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Upcoming Events

Oct
22
Sun
9:00 am Rearranged – SCC CLUB RIDE TO TH...
Rearranged – SCC CLUB RIDE TO TH...
Oct 22 @ 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Rearranged - SCC CLUB RIDE TO THE VELO CAFE: SUNDAY OCTOBER 22nd
Re- arranged Event – date Changed Following last year’s very successful club ride to the Velo Cafe, as part of the Cycling Weekly feature on the club, the Club Committee have decided to hold a[...]
Nov
6
Mon
8:00 pm Presidents Informal Forum
Presidents Informal Forum
Nov 6 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Informal forum. A chance for members to get together and exchange views, find out the latest news and upcoming events.
Nov
17
Fri
7:00 pm Club 85th Anniversary Dinner
Club 85th Anniversary Dinner
Nov 17 @ 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm
The Club’s 85th Anniversary Dinner is held at the Ramarda Hotel. More details to follow.
Dec
4
Mon
8:00 pm Presidents Informal Forum
Presidents Informal Forum
Dec 4 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Informal forum. A chance for members to get together and exchange views, find out the latest news and upcoming events.
Dec
11
Mon
7:00 am Club AGM 19:00 Start
Club AGM 19:00 Start
Dec 11 @ 7:00 am – 9:00 am
Annual Club AGM 19:00 start
Dec
26
Tue
9:30 am Boxing Day Time Trail
Boxing Day Time Trail
Dec 26 @ 9:30 am
Boxing Day Time Trail, 9:30 start time.
Jan
1
Mon
9:30 am Club Run to the Iron Men
Club Run to the Iron Men
Jan 1 @ 9:30 am
Club Run to the Iron Men. Mountain Bikes if you like 9:30 Prompt

History

A Partial History of the Southport Cycling Club

In 1871 the Ordinary Bicycle or Penny Farthing was invented resulting in the first of many bicycle booms. The new craze quickly took hold in Southport and in 1874 the Southport Cycling Club was formed. Little is known of the early years but it seems certain that path races were held at a number of tracks in the town. There was a grass track at Cemetery Road, an asphalt track at the Winter Gardens and a 440 yard flat cinder track at Sussex Road. A banked shale track was later built at Ash Lane (now Haig Avenue) sports ground in Blowick. The town’s first crack was J.W.(Wally) Schofield with W Birtwistle and George Masters being among the fastest tandem pairings in the country.

As early as 1891 a massed start road race was held over a twenty five mile course from Burscough Bridge to the Anchor Inn Penwortham and back. F.W. Hudlass, later the chief engineer of the RAC, was second and received for his effort a solid gold medal presented by a club supporter and enthusiastic cyclist Mr W. Timberlake.
In 1892 the club’s president Sir George Pilkington presented to the club the Centenary Shield to commemorate the founding of Southport by William Sutton one hundred years earlier.  The shield was awarded to the winner of the One Mile Championship open to riders residing within an eight mile radius of the town hall. The most renowned winner of the shield was war hero George Masters V.C. who was born in Birkdale in 1877 and on marrying lived in Norwood Road. He was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918 for conspicuous bravery while serving with the RASC near Bethune. At the time he was aged forty one. George, who rode in the colours of the Southport Harriers, won the shield on three occasions and his brother John was once victorious.  It was John’s son, also called John, who in 1994 generously presented the Centenary Shield to the club eighty years after it was last competed for. The period just before the Great War saw the end of many cycling clubs as the fashion for cycling as a social and sporting activity waned among the middle classes who had been the first supporters of the sport. The war itself laid waste to a generation of young men and many clubs did not survive. It has not been possible to discover if the Southport Cycling Club survived this terrible time but this seems unlikely.

