Com­mon­wealth Games legacy

One year on, lo­cal clubs talk about im­pact of Games

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Dou­glas Dickie

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

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