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History of the Queen's Park Football Club 1867 - 1917
Chapter XLIV.—Queen's Park and the Athletic Ruptures

In the athletic dispute of 1883, the Queen's Park took a prominent part in opposition to the attempt of the Edinburgh Rugby and cricket clubs, who held athletic meetings, to found a Scottish Amateur Athletic Association, without consultation with sports holding football and athletic clubs in the West. Many feared it was a case of class against the mass, which intensified Western feeling. This led to the formation of the West of Scotland Amateur Athletic Association, consisting of sixteen clubs, of which Mr. Thomas Lawrie (Queen's Park) was vice-president, and Mr. Don. Hamilton president, and Mr. R. Robinson honorary secretary. There were now two Associations. The Edinburgh Association not only wanted to dominate athletics, but even insisted that the secretary of the Association should always be resident in Edinburgh—an intolerable position, which was resented forcibly in the West. As a matter of fact, however, the secretary has always resided in Edinburgh, as Mr. David Scott Duncan has held the position for thirty-five years, and at this date, 1920, is still in office, having succeeded Mr. A. S. Paterson, another Edinburgh gentleman, in 1885. After a year of war, during which each held championship meetings, the two bodies came to a mutual understanding, through the good offices of Mr. W. H. Kidston (West of Scotland F.C.) and Mr. T. Lawrie (Queen's Park), and an amalgamation was effected, 21st June, 1884. There was no more loyal member of the new Association than the Queen's Park, and as one of the concessions in the agreement was, that the president should be drawn alternately from the East and the West, several members of the Queen's Park, including Mr. Thomas Lawrie, Mr. Stewart Lawrie, Mr. D. C. Brown, Mr. W. Sellar, Mr. A. M. Bryson, and Mr. James Allan, have occupied the presidential chair of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association at different times. Another crisis arose between the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association and the Scottish Cyclists' Union in 1895, on the question of the latter body assuming control over what were styled " makers' amateurs"—semi-professional racing cyclists—who were allowed to compete in a separate class by themselves (B Class), at the same amateur meetings as amateur riders in their class (A). To this the S.A.A.A. took exception, having a strong objection to mixed meetings of any kind. The result was that many clubs, including the Queen's Park, were seriously inconvenienced, as the sports of the club fixed for 1st June, 1895, had to be abandoned. However, the attitude to be assumed in the dispute came before the Queen's Park committee in due course, and the decision was, " That this club, as members of the S.A.A.A., support the action of that Association in the present crisis." The crisis assumed serious proportions, and led to the formation of a rival body, styled the Scottish Amateur Athletic Union, which sympathised with the efforts of the Scottish Cyclists' Union to weed the sheep from the goats, but yet wanted good racing. The S.C.U. continued to take dual control of professional and amateur racing, and the clubs were not called upon to depart from their usual procedure of holding purely amateur meetings, if they so desired-All athletic and cycling sports were, however, to be under the joint rules of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Union and Scottish Cyclists' Union. The latter body had no desire to impose professional cycle racing on amateur athletic clubs. Its control extended to cycle racing only, and cycling clubs pure and simple, and athletic clubs, were at liberty to include both classes, or one, in their programmes.

