In the days before television or easy long-distance transport, these events (often held on a local holiday) would draw immense crowds from surrounding areas. These "games" were never short of competitors to take part in events like throwing the hammer, quoits, hurdle race, putting the stone, high leap, vaulting the pole, short race, long race, sack race, hitch & kick, and "hop, step and leap" (a version of the triple jump). Brass bands and pipers would provide music throughout the day and the sporting part of the day would often be followed by an evening dance. Tents would be put up for the sale of various refreshments and there might be a range of fairground-type stalls and attractions.
James Methven was born in Largo Parish in 1831, the eldest son of Andrew and Euphemia Methven. His father, Andrew, was described as a mason and weaver in the 1851 census but was subsequently recorded as a stone mason, as James became old enough to take on the weaving work. In 1869 James married Portobello-born Euphemia Robertson in Dysart and they went on to have four children. James lived much of his life on Emsdorf Street but ended his days at Allan Cottage on Largo Road. He died there at the age of 95, in 1926. The Courier described him (on 6 April) as being...
"...at one time a prominent competitor in Scottish Athletic tournaments....for many years held the record for the high leap, while at "hitch and kick" he was unequalled for quite a time."
[The 'hitch and kick' was a form of High Jump where the competitor had to spring up and kick an object hanging vertically above him, such as an inflated bladder hung from a pulley.]
James Methven won 5 of the 9 events. His younger brother Peter (also a Lundin Mill Weaver) crops up a couple of times too!
Games events such as the ones which James competed in, along with the various Highland Games, eventually influenced the revival of the Olympics - the first modern Olympics being held in 1896. Given that James was so successful over a significant period of time, he no doubt could have been quite a famous athlete if he had lived in modern times! In later life James Methven seems to have enjoyed golf and he was a life member of Lundin Golf Club. Mr Methven was survived by his two sons (who lived abroad) and two daughters.