Please note that what follows reflects the stage we have reached with our research and is being shared in the hope that members of our community can contribute to the final submission to the archives.
We are concentrating our efforts at the moment on ensuring that we have a comprehensive record of our most renowned sportsmen which includes biographical details. The information which currently follows some of the names on the list is in note form should be seen as preliminary, hence the disparity in the amount of information included to date!
We also have access to a document prepared by Ernie Wilkins and Jack Davidson which contains further details of some of our sporting alumni, including several whom we have not yet added to our own lists – you can view this document at https://smcfpclub.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Internationalists.pdf
Please let us know of any further names whom you believe should be included and, if you would like to be involved in the further development and enrichment of the archives, we would be delighted to receive short biographies! You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of biographies we are indebted to Daniel Stewart’s College 1968 leaver Jack Davidson whose life-long interest in sport and in our schools has resulted in a fascinating summary of the lives of a selection of 10 of the boys who attended the schools in earlier times and who later fulfilled their sporting dreams by competing as internationalists or at a world-class level in one or more of a wide variety of sports. Jack’s 10 biographies are fascinating in their own right and I have added them below the list. They include some little-known names who achieved extraordinary success and are representatives of a much larger group, many of whose names are listed here and include some of our best known sporting stars. Please note that the names are not yet in any particular order – we will tidy up the final list before publication!
The following is a list sorted by sport and with brief information. You will find 10 more in depth biographies below the list.
Finlay Calder OBE – won 34 caps representing Scotland from 1986 to 1991. Captained the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia in 1989.
Jim Calder – won 27 caps for Scotland from 1981 to 1985. Toured New Zealand with the British Lions in 1983.
Doddie Weir OBE – 61 appearances for Scotland from 1990 to 2000, toured South Africa with the British Lions in 1997.
Douglas Morgan (1947-2020) – 21 full internationals for Scotland from 1973, captained the team in the 1978 Five Nations Championship. Member of the British Lions in New Zealand on the 1977 tour. Coached the Scotland team from 1993 to 1995.
Alex Brewster – played 6 times for Scotland, first three caps in 1977 as a flanker, followed by three more in 1985/86 as tight-head prop. Captained Scotland in a non-cap tour to Japan in 1989.
Sandy Hinshelwood – capped twenty-one times for Scotland on the wing between 1966 and 1970. Played on the 1966 British Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand and the 1968 tour to South Africa.
Ian Forsyth – capped 5 times, debut against New Zealand at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in 1972, also played all four matches in the 1973 Five Nations Championship.
George Turner – plays for Glasgow Warriors, first call up to the senior Scotland squad in 2016, made international debut from the bench in November 2017 in a 44-38 victory over Samoa. Selected for Scotland’s summer tour of the Americas in 2018.
Steve Lawrie – played at international level for Scotland A, under-21 and under-19 levels as well as appearing in the Scotland Sevens squad.
John Douglas won his first cap for Scotland in 1961, capped twelve times for Scotland as a No 8 between 1961 and 1963. Took part in the 1962 British Lions tour to South Africa.
Grant Weatherstone (1931-2020) – was capped for Scotland 16 times from 1952 to 1959.
John MacFarlane (1851-1874) – see biography below.
David Florence – slalom canoeist who has competed at international level since 1999, world champion in 2013 and 2015 in individual single canoe (C1) and 2013 champion in double canoe (C2). First canoeist for 60 years to achieve the C1, C2 double at the same World Championships. Won silver medals at three consecutive Olympics – in the C1 in 2008 and in the C2 in 2012 and 2016.
Bobby Cruickshank (1894-1975) – see biography below.
Grant Forrest – professional golfer, currently plays on the European Tour following a successful amateur career which included being runner-up in the Amateur Championship and playing in the 2015 Walker Cup.
David Wemyss – Scotland international.
Alan Murphy – Scottish Boys’ Champion 1959/1960. Scotland international, beaten in Scottish final by Ronnie Shade.
Lex Robson (1898-1974) – PGA professional, Canadian PGA champion in 1932, runner-up in Canadian Open in 1933, invited to first Masters but unable to play.
