Club Committees

I don’t know how the club committee works since I haven’t been an active club committee member since the turn of the century, although I kept on coaching until 2012 and advising runners for several years after that.  But I was on the Committee from the early 1960’s and know that I often heard club members who were not on the Committee say things like “I wouldn’t know what to do.”   I’ve been on other committees (not counting County, District and National athletic ones) and they all have things in common.   My experience of Clydesdale Harriers organisation was unique and we all learned a lot from them.

We did encourage club members, committee members or not, to come to the committee meetings and see what went on.   All club members were entitled to attend these meetings and even take part in discussions although they were not allowed to vote.   The Boys’ Coach Derek McGinley was keen on his younger members coming along.   When we had Special General Meetings to discuss items such as changing the club uniform or the provision of specialist coaching these younger members could come along, take part in the discussion because they knew the form.   The Committee was not and never should be, a secret service or Cabal.  

I don’t know what the roles are now in 2023 but I do know that the current committee has done well in bringing the club through the difficulties of Covid with all its restrictions on training.   The principal office bearers in most clubs as in ours are –

President: usually an experienced committee member, someone who had held other offices on the committee before and was responsible for the general running of the club, the direction of forward travel of the club and its general health as a functioning and successful club.  The first woman president was Aileen Scott.

Vice President: always had the same background as the President, stood in for the President when he could not attend and was looked on as the next President, being ‘groomed’ for the office.

Many clubs kept the retiring President on as Past President as a kind of insurance that his experience and wisdom would not be lost.   

Secretary: Dealt with all the club correspondence both to and from the club.   For most of my time on the Committee, they literally kept a diary with the dates when we had to apply for a race permit, when we had to start preparing for the Annual Presentation, when to apply for the track in summer, when to apply for winter accommodation, etc; they were the real workhorses of the club. Among their tasks was the ensuring that race entries were properly notified to club members and that the entries were sent in promptly. The most recent woman secretary was Yvonne Green.

Assistant Secretary: had many jobs but the main one was taking the Minutes of any meetings and writing them up for presentation at the next meeting; The purpose of the Minutes is always been to reconstruct the meeting in detail so that they can give a picture of the meeting to those who were not there – possibly decades afterwards. For that reason the Minute are detailed. Jan Shields was the first woman assistant secretary.

Treasurer:  What it says.  They were responsible for the financial affairs of the club – the money coming and going out; money raising when that was necessary; paying for the hire of halls and training accommodation, etc; When race entries had to go in, they wrote the cheque for the secretary.   Procedure was for the Captain to pick the team, the Treasurer to write the cheque and the Secretary to fill out the form and post it with the cheque in good time.

Assistant Treasurer’s job was to under study the Treasurer and stand in for him when he was unable to attend.   There were times when the Treasurer had to stand down half way through his term (eg when he had to leave the area altogether because of his employer’s transferring him) the Assistant stood in but these occasions were very few and far between)

The Captain: was responsible for the training of the club, organizing the club nights when the packs went out; selecting the teams for championship races and, at the Annual General Meeting announcing when the club championships, Hannah Cup, Sinclair Cup, etc would be run.   They were put in the runner’s diaries right at the start of the winter season. 

The Assistant Captain when I first joined the club was responsible for the summer season’s arrangements just as the Captain was responsible for the winter.   He laid down the dates and events for the track championships.

They were the main office bearers and they were held to account by the other committee members.   Times have changed and their duties have undoubtedly changed but club members should take an interest in what goes on, how they are conducted and be prepared to help out when asked or when they felt that they could do so.  

Committee members do a valuable job and should be supported – even if there is an agreement, the office should be respected by all club members.  I remember things like Phil Dolan and George White arguing over some topic, often money, and then Phil offering him a lift up the road. 

Why not head for the next meeting: the feeling of the meeting tells more than just reading