Clydesdale Harriers was formed in May 1885 as the first Scottish open athletics club. Prior to its inception the only athletics clubs in Scotland were private schools former pupils clubs (e.g. Fettesians-Lorettonians) or University clubs. The club's history can be looked at in several distinct chronological sections. First was the 1885 - 1914 period of unrelenting success with 14 national cross country titles and many championship titles and national records to the credit of members. In the Great War the club lost over 200 members including significant committee members and it did not emerge from the war in good shape. From 1918 - 1939 the club had a struggle to survive but thanks to a very good committee it emerged from the period in good form only to see another war disrupt its progress. A War Continuation Committee saw it survive the hostilities in good enough heart to see a first class period of development from 1945 - 1960. 1960 - 1985 was solid with the cross country squad being one of the most successful in the West of Scotland and the 1985 - 2000 was marked by the best track and field team in the long history of the club. The official club history was written by Brian McAusland and published in centenary year of 1885.
When Clydesdale Harriers was founded it was based in Glasgow and had five sections within the city boundaries and sections were also maintained in Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire, Ayrshire, Renfrewshire as well as in the towns of Greenock, Ayr and Airdrie. As the sections developed they became independent clubs and such as Greenock Glenpark, Monkland and Paisley Harriers clubs owe their start to Clydesdale. As was common, sportsmen were often affiliated to clubs in different sports and Clydesdale had links with cycling, boxing, skating and football clubs with a particularly strong link with the Rangers club. Indeed several founders of the Rangers were also founder members of the Harriers. When Celtic FC was founded they signed up several Harriers including Tom Maley and his brother Willie who went on to become one of the grestest Celtic managers of all time - and incidentally President of the SAAA. Up to the first war the club provided numerous champions and won 14 Scottish National Team Championships.
Over 200 members were lost in the Great War and the club went from a national club to a local club and settled in Clydebank as its base in the early 1920s. Success was hard to come by - after the War many members just did not want to come back, the entire Committee (with two exceptions) were killed in the hostilities and the Depression meant that many had to work hard including weekends or leave the district in search of work. Nevertheless the club built up gradually and just when they were starting to 'come good' the Second War came along. The really bright spot in this period was the running and winning of the Ladies Cross Country team which won the cross country championship of Scotland in 1936/37/38 and prodiced the only internationalist in the form of Jean Tait. Nevertheless the club had many good servants during this period who made sure that during the 1939-45 period a War Continuation Committee was in existence setting its sights on a quicker return to action than had been possible in 1918.
The 1945 - 60 spell saw the club take part in many innovative activities and win many trophies with a host of top class athletes. The first open club in the country, Clydesdale had been the first to set up a Junior (Under 18) section in 1918 and one of the very first with a Ladies Section (1931), it organised one of the very first annual races for Youths (the Johnny Morgan Youth Ballot Team Race) in 1946 and it was a member of the CH who moved that there be a Scottish Championship for Under 15 Boys. As far as racing was concerned, John Wright won the national Junior Cross Country Championship twice and the Senior Men's team was third in 1955. The club helped set up the Dunbartonshire County Association with Garscube Harriers, Dumbarton AAC and Vale of Leven AAC - a very successful Association which is still going stronh: at its peak in the late 1980s there were 13 clubs in membership.
Between 1960 and 1985 the club performed well in all the endurance events with athletes like Phil Dolan, Robert McWatt, Allan Faulds, Ian Leggett and Doug Gemmell all representing Scotland at various levels. In track and field the sole internationalist was Ian Logie who competed in the pole vault for Scotland three times in one year in the mid 60's. Over the 70's the club won the Maley Trophy, never before won by the club, as West District Cross Country Champions no fewer than three times with severa second and third places in the same period.
In 1985 the club entered the Scottish Men's Track and Field League and competed at a very high level in all events up to the early 2000s - e.g. 1:49 for 800 metres, 50 metres+ hammer throwers, 7 metres + long Jumpers, 2 metres+ high jumpers and so on. There were four GB representatives at Under 20 or Senior level (Des Roache, Ewan Calvert and Grant Graham at 800/1500 and Jason Allan in the high jump) as well as 20+ Scottish internationalists. The cross country runners all did well and in 1995 won the West District Relays - a title that had never before come the way of the club. In 2003 Graeme Reid won the Scottish National Senior Men's Cross Country Champion to be the first Clydesdale to win it since Dunky Wright exactly 80 years earlier. The club had then produced Scottish Champions in three separate centuries with many winners in the 19th century and several after 1900 before Graeme came along and won it in 2003. No other club will be able to match it until the 22nd century since none of the clubs who won before 1900 are still in existence.
The club progresses and in the past five years has had its first ever woman president Aileen Scott) and its first ever woman Secretary in Yvonne Green.