Ron Flockhart (1923-1962) – see biography below.
Dario Franchitti – four time IndyCar Series champion (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011), three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 (2007, 2010, 2012), winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona (2008).
Alf Downer (1873-1912) – see biography below.
James Davie (c1897-1972) – see biography below.
Ivan Tait (1893-1975) – see biography below.
Donald Macgregor (1939-2020) – fifth place in Munich Olympics marathon in 1972, top 10 in two Commonwealth Games marathons. Donald’s obituary in the Scotsman: https://www.scotsman.com/news/people/obituary-don-macgregor-scottish-olympic-marathon-runner-unique-style-2899196
Nick Smith – Olympic sprinter 2004 as member of gold medal winning 4X100m sprint relay team.
Adrian Weatherhead – first school sub 4 minute miler, running 3:57:59 in London in 1975.
Jake Wightman – current UK middle-distance runner, ran mile in 3:52:02 in London in 2019, finalist in World, European (1500m bronze) and Commonwealth (1500m bronze) championships.
Gordon Shannon – see biography below.
Finlay Mickel – competed at Turin Winter Olympic Games in 2006 in Super G and Downhill.
David Wilkie – the only person to have held British, American, Commonwealth, European, world and Olympic swimming titles at the same time. Gold medal at Montreal Olympics in 1976 in 200m breaststroke, Silver in 100m.
Jamie Stevenson – gold medallist in World Championships in 2003 and team gold medallist in 2008 relay. UK champion.
Alexander Christie (1873-1954) – see biography below.
Bill Laidlaw (1913-1992) – see biography below.
Douglas Barr – see biography below.
We are indebted to Jack Davidson for the following 10 biographies:
Bobby Cruickshank, a Daniel Stewart’s pupil between 1909 and 1912 originally from Grantown-on–Spey, is the school’s most successful golfer ever. His laurels include a play-off for the US Open in 1923 with the great Bobby Jones [to whom he lost at the final hole of an 18 hole play off] and finishing runner up to Gene Sarazen in 1932. He was twice a semi finalist in USPGA in 1922 and 1923 when it was a matchplay competition and he came fourth in the 1936 Masters and sixth in the Open Championship in 1929. In 1927 Bobby was leading money winner on the US tour and altogether won some 35 tournaments in the States. Even aged 56 in 1950 he still managed a creditable 25th in the US Open,
For many years Bobby was Honorary President of the Stewart’s F.P. Golf Club.
In 1967 he was elected to the PGA Hall of Fame by his peers, a tremendous honour. He died in 1975 aged 79 at Delray Beach, Florida, his long term home.
Bobby’s path to Daniel Stewarts’ was unconventional. He and his brother John came from a humble family background in Grantown where their father worked as a tailor. Wealthy families would holiday in the area to shoot, fish and play golf. Mrs Isabella Usher, a widow from the brewing family, took a liking to the brothers who caddied at the golf course and effectively adopted them, taking them to Edinburgh to live with her at 5 Murrayfield Avenue so that they could in her view receive an appropriate education at Stewart’s.
Bobby was an accomplished all-round sportsman at school, excelling at athletics and golf while John was an excellent golfer. In 1912 Bobby set Games’ records at the long jump, high jump and 100 yards which he ran in 10.4s, this record lasting till 1960 when future British Lion Sandy Hinshelwood beat it. This was a remarkable considering he was only 5’ 4”. In the same year he won 4 events at the Inter Scholastic Championships.
When war came he and John enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders. In 1917 while together in the same trench at Ypres John was killed instantly by a shell.
In 1920 Bobby emigrated to the States for golfing fame and fortune which he achieved.
An extremely popular player known as ‘the darling of the galleryites’ in an interview late in life, reflecting on his career and near misses’ in the Majors, he remarked ‘I’ve no regrets-we had our chance-that’s the way the Lord makes it. It’s fate’s work you see.
