Scottish Sporting Greats

© 2008 Alamo Burns Club.

Under no circumstances can any of the contents of this site be copied, reproduced, or represented without prior written consent.

Allan Wells, MBE









Wells won the gold medal for the 100m at the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980. He was the first Briton to do so since 1924. He also won a silver medal for the 200m. Wells started his career in athletics as a triple jumper. He changed to the long jump and then to sprinting when he was 24. Wells, a winner of four Commonwealth Games gold medals, won the Golden Sprint title in 1981. The Golden Sprint was measured by an aggregate of 100m and 200m race times, and proved, beyond doubt, that Wells was the fastest runner in the world.

· Commonwealth gold medal, 4 x 100m relay, 1978

· Olympic gold medal, 100m, 1980

· Olympic silver medal, 200m, 1980

· Commonwealth gold medal, 100m, 1982

· Commonwealth gold medals, 200m, 1978, 1982

Alister Allan, MBE




Allan is Scotland's most successful Commonwealth Games competitor with a career spanning 26 years. Between 1974 and 1994 he won three gold, three silver and four bronze medals. Allan has competed in five Olympic Games, and finished in the top ten each time. He was a bronze medal winner at the 1984 Olympic Games in the small bore rifle event and won a silver medal in the same event in 1988. Today, he is a Scottish and International shooting coach. He was made an MBE in 1989.

· Three Commonwealth gold medals - two in 1982 and one in 1978

· Olympic bronze medal, 1984

· Olympic silver medal, 1988

Ken Buchanan, MBE













Buchanan won the world lightweight title in 1970, the first British boxer to do so since Freddie Welsh in 1917. Buchanan turned professional in 1965 and five years later, on 26 September 1970, on a night of 125-degree temperatures in Puerto Rico, he defeated Ismael Laguna to become the world lightweight boxing champion. In 1971, Buchanan twice successfully defended his title in Los Angeles and New York, versus Ruben Navarro and Laguna. He was eventually defeated by Roberto Duran on 26 June 1972. Buchanan retired from boxing in 1983: he had won sixty-two of his seventy fights.

· World Boxing Association lightweight champion, 1970 - 72

· European champion, 1974 - 75

· British lightweight champion, 1968 - 71, 1973 - 74

· Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, 2000

Sir Matt Busby, CBE






· European Cup winner, 1968

· Five League Championship wins

· FA Cup winner, 1948, 1963



Association Football



Busby managed Manchester United to a European Cup victory against Benfica in 1968. The team did not win this trophy again until 1999. Although Busby played 'right half' for Manchester City and Liverpool, he is better remembered as a manager. Busby managed Manchester United from 1945 until 1971. Despite a tragic air crash on the runway at Munich airport in 1958, when seven of his league-winning team were killed, he went on to rebuild the club. By 1968, Busby's Manchester United were the best team in Europe. He retired from the manager's position in 1971, becoming a director and then president of the club.


Sir Matt Busby, CBE

Sir Jackie Stewart, OBE









Motor Racing

Stewart was an apprentice mechanic at his father's garage. He became Britain's most successful Formula One driver. Stewart started out in Formula Three with Tyrrell in 1964, moving to BRM (British Racing Motors) in 1965. He rejoined Tyrrell and went on to enjoy amazing Formula One success, winning the World Championship in 1969, 1971 and 1973. He campaigned for improved safety measures in motor racing after being injured at the Belgian Grand Prix. In 1997, he launched his Formula One Motor Racing team with his son, Paul. This was sold to the Ford Motor Company in 2000 and re-named Jaguar Racing. He was knighted in 2001.


· Winner of 27 Formula One races out of 99 starts

· World Championship winner, 1969, 1971, 1973

Sir Peter





Heatly was a diver for Portobello Amateur Swimming Club. He represented Scotland and Great Britain in competitions around the world, dominating diving in Scotland for twenty-one years. He was the East of Scotland Diving Champion from 1937 - 1939 and the Scottish Diving Champion from 1946 - 1958. He was also Scottish Freestyle swimming champion and record holder over several distances between 1942 - 1946. Heatly, a self-taught diver, won Commonwealth Games gold medals for ten metre highboard diving in 1950 and 1958 and a gold for three metre springboard diving in 1954. He became chairman of the International Diving Committee and also chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation from 1982 to 1990.

· Scottish Diving Champion, 1946 - 1958

· Commonwealth gold medals, 10 metre highboard, 1950, 1958

· Commonwealth gold medal, 3 metre springboard, 1954

Sir Chay Blyth, CBE, BEM










In 1971, Blyth became the first person to sail non-stop westwards around the world - therefore against prevailing winds and currents. Blyth was a Parachute Regiment Sergeant by the age of twenty-one and in 1966, while still a soldier, he and Captain John Ridgeway rowed across the North Atlantic in 92 days in a twenty-foot open rowing boat. He was awarded the British Empire Medal. Blyth set many further sailing records after leaving the army. He opened up the sport of sailing to those with no previous experience by launching events like the British Steel Challenge in 1989.

