Michael Berisford, b. Altrincham, Cheshire, 8 April 1936. The first Scot to better the 4 minute mile barrier.
One of the best British milers of his era, and continuously engaged in a struggle with his great rival, Graham Everett, for recognition as the top Scottish miler over a period of years, Anglo-Scot Mike Berisford, a slightly built, blue eyed, almost frail-looking sugar salesman from Sale in Manchester, has his proud position in Scottish athletics history as the first ever Scot to better the four minute mile barrier, later to be followed in the sub-4 minute rankings by twenty eight fellow Scots in the half-century following up to 2019.
His record time of 3 minutes 59.24 seconds, when finishing 5th behind American Jim Beatty (3:56.52) in the 1962 Emsley Carr mile at London's White City Stadium, made him the ninth Briton in the long, illustrious list of milers headed by Roger Bannister to become a sub four minute miler, and his Scottish national best stood for seven years until bettered by Ian McCafferty at Reading in 1969. In all, in a 4-year period between 1957 and 1961, he set 8 Scottish best performances over 1500 metres and one mile.
Berisford competed only twice in the Scottish national championships, then towards the end of his career, winning middle distance titles on each occasion. He first won the 880 yards title in 1961 (1:56.4) and, the following year, broke Graham Everett's string of seven successive wins with his winning time of 4:06.8, the second fastest winning time recorded in the seventy-nine year history of the event to date. He had a fine record of five successive appearances in the AAA mile final between 1957-61, finishing second and third in 1957 and 1958 respectively. He represented Great Britain 8 times in international matches between 1957 and 1962 and also won the North of England mile title 3 times together with a win in the CAU Inter-Counties Championships. He was selected for the Scottish team for the 1958 Empire Games at Cardiff and, after recording a personal best of 4:04.57 in his heat, ran well up to form to finish 6th in 4:06.77 (officially given inexplicably as 4:07.8!). Selected for the Great Britain team which competed against the Commonwealth Select the following month, he recorded a personal best time of 4:03.5.
He improved this to 4:03.2 in 1960 and the following year further reduced his best time to become the fastest Scottish miler with runs of 4:02.1 and 4:01.4 within a period of 9 days. Later in the summer of 1961, he twice improved the Scottish 1500 metres best with times of 3:43.9 and 3:43.7 inside a month, with his best time remaining until bettered by Peter Stewart in 1970. In the 1962 European Championships at Belgrade, he represented Britain in the 1500 metres and, with a heat time of 3:47.6, became the only Briton to reach the final, recording of 3:45.2 for 8th position. Later in the summer he competed for the second time for Scotland in the 1962 Empire Games at Perth, Australia, where he performed below his usual high standard, being eliminated in his mile heat (4:12.97), badly affected by the near-100 degrees temperature.
Berisford competed sparingly in Scotland but, when he did, his runs were of the highest quality. At the 1957 Glasgow Police Sports at Ibrox Park, a heavy roads roller twice circled the cinder track to prepare the track for the big invitation mile race before Derek Ibbotson set British and European records of 3:58.4. Berisford finished third in 4:06.0, in front of Graham Everett. Everett's time of 4:06.6 was recognised as a Scottish native record because Berisford was born outside Scotland, and Berisford's time, as on three other occasions, was not granted record recognition due to the restrictive conditions applying to Scottish records before 1968.
His lack of effective finishing speed in tactical races stopped him from achieving his full potential in terms of titles and races won, and most of his fastest times were recorded in races where he was paced to his best performances behind the winner. He subsequently built a career in corporate sports hospitality working principally with Manchester United FC.
|800 metres||1:52.0||Belfast, Northern Ireland||20 May 1960|
|880 yards||1:51.5||Blackburn, England||31 May 1961|
|1500 metres||3:43.7||White City, London||7 August 1961|
|One mile||3:59.2 (3:59.24)||White City, London||18 August 1962|
|Two miles||9:05.0||Manchester, England||30 May 1959|
|Three miles||14:09.0||Port Sunlight, England||3 June 1961|
|One mile||4:07.5||White City, London||1957|
|One mile||4:08.0||White City, London||1956|
|GOLD MEDALS (2)|
|880 yards||1:56.4||New Meadowbank, Edinburgh||1961|
|One mile||4:06.8||New Meadowbank, Edinburgh||1962|
|1962||1500 metres||3, heat 1||3:47.6||Belgrade (YUG)|
|8, final||3:45.2||Belgrade (YUG)|
|1958||One Mile||2, heat 2||4:04.57||Cardiff (WAL)|
|6, final||4:06.77||Cardiff (WAL)|
|1962||One Mile||5, heat 3||4:12.97||Perth (AUS)|
|GREAT BRITAIN & NORTHERN IRELAND INTERNATIONAL APPEARANCES (8)|
|1958||British Empire||One mile||3||4:03.5|
|1961||West Germany||1500 metres||4||3:45.7|
|1962||West Germany (i)||One mile||2||4:15.4|
|1962||European Championships||1500 metres||8||3:45.2|
|SCOTTISH NATIONAL RECORD|
|One mile||3:59.2||White City, London||18 Aug 1962||11 Jun 1969|
|SCOTTISH BEST PERFORMANCES (not eligible for records under the rules at the time)|
|1500 metres||3:46.3||Paris, France||3 July 1957||6 Sept 1957|
|3:43.9||Budapest, Hungary||8 July 1961||7 August 1961|
|3:43.7||White City, London||7 August 1961||24 June 1970|
|One mile||4:06.0||Ibrox Park, Glasgow||15 June 1957||5 July 1957|
|4:04.8||Dublin, Ireland||5 July 1957||19 July 1957|
|4:02.1||Chiswick, England||13 May 1961||22 May 1961|
|4:01.4||White City, London||22 May 1961||18 August 1962|