Saturday, July 13, 2013

Perko, Gordie and Patto

Three blokes that excited us kids in the 60s were Patto, Gordie and Perko. There were more but these were the ones that adorned my inside cover of my old cycling scrapbook.

From the inside of my very tattered scrap book.
Perko, Gordie and Patto.
If you were a young cyclist in the early sixties, you would have seen Sid Patterson towards the end of his career at the old Melbourne board track which was promoted by Bill Long. At the time, I guess I was probably 14 or 15 years old, I was coached by Northcote High sports master, Alec Weston. Now there's another character for a future blog. He was a masseur to the greats at the time - Patto, Mocka, Tress and many other riders of that era. Alec would pass on his knowledge to us kids but one thing that sticks in my memory is the time Alec took us to Patto's home and to the Carnegie track for a day to be coached by the great Sid Patterson. Thinking back, I guess it was a privilege to be in the company of a four times world champion, but as a coach, Patto was totally useless. We spent part of the time weeding his garden and pushing his kid up and down the driveway on his trike. That kid by the way was Rick Patterson whom I later rode against at the Coburg Velodrome. I remember him sucking me into second place in a motor pace event many years later.

Patto eventually took us down to the track and watched us ride the velodrome and later Alec took us back home. The memory has lingered, not for what we learnt which was nothing, but because we had the opportunity to meet the great man.

As a year or two went by, I was selected in what was to be the first under 16 year old Australian Championships being held in 1966 at the Kilkenny track in Adelaide. In the team was Gordon Johnson,  Daryl Perkins, John Bylsma, John Hine, Hilton Clarke and Jeff Linden in the seniors.
The juniors had a future world sprint champion in the Victorian team by the name of John Nicholson, with John Van Beek and a fellow club member of mine, John Rush.
Lindsay Love from Leongatha and myself were the Juvenile or Sub-Junior team members.
To be part of the team was the opening of the doors to some
friendships that exist almost 50 years on.

In those early years, these names proved to be mentors and an inspiration on the State Teams that I competed in. (1966/1968/1970) Both Hilton Clarke and Daryl Perkins have been influential during my Masters years.

But back to Patto - how good was he? Four World Titles, three in pursuit and one in the sprint, totally different disciplines and unheard of in today's specialisation in the sport. Patto was the supreme all rounder. He could sprint, pursuit, ride scratch races and was a fantastic scratch maker in handicaps. He would have the crowd out of their seats in those last two laps of the big handicap races.

Dazza still involves himself in the sport helping our new talent.
Later I remember watching Daryl Perkins who I thought looked the most European style riders I'd seen. He seemed to me to be a great Kilo rider at the time and in 1970 took both the State and National titles against the best Aussie riders. As for Gordon Johnson, he was our top sprinter, later to become a world Pro Sprint Title holder. Gordie was sponsored by Raleigh at the time and when he returned to Australia, won almost every end of the night scratch race at the Brunswick Velodrome for the season. I remember seeing him riding from the back of the field as they rang the bell and Gordie would wind up his gear and pass half the pack down the back straight and the rest on the last bend and the home straight to cross the line with both hands held high. I think that Gordie may have won 13 straight scratch races that season - I could be wrong but I'm sure someone out there could correct me.

Those years at the Brunswick velodrome were magical.


Frankenbike said...

That's some great stuff there. I too was "coached" by a rather well lubricated Patto at the Carnegie track. It was a bit later. I'd say around 1974-5. He was usually pretty toasted by the time he arrived having spent a good bit of the day at the East Boundary Hotel. One night he pulled me aside and said "Your f--kin stem's too short. Come in the shop and I'll get you a longer stem" I dutifully turned up a few days later at his shop on East Boundary Road - just a stone's throw from the pub. Patto had no recollection of the previous discussion. I said "I've come to get a longer stem like you suggested. " He says "Nah you're too bloody long mate. You need a shorter stem I reckon" I tuned up the next week on a 90mm stem and he says "You need a longer stem son. Come in the shop next week..." One night he was almost legless and he says to me "The three things you need to become a good cyclist son are dedication....application...and" and then he forgot what the third one was and kept repeating "Dedication, application....and dedication application and..." I still say to this day that if I had ever found out what the third thing was I would have been a world beater. Maybe it was inebriation?? Rick Patterson was a handy rider there for a bit. One night at training someone took him a bit high - think it was Andrew Blackmore? - hope I'm not slandering him? Rick hit the new steel mesh fence that had replaced the old wooden one and tore his skull open through the old leather hairnet. Didn't pull up so well. Thanks for the post - brought back a lot of memories.

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Good to hear your memories Frankenbike - I use to live nearby Patto's bike shop, and his office across the road, the East Boundary Hotel but what a great rider he was and a great crowd pleaser. I was fortunate to have seen him towards the end of his career. I also remember Andrew Blackmore.