Following the resumption of athletics after the Second World War, the first international meeting was held at New Meadowbank on 27 July 1946, between the established rivals of Scotland, England and Ireland. This appears to have been an unofficial match, not mentioned in John Keddie's official history of Scottish Athletics, but England comfortably emerged on top with 5 victories out of the 8 events, with Scotland winning 2 and Ireland 1.
John Hart, the Edinburgh University athlete, won the sprint hurdles for Scotland in 15.6, a performance superior to the existing Scottish record of 15.8 which had lasted 41 years, but denied because of the following wind. It would be two years later when Hart officially became the Scottish record holder.
Victoria Park's George Macdonald was Scotland's other victor, taking the 220 yards by 2 yards in 23.3 seconds. This followed his win at the Scottish championships, his only Scottish title, although he was a medallist on six other occasions.
The 1947 international at New Meadowbank, Edinburgh. was a match in which Scotland failed to record a single victory, although John Fairgrieve, the winner of the 220 yards for England, was to repeat his success the following year when representing Scotland.
Andrew Forbes (Victoria Park) produced the best Scottish performance of the day, setting a Scottish native record of 14:32.2 and finishing within a yard of the English winner, Alec Olney. Although England came out comfortable winners, Ireland won 7 of the 13 events, with their star man being the Nigerian Olympian (1948), and a student at Queens University in Belfast, who won the 120 yards hurdles, high jump and long jump.
Scotland produced a stronger showing in the 1948 match v Ireland and England & Wales at Fallowfield, Manchester, with a team which included 5 of the 6 athletes selected for the British Olympic team at London - only Allan Lindsay was missing, there being no triple jump contested. Three of the Olympic contingent produced winning performances, Alistair McCorquodale in the 100, John Fairgrieve in the 200, and Alan Paterson in the high jump. The other two, hammer throwers Ewan Douglas and Duncan Clark, placed 2nd and 3rd. Fairgrieve had won for England the previous year but it is said, possibly apocryphally, that his parents were furious when they found out and told him he was competing for Scotland. Fairgrieve himself put the story more simply: “By the next year the Scots had realised I was one of them – my parents were Scots – and so they picked me and I won again this time for them”.
The following year, 1949, the show moved to Belfast where England again were comfortable winners, taking maximum points for a 1-2 in six events.
Scotland won 3 events - John Hart repeating his victory in the hurdles from 1946 and overcoming the 1947 winner, Ireland's Prince Adedoyin; Duncan Clark in the hammer and Sylvanus Williams in the long jump. Williams was a Nigerian student at Glasgow University who went on to compete for Nigeria at the 1952 Olympics and the 1954 Empire Games, where he won a bronze medal. At this time, athletes could compete for Scotland under residence rules that were less demanding than they are today. Then six months residence made athletes eligible for selection and athletes such as the sprinter Quamina Cofie (Nigeria), the triple jumper William Laing (Gold Coast, now Ghana) and, in the late 1960s, Bernie Nottage, the Bahamian sprinter, were among those who competed for Scotland.
In 1950, Scotland had the added adventure of the British Empire Games, the first holding of the event since 1938. Scotland sent a team of 7 athletes to the Games at Auckland, New Zealand, in February. At these games, Duncan Clark became the first Scot to win gold in a field event, taking the hammer title with a throw of 163' 10.25" (49.94 metres). With Alan Paterson gaining the silver medal in the high jump and Andrew Forbes taking silver in the 6 miles, it was an excellent return from such a small team.
6 months later, the triangular international took place at London's White City with England & Wales (140 points) thrashing Scotland (90), who in turn thrashed Ireland (30). The English whitewashed the track events but Scotland acquitted herself well in the jumps and throws. Alan Paterson won the high jump, Norman Gregor the pole vault, and Sylvanus Williams repeated his long jump success. In the throws, Harry Duguid won the discus, with British record holder Duncan Clark winning the hammer. Within the Scottish team were Norris McWhirter (of Guinness Records fame) and James McAslan (grandfather of Kirsten).