Alfred Reynolds Downer known as Alf who attended Edinburgh Institution in the late 1880’s for about a year was arguably the world’s fastest sprinter of the era. Although extremely gifted on the track, off it he often led a dissolute lifestyle which contributed to his early death aged 38 in 1912. In the words of one commentator,” In his short life he quaffed to its deepest from the goblet of life and in its dregs found much bitterness.”
Born in Jamaica in January 1873 [or ‘74], son of the Kingston Police Superintendent, he came to Edinburgh to live aged two with his mother who according to his autobiography ‘was compelled to return here.’
An unhappy period at Watson’s College followed before in about 1888 while living at 35 Bruntsfield Place he attended the Institution whose annual Games he relished, stating “I would not have missed them for a pension”.
By early 1890’s his sprinting prowess was developing and from 1893 to 1895, entered from ‘Edinburgh Institution F.C.,’ he won the 100, 220 and 440 yards in three consecutive years at the Scottish Championships, a feat still unequalled. In the inaugural athletics international against Ireland in 1895 he swept the boards at all three distance, by which time he had set ‘world bests’ for the 100 and 200 yards, 9.8s. and 19.8s. His celebrity had led to sports meeting promoters paying him appearance money to run at their events in contravention of the strict amateur rules of the time leading to an enquiry in 1896 which banned him and four others from amateur athletics.
He was reportedly philosophical about this although he resented the hypocrisy of amateur clubs who had paid him but retained their status in exchange for giving evidence against him.
Thereafter he ran as a professional successfully for several seasons. His all time best run was at the Powderhall New Year Sprint where in 1898 he ran 4 ½ yds inside ‘evens’, the equivalent of 10.55 for 100ms. Placing that in context, the 1900 Olympics 100ms. was won in 11s. while the world best was 10.8s.
Gradually his career went into decline and little is heard of him after the early 1900’s till his premature death in 1912. He is buried in Morningside Cemetery.
James Murray Davie, born in Natal of Orcadian parents, who attended D.S.C. between 1901 and ’14, was one of the school’s greatest sportsmen. During the first World War he was awarded the Military Cross while Lieutenant/Bombing Officer in the famous 16th Royal Scots, ‘McCrae’s Battalion for bravery in a bombing attack he led while two months later he was so badly wounded by shellfire that he was expected to die. Against the odds he recovered and later paid a visit to school where he was ‘wildly cheered.’
After the War he played cricket for the F.P.’s 1st XI and joined Edinburgh University Athletic Club where together with Eric Liddell and two others won the Scottish Relay title in record time.
While at school he was an immensely successful and versatile sportsman, one of his rivals on the track being Bobby Cruickshank of golfing fame. Due to his parents travelling James lost schooling time which meant he did not begin till aged 7 and left aged 20. He captained an outstanding 1st XV which lost only one game all season, to Royal High School, 3-0. Shortly before his death in 1972 he sent a photograph of his team to the then 1st XV captain.
In the athletics arena he was Games Champion in 1912 and ’13, magnanimously standing down in 1914 to let someone else have a chance! He did however win the quarter mile that season setting a record that stood for 46 years till broken by future British Lion Sandy Hinshelwood. At the Inter Scholastic Games between 1912 and ’14, he won four titles, two at quarter mile and two at long jump, his predecessor in the latter one Bobby Cruickshank! In 1914 in the senior Scottish Championships he won silver at quarter mile and represented Scotland against England and Ireland, finishing a creditable 3rd out of 6. He was also a regular in the 1st XI.
In 1922 he emigrated to South Africa to run the family farm at Kokstad, Natal and added another bow to his sporting CV by winning the East Griqualand golf championship three times. He was an active member of the South African branch of the F.P. Club till his death in 1972 at Matatiele, Kokstad.
A very popular individual, one school contemporary wrote,” No more popular boy among masters and pupils did I ever know of.’
Ivan Tait [1893-1975] who attended D.S.C. became the first former pupil to win a national championship when he won the Scottish 100 yards title in 1920 at Powderhall Stadium, Edinburgh. It was an unforgettable year for him as he had already won the Melrose Sevens as member of the first Stewart’s F.P.’s side to do so and later represented Scotland in the annual athletics contest against England and Ireland. Melrose was particularly special for him as he scored the only try of the final.
