THE FOOTAGE is grainy, the colour is faint, but the hustle and bustle of an east end Glasgow community is vividly portrayed in a film shot during the 1960s. Titled This Is Your Parish and thought to have been made by Dalmarnock Parish Church minister Rev Gordon Strachan, it captures the area at a time when it was on the cusp of change. Churches, chapels, community centres and local shops are filled with families. Children play in the streets, while new tower blocks and maisonettes can be seen rising behind the red sandstone tenements.

The recently rediscovered film has now been shown to a new generation growing up in Dalmarnock. Derelict sites depict a community in transition and it was a similar story for the area when it was first mooted that Glasgow could be bidding for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

That landmark event in the city’s history, although unforgettable for most, seems to have slipped the memory of UK Sport Secretary Nadine Dorries. The Tory minister recently hailed the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as the greatest occasion since 2012, alluding to the Olympics in London of that year.

Read more: Glasgow's history branded a 'music hall joke' in fight for of People's Palace

Dorries enthused about the event, saying: “I don’t think we’ve had a sense of occasion, particularly a sense of sporting occasion like this, since the 2012 Olympics. It’s amazing to see for Birmingham, and for the West Midlands, and for sport itself.”

HeraldScotland: Giant, dancing teacakes were one of the highlights of the opening ceremonyGiant, dancing teacakes were one of the highlights of the opening ceremony

With giant teacakes and Scottie dogs at the opening ceremony at Celtic Park, how could she possibly not remember that Glasgow hosted the event in 2014?

As the 22nd Commonwealth Games draws to a close on Monday, Birmingham’s civic leaders may look on with the hope that the event will inspire a generation of Brummies to be more active and help boost the city’s profile. Eight years ago it was Glasgow that was basking in the limelight of what many described as the greatest ever Commonwealth Games.

The opening ceremony at Celtic Park saw giant dancing teacakes beamed across a global TV audience along with Scottie dogs and a performance from Karen Dunbar and John Barrowman. Later, a spectacular closing ceremony saw fireworks fly as Glasgow singing legend Lulu and a showstopping Kylie Minogue took to the stage at Hampden stadium.

HeraldScotland: Singer Lulu entertained the Hampden Park crowd at the closing ceremonySinger Lulu entertained the Hampden Park crowd at the closing ceremony

That summer of 2014, all eyes were on Glasgow, which had been preened and cleaned up for the arrival of 7000 athletes and officials. The total budget for the Games came in at just over £575million with around 690,000 people attending events from July 23 to August 3. Even before the city had won the bid to host the Games, the promise of what it could do to regenerate the east end of Glasgow, while also boosting participation in sport and improving health and wellbeing, was being extolled.

Glasgow City Council was already talking about the “legacy vision” before the event had even started, with the aspiration that the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games would help achieve a healthier, more vibrant city. It was hoped that its citizens would enjoy and realise the benefits of sport, and that the Games would also deliver wider, longer-term economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits.

HeraldScotland: Team Scotland at the athletes' parade at Birmingham 2022Team Scotland at the athletes' parade at Birmingham 2022

Today, as Birmingham enjoys the limelight for this moment in time, the question arises: is there a lasting legacy for a city that holds an international event, and what can be learned from Glasgow’s experience in terms of the benefits for its citizens and their health?

On November 9, 2007 it was announced that Glasgow would be the host city for the 20th Commonwealth Games. For the team leading the bid and being part of the theatre around the announcement in Colombo, Sri Lanka, it was the moment they had all been waiting for. Former Glasgow Life chief executive Dr Bridget McConnell vividly remembers the joy when the city won the bid. However, the journey to bring the Games to the city had begun four years even before that.

“The first conversation we had was in Manchester in 2003, which is when the planning started,” she says. “We didn’t want an organising team being helicoptered in, we wanted this to be policy led and going for the bid really accelerated what we wanted to do in the city by 10 years.

“Glasgow showed there was a better way to deliver world events and changed the narrative. It was no longer about organising committees coming in and leaving again. We worked with local volunteers.

“The host city volunteer programme allowed people to become involved – including asylum seekers or those with disabilities. It also meant we could upskill staff and that is one of the legacies – we had highly skilled events staff who have been approached and landed jobs at leading events elsewhere.”

HeraldScotland: The former Athletes' Village in Dalmarnock is now home to families with further housing projects due to followThe former Athletes' Village in Dalmarnock is now home to families with further housing projects due to follow

While the spotlight was on the city for just a few days, McConnell says it was always about a legacy for the people of Glasgow: “The Games allowed us to take forward plans which were already in place. First and foremost it was about the facilities for the people of the city.”

She continues: “We did see an impact in the figures that meant local communities were accessing the world-class Emirates Arena and Tollcross International Swimming Pool. Sports clubs increased in Scotland, but we also had the coaching programme running alongside, as when the youngsters had been inspired by what they had seen they had to have somewhere to go.”

