I WAS 24 when Roger Bannister made his historic run (“Sub-four minute mile legend Bannister dies” & Obituary, The Herald, March 5). I was a singularly untalented member of Springburn Harriers (for some reason I am named in the history of the club) and, for a Glaswegian, I was freakishly uninterested in football but fascinated by athletics.

My heroes were people like Gunder Hagg and Arne Andersson from Sweden. I greatly admired Sydney Wooderson because he looked so unlikely: spindly and spectacled, but a superb athlete. A contemporary hero, from Maryhill Harriers, was John Emmett Farrell.

I later interviewed him on Radio Scotland as the oldest man to run a particular marathon. He was in a remote studio speaking to me on a line. He had been introduced as John Farrell, and half way through the interview, I suddenly squealed like an excited schoolboy: “I know you! You’re Emmett Farrell. You are were a hero of mine.” Needless to say, he was pleased. I don’t think the producer was.

Roger Bannister’s famous pacemakers were Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher. I knew Brasher when we worked on the BBC Tonight programme and, in the 1980s, we were both speakers at a Loch Leven nature reserve open day. He dragged me up on stage and a few days later I received a complimentary pair of Brasher hill boots.They’ve covered some miles since, and I still have them.

Bannister’s record was taken from him less then a couple of months later by the Australian John Landy, who’d always been a threat, and the “magic four” was cracked by a succession of athletes but no-one can take away from Bannister that he was the first. I recall Brasher telling me: “You know, half way round that fourth lap, both Chataway and I felt that we could take him.”

Jimmie Macgregor,

Holyrood Crescent,


I THOUGHT Doug Gillon’s Appreciation of Sir Roger Bannister (The Herald, March 6) hit the mark exactly. I had the privilege of publishing a research paper with Bannister and two other colleagues in 1978. We reported on changes in dopamine receptor characteristics in brain tissue from patients with different forms of Parkinson’s disease. It is a sad irony that he, himself, was diagnosed with Parkinsonism several years ago. I recall him as a modest and gentlemanly physician.

Professor Angus Mackay,