As a right winger he made his Stewart’s F.P. debut in season 1912/13 and the following season scored a record 40 tries, which remained unbroken.
After meritorious service with the 16th Royal Scots in 1st World War he resumed his sporting career on the pitch and track. He was in the XV that twice finished runner up in the unofficial championship while in season 1920/1 he represented Edinburgh in the Inter City match and played in national trials.
A press report of the Melrose tournament referred to “the running of Tait being one of the features of the afternoon”, when the ‘Daniels’ beat Selkirk, Kelso, Gala and in the final, Hawick.
Two months later he scorched to victory to claim the national 100 yds. crown, with the press describing his win “while not altogether unexpected it was more emphatic than had been anticipated.” A fortnight later he finished a close 3rd out of six in the 100 at the triangular match against England and Ireland at Crewe where the 220 event was won by Harold Abrahams of ‘Chariots of Fire’ fame. Another link occurred a year later when Tait finished 3rd in the Scottish 100 yds Championship which was won by Eric Liddell at Celtic Park, Glasgow.
D.S.C. magazine Vol 11-1 1920 carries a tribute to him while Vol. 6-2 1916 features his ‘Letter from the Trenches’ describing some of his hardships at the Battle of St. Julien including the time a large shell narrowly missed him- “flying just over my head.”
Three sons also attended D.S.C., Ivan an eminent doctor, Charlie, a stalwart forward for the F.P.’s and Tommy, a prominent sprinter.
Alexander J. Christie who attended D.S.C. between 1885 and ’89 was the College’s first international sportsman. Given the schools’ long standing connection with rugby it is perhaps surprising that Christie was capped at football, playing for Queens Park, the well known amateur team of the era. In total he earned three caps, his first against Wales in 1898 and two more in 1899 against England and Ireland, scoring a goal in the latter fixture. He also played rugby at centre threequarter for Stewart’s F.P.’s in the early 1900’s.
Born in Dunblane in 1873 he initially attended Dunblane Public School before starting at Stewart’s in 1885. Described as being 5’ 9” tall and weighing 10 st. 11 lbs. he played mostly at centre half, though his physical characteristics would hardly equip him for that position today. Considered ‘a player of great speed’ he began his career with now defunct Edinburgh side St. Bernard’s F.C. in 1891 where he played for six years prior to joining Queens Park in 1897.
He was a member of the Queens team that reached the Scottish Cup Final in 1900 in which they lost 4-3 to Celtic. He scored the opening goal- according to the Glasgow Herald- “sending through a beautiful effort from 18 yards”. One of his teammates was centre forward R.S. McColl the founder of a chain of eponymous High Street newsagents. Christie’s elder brother Robert, not a D.S.C. pupil, was also a football internationalist.
Once his playing career finished Alexander became involved in the administrative side of the sport and helped set up the Scottish Amateur Football Association. He was reportedly keen to encourage football among public schools and was a notable champion of amateur status in the game. Indeed a dispute over reinstated amateurs led to his parting company with the S.A.F.A.
He became a well known solicitor in Glasgow who for nearly 50 years was Secretary of the Scottish Building Contractors’ Association. He died in 1954.
Bill Laidlaw who attended Edinburgh Institution from 1927 to1931 became the first F.P. from E.I. to captain Scotland at cricket when appointed in season 1947/8. A slow leg break and googly bowler he amassed 97 wickets representing Scotland at an average of 29.16. Had war not interrupted his career there can be little doubt he would have reached the century of wickets.
Between 1936 and 1953 he played 32 times for Scotland which included 17 first class matches.
Initially representing E.I.F.P’s, from 1937 he continued for Melville College F.P.’s and later also played for The Grange and Durham County in Minor Counties cricket.
He won his first Scottish cap in July 1936 against Sir John Cahn’s X1 in Glasgow while his final one came in September 1953 against the Australians in Edinburgh. His first class debut was against Yorkshire in Harrogate in 1938 when he distinguished himself by notching 7 wickets for 70 runs.
