Monday, June 2, 2014

bob spears article no1

Dubbo Native Wins World-wide  Honors.
Though out of the big game for years, Bob Spears, the  Dubbo boy, still commands full page top lines in Australian sporting papers., 'The Sporting Globe,' Melbourne, is the latest to feature Mr. Spears, now in business in Dubbo in the sport in which he has been such an ornament. Last trip to the Southern capital, 'The Globe' got his life story, told in his own modest way. Being a boy and a man who has helped put cycling on the map, who remained an Australian, in spite of big financial offers, the story will be re-printed in instalments. 

Fate decreed that I should get mixed up in cycling at an early age. I was born at Coonamble (N.S.W.) on August 8, 1893, and when about 10 I had a desire to become a footrunner and a footballer. But although fleet of foot and a fairly good footballer, the attractions of cycling put other ideas out of my head by the time I had reached my teens. Well I remember my first bicycle. My mother gave it to me on my thirteenth birthday, 31 years ago. It was a second hand machine, and gave so much trouble that a few months later, when my mother found that I could handle one all right, she bought me a brand new bicycle for £18/10, a very big sum in those days. It gave her probably far more joy than it did me. But her joy was as nothing to mine when, at the age of 14, at Dubbo, I won the first race of my career. I was an only child, so you can imagine just how proud my parents were of my success. They even predicted all sorts of advance for me in cycling, and neither they nor I ever dreamed that their confidence would be realised. I had never ridden as an amateur because there was no amateur club in my home town. Thus I was in the "cash ranks" at an early stage. My first victory had given me such a thrill that when I was 15 Alf Garrett - one of the best riders in Dubbo obtained my mother's permission for me to go to Queensland. Judge the wild visions I had of travelling hundreds of miles to Rockhampton. Garrett's aim was for me to win the Wheel Race which carried £30, with the prospect of more through liberal betting.
Boy From Bush Beats Ring-In
I had an excellent mark but there was a ring-in named "Watts" from Tasmania who had many victories to his credit. My mentor became nervous about backing me-a raw, inexperienced lad from the bush against a tried performer who had been backed heavily, and it was decided that I would merely go for the prize. Acting under instructions, I sat in for the whole of the race. At the bell the ring-in was well in front. Just as he was being acclaimed the winner, I came with a rush over the last furlong and, heading him 50 yards from home, won with plenty in hand. The supporters of "Watts" were broke. We next made for Sydney to compete in the Eight-hour Day Wheel Race. The late Bede Carroll, a popular sporting journalist was handicapper for the League of N.S.W. Wheelmen. "I think this kid Spears is a bit of a boom. His place is on the limit mark until I am convinced he has the goods," said the genial handicapper. I won the double worth £50, and Carroll, in his usual breezy style, said, "Look here, son, who in Hades taught you to ride? You handle your machine like a general." Carroll put a stop to my winning way by pulling me from 220 yards to 80 yards in the two-miler at Lithgow. Although I failed, I felt that I was going through a trying-out period which was to stand me in good stead in the near future. After meeting with much success in New South Wales I went to Melbourne where a cycling "war" was on with the L.V.W. I temporarily joined up with the outlaw movement and won the self-styled five, 10, and 15 mile track championships of Victoria. Actually there were better riders than I in Australia at the time who were unable to compete, so that the championship titles were more or less "Kid Magee." Following a well-earned holiday at Dubbo, I went down to Sydney where I met J. D. Williams, the moving picture magnate. who was also interested in cycling.

Mr. Williams was about to run an international six-day cycle race on the Sydney Cricket Ground, and had engaged from America Paddy Hehir,  Alf Goullet, Iver Lawson, Worthington Mitton, and Gordon Walker. Sprint events also were included in the six-day programme by transferring the six-day men from the asphalt to the grass while the short-distance events were being decided. Percy Mutton, then amateur champion sprint cyclist of Australia, had decided to turn professional so that he could compete in the half-mile and one mile championships of New South Wales. At that time I was merely regarded as a handicap performer and to my own surprise and that of the public, I won both events. My mother was in ecstasy at my success and predicted even greater things for me. I was gradually climbing the ladder, but I had my reverses and never failed to have respect for my rivals. I was not foolish enough to think that I was unbeatable, and that I had conquered the world. I knew that my day would come when I would be defeated at a time when I thought I was a certainty.

Before Goullett left the United States for Australia, John M. Chapman (the then cycling magnate of America) gave the champion all-rounder two return boat and rail tickets to New York and left it to his discretion to engage two promising Australians for U.S.A. Grenda and I were the lucky ones, but there was a fly in the ointment. I was only 19, and my mother did not want me to travel so far away. Much against my will I gave way. There was a lump in my throat on the day I saw Grenda sail for America. My boyish ambitions were more or less dashed to the ground. Would I get an other chance? Had I done the right thing? (Next Saturday Spears will discuss the ways and means he devised of going to the United States the following year-1913.)
Follow this link for Bob Spears No 2 and see how he eventually made his opportunity to travel to the Mecca of the American Cycling circuit

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