“One of the fastest Alf Downer”
This week Hawks welcome WATSONIANS to New Anniesland
Athleticism and Watsonians have travelled together for a long time all the way back to when a former Watson’s College pupil Alf Downer paid 15 shillings to join Rangers FC so he could train on the track at Ibrox He then joined Clydesdale Harriers who were at that time based at Ibrox Stadium
He first ran as a senior for Clydesdale Harriers in 1890, and steadily improved in form until he broke the 120 yards Scottish record twice in one month in 1893. After he won the Scottish 100, 220 and 440 yards titles at the national championships, on his return to Edinburgh that night he was carried shoulder high from the station by the waiting crowd. The following year he successfully retained all three titles, and in 1895, the peak of his fame as an amateur, he not only set Scottish records in the 120, 150, 220 and 440 yards, he retained his three championships, and won all the sprints for Scotland in the international against Ireland.
His exploits at that time were matched by fellow Watsonian Hugh Welsh who dominated over 1 Mile taking the British Title at Stamford Bridge as the press noted
The first event on the programme was probably the most important, particularly as far as Scotsmen are concerned, inasmuch as Welsh, the Watson’s College youth, for the first time this season would be pitted against foemen worthy of his steel.
Slightly later another Watsonian John Ranken arrived at Scotstoun Showgrounds to lift the Scottish Cross Country Title
Between 1903 and 1913 the Scottish Cross Country Championships were held at Scotstoun and on two occasions Watsonian Ranken won the individual title
On the occasion of his second win it was recorded in the Glasgow Herald that "Ranken won for the second time running with the leading group for most of the race,but making his break for home as he crossed Gt Western Rd for the second time and opening a winning gap over the final stretch of ploughed land between Anniesland and Scotstoun Stadium"
Ranken failed to win his hatrick of titles when on the one occasion in the decade that the event went to Edinburgh being run from Hiibernian's ground Easter Road
Like so many of his generation Ranken fell in the Great War
I seem to recall the renowned Herald Sports journalist Doug Gillon being awarded the Ranken Trophy whilst a pupil at Watsons
Bill Henderson carried the Sonians baton for fast men in the post WW2 era winning the Scottish 220 title on four occasions and narrowly missing the British title at London’s White City Stadium Many thought he had won but in the days before photo finishing equipment the verdict went to an English athlete Eric Sandstrom London AC
This fine tradition is now extended by John Kerr’s son Josh another product of Watsons College and Edinburgh AC who has been burning up tracks on both sides of the Atlantic and represented GB at the recent World Championships in London over 1500 metres
KO for both matches 1st XV at New and 2nd at Old ANNIESLAND is 3.00 pm
Updated 23:20 - 10 Oct 2017 by Hugh Barrow