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.
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.
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
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
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
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.