· Skippered 'Great Britain II' to 9 out of 12 trophies, Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, 1973-74

· Two-Handed Transatlantic Race winner with Rob James in 'Brittany Ferries', 1981 Co-skipper of the successful Blue Riband transatlantic attempt, Virgin Atlantic Challenger II, 1986

Jim Watt, MBE















Watt defeated Colombian Alfredo Pitalua in Glasgow in 1979 to become the world lightweight champion. He successfully defended his title four times. Before turning professional in 1968, Watt was a successful amateur boxer. He became the British lightweight champion in 1972 and 1975, and held the European title from 1977 to 1979. Watt retired from boxing following a world lightweight championship defeat on points to Nicaraguan, Alexis Arguello, at Wembley Stadium in 1981. Today, Watt is a boxing commentator.

· World lightweight champion, 1979 - 1981

· Won 38 out of 46 professional fights

Ian Black











Black won three gold medals at the 1958 European Championships in Budapest for the 400 metres, 1500 metres freestyle and the 200 metres butterfly events. No swimmer has managed to repeat this feat. He won three more Commonwealth Games medals in 1958: gold for the 220 yards butterfly, silver for the 440 yards freestyle and silver for the 4x220 yards freestyle relay. He narrowly failed to win a medal at the Olympic games of 1960. Black became one of only three Scots to be given the title 'BBC Sports Personality of the Year' (1958). Today, Black is the Headmaster of Robert Gordon's College Junior School in Aberdeen.

· Commonwealth gold medal, 220 yards butterfly, 1958

· Commonwealth silver medal, 440 yards freestyle, 1958

· Commonwealth silver medal, 4x220 yards freestyle relay, 1958

· Three European Championships gold medals, 1958

Willie Carson, OBE












Horse Racing

Carson was one of Britain's most successful and determined jockeys. In 1972, he became the first Scotsman to become a Champion Jockey. This was the first of five flat racing championship victories for him. Carson rode 3,828 winners in the UK, including 17 Classic victories. He also rode over 100 Group One winners. He retired in 1997 and now works as a television commentator and a Racing Manager for the Thoroughbred Corporation.

· Flat Racing Championship jockey, 1972, 1973, 1978, 1980, 1983

Jimmy McGrory

 Jimmy McGrory

Association Football

With more than 500 goals for Celtic to his name - a massive 397 of those in 378 League games - it's little wonder that legendary ace Jimmy McGrory remains, unequivocally, the greatest goal scorer in the Club's history. In one match alone he scored eight goals against Dunfermline; in another, against Motherwell, he scored the fastest ever league hat-trick in just three minutes. McGrory's passion for the Club continued long after his playing days were over - as manager of Celtic for twenty years between 1945 and 1965, and in Public Relations until his death in 1982.

Colin McRae, MBE

 Colin McRae, MBE

Motor Rallying

Following in the footsteps of his father, the five-time British Rally Champion Jimmy McRae, Colin began his competitive career in motorsport at an early age when he started riding schoolboy motorcross and trial bikes.
At the age of 16, he traded in his bike for a Mini Cooper and started competing in Autotests. The following year, he entered his first rally, finishing first in his class and 14th overall in a Hillman Avenger.
In 1988, he won the Scottish Rally Championship, following it up with the 1991 and 1992 British Rally titles. In 1995, Colin reached the top of his sport, when he became the first Briton to win the World Rally Drivers’ title.
He played a crucial role in helping Subaru win the World Rally Championship Constructors’ title in 1995, 1996 and 1997, then moved to the Ford World Rally Sport team. Their four-year partnership yielded nine event wins. In 2003, Colin moved to the Citroen World Rally Team and helped them to win the first of three consecutive manufacturers’ titles.
Colin was awarded an MBE in 1996.


Scottish Rally Champion, 1988
British Rally Champion, 1991 & 1992
World Rally Drivers’ Champion ,1995
World Rally Championship Constructors’ title – Subaru, 1995, 1996, 1997
World Rally Championship Constructors’ title – Citroen, 2003
25 World Rally Championship wins

Graeme Obree

 Graeme Obree


Graeme Obree developed a keen interest in cycling as a youngster and regularly cycled long distances by his early teens. Graeme went on to regularly win senior races as a junior.

Francesco Moser’s hour record set in 1984 inspired Graeme and he went on to break it using his own ‘crouch’ position and a bike known as ‘Old Faithful’. He lost the record to fellow Brit, Chris Boardman six days later but made good by winning the World Pursuit title that year and regaining the record in Bordeaux, France the following year, covering 52.713kms.

