By Craig Perrie and Scott Coulter
November this year sees one of Scotland’s oldest running clubs celebrate their 130th Anniversary – Maryhill Harriers.
Founded on 2 November 1888 by a group of four, including local blacksmith Gilbert Thomson, the club would go on to become the dominant force in Scottish athletics and cross country for many of their early years.
Maryhill’s first National title was achieved in 1897 by high jumper James McFarlane. Following this, athletics, road and cross country titles were racked-up by illustrious names such as George Dallas, Dunky Wright, Donald Robertson and Gordon Porteous to name but a few.
Some of these athletes in their later years were prolific in the veteran Harriers movement, boasting victories and records (still standing) at National, European and World level as recently as 2004.
By 1937, all Scottish middle and long distance records were held by Maryhill Harriers, not to mention Olympic honours and Empire Games (later Commonwealth Games) titles.
Some of these names live on in races and trophies today, as well as honours such as the George Dallas Memorial Trophy awarded annually by scottishathletics. Maryhill’s own Nigel Barge race celebrates its 75th anniversary this year – it commemorates Nigel Barge who was killed in action in Dunkirk during World War II, the race being proposed by his father Kenneth Barge who was a Maryhill Harriers Committee member.
The Club’s involvement in and commitment to the local community is as important now as it was 130 years ago. The Harriers maintain close links with local schools in the west of Glasgow, highlighted by its burgeoning junior section, led by very dedicated volunteer coaches including Margaret Peebles who was recently commended by scottishathletics (and featured in PB in 2017).
The club’s place in the local culture is proudly acknowledged with a stained glass window in Maryhill Burgh Halls commemorating its long history in the area (image courtesy of Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust plus the creative artists Alec Galloway & Margo Winning).
Maryhill Harriers in the current era are clearly a friendly and sociable club, yet are still driven by the same passion and enthusiasm instilled by their champions. Blue vests can be seen competing at races up and down the country, ranging from parkruns to Ultras, with members vying for intra-club silverware dating back to the 19th century!
Leading up to November the Club will be both reflecting on their proud history but primarily looking positively to their future.
Watch out for Club website updates featuring extra depth on club history and champions, local-affiliated parkrun ‘take-overs’, media exposure and, most importantly, blue vests at races giving their all!