Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Moira (O'Boyle) O'Neil - 1956 - 2012

The entire athletics community has been saddened to hear of the death on Wednesday of former Belfast and Dublin marathon winner Moira (O’Boyle) O'Neill who passed away at her home after a long struggle with cancer.  O’Neill only last week celebrated her 56th birthday. Daughter of famous Donegal athlete Cyril O’Boyle, Moira was prominent in the sport as a teenager in Scotland, to where the family had moved in the late sixties.  She won the Scottish Intermediate (U17) and Scottish Senior cross country titles in her first year in the grade.  Her father had been Irish mile champion on a number of occasions while her mother Noreen also took up the sport late in life.

The family returned home to Glenswilly in the 1980s and Moira took a job as a community worker in Belfast and through her work was well-known in the Markets area of the city.  She was also for a period the manager of the Whiterock Leisure Centre.

Despite beingMoira O'Boyle or O'Neill successful on the track and cross country, it was the marathon that brought the former Victoria Park, Glasgow athlete her greatest successes.  She made a winning debut over the 26.2 mile distance in Derry in 1982 before going on to claim victories in Belfast (1985 & 1986) and Dublin (1988). Her time in Dublin of two hours, 37 minutes and seven seconds is still the second fastest ever by a Northern Ireland athlete.

She had come to prominence in January 1972 when she was part of the Victoria Park Intermediate Girls team that won the Scottish Womens Road Relay and later that year became Victoria Park's Ladies Captain.

That same year, at only 16 years of age she won the Intermediate 1500m at the SWAAA Championships with a PB of 4:44.1 and followed that achievement with a bronze medal in the SWAAA 3,000m with a time of 10:21.6.

A major triumph for Moira came in 1973 when she won the SWCCU CC Championship in Edinburgh and was over a minute ahead of the rest of the field.

She represented NI at two Commonwealth Games taking eighth in Edinburgh in 1986 and twelfth in Auckland four years later.  Earlier she had also run for Scotland at the International Cross Country Championships in Monza, Italy.  She was a member of the British team that took gold medals at the World Student Games Cross Country.

Moira is survived by husband Gerry O’Neill from Portrush, a former marathon runner, her father Cyril, mother Noreen and sister Pat.
Thanks to information found on
A Life In Athletics and the Inside Track Blogspot.

Ronnie Whitelock

Ronnie Whitelock, one of our best loved and respected life members passed away in Hospital late on Friday the 7th of December with his family around him.

Born in 1932, Ronnie joined Victoria Park at Scotstoun as a junior in 1947.  He was clearly an exceptionally talented sprinter and he was quickly promoted to the senior squad where he was coached by the late Willie McFarlane.

During his Ronnie at Scotsounearly years, he served his apprenticeship at John Browns shipyard before securing his long term future in the drawing office.  It was there that his colleagues fashioned a set of starting blocks from a 4”x4” block of wood and two off cuts of aluminium.  Those very starting blocks were used throughout what was to become a very illustrious career.

In his early career, he enjoyed success at the Rangers Sports, the Police Sports and a variety of Highland Games at the then venues of Ibrox Stadium, Hampden Park, Helenvale and Westerlands.

In 1956 he was part of the winning Victoria Park 4x110 yards relay team at the Scottish Championships in Meadowbank.  The team was Alan Dunbar, Bobby Quinn, Harry Quinn and Ronnie.  This group became lifelong friends and up until quite recently they would meet regularly and rib each other about past glories.

1957 was probably his best year on the track, winning gold at the Scottish Championships over 100 yards with a time of 9.8 seconds, winning gold in the 4x110 yards relay, competing for Scotland and competing for Great Britain against Russia at White City.  The latter earning him life membership of Victoria Park.

He went on to win two more Scottish sprintRonnie in action titles in 1959 and 1962.  He was a member of the winning Victoria Park 4x110 yards relay teams on four occasions and represented Scotland in at least four international matches.

Once his successful career as an athlete was over he continued as a coach for many years and many younger athletes benefitted from his experience.  Ronnie had a great sense of humour and he was always popular with the youngsters.

Always keen to be involved in athletics he became a track referee, a track judge and a marksman.  He officiated over many years at all levels and made a name for himself as a track referee for disability athletics.  He was much sought after and for many years was the track referee at the Bute Highland Games.

He was still officiating last winter within the Kelvin Hall and he was present at Victoria Park Glasgow’s last but one agm.

His last trip to Scotstoun was in October this year to see the Club’s newly completed display cabinet.  Thanks to his generosity, the centre piece of the display is those very same starting blocks which were made for him in the 1950’s with his handmade leather running shoes in situ.

Everyone who knew Ronnie said he was a lovely kind man “a gentleman”.  He’ll be greatly missed by all.

His funeral will take place at 3pm on Thursday the 13th of December at Clydebank Crematorium.  All friends and club-mates are invited to join his wife Irene, son Donald and daughter Elspeth for the service.  The family have requested no black ties.  Club colours would be a nice touch.

Jimmy Christie

It is with much regret that we have received the sad news that one of our longest standing members, Jimmy ChrJimmy Christieistie, has passed away at the age of 82 years.  Jimmy had been in hospital for some weeks, having suffered a number of strokes from which he failed to recover.  Jimmy first joined Victoria Park on the 28th May 1946 and was still competing in July 2012 at the grand age of 81 years throwing the Javelin and Shot Putt in Dunfermline at the Scottish Athletics Masters’ Championship. 

During his years of membership of Victoria Park, Jimmy was involved in most aspects of volunteering within the Club – Coaching, Team Managing, Officiating and sitting on the Committee as Vice President and President for a period of time in the late 60s-early 70s.  It was in the early 70s that Jimmy began competing as a Veteran athlete and clearly enjoyed representing his club in Pentathlon events and taking part in Glasgow Marathons and Half Marathons. 

He was also a long time member of the Scottish Veteran Harriers Club.  His boundless energy would have been a credit to people half his age and Victoria Park City of Glasgow will be made poorer by his passing.  He has been a true role-model.
 
Jimmy was a very recognisable figure within the Scottish Athletics community and will be sadly missed by all who knew him.  Our sincere condolences go to his family and friends.
 
Jimmy’s funeral will be held at Craigton Cemetery, Berryknowes Road, Cardonald, Glasgow, G52 2DB on Monday 22nd July at 1.30pm.