Other highlights included playing against touring New Zealanders, South Africans, West Indians and six fixtures against Australians while he featured in several matches against other county sides such as Warwickshire, Sussex, Northants etc.
In 1948 he played against Donald Bradman in Aberdeen in ‘The Don’s’ last match in Britain when he took the famous Ray Lindwall’s wicket for 15. Days earlier he also played against the Aussies at Raeburn Place when he claimed 5 wickets for 51.
Other notable performances for Scotland included 5 wickets for 33 against the M.C.C. in 1939.
At club level he had numerous outstanding displays for Melville College F.P.’s for whom in each of seasons 1936 and ’39 he took 68 wickets while one well known chronicler of the sport wrote of him in 1939 ‘that he was probably the best slow bowler in Scottish club cricket. He has the most variety in attack and skilful changes of pace, flight and spin.’
Away from the cricket square he was an accountant and died in 1992 aged 79.
Ron Flockhart, who attended Daniel Stewart’s College from c1930 to 1940 became one of Scotland’s best known racing drivers and pilots. His best-known achievements were winning the classic Le Mans 24 hour road races in 1956 and 1957 with the small Edinburgh based non-works team, Ecurie Ecosse, defeating prestigious marques such as Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Porsche and Jaguar, a memorable feat.
In a career that spanned more than a decade he raced all over the world in a wide variety of races including hill climbs in Bo’ness, world sports car championships in Buenos Aires, the Monte Carlo Rally, the iconic Mille Miglia in Italy and 16 Grands Prix in which his best finish was 3rd in the Italian GP in Monza in 1956. He also claimed a creditable 6th in the 1960 French GP as part of a Lotus all-Scottish team featuring Jim Clark and Innes Ireland.
Born in Aberdeen in 1923 Ron was brought up mostly in Greenhill Gardens in Bruntsfield attending Stewart’s before obtaining an engineering degree at Edinburgh University. He became a captain in the REME, seeing action in North Africa and Italy.
After the war he became involved in the burgeoning Scottish motor sports scene, racing his ERA 4A car throughout the country and in England. His opportunity to progress came when he was employed by BRM in Wolverhampton as a full time test driver. This led to him taking part in Grand Prix races and joining Ecurie Ecosse, based in Merchiston Mews.
Ron was also a flying enthusiast and owned his own small plane, an Auster, which he replaced later with a Mustang. Determined to break the single-pistoned engine solo record between Sydney and London, his failure in 1961 did not discourage him from trying again in 1962. However, during a routine preparatory flight in Victoria, his Mustang crashed in hills above Kallista. Ron Flockhart, aged only 38, sadly was killed.
Shortly after his death a memorial service took place in the same London church where he had been married less than a year previously. Prominent racing figures present included Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and Colin Chapman. He was universally popular and considered a true gentleman.
Dr John L.H. MacFarlane
John Lisle Hall MacFarlane was the school’s first rugby internationalist, having played for Scotland against England in 1871 at Raeburn Place in the world’s first international fixture. He was also a talented athlete and cricketer, considered “the best all round athlete of his time.” After the Raeburn Place game he and two others were singled out ‘for special commendation’ for their performances. He gained two further caps against England in consecutive years and without doubt would have earned more but for an injury he suffered in a game in January 1874 which had fatal consequences.
While captaining Edinburgh University to a win against Royal High School F.P.’s at Bonnington, he dislocated a knee and lay some time on cold ground before receiving medical attention. Later he developed rheumatic fever with heart complications and died on 17th March 1874 aged only 22.
Public subscription raised funds for his magnificent 12 feet high obelisk memorial in the Dean Cemetery where his funeral attracted a huge crowd, including 500 students.
Although capped out of the University, he also played for Edinburgh Institution which he attended and is credited with being one of the founders of the Institution F.P. Rugby Club in 1871.
As an athlete he won numerous events at Edinburgh University Sports including the long jump, hurdles and 220 yards while in the Inter University Sports in 1871 he won the long jump with a leap of 22 feet. One commentator wrote of him “….his dash and stride alike were magnificent…it was a sight to see him rising in his stirrups and cutting to pieces the men about him.” His winning leap in the Inter University long jump was described as ‘like the bound of a panther’.
