Monday, 26 August 2019

Purley Boys only BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Former old Purley Boy Gordon Pirie was the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Here is a video of him.
"In 1955 Pirie won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. During that year he had beaten Emil Zátopek the triple gold medallist in distance running at the 1952 Olympics.[1] Pirie was an exceptional cross-country runner, winning the English Championship three times Pirie broke five world records in the course of his career, his annus mirabilis being 1956, when on 19 June in Bergen, Norway, he ran 13:36.8 for 5,000 m, beating Vladimir Kuts (USSR), and knocking 25 seconds from his own personal best. On 22 June in Trondheim, Norway, he beat the world 3000 metres record with 7:55.5, and on 14 September, in Malmö, Sweden, he set a new record with 7:52.7." Haven't been able to find any photos of him out running George Nicholson over Farthing Downs - anyone got a photo of him at school ? Get in touch via the comments box below.

John Hanson writes "I knew Gordon Pirie fairly well (born Gordon Douglas Alastair Pirie)  In early days he was known as "Doug".  He was 1 yr. ahead of me at school.  There were 3 "Pirie's" at school, all of them on the cross country trophy - Ian, the oldest, Peter the next and Gordon the youngest. In their time P and G "collected" the high jump honours on Sport's day.  I knew that Peter always beat Gordon in any running event.     I won't bore you, but I had reason to talk to Peter on the phone (lives in Toronto).
  In conversation I remarked that I thought that he always beat Gordon at school;  his response was "and afterwards!"
  Mr Sister was at school with Pam Pirie (The Girl's School)  They all lived at the bottom of Chaldon Way.  Father was Alick Pirie,  former Scottish International.  I often saw him running about Old Coulsdon.  Finally Gordon once helped me with my Applied Maths homework and showed me how to throw the Discus!"


Martin Jones said...

I had not realised that Gordon was a BBC Sports Personality of the Year. A great runner and certainly ranked alongside Peter Cushing as the most famous of the Purley Old Boys. I remember seeing Gordon several times running up the long hill in Woodcote Grove Road, Coulsdon, something which I would never have attempted even in my youth. This must have been in the early 1960s following our return from abroad. Sadly Gordon died of cancer in 1991 at the age of just 60.

Martin Jones said...

Wiki shows Gordon's association with the South London Harriers, which must have been handy for him as they had premises in the Brighton Road, Coulsdon, nearly opposite the library. Q - do they still have these premises? Another Old Boy who was an international cross-country runner was Bob Treadwell who completed the 1983 London Marathon in 40th place in a creditable 2 hours and 15 minutes, and is shown as taking part in the Riddlesdown park run in August 2017. I think it was Bob who supervised the annual Cub Scout cross-country races on Farthing Downs in the early 1980s, but cannot be sure.

D. Baker said...

I remember him bringing many of his cups and medals to school on one occasion
in the early 1950's. Our Form Master Mr Baldwin I think used to train him at school.

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