There was also a wider cultural impact. “One of the legacies of Glasgow was the integration of the arts programme for Festival 2014.,” adds McConnell. “We turned Glasgow Green into a great big theatre and an area for people to gather. I believe Glasgow led the way in using existing infrastructure and bringing in what was already in the pipeline.”

Although restrictions linked to Covid led to the closure of the city’s leisure facilities, McConnell says that while people might not be coming back in pre-pandemic numbers, there are new visitors to facilities who are also finding new sports: “You only have to look at the public’s support for community venues and for sites to reopen after the pandemic to see how important the venues are to them.”

According to the Scottish Household Survey, participation in sport steadily increased from 2010 with 72% of adults taking up physical activities rising to 78% in 2014 and peaking at 81% in 2017.

In Glasgow alone there was a significant increase in sport participation measured over a 10-year period from 2010. Figures showed participation had risen from 65% in 2010 before rising to 78% in 2014. However, the following two years saw a dip to 73% in 2016 before rising again to 78% in 2017 with that participation level remaining fairly consistent. Inspiring future generations had an impact: junior sports membership in the city rose by 401% for the 10 years of the legacy plan.

Billy Garrett is director of Sport and Events at Glasgow Life, the charitable trust which runs culture and leisure services in the city. He says the legacy continues to make a difference today. Community sports hubs have risen in number as part of a sportscotland programme and have changed the lives of young people and older generations by offering the chance to take part in sports on their doorstep. Glasgow is a city where this programme has worked.

“Community sport hubs are a legacy of the Games,” says Garrett. “In partnership with sportscotland, it is a national programme. In Glasgow, around the time of the Games there were six or eight and now we have more than 20 hubs. What is very positive about them is that they are community-led and owned initiatives from the grassroots level. They are supported by Glasgow Life and are funded by the national programme, but the clubs, local organisations and ourselves all work together. It is an important legacy from the Games and we have continued to build that network and eco-system.

“It’s not something that stopped after the Games, it continued to grow and we are always looking to grow that local network. It’s been particularly successful in Glasgow, but it is connected into that wider national programme.”

HeraldScotland: The Legacy Hub in Dalmarnock has had a troubled historyThe Legacy Hub in Dalmarnock has had a troubled history

Glasgow Life knew that the Games would spark an interest in participation in sports, but they were also aware there was a window of opportunity to capture that.

“Our approach to ensure there is a lasting legacy was to start work five years before the Games,” says Garrett. “Our legacy programme was over 10 years taking into account five years before and five years after. It was designed to make sure that the city was ready for that surge and make sure that when people went to their local club that coaching was in place. As a youngster you don’t want to go to a club and have to stand around because there are not enough coaches, that is going to put you off or if you want to play tennis but you can’t get on a court it won’t help. We had to be ready with investment in infrastructure, coaching and volunteering. We like to think we covered all the bases in that Get Ready Glasgow approach.”

Garrett admits there is always an argument around legacy, but believes there has been a real legacy in Glasgow from 2014. “You can see a legacy in the built infrastructure, sports facilities, and regeneration of an area and the 700 families that moved into the Athletes’ Village.”

In what was once an industrial heartland, the Games was also an opportunity to regenerate a neglected part of the city. However, would it come at the expense of throwing aside what little sense of community there was left in Dalmarnock? The intention was to regenerate a 38-hectare area which would be the site of the Commonwealth Games Village, but it didn’t come without a fight.

Few can forget the images of Margaret Jaconelli and her husband Jack when they were forcibly evicted from their home of 34 years after refusing to give it up to make way for the Athletes’ Village.

The development was a joint promotion between Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government for the purposes of constructing an Athletes’ Village. The bid was linked to a programme of wider regeneration and community development in the city’s east end, led by the Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company.

After the Games, the athletes’ accommodation was adapted and expanded to form 700 new homes – 300 for sale and 400 for social and affordable rent. Ironically, land next to it has lain derelict for the past eight years, which community councillor Jane Briggs says isn’t good for health and wellbeing, but she also believes the true legacy of 2014 may not be realised for another 10 to 15 years.

“I think we have to look long-term to see what the legacy will be as it is only now that we are beginning to see more housing developments including mixed tenure for the first time,” explains Briggs. “It is not until you build a community which then brings with it doctors’ surgeries and community facilities, that you begin to see a change in areas. There is a site close to what used to be the Athletes’ Village which is still derelict. I think it’s the empty brownfield sites that can be part of the problem as studies show that living next to derelict sites is not good for mental health and wellbeing.

“I think the mixed tenure homes will change the demographic of the east end quite significantly. However, what is important is to move forward at local level as well. The success of places like the west end, south side and Dennistoun lies in the small shops that are in those areas – which reinforces the idea of the 20-minute neighbourhoods where people can walk to access what they need locally. Improving the health of an area isn’t just through sports events or facilities, it is about a community and how they engage. Do people have places to walk to and amenities? That is a struggle at the moment in Dalmarnock.”