The 1951 international was notable on two counts - one, the unusual venue of Recreation Park, Dunoon and two, the inclusion of fie women's events within the international. The main feature of the international from the Scotland viewpoint was the unexpected failure of our throwers, Harry Duguid and Ewan Douglas, in the discus and hammer, and the unexpected full-points victory in the 220 yards of Bill Jack and Norris McWhirter. The jumps produced 3rd victories in the fixture for Alan Paterson and Sylvanus Williams but Scotland finished well behind England & Wales in the men's events again.
Pat Devine scored full points in the long jump but the rest of the team struggled in the individual events. However, they pulled together to give a heartening display in winning the relay by two yards. The divide between the teams was similar to the men's events though with England gaining 33 points to Scotland's 21 and Ireland's 12.
The 1952 international at London's White City was notable as the last of the triangular internationals, although the next match in 1954, also included the same countries. However, to try and mitigate the strength of the England & Wales team, Scotland & Ireland combined in unusual fashion, both sending full teams but only the first 4 out of the 6 scoring in each event. As it happened, this did not make much difference. The English (there was only one Welshman involved) placed there two athletes in the top 4 in all but 2 of the events, the 100 yards (where Shenton was disqualified) and the Javelin, and England/Wales ran out on top by 100 points to 62.
Scotland had 4 individual victories in the 1952 match, with Bill Jack (200 metres - the match was metric in preparation for the Olympics), David Gracie in the 400m hurdles, Norman Gregor in the pole vault, and Ewan Douglas in the hammer. Two years later and only Gregor was victorious, his 3rd victory in 3 matches.
Norman Gregor was an outstanding pole vaulter with a fascinating story, told here by Bob Phillips. A British record-holder, he never competed at a major Games, nor a British international match, his career thwarted by a ban for accepting prize money as a youngster on the Highland Games circuit. The Scotland international appearances were allowed though not the Empire Games. Gregor would certainly have been capable of being part of Scotland's 1954 Empire Games and being a medal contender, his best for the year was just 1cm behind the bronze medal position.
Scotland sent a team of 6 athletes (5 men, 1 woman) to the Empire Games at Vancouver, Canada in 1954 and as with 1950, they produced an excellent return. Joe McGhee famously won the marathon, Ewan Douglas placed 3rd in the hammer and James Hamilton (now emigrated to Canada), Ian Binnie and Alex Valentine all recorded top 6 finishes.
But McGhee's marathon victory took pride of place. There is nothing to be added to the account of the Vancouver marathon than appears on Brian McAusland's excellent website, so I will refer you there.
Others with Scottish connections competed at these Games as well. The former Glasgow University athlete, Sylvanus Williams, won a bronze medal for Nigeria with his jump of 23' 81/2" (7.22m) and the ex-Bellahouston Harrier, Henry Kennedy, competed for Canada in the 3 miles, finishing 11th, 4 places behind Ian Binnie.
There was only one further international match before the next Games, a resumption of rivalries with Ireland in 1957, Scotland running out convincing winners by 109 points to 74 at Dublin, winning 14 of the 17 events. The Scotland team included a number of debutants at the start of their international career: an 18-year-old Mike Lindsay, winner of the shot and discus, who would go on to represent Scotland with distinction at 4 Empire & Commonwealth Games; the distance runner Alastair Wood (24), winner of the 3 Miles; Shettleston Harrier Graham Everett (23), winner of the 1 Mile; and others with shorter careers, 20--year-old John MacIsaac and 23-year-old Jim Paterson, both out of athletics before the 1950s had ended.
Scotland sent its biggest team so far to the 1958 Empire Games at Cardiff. For the only time in its participation in the Games, the team returned with no medals.
On the men's side, Mike Lindsay was the highest-placed Scot, taking fourth position in the discus, although well behind the bronze medal position. No other Scotsman finished higher than 6th. John MacIsaac's 440 yards of 47.3 (photo timing gave 47.48) in the quarter-finals of the event would later be recognised as a national record when a 'Furth of Scotland' category of records was introduced in 1964, but at the time only performances set within Scotland were recognised as Scottish records, as we didn't trust foreign timekeeping to be accurate. Foreign, in this regard, appeared to include the Welsh!
Eight women represented Scotland at the Cardiff Games and they fared no better than the men. The highest placing was 5th for the sprint relay team, but there were only 7 countries entered for the relay and the Welsh were disqualified in the heats (needed as Cardiff Arms Park was a 6-lane track).
