:  http://www.anentscottishrunning.com/james-wilson/

JAMES Wilson shattered a catalogue of Scottish records in a single race 90 years ago this week, but many details of this multiple Scottish champion remain shrouded in mystery. Report by Doug Gillon, 11 Apr 2010 in the Herald. 

                            

He broke the Scottish records at five, six, seven, eight, nine, and 10 miles at Celtic Park in April 1920, gaining selection for the Antwerp Olympics where he beat Finnish legend Paavo Nurmi in the 10,000 metres heats, and then took bronze in the final.

No other Briton won an Olympic 10k medal until Brendan Foster in 1976, and none has done so since. Wilson’s time in 1920 would have been good enough to win the Scottish title twice in the last six years.

Wilson, who ran for Greenock Glenpark Harriers, took the 1920 Scottish 10-mile title in 52min 04.4sec, a time beaten at the championships by just one athlete in the next 45 years.

Born in 1891 and based in Slough, he ran for England at the 1914 International Cross-country Championship (now recognised as the world championships), but transferred allegiance that year, and won the first of three Scottish four-mile track titles. The other two had to wait until after World War I, and his role in that conflict which claimed the lives of so many fellow athletes remains unknown.

The first post-war Scottish cross-country championships at Rouken Glen sparked such interest that Glasgow Tramways put on extra transport for spectators.

They saw Wilson’s outstanding victory over Dunky Wright, later inaugural Empire Games marathon champion.

On then, to the world event in Belfast, where he won by 27 seconds. One of his victims there was Frenchman Jean Guillemot whose lungs had been severely damagedin the war by mustard gas. But Guillemot was a different man at the Antwerp Olympics, where he outsprinted Nurmi to take 5000m gold

The post-war Games were spartan. The team was billeted in a school, sleeping on camp beds. They drank beer because the water was suspect and travelled to the stadium in army trucks.

Wilson won his 10k heat in 33.40, and the following day led the final for 23 of the 25 laps. Nurmi then moved to the front; Guillemot passed the Finn on the final lap; then Nurmi broke clear. Film footage at the Olympic museum in Lausanne shows this, and Wilson finishing third, five seconds behind the Finn in 31:50.8.

Contemporary reports likened the track to “a well-trodden stretch of Flanders mud”.

Having overcome the gas, barbed wire and mud, to claim one gold medal, Guillemot was not going to let a little thing like lunch stop him. He’d dined well, but the race start was brought forward to allow King Alfred to see it.

Guillemot vomited on Nurmi as he congratulated him.

Cross-country was then part of the Olympic programme. Wilson contested that three days later, fourth behind Nurmi, but claiming team silver. He’s one of only five Scottish athletes to win two medals at the same Olympics. Last to do so was Allan Wells, in Moscow 30 years ago this summer.

Wilson’s final international appearance was in 1925. Despite extensive research by Colin Shields for a history of Scottish athletics due to be published shortly, nothing of his subsequent life is known.*

* Following the publication of the article, new information came to light. James went on to run for Windsor and Slough (below), and worked for London Transport on the Metropolitan Railway until his retirement.

 

James Wilson's International Cap and Badges (5 scotland , 1 England) and his hat band from the 1920 British team Olympic Uniform. Larger image here.

    

James Wilsons International XC certificate1 , certificate2 , race programmerace report1 , race report2   

 

North Thames xc championships race report. James leads Slough to victory. James at age 78

Robert Bridge (1883-1953)

Competed for the Lancashire Walking Club, and also at least one occasion for Glenpark Harriers at the Military Gala at Cappielow Park.  He also took part in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic games. 

Initially a postman, he later qualified as a dentist despite the handicap of his left arm being amputated at the elbow. On his début in the AAA championships in 1912, at the age of 29, he won both the 2 miles and 7 miles walk and he repeated the double in 1913 and 1914. At the 1919 Championships he won the 2 miles for the fourth consecutive time and was the only pre-War champion to retain his title. At the Northern Championships he took the 2 mile/7 mile double four times (1912-14, 1919), won the 2 miles twice more (1921-22), and had a fifth successive win the 7 miles in 1920. In one race at Stamford Bridge in 1914 he broke the world record for every distance from 11 miles to 16 miles (2-05:39.8) and also set a new 2-hour record.

Personal Bests: 2 mile Walk – 13:48.8 (1912); 7 mile Walk – 52:06.8 (1914); 2-hour Walk – 24.781 km. (15 m, 701y).


George Gray

Salford Harrier George Gray also competed for Glenpark on at least one occasion at the Military Gala at Cappielow Park.  At the Antwerp Games he finished 3rd in the 400m hurdles setting a personal best, but wasn't enough to progress through the heats. In the  110 Hurdles he finished runner-up in round one before finishing 4th in the semi-final.

George was also British Champion winning the AAA 120y hurdles twice (1913-14) and was second three times (1912, 1919-20). He won the Northern 120y title five times (1911-14, 1920) and the 440 on the flat twice (1913-14). He combined his talents in the two events to win the AAA 440y hurdles in 1919.

Personal Bests: 110H – 15.6 (1920); 440yH – 58.8e (1920).

David Cummings (1895-1987)

 

A member of the Scottish International cross country team in 1921. David never once placed in a track event at the Scottish Championships but in 1924, he finished third in the AAA steeplechase and won a place in the Olympic team. Despite his lack of experience he performed creditably in Paris, finishing fifth in a field of ten in his heat. He was 3rd counter in the Glenpark team that won the Scottish Cross Country title in 1923.

1920 Antwerp Olympics

91 years later in May 2011, Glenparks young athletes  Olivia, Lucy & Laura with James Wilson's medals and statuette

1. Competitors medals (every athlete received this)

2. 8K cross country team silver. Engraved on edge with " CROSS COUNTRY  UK  2ND  J.WILSON & (A.HEGARTY  A.H.NICHOLS) "

3. 10000m Bronze medal. Engraved on edge with "10 000 METERS   J.WILSON    3RD"

Medal Designed by Josue Dupon: On one side The monument of Antwerp commemorating the legend of Brabo, the killer of the giant who terrorised the river, standing out against the Cathedral and port of Antwerp and on reverse the Victorious athlete bringing back the palm of victory; fame blowing horn in background.

 

Click here for larger image

Click here for largere image

The1920 Bronze & Marble Olympic Statuette . Click for larger image   2    3

Olympic Postcards from Antwerp

Mens Olympic walking event. click here for larger image

French Team at Opening ceremony. click here

South African Team at Opening ceremony. click here

 

The stars of the 1920 GB team. click here  and the Games Programme

August 16, 1920 Newspaper Part1 ,   and Part2

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