What was supposed to reignite a sense of community around new sporting facilities such as the Sir Chris Hoy Veldrome and the Emirates Arena, was the Dalmarnock Legacy Hub: a multi-function community facility. It opened in 2015 but by January 2019 had closed suddenly amid financial problems at the People’s Development Trust charity which ran its operations; the council purchased the building to secure its future, while an investigation found funds had been embezzled by charity leaders including former councillor Yvonne Kucuk.

SNP Councillor Linda Pike, who was elected to serve the area earlier this year, believes the Commonwealth Games can have a “genuine and positive impact on Birmingham and its citizens”, who will have been learning lessons from other host cities including Glasgow. “One of those lessons will be appreciating that legacy is more difficult to deliver if you don’t get it right at the time,” says Councillor Pike.

“The Legacy Hub in Dalmarnock was intended to be a space for the community to thrive and prosper. But that’s not how it worked out. Instead, almost £4million was wasted and the whole operation was caught up in some serious cronyism connected to Glasgow’s previous Labour administration.

“What was supposed to deliver jobs and services for local people and be a real tangible legacy of the Games ended up seeing former the Labour councillor who ran the hub convicted of taking thousands of pounds from it and the whole thing collapsing in scandal.”

The closed facility has been brought back into council ownership and currently houses medical surgeries and a pharmacy. (Until recently, it was used as an NHS Covid test centre.) Two charities, PEEK and Scottish Sport Futures, are also based there. However, the council are seeking expressions of interest from organisations looking to run the hub, to deliver a valuable and thriving community facility.

“Making sure something which promises to be as transformative as the Games doesn’t end up serving vested interests is something that should have been better guarded against,” adds Cllr Pike. “And Birmingham should be careful about over-promising.

“Dalmarnock has always had its challenges but it was and continues to be a thriving community.

“But they were promised the world from the Games. There’s no denying some of the physical improvements but many families were moved to make way for developments like the Athletes’ Village. They got nothing from it.

“And the new housing is a result of a city-wide programme and not specifically about 2014. The reality is that social and economic transformation is a much longer and more difficult thing to deliver than hosting a major sporting event.”

 

Glasgow 2014: Lucy Elliott took inspiration from the games

IF ever proof was needed that the Commonwealth Games can inspire a generation of young people you only have to look at the week Lucy Elliott has had. The 24-year-old, from Glasgow, was cheered on at the 22nd Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as she represented Scotland at Table Tennis and was watched by around 20 of her greatest supporters. She is a member of Drumchapel Table Tennis club which is run out of the area’s Community Sports Hub – a legacy of the Glasgow Games.

Her former coach Terry McLernon drove her fellow team members south of the Border to see her compete in her first Commonwealth Games and it was a proud moment for him. And she is following in the footsteps of fellow club member Corinna Whitaker who took part in Glasgow 2014. McLernon, Drumchapel Community Sports Hub chairman, says: “I think this is one of my proudest moments, to see Lucy in Birmingham.

“To take a young group of players and see what they could achieve is also one of the most inspiring things we can do. “Those watching Lucy could be the next generation and looking to the 2030 Games.” Drumchapel Community Sports Centre are in full control and own the building and have many different clubs and organisations which are now based there.

McLernon added: “Watching the games in Glasgow, we knew that young people would be inspired and we saw a massive increase in the number of children coming through our doors. Sports such as badminton, table tennis, gymnastics, and cycling are all on offer here. And now we have a generation of young coaches aged 18 or 19 who came here when they were starting out and are giving something back.” It is a hub which welcomes all generations with one of the oldest table tennis players still coming along at the age of 85. McLernon adds: “Where we have been surprised is by how so many generations are now benefitting from what we do. We were approached by a group of people living with Parkinson’s Disease as they wanted to play table tennis.

“They now have their own club and tomorrow, Sunday, August 7, we are hosting the British Table Tennis championships for people with Parkinson’s.” Stewart Harris, CEO of sportscotland says it was their ambition to deliver a system that helps people to reach their goals.

HeraldScotland: Table tennis at Drumchapel Community Sports Hub has been a hit with all generationsTable tennis at Drumchapel Community Sports Hub has been a hit with all generations

He explains: “With nearly eight years having passed since Glasgow 2014, it has been an ambition of sportscotland over this time to deliver a system for sport in Scotland that is world class and opportunities for everyone to achieve their goals. “Community Sport Hubs were a sportscotland legacy commitment from Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, to grow participation, engage local communities, promote community leadership, offer a range of sporting opportunities, and bring key groups together.

“There are nearly 200 Community Sport Hubs across Scotland, and we now know from experience, the life-changing effect of sport participation and the benefits they can have for people in local communities across the country.’’