The Queen's Park committee, while loyally supporting the policy of the S.A.A.A., did not take sides in the dispute, as they granted the use of their track on Saturday, 8th June, 1895, to the Scottish Cyclists' Union for a cycle meeting, at which both Class A and Class B riders competed, the chief item on the programme being Class A half-mile championship (amateur). The conjoint championships of the S.A.A. Union and S.C. Union were held at Hampden Park, 22nd June, 1895, the first named being the rival organisation to the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association, at the meeting for the formation of which the Queen's Park, through its spirit of loyalty to the Association, was not represented. At this meeting" the one mile championships (A and B Class) were the chief events. An opposition championship meeting was held at Ibrox Park the same day by the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association, which was attended by barely a thousand spectators, while at Hampden Park the assembly reminded one of the palmy days of Hampden, as the programme suited the public taste. The Scottish Amateur Athletic Union had been formed, 3rd May, 1895, out of sympathy with the Scottish Cyclists' Union, whose desire was to safeguard amateurism by dividing cyclists into two classes—those who were amateurs, and those who were in the pay of the manufacturers for advertising their wares. The sports-holding clubs in the West flocked to the standard of the S.A.A.U. Sir John Primrose was patron, Mr. D. M'Kenzie (Rangers) president, and Mr. E. C. Stewart honorary secretary. The chief exception was the Queen's Park, who stuck to the old Association. The failure of the club to hold sports for want of competitors was looked upon as a serious blow to the S.A.A.A., who had lost almost all influence in the West, and even some in the East, as Heart of Midlothian and Kirkcaldy threw in their lot with the new Union. The S.A.A.A. soon found out it had made a mistake in not swallowing the bolus of the A and B Classes. A futile threat to take the management of cycle racing into its own hands, and delete the name of the Scottish Cyclists' Union from the list of associations whose laws the S.A.A.A. recognised, was not carried out. So the matter stood, until the middle of December, 1896, when the S.A.A.A. appointed a small committee, of which Mr. Sellar (Queen's Park) was one, to meet representatives of the S.A.A. Union with a view to a reconciliation. The former body was now prepared to accept the B Class, because in the interval it had been turned into a full professional class by the S.C.U., and would allow the clubs to place races for professional cyclists on their programmes should they think fit, or have only amateur racing if they so preferred. The position, so far as the S.C.U. was concerned, was exactly as before, except that the semi-professional became the real article. The Queen's Park was now decidedly for reconciliation, and Mr. Sellar was given a free hand in an effort to produce peace. The amalgamation meeting was held in Edinburgh, 21st January, 1897—Messrs. Sellar and Geake representing the Queen's Park—and the proposals put forward by the S.A.A. Union were found acceptable to the S.A.A.A., and the agreement arrived at was homologated at special general meetings of both bodies, 27th February, 1897. A committee of five from each was appointed to revise the rules, Mr. Sellar being one of the quintette for the Association. A general meeting of all clubs affiliated to both athletic associations was held in the Scottish Football Association Rooms, Glasgow", 23rd April, 1897, to consider the proposed revised rules, when peace was restored, and the S.A.A.A. again entrusted with the whole direction of affairs, and wished to live in harmony with the S.C.U., who only desired to be allowed to manage its own business in its own way. The S.C.U. is now a moribund body, and cycle racing a dead letter. The S.A.A.A. is, however, a living entity.

The Queen's Park, with this peace, was enabled to hold its sports, 5th June, 1897, but decided to have no professional cycle racing. On its suggestion, a combined Queen's Diamond Jubilee meeting was held, under the auspices of Queen's Park, Rangers, Celtic, West of Scotland Harriers, and Clydesdale Harriers, in aid of the fund for the rebuilding of the Royal Infirmary. That year, 1897, was the Diamond Jubilee year of the late Queen Victoria, of blessed memory. The handsome sum of 102 5s. 8d. resulted from this meeting, which was handed over to the Lord Provost's Royal Infirmary Fund. That a better feeling prevailed between the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association and the Scottish Cyclists' Union was clearly evidenced by the fact, that the two bodies held a joint championship meeting on Hampden Park track, on 25th June, 1898, the Queen's Park raising the banking at the corners, and improving the curves, for the safety of the cycle riders.

Few clubs held sports in the East, outside the schools, during the war. In the West the great majority of sports meetings went on, all, or nearly all, for the benefit of war charities. By this means a large sum was raised—over 10,000. A sports meeting under the auspices of the Western District Committee (S.A.A.A.), in 1917, at Celtic Park, contributed no less than 769 to this amount. Other clubs did their share, but none has been so successful in a pecuniary sense as the meeting at Celtic Park.

The following Queen's Park members occupied the presidential chair of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association :—

1886-1887 Mr. Thomas Lawrie. 1892-1893 Mr. Stewart Lawrie.
1894-1895 Mr. D. C. Brown (who represented West of Scotland Harriers).
1899-1900 Mr William Sellar. 1901-1902 Mr. A. M. Bryson (who represented Vale of Avon A.A.C.). 1911-1912 Mr. James Allan.

New Hampden Park holds the following Scottish amateur athletic records :—


300 Yards—Lieut. W. Halswell, 31-1/5 secs.; Queen's Park Sports, 20th June, 1908.
220 Yards—W. B. Applegarth, 21 2/5 sec.; International, 11th July, 1914.

