The first Games: 1925
The earliest records of Highland Games in Perth reveal an event that attracted 10,200 people, held in Muirton Park on Saturday 25th July 1925. At that time Muirton Park was the home of St Johnstone Football Club, located on what is now the site of Perth’s Asda supermarket.
Billed as a “Highland Games and Sports Carnival”, with musical entertainment provided by the Perth Trades Band, the 1925 Games had an admission price of one shilling.
The programme for the day included athletics, cycling, heavyweight and highland dancing competitions along with a 5-a-side football tournament. The prize money must have been very attractive to competitors – £10 was on offer to the winner of the 100 yard sprint; that’s the equivalent spending power of nearly £300 today. Competitors came from far and wide, including Pat Davies, a South African champion sprinter. The star feature of the afternoon was the cycle championship in which J Cunningham from New Gilston ‘kept the crowd entertained with some very fine performances and in particular in the nine mile championship event when the crowd cheered to the finish’.
St Johnstone FC fielded two teams in the 5-a-side competition but failed to secure the premier honours. The Saints first team of Ellis, Lackie, Pender, McClure and Ferguson lost to Celtic, while the second team of Hart, Swallow, Kelly, Fleming and Thomson succeeded in reaching the semi-final but lost to Raith Rovers, who went on to win the competition by beating Rangers 2-1.