Formed in 1889, Dundee Hawkhill Harriers is one of the oldest clubs in Scotland (Interestingly, 1889 was also the year that the Hawks rival club, Dundee Thistle Harriers, was founded). The early history of the club is sparse, but according to an article, by Alan Lorimer, in Scotland’s Runner, July 1989, the club was started by a group of working lads, with a passion for running. They persuaded a local publican to let them meet in a pub at the corner of the Perth Road and Hawkhill and the Hawkhill Harriers was born. The early days of the club saw the Hawks organise local events, with the Perth to Dundee Marathon being inaugurated in 1894. James M Galloway won the 21 mile 1540 yards race in 2:20:00. This record was to stand for almost 50 years! The Hawks also won the North of Scotland Cross Country title in 1895??. A few races were run around the turn of the century before the Club was suspended, largely due to difficult economic times in the City and subsequently the First World War.
The Hawks were reconvened in November 1924. Club headquarters were at St.Peter’s Street, just off Hawkhill. In 1928, the club moved to new premises in North Street Halls. 1928 also saw the establishment of the Ladies section, the first Women’s section in any Harriers club in Scotland. September 1930 saw the resurrection of the Perth to Dundee race, G.T.Galloway (Surrey Walking Club) winning in 3h 09m 17.5s. Galloway was a former Hawkhill Harrier, who gave the Club it’s first senior Scottish Championship title and set four World’s walking records in one afternoon at White City, London in May 1934 in the colours of Surrey. Ina Buist, of the Hawks, won the Ladies race in 4h 7m 15s. The club also organised the Arbroath to Dundee race, in January 1931, H.Chapple of Dundee Thistle Harriers winning the 17 mile challenge in 2h 33m 14s. The prominent Ina Buist won the Ladies race in 2h 55m 22s. Whilst the Perth to Dundee ran until 1935, and was resurrected again in 1942 by Jimmy Brannan, the Arbroath to Dundee only lasted two years. In January 1931, the Hawks moved again, to a new HQ at Fairfield Street. A race that is still going today, the Cyclists vs. Harriers, was started in 1934-5, the first winner being M.Crowe (cyclist).
The 1930’s was a golden era for the Hawks. The Ladies were prolific during the 1930’s. At the SWAAA Cross Country Championships the Hawks had no less than five individual winners (N.Robson 1931-2, Mildred Storrar 1933-4, 1934-5, 1935-6, 1936-7) and won the team title twice (1933-4, 1934-5). Storrar was also 880yard Champion in 1933 and 1934, and was a member of the Scottish team at the 1934 British Empire Games. Vera Murray was 1 mile walk Champion in 1935.
The Men were also prolific. Jimmy Brannan was a reserve in the SCCU Scottish International team in 1930-1, but didn’t run. Charles Smith was a member of the Scottish SCCU team in 1934-5, 1935-6, 1936-7, becoming the Hawks first male international “vest”. Charles started running with the Hawks in 1933 and secured the Club’s first male cross-country championship title. Charles’ brother, John Suttie Smith, was a big pre-war star in Scotland. A man of many clubs, including Dundee Thistle Harriers, Suttie represented the Hawks from 1935. He won Silver at the International Cross Country Union World Championship in 1928 at Ayr Racecourse, and Bronze in the same event at Newport, Wales in 1933. He won three team Silvers with Scotland in 1931 (Dublin), 1933 and 1935 (Paris) and six team bronzes in 1927 (Newport), 1928, 1930 (Royal Leamington Spa), 1932 (Brussels), 1934 (Ayr) and 1936 (Blackpool). In 1928, he finished 10th in the final of the Olympic 10000m in Amsterdam. Suttie also won three SAAA 4-mile titles (1927,28,29), SAAA 10-mile title four times (1928,29,30, 33). He was Scottish Cross-country Champion five times in a row from 1928!
Two archive snippets from the “Bygone Dundee” City Council Archive from this era are below:
Perth To Dundee Walk July 1931 (Bygone Dundee City Council Archive)
Dundee Hawkhill Harriers will stage their annual 20-mile walk from Perth to Dundee on the 5th September. This event which has so much popularity last year is open to all in the district.
There will be contests for both ladies and gentlemen, the standard times being four hours for the gentlemen and four and a half for the ladies.