With England no longer interested in the Scotland and Ireland internationals, possibly because the opposition was too weak, the old rivalry with Ireland was resumed in 1959. This time, the match was incorporated within the Edinburgh Highland Games at Murrayfield, the start of what was to become a regular international event within these Games in the 'sixties.
Star of the Scotland team was thrower Mike Lindsay, now at Oklahoma University, one of the first Scots to go to the USA on an athletics scholarship. Lindsay won the shot and discus and established native records in both, 55ft 2.5in in the shot and 160ft 11in in the discus (16.83/49.06 metric).
In 1960, the opposition at Murrayfield was Wales, the first time the two nations had met in a head-to-head international. It was a bit of a trouncing, Scotland scoring 68 out of the maximum 77 points available, to the Welsh 34. Crawford Fairbrother, who clocked up more international appearances - 16 - during this period (1946-68) than any other, won the high jump in a new native record of 6ft 8.25in (2.04 metres).
That match had been preceded by a Scottish women's match against Northern Ireland at the Ardeer Recreation Ground, Stevenston. This was a landmark occasion, the first stand-alone Scottish women's international post-war (there had been a match at Blackpool in 1936). It was a closely-contested affair, with Northern Ireland winning by 43 points to 41, assisted by their star performers Maeve Kyle (winner of the 100 and 440) and Thelma Hopkins (high jump & discus). There was also an early appearance of the 1972 Olympic pentathlon gold medallist, Mary Peters, then 21, who won the shot. Scotland's victories came from Esther Watt in the 220 and Alix Jamieson in the long jump, both also part of the winning relay team.
1961 saw the return of the triangular international, this time with Wales joining Scotland and Ireland. Wales won the match on home turf in a closely-contested match, but Scotland suffered from losing miler Mike Berisford, whose car broke down on the way to the match. The hurdles were added too late for Scotland to provide entries and was declared non-scoring but to compensate, so was the relay, which the Scots won! Scotland had 3 victories, the ever-reliable Crawford Fairbrother in the high jump, Mike Hildrey in the 220, and steeplechaser John Linaker, but lost out by just 5.5 points. A match in Ireland the following year, saw the Scots triumphant by 107 points to 76, with maximum points taken in the sprints, jumps and long throws. Ming Campbell recorded a treble of 220y, 440y and 4x110y relay,
In 1962, Scotland's men faced their first-ever opposition other than Ireland, England and Wales outside the Empire Games when Holland were the opposition at Murrayfield at the Edinburgh Highland Games. Given that the internationals had been taking place since 1895, it is ironic that the under-developed women's athletics side had encountered overseas opposition in their very first international at Blackpool in 1936, when France, Sweden and Holland were among the opposition. The 1962 match consisted of 9 men's and 5 women's events and Scotland won an exciting match by just one point, the men being comfortably ahead, but Holland's women being too powerful for Scotland. Scotland won six of the men's individual events and tied the relay, with victories again for Hildrey, Campbell, Fairbrother and Linaker, with the Nigerian Alf Belleh also victorious. Belleh was 3 years in Scotland at the Royal Navy training establishment HMS Caledonia at Rosyth, and went on to represent Nigeria in two Commonwealth Games.
Towards the end of the year, a party of nine athletes went to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games at Perth, Australia, returning with two silver medals, both won by Mike Lindsay in the shot and discus. Although well behind the winner in the discus, Lindsay lost out to England's Martyn Lucking by just 1.5 inches (3cm) in the shot. The party included just one woman, the anglo sprinter-jumper Janette Neil, but it was to be another 8 years before Scotland's women would be able to add to their 1934 relay bronze when they were 3rd of the three competing teams.
In March 1963, Scottish athletes took part in a never-to-be-repeated event at the Empire Pool & Sports Arena, Wembley, London where there was an international indoor event incorporating a match between England and a combined team of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Among those in the combined team were George Wenk & Hugh Barrow (880y), Alan Black (1M), Alex Kilpatrick & Pat Mackenzie (HJ), David Stevenson & Norrie Foster (PV), Sandy Sutherland (SP), Georgena Buchanan (440y) & Helen Caldwell in the high jump. This combined might went down 51-93 in the men's events and 15-40 in the women's match, the scores perhaps a clue as to why the event did not become a regular fixture. Scotland's first indoor match in their own right came 6 years later, at Cosford in March 1969.
