Ian MacRae who sadly passed away last week was without question a colossal figure in the history of Corstorphine AAC.
Ian joined CAAC in 1987 and was quickly immersed in all aspects of the club. Affectionately nicknamed “the puddin” it was clearly a misnomer as he was not averse to tackling any of the sprints and could certainly putt a mean shot. Ian himself often recalled his famous victory in the club 6 mile handicap of 1988, an event way out of his comfort zone. With a head start of around 25 minutes on back marker David Law it was difficult to tell just who was in what position. So much so that a well-meaning onlooker was heard to shout “well done son, you’re not far behind”. The spectator was astonished when Ian replied – “believe it or not, I’m winning”!
It was probably fair to say though that he was happier on the side-lines and soon found himself assisting in other ways. Whilst at this early stage in the club’s development Dave Law was at the forefront of coaching, it was the “triumvirate” of stalwarts Ron Anderson, Fred Norwood and of course Ian who would massively expand the coaching capabilities of the club. In those days prospective coaches were packed off to the renowned National Sports Training Centre at Largs to hear from the great and the good of Scottish coaching (and probably sink a few pints). It was to prove a valuable learning experience from which dozens or perhaps hundreds of athletes were to benefit in the coming years. With Fred specialising in the youngest age groups, Ron in endurance and Ian going on to develop a sprint squad who were consistently successful both indoors and out throughout the 90s. He was always there at events supporting not just his squad but the whole club. No one who competed for the club during this period could forget his encouragement at track meetings, always the first face you’d see at the finish. Ready to congratulate you on a great run, jump or throw, or pick you up if it hadn’t gone so well – first or last he was ready with his “10 high, 10 low”!
Whilst competition at all levels may be the raison d’etre of any athletics club and coaching is crucial to this, strong foundations and good governance is required for success and perhaps Ian’s real legacy comes from his role as president of the club through much of the 1990’s. Ian oversaw a golden age for the club as it expanded it’s membership and horizons, joining and in some cases winning new leagues and competitions!
Tall and imposing but a gentle man of great warmth and charisma Ian was also armed with a business acumen honed in banking which helped the club to establish a sound financial footing. Ian was instrumental in securing several lucrative sponsorships for the club – TSB, Alex Morrison Solictitors, In-Video Productions and finally a seriously big deal with Kwik-Fit. All of these so important in assisting the club’s growth and success which continues to this day. An adept negotiator Ian was also heavily involved in early discussions over our use of Saughton and other facilities – an issue that successive office bearers will be only too well aware of!
During all this Ian was ably supported by his wife Frances, herself CAAC secretary during this period, the debate may go on over who really did all the work but it cannot be overstated the huge positive influence they both had on our club.
In recent years Ian often asked after the wellbeing of the club and even though he had long since moved on from athletics he was always genuinely pleased to hear of our continued success, no doubt able to take pride in something he very much helped to build.
Ian is survived by Frances, his two children Kenneth and Jennifer (both former members), three grandchildren and is of course fondly remembered by countless individuals lucky enough to know him.
Ian’s funeral service will take place at 10am on Wednesday 22nd June at Corstorphine Parish Church.