G.T. Galloway who won this event last September, along with his brother is a probable starter. Several organisations which have sprung up over the last twelve months have been making the most of training. C.R.S.Daly, the Scottish 3-mile crack, will be a notable starter.
The course finishes at Esplanade Dundee. The Hawkhill Harriers are presenting nine prizes for gentlemen and nine prizes for ladies, also a special prize for best performance by a veteran over 45.
Hawkhill Harriers “Double” March 1935 (Bygone Dundee City Council Archive)
Dundee Hawkhill Harriers completed the double in the Scottish Women’s A.A.A. two-and-a-half mile cross-country championship at Auchinairn. Aggregating 16 points, they scored an easy team victory, defeating Clydebank by 18 points. Greenock Wellpark finish third. The Dundonians also triumphed convincingly in the individual title, which was easily retained by the Hawks’ leader, Miss Mildred Storrar
During the war, rival clubs Dundee Hawkhill Harriers and Dundee Thistle Harriers were struggling to maintain member numbers, with so many heading off to the armed forces. In 1940, the Luftwaffe bombed the Thistle Harriers clubrooms in Abbotsford Street.
With both clubs struggling, they amalgamated into the “Dundee Harriers”, becoming the only functioning Harriers club in the East of Scotland during the war. During the war years, The Perth to Dundee Marathon, which had originally sprung to life in 1894 (James M Galloway winning the 21 mile 1540 yards race in 2:20:00), was resurrected by Harrier’s Captain, Jimmy Brannan. A few Perth to Dundee races were run around the turn of the century with a gap before six more events were staged in the early to mid 1930’s. Original winner Galloway’s sons, George and Alex won 5 between them! Again there was a gap until 1942, when Brannan resurrected the event in an attempt to erase Galloway’s 1894 record. At the end of the war, the clubs went their separate ways, apart from maintaining a joint committee from 1946 to organise the Perth to Dundee Marathon. Dundee Hawkhill Harriers reconvened on Thursday 27 September 1945. The first order of business was to select a McAndrew Relay Team using a circuit of Strathmartine Road, Forfar Road and the Kingsway. It was subsequently cancelled due to runners’ outside commitments!
Also restarted after the war was the around Dundee Relay Race.
Leg 1 stretched from East Riverside Drive, via Dock Street, Ferry Road, Dundee Road and West Ferry to the changeover at the junction of Brook Street and Gray Street.
Leg 2 took in St. Vincent Street, Queen Street, Claypotts Road, Arbroath Road, Kingsway, with the changeover being at the junction of Old Glamis Road.
Leg 3 was a long downhill from Kingsway to Invergowrie, with the changeover at the foot of the village.
Leg 4 took the last leg runners from Invergowrie, turning right at Ninewells, through Riverside Park and to the finish line at East Riverside Drive.
In 1946, there began to be a push for better facilities in Dundee, with this being brought into focus after a trip to the Bon Accord track meet in Aberdeen at the end of July that year. Dundee officials and runners had been “greatly impressed, and not a little envious of, the splendid Linksfield Stadium”. A situation currently repeating itself now in 2016!
Lack of Caird Park facilities at the time meant Athletics meetings were held next door to Caird Park at Morgan Academy’s ground.
One of the first orders of business at the start of the 1950’s was an AGM proposal to restart the Ladies section of the Club, which had disbanded at the outbreak of World War 2. In the same month of September 1950, the Scottish Office finally approved the construction of a cinder track at Caird Park, after Dundee City Councillors had previously approved it “some time ago”. The track was of cinder variety, and an odd size, being only 352 yards in length (5 laps to the mile). The bends were notoriously tight! The estimated cost of this new facility was £4000.
The Hawks had primarily been a road-running and cross-country club, with the occasional foray into track racing. Perhaps this was due to a lack of track facilities at post-war Caird Park. However, the establishment of another rival club, Dundee Amateur Athletic Club, and the building of the track, encouraged the Hawks into more track running. The track wouldn’t be replaced with anything more modern until 1982.