His innovative riding styles were adopted by other riders before being banned by the governing body at the time.

Graeme broke several British records in his time as a professional athlete as well as winning seven British titles including the 1997 Time Trial Championship in which he rode in a conventional position in order to show his ability as an athlete.

In 2003, Graeme published his autobiography The Flying Scotsman, and a feature film of the same title was released in the UK, USA and Australia in 2007.

Key achievements

· Twice broke the world hour record

· (July 1993 – 51.596km and April 1994 – 52.713km)

· Pursuit World Champion – 4,000m pursuit (1993 and 1995)

Willie Wood, MBE

 Willie Wood, MBE


Born in Haddington, Wood now lives in Gifford where he plays for the Gifford Bowling Club. Willie first represented his country in 1966 and subsequently played in a record-breaking seven Commonwealth Games. He is the most capped Scottish Commonwealth Games athlete ever with 127 appearances for Scotland over the last 40 years. He has also won seven major international tournaments and 14 World Championship medals in his illustrious career. Wood was awarded an MBE in 1992 for Services to Sport.

Text Box: World Championships: Singles, silver 1984 and 1988 / Triples, bronze 1992 and 2000, silver 1988, gold 1996 and 2004 / Fours, bronze 2000, silver 1980, gold 1992 / Team, gold 1984, 1992, 1996 and 2004 / Indoor Singles, silver 1989 / Indoor Pairs, silver 1991 
Text Box: Commonwealth Games: Singles, bronze 1974, gold 1982 / Pairs, silver 1978 /Fours, gold 1990

· National Championships: Winner Pairs, 2006 / Triples 1984 / 1986 and 1998

Image from Steve Lindridge - Ideal Images

Denis Law




Association Football



At the age of 18 years and 356 days, Law is one of the youngest players to play football for Scotland in the 20th century. Law played for Huddersfield Town, Manchester City, Torino, and Manchester United, where he played alongside George Best and Bobby Charlton. With 30 goals, he shares with Kenny Dalglish the record number of goals scored by a Scottish international footballer. Thanks to his achievements for his club and country, Denis Law is well known across the world. Dennis Bergkamp, the Arsenal and Dutch forward is even named after him!

· A Scottish football record - 30 goals in 55 appearances

· League Championship winner 1964 - 65, 1966 - 67

· FA Cup winner, 1963

Sandy Lyle, MBE

 Sandy Lyle, MBE



With a career as rich and varied as Sandy Lyle's - Open Champion, 3-times European Champion, World Match Play winner and a regular face on Britain's Ryder Cup and European Cup teams - it's difficult to single out any one achievement. But the memory that perhaps remains most vivid in the hearts and minds of Scots golf fans was Lyle's famous win at the US Masters in Augusta in 1988, where he became the first British winner of the much sought after green jacket.

· Open winner, 1985

· US Masters winner, 1988

· European Tour Champion, 1979, 1980 & 1985

· World Match Play winner, 1988

· 18 European Cups

· 5 Ryder Cups


Gavin Hastings, OBE







Rugby Union

Hastings played in six British Lions test matches and was captain of the 1993 tour of New Zealand. He also played in the Scottish Grand Slam winning team of 1990 and represented Scotland in three rugby World Cups. Hastings played rugby for Cambridge University, Watsonians and London Scottish. He played his first match for Scotland in 1986 and scored all the points in an 18 - 17 victory over France at Murrayfield. He appeared 61 times in total for Scotland, scoring 676 points. In 1995, Hastings scored a memorable try against France to seal the first Scots win in Paris for 26 years!

· 61 Scotland Caps - 20 as captain

· Six British Lions Caps

· 10 appearances for the invitation club - The Barbarians

Liz McColgan,




Few who watched the 1976 Dundee Schools Cross Country Championship being won by Hawkhill Harrier Liz McColgan (then Liz Lynch) could have predicted the success story that was to unfold. Nine major medals - one Olympic gold and two Commonwealth golds - and numerous marathon wins later, and Liz had earned herself a place in the history books as Britain's most successful female distance runner. In 1991 she was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and in 1992 was awarded an MBE.

· Olympic gold medal, half marathon, 1988

· Olympic silver medal, 10,000m, 1988

· Commonwealth gold medal, 10,000m, 1986 & 1990

· Commonwealth bronze medal, 3,000m, 1990

· World Championships gold medal, 10,000m, 1991

· World Cross Country Championships silver medal, 1987,1992, bronze medal, 1991

· World Indoor Championships silver medal, 3,000m, 1989

· Winner, New York Marathon, 1991, Tokyo Marathon, 1992, London Marathon, 1996