The Southport Road Cycling Club was founded in July 1932 by just twelve founder members and the first meeting was held at 25 Shaftesbury Avenue Birkdale, Les Hubbard’s home, where Fred King was appointed secretary.  Only Les Hubbard was an experienced club cyclist although others were already riding with the CTC. The first outing of the new club was held on 24th July 1932 but sadly there is no record of those who attended or the destination. The same year the Club held its first event, a 25 mile time trial from Kew Bridge to Aintree and back. Les Hubbard put his experience to good use and beat Dennis Kitchen into second place. Riders changed into their Alpaca jackets and tights at Kew Gardens Railway Station. Dennis Kitchen overcame his defeat by Les to become the Club’s first Best All Rounder champion.
The club soon acquired clubrooms above a bakery in Gordon Street. The premises were rented from the Van Pyenbroek Family and the Club remained there until 1941. Great use was made of the clubroom, which was open three nights a week. It contained a snooker table, grand piano and facilities for the Club’s table tennis team. Hot pot suppers were a regular feature with members bringing the food from home in washing up bowls!
By 1937 membership had increased to 65. Of that number, however, only 45 were first claim and that same year the Club banned second claim members. By this time the Club was affiliated to both the Liverpool and North Lancs. T.T.A. and already the Club was competing at Bootle Track League, winning the Second Division Pursuit Championship in 1939. Membership then declined as members were called up for active service.
Four members lost their lives in the service of their country. Sgt. Pilot Joe Unsworth D.F.C. was lost over Germany. Wallis Dyson, a past chairman, went down with the Cruiser Galatic in the Mediterranean. Sgt. Bob Stanford, serving in the Marines, managed to get ashore from a landing craft going down off Cornwall. He then returned to the sea attempting to rescue a comrade but was himself drowned. Almost at the end of the war Pilot Officer Bernard Stanford was also lost.

The post-war period was a great time for the Club which benefited from the appetite for sport induced by six years of war. Arnold Green was the Club’s “crack”, to use the jargon of the time, winning the Liverpool T.T.A. Championship in 1950. Arnold was still racing and hard-riding in the sixties and he elegantly pedalled the fixed wheel of his Bates machine as much younger riders grovelled in his wake. The story was told about Arnold “destroying” an infamous half wheeler. The unfortunate fellow was half wheeled all the way to Scarborough. This experience permanently cured the victim of his anti-social habit.
Arnold’s success was followed by the even greater achievements of Bob Bird. To this day Bob remains the Club’s most successful time triallist, if one discounts Bill Bradley’s brief dalliance with the un-paced game. He won the Club B.A.R. on five occasions and both the N.L.T.T.A. and L.T.T.A. Championships, the latter on two occasions. In both 1951 and 1952 he achieved top twelve placings in the British Best All Rounder Competition. He also won the Liverpool Pursuit Championship and led clubmates Arnold Green, Frank Marshall, Ron Welch and Broo Rimmer to many team successes in time trials throughout the country.

In the mid fifties a local church youth club developed an unofficial cycling section. Some members were bitten by the cycling bug and joined the club with the intention of “doing a bit of racing”. Few could have foreseen how quickly Bill Bradley would come to dominate British road racing. It would take a book to list his achievements over the next decade. An early result was a stage win in the Berlin-Warsaw-Prague stage race, something only rarely achieved by riders from Western Europe. In the Tour of Austria he broke the record for the feared 20km climb of the Gross Glockner pass – previously held by Tour de France winner Charly Gaul. Although Bill did many great rides in international competition perhaps his best remembered rides were in the Tour of Britain Milk Race. In 1958 Bill finished second, less than one minute behind the winner. An attack of the “bonk” on the stage to Carlisle where he lost five minutes cost him a first win.  The following year he made no mistake winning the first 145 mile stage and holding the yellow jersey to the finish two weeks later. That was the year of the epic trans Pennine stage when riders were still struggling over the line an hour after Bill had won. The next year he won again becoming the only British cyclist to achieve consecutive victories in the Milk Race. After all these years the wearing of a Southport jersey can cause Bill’s name to be raised in conversation anywhere in the country where cyclists meet.

Over the following seasons Bill twice won both the British Championship and the Vaux International, possibly the hardest one day race ever held in the U.K. He also excelled in the amateur Tour De France. Failure to be selected for the Commonwealth Games in Australia, despite being British Champion rankled and understandably disgusted Bill turned semi-professional for his long-time mentor Harry Quinn. The victories continued until he hung up his sprint wheels at the end of the 65 season leaving a record unlikely to be equalled.
Mention must also be made of Jack Lowe’s many fine achievements about this time. Besides being a stalwart team-mate of Bill’s he won the Tour of the Lakes and the Merseyside Championship. Jack had the misfortune of being suspended by the R.T.T.C. for riding an unauthorised time trial. He was disgusted, not at being suspended, but that the letter advising him of his punishment was signed below the message “Yours in Sport”. Whatever the length of his suspension Jack never again rode against the watch.