One of the most prominent figures in Hawkhill Harriers (and indeed Scottish Athletics) history during the 1960’s was Dundonian, Fergus Murray. Fergus was a pupil at Dundee High School, and joined the Hawks early in his running career. Whilst a student at Edinburgh University, Fergus ran for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in the 10000m. Amongst numerous other international appearances, Fergus also competed in two Commonwealth Games, running the 3 and 6 miles in 1966 at Kingston, Jamaica and in the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games Marathon, where he placed 7th. Fergus won three Scottish XC titles in a row from 1964 to 1966 and represented Scotland at the International (World) XC Champs in 1964, 65, 66 and 69
The latter part of the 1960’s saw the emergence of Barbara Oliver (nee Lyall), who represented GB & NI. Barbara was part of the 4x400m team that defeated the USA at White City in 1969.
Fergus was joined at the 1970 Commonwealth Games by Christine Haskett and Barbara Oliver. Barbara competed in the 400m, finishing 5th in the final. Christine competed in the 1500m in 1970, finishing 8th in the final, aged just 17. During a distinguished career, amongst the many titles, she won the Scottish cross country title in 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1982 and represented Scotland at the International (World) XC Champs on no less than 14 occasions! 1986 saw Christine run again at an Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, finishing 10th in the same race that Liz Lynch won gold. Christine continued to compete until the 1990’s, winning the 1993 W40 title at the prestigious British and Irish Cross Country International in Cardiff.
The name of Dundee Hawkhill Harriers again came to prominence in the mid 1980’s with the achievements of Liz Lynch. Her victory in the 1986 Commonwealth Games 10000m was the athletics highlight for Scotland and was just the starting point of an illustrious career for Liz. In 1988, Liz won Silver in the 10000m at the Seoul Olympics.
For the men, who had battled for local supremacy in the North East Cross Country League, the late 80’s saw a progression towards dominance of some of the big National races. After a string of top 10 Edinburgh to Glasgow Relay performances, the Hawks (Dave Beattie, Peter McColgan, Terry Reid, Craig Ross, Iain Campbell, Charlie Haskett, Richie Barrie and Peter Fox) won the event in 1989, a minute and a half clear of Cambuslang. They narrowly missed retaining the title by 4 seconds the following year to Falkirk Victoria Harriers.
On the track, the Hawks won Division 3 and Division 2 titles in 1988 and 1989 respectively, to gain a place in Division 1 for the start of the new decade.
Through the 80’s, Charlie Haskett (who in 1975 and 1976 represented Scotland at the IAAF World Junior Cross country Championships) gained Scottish international vests as a marathoner, with a best time of 2:18:41 (1984) and silver medals in the Scottish Championships (1984 and 1987). Charlie’s record in the Scottish Senior National Cross Country Championships was outstanding: six successive top ten performances between 1984 and 1990. His best placing was sixth in 1985.
1986 Commonwealth Games finalist in the 3000m steeplechase and 10000m, Peter McColgan, joined the Hawks in 1987.
Another notable National Cross Country performance was Pete Fox’s 3rd place in 1989, where he finished behind Nat Muir and Paul Evans, but ahead of someone called Steve Ovett!
1990 saw Liz Lynch, now McColgan, retain her Commonwealth Games 10000m title. The following year Liz won the World 10000m in Tokyo with Brendan Foster describing the victory as “the greatest performance by a male or female British athlete in the history of long distance running”. Later in 1991, Liz won the New York Marathon on her debut at the distance and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. 1992 brought Liz the World Half Marathon title at the Great North Run and a Tokyo Marathon win. Other notable victories included the 1996 London Marathon.
1991 also saw Hawks Northern Irish international, Pete McColgan, run at the World Championships in Tokyo. In the previous year, Pete won the Scottish XC title, which he narrowly missed retaining in 1991.
Hawks Men won the Scottish 6-stage Road Relay title in 1990 (Brian Cook, Chris Hall, Peter McCormack, Peter Fox, Iain Campbell, Charlie Haskett) and 1994 (Duncan Storey, Iain Campbell, Ian Campbell, Charlie Haskett, Peter McColgan, Matt Strachan) and the 1990 National Cross Country Relay title (Chris Hall, P McCavana, Iain Campbell and Peter McColgan ). Victory in the 1994 road relay gained the Club entry into the European Club Championships in Portugal, where the Hawks were surprised to discover that it wasn’t a relay, but a half marathon!