At cricket he was a noted player and vice captain of the Carlton Club. One of their last regular under arm bowlers, in 1871 he won the prize bat for the season’s highest batting average.
MacFarlane was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica on 19th June 1851 where his Scottish father was a surgeon. Later he came here where he was initially educated at Edinburgh Institution and first played rugby. He then studied medicine and was a resident assistant doctor at Edinburgh Infirmary at the time of his death.
Melville College F.P. Douglas Barr enjoyed an outstanding cricket career during which he won 57 caps for Scotland between 1954 and 1970 and was honoured to be inducted into Cricket Scotland’s Hall of Fame. An accomplished all rounder he was one of the first players to achieve the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets playing for his country, his final figures totalling 1,508 and 119. Highlights of his career included matches against several English county sides, the M.C.C., and touring New Zealanders, Australians, Indians and West Indians while during his National Service in the mid 1950’s he represented The Army XI several times. He also played at a number of iconic venues including Lord’s, The Oval, Old Trafford and Edgbaston.
His potential was apparent when in 1952 in his first season for Melville College F.P.’s straight out of school he topped the club’s batting and bowling averages leading to his selection in 1953 for the East of Scotland XI, his first representative honour. His international debut followed in 1954 with a match against Ireland at Whitehaugh Oval, Paisley after which he was a regular for Scotland till his final match, also against Ireland, in 1970.
Occasionally an opening bat but more often in the middle order, his best first class innings was a knock of 86 n.o. against the M.C.C. while in club cricket he notched seven centuries, his best being 112 against the Grange. A fast medium pace bowler, his club figures included an astonishing 10 for 24 against Leith Franklin in 1962 , and 8 for 18, 8 for 19 and 8 for 21 against Stewart’s F.P.’s, Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh Accies respectively.
From 1952 to 1970 he regularly topped the College F.P.’s annual batting and bowling averages, no mean feat given the calibre of his teammates including Ronnie Chisholm, Eric Thompson among others. Underlining his importance to the club he was 1st XI captain over 11 seasons between 1954 and 1969.
Gordon Shannon was one of the school’s most naturally talented all round sportsmen. At Daniel Stewart’s he excelled at rugby, athletics, cricket and golf. He was a member of the 1st XV as a flying winger for three seasons from season 1959/60 onwards, a member of the 1st XI as a fast bowler for four seasons from 1959 and, as a member of the athletics team throughout senior school, he won several Scottish Schoolboys’ titles in addition to being Sports Champion in 1961 and 1962. Despite his cricket and athletics commitments in the summer term he also found time to represent the school at golf and later became a very low handicap golfer.
Although it is almost invidious to single out one sport , given the breadth of his talent, athletics was probably his forte. At Scottish Schools’ level he was a member of the successful school sprint relay teams in the U17 and U19 age groups; in the U19 category he won the 100 yards sprint and long jump titles and in 1962 he won the AAA [British] Junior 100 yards championship, his most notable achievement. A report stated that ‘into the teeth of a strong wind, the powerfully-built Scot led all the way to beat John Knowles, Britain’s fastest junior sprinter of the year.’
In the Annual Sports of 1961 and 1962 Gordon set five new records at 100 yds, long jump, high jump, shot putt and discus, a phenomenal achievement. In the 100 yds he broke the record of future Scottish and British Lions winger Sandy Hinshelwood, with whom he featured as fellow winger in the FP’s 1st XV, without doubt the fastest wing combination in Scotland at the time.
Gordon also played cricket for the FP.’s with distinction, topping the bowling averages several times, and he also represented the FP athletics team, setting club and ground records in various events. He featured several times in the Scottish rankings at 100 yds, long jump and high jump, his best position being 4th in 1964 for 100 yds in 9.9 seconds.
In addition to all this he also excelled on the golf course winning various club tournaments while also becoming Ayrshire champion at bridge!
Gordon Shannon was a truly outstanding multi dimensional sportsman.