As Bill’s first career was drawing to a close a raw novice Dixon Millar joined the Club and almost immediately achieved the seemingly impossible – staying with Bill on the climbs! Unfortunately Dixon failed to capitalise on his great talent and he drifted away from the sport after a brilliant third place in the British Hill Climb Championship, beaten by just a fraction of a second. It is difficult to over emphasise just how good Dixon could have been had he stuck to the sport as he was the complete cyclist but there are no prizes for “what if”.
On flatter roads Dixon and Bill were almost matched by Richie Turner, a super fit mile-eater who would have achieved far greater success had he been more tactically astute. He made his club-mates’ legs ache beyond all reason on many a hard training bash.

Don Howarth was the opposite of Richie having an unfortunate reputation as a “wheel-sucker”. Such was his infamy that even on the occasion that he beat the hour, and won the event, it was rumoured that he had been pacing. This was most unfair as Don had a love of the sport that will never be equalled and was interesting and entertaining company. In 1963 he emigrated to California saying that he was going so that he would never again have to fit a pair of mudguards.  A number of Club members including Ray Green, Jim Rimmer and Rob Winder visited him in San Francisco and were introduced by him to the “laid-back” California cycling scene that suited Don so well. Alas in 1986 Don succumbed to an hereditary disease that had first developed fifteen years earlier. You can read a tribute to Don by the well known American cycling journalist Owen Mullholland on the Southport C.C. website.

The early sixties saw the emergence of the first of Southport’s trio of cyclocross stars. Mike Wilkinson shone at every aspect of the sport but his combination of fitness, agility and courage made him a natural for off-road racing. He won his first cross in the Delph Tea Gardens and indeed won virtually every event he entered. Unfortunately Mike was a contemporary of Coventry’s John Atkins who twice beat him into second place in the National Championships.

Mike was followed by John Barton, known universally as “Tam” after his choice of headgear Tam couldn’t quite match Mike’s natural ability but he was even tougher. Anecdotes about him are endless and they all demonstrate either his toughness or recklessness and usually both. A typical incident occurred on the Isle of Man during Cycling Week. One night walking back to the digs after a session in the Palace Hotel’s Texas Bar he instigated a sprint for the “Douglas” sign. Naturally he won and as he passed the sign he turned to look contemptuously at the defeated opposition. He turned to the front just in time to run, at top speed, into a concrete lamp-post! The impact shook Onchan Head itself. Tam merely observed that the broken tooth he had sustained would impair his previously impeccable good looks. The following morning his mouth, always a prominent feature, resembled a large slice of ripe watermelon. Tam remarked that it felt a bit sore. Three days later he was putting the finishing touches to his appearance before heading for the Villa Marina. He peered into the mirror to inspect his still tender mouth wondering if it would be a hindrance should he “score”. As he squeezed his bottom lip out popped the missing tooth! Tam won the Merseyside Cyclo Cross Championship on three consecutive occasions. He was also a great tester, particularly over ten miles.

John Barton was followed by Terry Wignall who twice won the North West Cyclo Cross title. It may be significant that all three cross are country members from Banks and beyond. I suppose they are happier in the mud than townies. The mid sixties saw the emergence of Brian Bladon as Club Secretary. One of his many achievements was to promote the Gala Criteriums around the Kings Gardens on Southport Promenade. Brian imported top Belgium and Dutch amateurs, many of whom progressed to the Professional ranks including the Tour De France.  Brian provided excellent prizes for the events by securing generous sponsorship from local businesses ensuring the event attracted a top class field of amateurs and professional riders. It became the top criterium in the country with crowds of 15,000. In the mid seventies he started the schoolboy races on Pleasureland car park, then on a circuit at Pontins holiday village before moving to a smaller circuit on the King’s Gardens. He also found time to organise the Merseyside Division senior championship starting and finishing in Southport but including twenty laps of the Clieve Hill circuit! Brian’s second major achievement as club secretary was to acquire the former tennis pavilion in Victoria Park enabling the club to later build its own clubroom.
Despite the achievements of the off-road squad the late sixties and early seventies were something of a lean period. The mercurial Jim Rimmer achieved a number of regional wins in between his frequent brushes with officialdom. Jim suffered from a serious impediment as a racing cyclist, a social conscience! He would wait for puncture victims and even allocate primes on the basis of financial need.