For Hampden Park (No. 2), the following record still stands :

Pole Vault—E. L. Stones, 11ft. 4in.; Scottish Championship, 1889.

The Hampden Park track, always kept in the best possible condition, was a great favourite with athletes, and has been the scene of many splendid performances in addition to those detailed above. At the West of Scotland Harriers sports at Hampden Park in 1887, D. S. Duncan (Royal High School), now the popular hon. secretary of the S.A.A.A., ran a record two miles in 9min. 48 1/5 sec C. Pennycook (Clydesdale Harriers), who won the mile championship on the same ground in 1889, in 4 min. 29 4/5 sec, was the first athlete to win a Scottish mile under 4min. 30 sec. D. S. Duncan "clocked" 4 min. 31 3/5 sec. at Hampden at the 1891 championship meeting, covering the last lap in 61 sec. D. S. Duncan's mile record of 4min. 28 sec, made at Powderhall in September, 1888, was reduced on the Queen's Park track by W. Robertson (Clydesdale Harriers), at the S.A.A. Union and Scottish Cyclists' Union joint championship meeting, 27th June, 1896, the new time being 4min. 27 1/5 sec, or four-fifth second better than the old record made by D. S. Duncan in 1888 at Powderhall. At this meeting S. Duffus (Clydesdale Harriers) made a then record for four miles in 20 min. 10 4/5 sec, taking 29 1/5 sec off the previous record. The present Scottish native record for one mile is 4 min. 21 3/5 sec, by J. M'Gough (Bellahouston Harriers), at Celtic Park, on 11th August, 1906.

A match of world-wide interest was decided on Hampden Park, 10th June, 1895, when A. R. Downer, the Scottish champion, and E. C. Bredin, the English champion, met to contest a 300 yards match, which the Scot won by eight yards in the then British amateur record time of 31 2/5 sec. The late Mr. D. G. Brown, an ex-president of Queen's' Park, officiated as judge on that occasion. Other noteworthy performances at Hampden Park are, that J. L. Greig, Fettes (1899), B. G. Green, London Scottish (1891), and A. R. Downer (1893) all won three championships in one afternoon, the particulars of which are: Greig, hurdles, high jump, broad jump; Green, 100 yards, hurdles, and broad jump ; Downer, 100 yards, 220 yards, and quarter-mile.

The apparent ease with which certain sports-holding clubs secured the attendance at their meetings of the best amateurs in the kingdom so disturbed the S.A.A.A. that it appointed a commission to investigate the subject in 1893-94. Mr. D. C. Brown (Queen's Park) presided over this commission, which sat in Glasgow. Much interesting evidence was obtained, all of which was taken down in shorthand, and accompanied the report of the commission. Grave misunderstandings arose over the manner in which the evidence was procured. It was alleged by several of the witnesses from the clubs in the West, that they had been given an assurance by the chairman that their testimony was to be considered confidential, and was not to be used against them. Notwithstanding this alleged promise, the S.A.A.A. suspended two athletes, and a prominent Western club. This led to a great outcry on the part of the latter, who, while anxious themselves to abate the evil of paying expenses to amateurs, declared they had been duped and punished. The annual general meeting of the Association, held in the Cafe Royal, Edinburgh, in the spring of 1894, was packed with an indignant crowd of Western representatives, and the scene which took place is indescribable. Dr. J. H. A. Laing, president, S.A.A.A., was in the chair, and it would have taken a much stronger man to control the proceedings. Suffice it to say, in the end the suspensions were raised. The ventilation of the subject had a beneficial effect on the sport, and on no club more than the Queen's Park, who had found itself handicapped in its efforts to keep amateur athletics pure, by refusing to pay the expenses of competitors, even though other clubs who did so had more successful meetings.

Mr. William Sellar (Queen's Park) occupied the chair at another commission, appointed by the S.A.A.A. in 1898, to investigate what are known as the Belfast and Whitehaven scandals, as a consequence of which quite a number of Scotland's leading athletes were permanently suspended, and a professional runner received six weeks' hard labour. Some professionals impersonated well-known athletes at amateur sports held in Belfast and Whitehaven. Thanks to the vigilance of the S.A.A.A., the betting party behind them, which included several amateurs, were caught red-handed, and one runner prosecuted and imprisoned.

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