Commonwealth Games legacy
One year on, local clubs talk about impact of Games
It was the biggest party Scotland had ever seen, and the whole world was invited.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were hailed as the greatest games ever, and next week will mark one year exactly since that famous opening ceremony at Celtic Park.
Rutherglen and Cambuslang stood on the very periphery of the Games, just a stones throw from Glasgow’s east end and Hampden, where the athletics took place.
One of the buzz words that surrounds any big sporting event is “legacy”. It’s a word that has almost lost meaning to some, but one that Games organisers were keen wouldn’t become obsolete.
In terms of visual legacy, Rutherglen will benefit from the new woodland park at Cuningar Loop set to open this year.
But the prospect of getting people involved in sport – and rid Scotland of its “sick man of Europe” tag – was one of the main aims.
Boxing coach Archie Durie only this month had to make a plea through the pages of the Reformer for funding to keep his club and gym open.
However, he feels his local troubles don’t reflect the national picture, and his role as a development coach with Scottish Boxing has given him an insight into what’s happening across the country.
“Even though numbers for me are down this season, there are a lot of parents bringing their children along who are still talking about the Commonwealth Games and Scottish boxing,” he says.
“You do notice it from a feedback point of view. Nationally, there’s a buzz about Scottish boxing again, for the first time in a while, and that’s great to see.”
In boxing, Scottish sport found a national hero in Charlie Flynn who won the hearts of a nation with his performances and down-to-earth interviews.
And Gareth Ellor, president of Rutherglen Tennis Club, knows only too well the benefit of having a sporting icon children can look up too.
“We have probably increased by about 20 members (in the past year), but I don’t know how much that was down to the Games.
“We’ve been pretty active, there was a lot of enthusiasm at the time and it certainly got a lot of people out and about, but whether it’s got more people participating in sport, I’m not sure.
“With Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, and with him doing well this year, you can see the courts are busy.
“If tennis had been in the Games, it would probably have had a huge impact.”
Another sport that Scotland exceeded expectations in was on the Hampden athletics track. Libby Clegg won gold in the women’s T12 100m while Eilidh Child took silver in the women’s 400m hurdles.
And perhaps the most iconic moment of the Games was Lynsey Sharp’s gutsy run to also take a silver in the women’s 800m.
David Cooney, president of Ronhill Cambuslang Harriers, reckons the Games did have an impact among certain age groups, but he said a lack of facilities was still holding future stars back.
“There’s been a significant increase in the number of 10- and 11-year-olds coming to the club and we’ve found quite a few parents have actually got involved as well in taking up some running. There’s been quite a number
of men over the age of 40, some women too but mostly men.
“We feel we could do with more as there are gaps, especially in the 13-17 age group, both boys and girls, and we’d be happy with more 18 to 35’s.
“People were inspired, particularly with it being fairly local. The likes of Lindsay Sharp and Eilidh Child had an impact.
“The big difficulty we have is there’s not a single, council-run track in the whole of Rutherglen and Cambuslang, and we are probably the most successful sports club in the area.”
On the back of the Commonwealth Games, Harriers received Lottery funding to help a drive for new members, but with coach Robert Anderson having to cut a track out of grass at Cambuslang Rugby Club, there are only so much clubs can do.
And not everyone has benefitted from the Games. Despite success in the pool, Rutherglen Swimming Club have bemoaned increased charges at the local pool in the pages of the Reformer, saying it goes against the legacy concept.
Bowling clubs too may have expected an increase in interest after Scotland’s gold medal win in the men’s fours.
Alex Marshall’s celebration after beating England in the semi-finals was one of the most popular images of the whole nine days, but according to Kenny Stirratt at Burnside Bowling Club, there’s not been much of a positive knock-on.
“We did get a handful of new members which is fairly normal and average, however fresh interest has been limited with overall membership falling due to leavers/illness/death.
“Unfortunately no young people (under-25’s) have been attracted to our bowling club and that is disappointing given we need that age group for future ongoing prosperity.
“As well as that, and despite a rise in general interest of tennis, we have sadly had to fold our tennis club due to lack of membership which goes against the legacy hope.”
Away from sport, one local businessman is in no doubt the Games were a boost, but he remains concerned about that momentum being lost.
Scott McPhee, who comes from the Royal Burgh, owns GAAPStudio. com, which has a base in the Red Tree Business Suites in Rutherglen, as well as in Dalmarnock, right on the Games’ doorstep.
He appears on the Legacy website, and he told the Reformer the feel-good factor could be felt last July.
“Without the Games coming to Glasgow I believe that lots of initiatives would not have happened.
“Yes there is always more that can be delivered,” he says. “But on the whole it’s been a real positive.
“It’s important, however, that we all make sure that the ‘legacy’ is delivered as was promised. It would be a shame if we are still talking about ‘ future development’ of the surrounding areas in five years time.”
James Kelly MSP had been just a few months in the job when Glasgow won the right to host the Games.
A keen runner himself, he welcomed the Games but admitsthe idea of “legacy” is impossible to quantify.
“The legacy of the Commonwealth Games locally is hard to measure.
“In one sense there continues to be some great local examples of sporting endeavour. Robert Anderson leading the way at Cambuslang Harriers, Gareth Ellor and the committee continuing to grow Rutherglen Tennis Club and Archie Durie with the local boxing club.
“Anecdotally, I do see lots of people participating in sport. The feel good factor from the Commonwealth Games will have done no harm. However, I struggle to find specific examples of new local initiatives that are a direct consequence of last year’s games.
“Overall though, I still see the Games as having brought more sport participation in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.”
Perhaps it’s still too early to talk about legacy in a physical sense.
The ongoing regeneration of Rutherglen through Clyde Gateway is tied to the Games and remains a longterm plan – but in terms of sporting participation, the results appear mixed as the area prepares to look back on those nine days in 2014.
In the ring Archie Durie teamed up with Jane Cowan at the Rutherglen Exchange Shopping Centre during the Games, and he believes Scottish boxing has seen the benefits Derelict Burnside Bowling Club have not enjoyed a post-Games boost and have been forced to shut their tennis courts
Postman Charlie Flynn became a national hero with his exploits both in and out of the boxing ring
Impact Scott McPhee reckons the Games were good for business