Not surprisingly he decided that the “dog eat dog” world of bunched racing wasn’t for him and he retired in every sense, while still in his twenties.
The mid-seventies saw the arrival of both John Parker and the enfant terrible of Southport cycling Kevin Reilly. John quickly made his mark winning the British Hill Climb Championship on Winnats Pass in Derbyshire. It is surprising that Southport, on the Lancashire plain, should produce so many superb hill climbers. John achieved a number of good wins and rode for Britain in the World Championships at the Nurburgring beating, among others, Phil Anderson. He also spent a successful season in Paris with the renowned ACBB. Kevin Reilly was a rider of great natural talent and a magnificent turn of speed. He won medals in a number of National Junior Championships on both road and track before leaving for France to race for the ACBB Club at the same time as Sean Yates. He had a good season, winning a number of races but decided against returning for a second year.

The early eighties was a period when the school persons grabbed the headlines. Peter Cook and Alex Jaffery won myriad schoolboy titles and in 1982 David Greaves landed the big one when he won the English Schools Circuit Championship.

The following year Dave Williams was third in the British Junior Championship, which was a spectacular start to his career by any standards.  Wins came thick and fast for Dave including the Merseyside Championship and he quickly gained international status. He joined the select band of Britons who have won international races overseas and also rode the “Worlds” where he was unlucky enough to crash. He then turned pro for Dave Lloyd’s B.E.A. squad with good results in both the U.K. and Holland. He was particularly impressive in the televised Westminster Grand Prix where he finished second.

In 1985 Bill Bradley proved the benefit of a life time of dedication, moderation and plain old-fashioned clean living by taking second place in the British Veterans Hill Climb Championship. He also placed second in the Veterans World Championship despite having spent the previous four weeks on a motoring holiday in the USA.
The mid eighties saw the Southport Club obtain commercial sponsorship when club member Mike Keen provided four years of generous Sponsorship.  As the Corton Beach era ended, another club member, Robert Whitfield, stepped in to take over the vacant sponsorship role along with co-sponsor  “Leader Cycles. This role was later taken over by Mosscrop Cycles whose patron Norman has been a club stalwart for many years.

The younger age group again kept the Club’s name to the forefront. Tim Warriner, Martin Baxter, Steve Clark, Stuart Bond, Emma Shadlock, David Taylor, Paul Moore, Peter Lloyd, Mathew Sewell and Simon Deely have all won Schoolperson Championships of one kind or another. A particular high-spot was the 1991 Merseyside Championship where Paul Moore, David Taylor and Mathew Sewell filled the first three places.

This unique achievement was followed during the 1991/92 Cross season when Junior Mathew Guy, having been prominent throughout the season, was selected to represent Great Britain in the Junior World Championships. A first lap crash ended any hope of a medal but Guy had the consolation of seeing team mate Roger Hammond take the Gold Medal. Guy’s courageous ride earned him further selections for international events for the remainder of the season and he achieved the rare feat riding in road, cyclo-cross and ATB world championships in the same year.

The greatest achievement of the Club since the Golden Jubilee is nothing to do with racing but is still about hard work and dedication. This is the superb clubroom that is a lasting tribute to the members’ enthusiasm. It is perhaps unfair to identify particular members but the unfailing cheerfulness of Broo Rimmer, seemingly making a joke of everything yet obviously a skilled artisan doing a great job and Bob Bird taking things more seriously stand out. Founder member Walter Fazakerley did the electrics and Ken Beck, taking time off from his many other duties, swung his trusty hammer to great effect. Soft furnishings were of course courtesy of Bob Robson.
The sponsorship of the club by Bob Whitfield ended in 1995 but the club, now known as Southport Cycling Club carried on unabated. Membership fluctuated but always remained healthy. In 2000 long standing member, John Stead, through his company Animait, sponsored the club leading to a membership of 127 which increased to an amazing 140 members in 2001. Unfortunately John’s company fell on hard times leaving the club in difficulties but due mainly to the hard work and financial astuteness of club secretary Ken Beck the club’s finances are once again in robust health.