In 1963, Belgium were the opposition at Murrayfield and this time the tables were turned. Scotland's women were stronger, beating their Belgian counterparts by the maximum 34 points to 17, while the men went down by 64 points to 41, for Belgium to take the match by 6 points.
One of the star performers was Gaston Roelants, who won the 2 Miles in 8:47.2. Roelants was a big name at the time - he had won the 1962 European steeplechase championshp and would go on to win the same event at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. 3 weeks after his Edinburgh Highland Games appearance, he would break the world record for the steeplechase in Leuven, Belgium when his 8:29.6 made him the first to better 8 minutes 30 seconds for the event.
Campbell and Fairbrother were the only Scottish men's victors in the match, and Fairbrother's win against Ireland the following year would mean he had won all his first 7 international matches for Scotland.
Scotland travelled to a new venue in 1964, that of Dam Park, Ayr, where they overcame the Irish in both the men's and women's matches, albeit the Irish won 10 of the 18 men's events. Georgena Buchanan set a new Scottish record in the 800 metres, 2:13.1. This international saw the first appearance in a Scotland vest for Lachie Stewart and Ian McCafferty, who teamed up in the 3 miles, while in the women's match, Jenny Smart, a 100 metres finalist in the Rome Olympics of 1960 made her only Scotland appearance, 2nd to Maeve Kyle in the 440 yards.
A month later, Scotland travelled to Europe for the first time (if we exclude the Irish matches) to face Belgium and Ireland in Brussels. Although Belgium had won the previous meeting, they finished last this time and Scotland lost out to Ireland by 4 points. Fairbrother was beaten in the high jump for the first time, but David Stevenson and Avril Beattie led Scotland 1-2s in the pole vault and 200 metres respectively. Justin Togher, in the men's 200, was Scotland's other individual winner.
By 1965, the international scene was gathering momentum, especially on the women's side. There were more contests in England with the English regions included in the opposition and there was the start of the Claude Grahame-White Trophy meetings.
Scotland lost out to the Midland Counties but beat Wales in the triangular match at Salford with Lynn Davies having a treble for Wales and Ming Campbell and Ian McCafferty recording victories for Scotland. The women's international was held over 4 events only, with Georgena Buchanan and Elspeth Patrick victorious.
Iceland were the visitors at the Edinburgh Highland Games and were soundly beaten, 91-52, with Scotland taking first and second place in eight of the events.
The Scottish Women then competed against the three English Counties, Wales and Northern Ireland at Wimbledon, and if they finished well behind the counties, they were at least well ahead of the nations. None of the home nations won a single event although Rosemary Payne was triumphant while competing for the Midlands.
The focus in 1966 was on the British Empire & Commonwealth Games in Jamaica in August that year, but Scotland receive a boost on the way in the shape of international victories over Wales and Iceland.
Wales, along with the Midland Counties, were defeated at Wolverhampton, with the Scots getting a fine 1-2 in the 100, where Ming Campbell and Les Piggot demoted Lynn Davies into 3rd, and in the Steeplechase where Lachie Stewart and John Linaker finished well clear of the opposition.
That was followed by 91-53 defeat of Iceland at Reykjavik, almost the identical score to the 1965 victory. None of the Games team took part and the Scottish resources were stretched to the extent that long jumper David Walker competed in 5 events and pole vaulter Stewart Seale in 4. But Scotland were strong enough to win every single track event, men and women.
On to Kingston, Jamaica, where the Scotland team of 18 athletes won 2 medals, both by Jim Alder - gold in the marathon and bronze in the 6 miles. On arriving in Jamaica, Alder was aghast to find out that the Scottish selectors had deemed that he should not run in the 6 miles and concentrate solely on the marathon. However, with the help of team captain Crawford Fairbrother, vice-captain Ming Campbell, and official Rab Forman, arrangements were made to let him run both events without the knowledge of the selectors. It was a wise decision Alder took bronze in the 6 miles behind two of the greats of athletics, Naftali Temu and Ron Clarke, and although not in contention with either of them, was nearly 23 seconds ahead of the 4th placed man.
