Ask the Archivist - Sport

Published 2020

Our next topic was an interesting one that crops up throughout our collections: sport. The Q&A is below. You can also read a feature about these records in the Glasgow Times​.

Q1: What's the earliest mention of sport in your records?

We can’t be sure it's the earliest, but this is from Church of Scotland kirk session in 1595: "Games forbidden on a Sunday - the session directed the Drum to go through the Town, that there be no Bickering nor plays on Sunday, either by Old or Young. Games, golf, bowls, etc, are forbidden."

Q2: How can I find records about a particular sport?

Our sport records are not held in one single collection, so records that touch on the subject can be found throughout our holdings. Check our indexes for the sport/club you’re interested in, but remember to think widely. Sport doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so think about where your chosen subject might be mentioned. We’re always here to help!

Q3: What interesting things have you seen in the Council's own records?

There’s lots, but we love this poster of bye-laws for baths and wash-houses. Some crackers, especially no. 15!

A copy of a Glasgow Council Public Baths and Wash-houses bye law

Q4: Do you hold plans of sport buildings?

Yes! The Dean of Guild Court plans include many for sport buildings and stadia across the city. These include the main stand at Ibrox, designed by Archibald Leitch and opened in 1929.

Q5: What types of sport club records do you hold?

Loads! Some sports were particularly good at keeping records. We hold bowls, cricket, golf, angling and rambling clubs, and a wonderful collection of the Arlington Baths Club, Europe's oldest swimming club. The Strathclyde Police records also include its sport clubs, such as the tug-of-war team.

Q6: What bowling club records do you have?

The rules of the modern game were set out in Glasgow and the city has a rich bowls history. We hold a large collection of the Scottish Bowling Association as well as records for many individual clubs. The photo below shows Whiteinch Bowling Club.

A black and white landscape photograph of a group of people wearing suits and dresses sitting outside a bowling club, the the lawn and bowls in front.

Q7: Do you have any records on cricket?

Cricket, perhaps surprisingly, has strong roots Scotland. Given the type of sport it is, cricket clubs also kept good records. One example is the Clydesdale Cricket Club, founded in 1848, which we hold an excellent set of records for. Cricket and football are closely linked – Clydesdale’s footballing arm played in the first Scottish Cup final, losing 2-0 to Queens Park in 1874.

Q8: Have you come across any athletes in the poor relief records?

Yes! We've previously shared the applications of Neil McCallum, Celtic's first goalscorer, and his teammate Mick McKeown. There's also an application for John Docherty, described as a "Noted Glasgow Pugilist". The inspector included a newspaper extract following his death. There are bound to be more sportspeople in the poor relief records just waiting to be discovered...