In recent years racing has generally been in the doldrums although Bill Lloyd has had considerable success in Veteran time trials, achieving some very impressive “plusses”. Yvonne Unsworth scored a rare success for the ladies by taking the both the NLTTA and NLVTTA woman’s titles. Even more impressive has been the amazing five National Hill Climb championships of Jim Henderson the last two being in Southport colours. Generally however members have found other ways of satisfying their competitive spirit. In particular randonneurs have become increasingly popular having been pioneered by Nev Holgate who rode Paris-Brest-Paris in 1979 and 1983 when there were little more than fifty Brits competing. In 1999 Yvonne and Derek Unsworth took up the long distance challenge just beating the ninety hour time limit for the gruelling ultra marathon.  Four years later Ray Green, in his sixtieth year, cruised round without support in eighty hours and Bill Dean took just five hours longer for the hilly 770 mile route. Nev Holgate has since joined the select group of Ultra Randonneurs by completing a series of 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km rides in each of ten seasons. Other marathon achievements include the Raid Pyrennean from the Atlantic to the Med first achieved by Bill Bradley and Mark Wilson and since by Steve Ginty and friends.

Almost as gruelling have been the club’s annual “holidays” in Mallorca where both on the road and in the bars competition has been fierce. Few would doubt that on the road Ray Green has been the dominant force with only Steve Ginty showing much resistance while in the bars John Barton, ably supported by Paul Mayor, has shown superb condition. The club is fortunate on these occasions to have in Broo Rimmer a master story teller who can spin yarns about cycling in the fifties or the vagaries of the building trade to great comic effect.

Sixteen club members made a trip to Sefton’s twin town of Mons, Wallonie in 2000 as guests of the local Council and the Dragon Audax Club. This was an emotional experience as Mons was, of course, the scene of fierce fighting throughout the First World War and many Lancashire Lads did not return. Club members were proud to attend several tributes to their fallen countrymen. There was also a pilgrimage to another battle ground when a large group rode to the Muur at Gerardsbergen often the scene of the final battle in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen.
In our 75th anniversary year Bill Lloyd, on behalf of the club and Liverpool District Council of Cycling Time Trials, promoted the British 25 mile time trial championship for men, women and juniors. The event was a great success the only regret being that the club’s premier time triallist Bob Bird was unable to attend and died a few days later.

It is a major achievement for any club to survive and indeed grow for seventy five years. For a cycling club it has been especially difficult given the vast increase in motor traffic over this time which has made the sport less appealing. Some would say that cycling is too much like hard work for the modern generation or perhaps they have too many competing interests. Certainly without the old stalwarts the club would at times been in danger of fading away. The Southport Cycling Club is, however, built on firm foundations. Firstly Southport is a one club town. Riders join “the club”, they don’t have to ponder which club to join with all the attendant risks of splits and rivalries. Secondly despite never allowing officialdom to get in the way of riding the bike the club has been blessed over many decades with a cadre of dedicated officials. Little is remembered of the pre-war generation but in the fifties Bill Ball was a first rate general secretary. Following on from Bill both Brian Bladon and Ken Beck stand out. Although Brian is best remembered for his extraordinary achievement in bringing spectacular international racing to the town he was also for many years a hard working general secretary. He was a hard act to follow but Ken Beck managed it. Not by any means a natural administrator he took to the role with alacrity and ensured that the Bladon legacy of sound administration was retained and built upon. It is difficult to imagine the club’s finances in better hands and his many racing promotions seldom, if ever, lost money despite having extremely generous prizes. Finally mention must be made of this year’s best all rounder champion Dr. John Keenan. Is it not remarkable that in the club’s seventy fifth year the Club Champion is also celebrating his 75th birthday!

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