The Christmas and New Year period has always been a great time for the Harriers as a community – they talk in the Press about ‘the football family’ or the ‘rugby family’ but for most of my time in the Clydesdale Harriers, the Harriers Family has been more important and more immediate than either of those.   Training together all year, racing as a team either in relays or in championships or even in open road races creates a bond.   Allan Faulds winning the Dunbartonshire championship and then heading straight back down the course to cheer on other team members, whether in the scoring four or six  or not.   Going out as a recce team to suss out the various stages of the Glasgow to Fort William often saw groups of eight or ten travelling to run in pairs over particular stretches of the trail – and the group often included runners who would never take part in the event, runners like Cyril O’Boyle and John Cassidy went out for the fun and the fellowship.  

At Christmas there was always the Christmas handicap with as many athletes as could make it running in the appropriate age groups with the presentation seeing the seniors coming early enough tot see the younger members receiving their winnings and the junior staying to cheer the seniors who were next in line for their own race rewards.   For me and others it was a step backwards when the event was moved away from the Saturday afternoon to the dark and cold of a typical December evening.   Numbers were smaller for a start and nobody really saw anybody running round the streets at night when they could be inside watching the pre-Christmas offerings on television.   It was always a family – albeit a Harriers family – affair.   Many clubs still have theirs on a Saturday afternoon for that reason.

Then there was the New Year walk up Ben Lomond.   Every 1st January there would be several cars heading for the lochside and the Harriers would set out, appropriately dressed for the walk to the top of the Ben.   The pictures above are of Charlie Middler (who joined the club in 1919), Jimmy Young (who joined the club in 1945) and David Bowman who signed the forms in 1935 on the walk up the Ben in the 1960’s.   There would be other groups with similar traditions but the Harriers were always there.  

The holiday season of course was also a time when there was a wee or two off work – the serious runners, or just the keen runners, would get the miles in over that fortnight.   There were also wee informal groupings, or even middle sized groupings when the past year was discussed and when the next year was looked forward to.   No topics were ever left undiscussed, and many a song was sung.