The marathon was not without its drama, either, for Alder. In the lead, he could not find his way into the stadium and eventually, helped by Dunky Wright, they navigated a path back in to be greeted by the sight of the 2nd-placed man, Bill Adcocks, 50 metres in front of him. But Alder summoned up his reserves and, in a rush of adrenalin, caught and passed Adcocks to win by 5 seconds. In third place that day, and nearly 6 minutes adrift, was New Zealand's Mike Ryan, born in Stirling and who competed for St. Modans Athletic Club before emigrating to New Zealand.
1967 saw the introduction of a Home Countries international match at Grangemouth Stadium, a recent addition to the athletics venues, having been opened in July 1966. England won the match but there were two individual victories for Scotland, Hamish Robertson winning the long jump convincingly and Vic Mitchell surprisingly not just winning the javelin but throwing a Scottish record of 237ft 3.5in (72.33 metres). Mitchell had only been brought into the Scotland team as a reserve. There was another Scottish record in the 100 yards where Les Piggot, 2nd, ran 9.7, and Fred Alsop (Engand) recorded the first 50ft triple jump seen in Scotland.
Piggot was a victor at the Edinburgh Highland Games international at Murrayfield where Denmark were crushed by 103 points to 63. That match included a treble for Perth sprinter Maureen McLeish in the 100y, 220y and relay. In these early days of women's internationals, McLeish appeared in more matches up to 1968 than any other with 8 appearances to Anne Wilson's 7. The women's match was notable for introducing a 15-year-old Moira Walls, winner of the high jump, and Rosemary Stirling, winner of the 440 yards, running in a Scotland vest on a home track for the first time. The finest achievement of the night fell to Octavians AC hurdler Tony Hogarth, running into the wind (-1.096 m/s) and on a grass track, who bettered the Scottish national record with a win in the 120 yards hurdles in 14.4 seconds.
The Scottish women made their first appearance at Grangemouth in September 1967 when the Claude Grahame-White Trophy was held there. The Southern Counties won the match but Scotland were much improved from the first Trophy meeting and lost out by just 7 points. The women's relay team broke the Scottish record and there were new native records for Liz Toulalan in the 100 metres hurdles and Sylvia Clark in the javelin.
Grangemouth again hosted the home countries match in 1968, now held for the British Isles Cup, and there was an all-comers' record for Gareth Bryan-Jones, who won an excellent steeplechase event in 8:38.2, the 4th fastest ever by a Briton at the time, from the established GB international, Maurice Herriot. It was Bryan-Jones' 2nd appearance in the event, having run in the 3 miles for Wales the previous year, but resident in Edinburgh, he had switched his allegiance to Scotland.
Ian McCafferty and the men's sprint relay team were the other Scottish winners on the track but the old reliables of Crawford Fairbrother in the high jump and David Stevenson in the pole vault provided field victories. David Walker set a long jump record of 24ft 6in (7.47m) and the victorious relay team's 41.2 was an all-comers' record (not a native record though as it included the Bahamian Bernie Nottage). Scotland, though, were well adrift in 2nd place.
There was a trip to Leicester for an "inter-area" match against Wales and the South, North and Midlands of England. This, and similar matches, were not considered full international honours, but rather representative teams. However, as Wales were involved, I have considered this as an international match. Scotland finished last in the match, although Gareth Bryan-Jones was again a winner for the Scots, along with the reliable Mike Lindsay, 1st in the discus and 2nd in the shot.
This section of our Scotland internationals history draws to a close with the match against the Benelux Countries, an amalgam of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) at the Edinburgh Highland Games that year. Scotland won by 90 points to 67, but it was the women's events that boosted the scoreline, the men only winning by 50 to 45. The women won every event with Liz Toulalan equalling the national and native records of 11.4 in the 80 metres hurdles.
Thanks to everyone for their assistance in preparing this and the accompanying statistics, including Brenda Currie and Pierce O'Callaghan for their information on Welsh and Irish matches respectively, to Hugh Barrow and Esther Linaker for providing photographs and mementos, and to Brian McAusland and Graham McDonald for their assistance.