‘A giant of our sport’ – our tribute to Ian Clifton MBE

Monday 5th December 2022

Photo via Anent Scottish Running website 

J (Ian) E Clifton (1932-2022)


Funeral Arrangements

Tuesday 20 December


Mortonhall Crematorium, Edinburgh, EH16 6TX



Ian Clifton was a giant of our sport and like so many others started as an athlete before becoming an outstanding servant of Scottish Athletics as an Official and administrator at club, District, National and International level in both Cross Country running and Track and Field.

Ian was born in Drem, East Lothian, in 1932 and first appeared as an athlete when he joined Edinburgh Southern Harriers in 1947.

He is recorded in the SAL RR and CC Commission Archive as having finished second in the East District youths cross–country championship and ran the seventh leg of the Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay in November 1949.

On joining the Civil Service he was posted to Lincoln and served his National Service in 1950-52, the latter part of it in Egypt where he competed in the Middle East T and F Championships in 1952.

Returning to Edinburgh as a Customs and Excise officer and to marry Margaret in 1957 he rejoined ESH. He kept running for a number of years while easing into the club committee in the 1960s, becoming President in 1970-71 and again in 1980-82.

Ian was elected to the General Committee of the Scottish Cross County Union in 1969 and became President in the season 1977-78 where, as the Event Chair, he oversaw the staging of the World Cross Country Championships in Glasgow.

Some 30 years later when the World Championships were next held in Scotland (Edinburgh 2008), Ian contributed yet again by acting as the Officials wrangler and member of the LOC for that event.

In between Ian was Course Director for the European Cross-Country Championships in Edinburgh in 2003.

Ian (on right) in his natural home of officiating at cross country and pictured here with Bob McSwein (photo via Anent Scottish Running website )

In 1982, Ian took over as the General Secretary of the S.C.C.U. and held that position through the formation of the SAF in 1992 until 1995. During that period Ian was also President of the UK Cross Country Union 1989-92.

Ian’s first love was cross country but he was also an enthusiastic follower of track and field.

At the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh Ian was the Chief Jumps Judge and was responsible for introducing the new measuring technology. When the Games returned to Edinburgh in 1986 Ian was heavily involved as President of the S.A.A.A.

Ian was recognised for his contribution by being awarded Honorary Life memberships of both the S.C.C.U and the S.A.A.A. (which were continued in 1992 when the S.A.F was formed).

In 1995 he was awarded the Tom Stillie award and in 2012 given an SAL long service award with Robert McSwein for their services to Scottish Athletics.

Ian, along with Bob McSwein and Bob Greenoak, was a foundation Trustee of the George Dallas Trust and was awarded MBE in 1997 for services to Athletics.

In helping lead our sport, Ian Clifton will be remembered most for his calmness under pressure and his consideration.

With thanks to Ron Morrison, our President, for this tribute to Ian.

Tags: Ian Clifton, Ron Morrison

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