“Young” Ian Campbell produced a string of strong track performances through the 1990’s, the undoubted highlights being his appearances in the European Indoors in Paris (1994) and World Indoors 1500m in 1997 (also Paris). Ian still holds the Scottish native indoor 1500m record at 3:41.75
Lorna Silver was prolific during 1990’s, winning Scottish and British vests as a junior, captaining the Scottish Junior team in Exeter in 1993. Lorna topped the hurdles rankings in Scotland as a Junior and Senior. In 1992, she broke the junior 400m hurdles record twice.
1993 saw the Ladies promoted into Division 1 of the Scottish Women’s Track and Field, with notable wins from Lorna Silver and Susan Young.
The new Century saw the emergence of new talent, some of whom would go on to gain international recognition in the following decade. Six Hawks selected to run at the Celtic under 15 and 17 games at Grangemouth in 2004 include a young Eilish McColgan and five athletes from Dave Combe’s sprint group, Nicola Campbell, Maria Thomas, Andrew Smith, Chris Lavery and Bob Mitchell.
One of the Hawk’s most prolific seniors during the first decade of the 21st century was Steve Mason. Steve covered an astonishing 239.696km at the Perth Ultra Fest 24 hours race in 2008, that’s 148.97 miles!
The new decade has seen membership levels in the Hawks grow steadily, with much of that coming from the junior sections. Led by Nigel and Catriona Reynolds, and supported by a dedicated group of coaches and helpers, the Hawks are now one of the fastest growing clubs in Scotland. The Juniors section are producing fine athletes, with some strong performances recently at the Scottish 4k Cross-Country Championships. The U17 men (James Donald, Andrew Merry and Matthew Tonner) did exceptionally well to win team bronze.
For the seniors, the decade started well with victory for the Senior Women in the National XC Relays at Cumbernauld. The Hawks (Sarah Kelly, Eilish McColgan and Lily Partridge) finished 17 seconds clear of Kilbarchan AC.
A number of high quality athletes have graced the track at Caird Park, many with Liz McColgan’s group, before Liz moved to Doha. One of these athletes is Liz’s daughter, Eilish McColgan, who has competed in the 3000m steeplechase at both the London 2012 Olympics and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and also the 2013 World Championships. Eilish is British record holder in this event, the same event that her father, Peter, also excelled in, winning the UK title in 2012 and 2013.
Making a Hawks double at Glasgow 2014 was Laura Muir. Laura competed in the 1500m at Hampden but has also shown strongly in the 800m, reaching the World Indoor semi-Final earlier in 2014. Laura holds the outdoor Scottish 1500m record. Laura won the Scottish XC title in 2012 and the short course XC title in 2013. She also won the UK indoor 1500m title in 2013 and outdoor title in 2015.
Another talented Hawk is Sarah Kelly, who is currently (2016) on an athletics scholarship at Kansas University. Sarah reached the final of the 800m at the World Junior Championships in 2010, finishing 7th after a blistering 2m 02.89s in the semi-final
Masters/ Veterans have been successful so far this decade. Leading the charge has been sprinter Susan Young, who regularly medals at Masters Championships from the Scottish, to the British, European and World Championships. Susan was part of the Great Britain & NI relay team that set a world record in the 4 x 400m relay Masters Indoor World Champs in 2014. Lorna Silver, now Rogers, continues to win medals at her favoured hurdles, but also in the hammer and long jump. Masters titles have also been won by Rene Rogers (hammer, discus, shot putt), Mike Tarnawsky (100m, 200m & long jump), Craig Ross (5000m), Roger van Gompel (5000M), Dave Williamson (Shot) and Gordon Barrie (1500m, 3000m, 4k Scottish XC Champs) and the evergreen Matt Strachan continues to challenge in the supervets category, winning his age group at the East District XC Champs in 2013.
Roger van Gompel won the Scottish M40 marathon title in 2013 at the Loch Ness Marathon with The Hawks also taking the Scottish Senior Marathon team title at the same event (Roger v Gompel, Bruce Scott, Billy Gibson).
The Hawks tradition of organising races, that began all those years ago in 1894, is still going strong. The Hawks, led by Dave Hanlon, organise the White Tops Hill race and have also organised both the East District Relays and East District Cross-Country Championships. There are also the annual Christmas Handicap and Cyclists v Harriers races.
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