Martin Hannan: Commie Pool a Games winner

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If you look at the publicity being pumped out about the Commonwealth Games, you could almost be forgiven for thinking that Edinburgh is not involved.

All the hype has been about Glasgow this and Glasgow that, and please don’t get me wrong, as someone born in the city, I am rightly proud that Glasgow is going to make an excellent host for the Games.

Yet the diving events will take place here in Edinburgh at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, which has undergone a remarkable transformation and is now a world-class diving facility again. There’s a very good reason why There’s a very good reason why everyone in Edinburgh should be very proud that the Games are coming here, albeit only for the diving ­competition.

It’s not been noticed by practically anyone at all other than sports trivia fiends like myself, but when the diving starts, the Royal Commonwealth Pool will become the first venue in the history of the Commonwealth Games to be used at three separate Games – 1970, for which it was built, 1986, and now 2014.

That’s a remarkable record of achievement over 44 years and is testimony to the excellence of the original design by local architects, RMJM partners.

It is one of the few buildings of its time to be listed Category A by Historic Scotland and the various upgradings through the years have always taken place with strict regard to the original concept. The Commie Pool has been an important part of many an Edinburgh citizen’s life, and as Scotland’s main indoor 50-metre pool for decades, it turned out champion swimmer after champion swimmer.

I personally would have no objection to Edinburgh Council spending a modicum of cash to celebrate this piece of history-making which, given there is now greater competition to host the Games, is unlikely ever to be repeated.

Maybe even the Glasgow organisers might wish to feature this unique record in their publicity. The diving page on the official games website, for instance, doesn’t mention this Triple Crown gained by the Commie.

The good folks of Dundee might also point to the fact that their nearby Barry Buddon Shooting Centre – venue for all the shooting events – is also being forgotten in the hype about Glasgow, and they would be right. It will be hosting the Games for the second time, having been the site of the full bore event in 1986.

A little bit of recognition that Edinburgh and Dundee are playing a vital part in the Games would be welcome, and it will not detract at all from Glasgow’s magnificent efforts in putting on a truly wonderful Games if they single out Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool for its distinct contribution to sport in the Commonwealth since 1970.

In return – and I say this as a proud Scot who has loved this capital city for many years – I am absolutely sure that the people of Edinburgh will get behind the Games and especially our local participants and all the Scottish team.

It’s time for all Scots to unite behind the Games and our boys and girls in blue. As the final preparations are made in Glasgow and the athletes’ training nears its peak, it’s time to practice our cheers for Team Scotland, wherever they compete.


The continuing adventures of Hamish, our Jack Russell terrier . . . this week he encountered a hover mower for the first time, and tried to bark it off ‘his’ lawn.


All to play for at Leith festival

I AM looking forward to this weekend’s Leith Jazz and Blues Festival with 18 venues in the Shore area hosting a total of 39 gigs.

Two years ago, the festival re-emerged after being in hibernation for more than a decade. It has been a roaring success these past two years and this year some of Scotland’s best jazz and blues musicians are on the various bills.

Some of the biggest names from the Scottish jazz and blues scenes are on the schedule, and all the gigs are free, which provides a great excuse to visit my Leith haunts again – not that I need one.

Spare us 1966 and all that

HOW’S this for a waste of licence payers’ money? The BBC last Friday ran ‘live’ streaming of the entire 1966 World Cup final, then added as a sop the Scotland v Netherlands match – with that Archie Gemmill goal – from 1978 before showing ‘as live’ another two England matches from World Cup finals.

Ok, Auntie Beeb we get the point – the World Cup’s coming up and Scotland ain’t there.

End of the line on trams saga

Last word, for now, on the trams – there must be no rewriting of history, the truth must be outed, and there must be absolutely no plans for an extension of the line until we see if the current one works. As it happens, I think it might.

I will never retreat from my fundamental position that the whole project should have been cancelled after the congestion charge ‘no’ vote in 2005 – the charge was supposed to pay for the trams, remember? – and that the Labour, Lib Dem, Tory and Green parties foisted this shamefully disastrous scheme on Edinburgh and Scotland in the Holyrood parliament in 2007. That decision was the principal reason why the trams went ahead, no question.