Thursday, 17 December 2009

Old memories and fast times

Thursday 17th
No running to report this week so far as the niggle in my calf became a solid mass by Sunday morning. All week it has been slow to ease and today is the first day it felt okay to run on but I decided to leave running to the weekend. A friend at the golf club spoke to me yesterday and mentioned that he had been looking at my blog and saw the photo of the boys in Springburn Harriers and started to tell me how he and his brother used to go to Springburn Harriers when they were boys. He said that there was a old man who used to look after the boys and took to do with most of the organizing in the club. I said that would be old Jack Crawford who I became very friendly with even when he moved away to St Andrews in the 80's and we stayed good friends. I organised for the club to have an annual handicap race along the West Sands with the handicapping and presentation done by Jack that night in the Golf Hotel.  The race was a huge success and Jack was in his element meeting old friends and telling stories from years gone by. He was a master at handicaps and was the official handicapper for all the Highland Games and races for many years.  Jack loved his harriers and took great delight in telling you stories from 50 years ago.  He could remember times and places from any race all those years ago.  After the Second World War, Jack went down to the harriers hut and opened it up, started up the fire and got hot water ready for the runners, but nobody turned up (there were no races or club running during the war).  Jack continued with his Tuesday/Thursday ritual for weeks until eventually some runners started to appear again and the club started to operate again.  When I joined the club, Jack was still very active and along with Eddie Sinclair coaching they had made Springburn the top club in Scotland for all boys age groups, winning week in and out most individual and team prizes.  Jack died in 1986 and to mark his passing we changed the club's annual road race from the Springburn Cup to the Jack Crawford 10km as it is now known.  The photo above was taken in 1974 and shows National prizes won that year with Jack standing proudly in his suit with his boys.  The young boy two places along from Jack is Graham Williamson who would go on to set world class times for the mile and 1500m.  As a junior, Graham set 4 Scottish records -800m-1.47, 1500m-3.36, 1 mile-3.53, 3,000m-8.00.  All these records still stand today more than 30 years on! He also went on to run 1,000m in 2.16, 1 mile in 3.50  2,000m in 4.58 and 1500m indoors in 3.38 which used to be the British record  all of which are still Scottish records. Due to injuries and some bad luck Graham never really managed to get medals at any of the major games and also running at the same time as Coe, Ovett and Cram meant that you had to be one of the best in the world just to be picked for a British team never mind win a medal. These times that Graham set have never been under any threat for over 30 years and that is also the same for Nat Muir's 5,000m record of 13.17 set away back in 1980. The 10,000m record still belongs to Ian Stewart -27.43 from 1977 ! Why have times not improved in the past 30 years ?

1 comment:

  1. Robert - I'm sure we could debate the decline in endurance standards for a long time - don't know if you have seen Bill Scally's article in the new PB magazine but I think he makes a lot of good points. In particular I agree with Bill that our top endurance guys just don't work hard enough now - they need to be putting in more miles. Frank Clement was doing 150 mile weeks before finishing 5th in the Olympic 1,500m!

    Anyway hope to get along to the Jack Crawford race on 16th Jan - if you see me please say hello. All the best. Ian