Runner’s history is unearthed

James Spalding
James Spalding

Hawick has produced many top notch runners over the years in professional athletics.

Runners who have made Hawick proud by nailing their colours to the mast on the games circuit at tracks from the Borders to Midlothian to Fife, to the Highlands, to the north east of England, as well as in the heart of winter in the New Year spirit.

Hawick has certainly more than had its share and amongst this elite group is a man shrouded in mystery. For nobody knows anything about him and it’s like he has never been.

James Spalding was his name and running was certainly his game, for in between 1863 and 1876 he was a runner of considerable note.

Throughout the years however his name and story have been lost in the vaults of time. But thanks to local man John Hamilton, Spalding’s track achievements have been brought to light.

Taking up this story, John, who is a well-known figure in amateur athletics through his long association with Teviotdale Harriers, as well as having been assistant manager to the Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games in 1986, told the Hawick News: “A good few years ago, John Waugh, a hairdresser in Hawick, brought me a framed photograph of a runner called John Spalding.

“The frame also included a detailed account of John Spalding’s running career records. John Waugh had discovered the frame in his attic, but had no idea how it had got there. Knowing I was interested in athletics, John handed it over to me to see if I could get any information on John Spalding.

“I tried to do this, but unfortunately got nowhere and ended up storing the frame away. However I have come across it again, and perhaps through the Hawick News, we could find out something about him.”

The News has now looked over Spalding’s track record, and it has made impressive reading.

One of his claims to fame was that at the Hawick Common-Riding Games at Saturday, June 8, he pulled off a hat-trick of wins by triumphing in the 300 yards, 500 yards and half-mile events.

Spalding also shone across the border in chalking up wins at such far away places as Middlesbrough, Bolton and Burnley.

In one of these wins he received a winning purse of £40, which must have been a huge amount in those days.

Yes John Spalding was some athlete, yet little or nothing is now known about him.