Thursday, May 19, 2016


Six Day Bike Racing in Australia is the working title of research I'm doing, hopefully that will eventually become a book documenting our history of this gruelling discipline of track cycling.
Australia's first documented Six Day Bike Race was dated as in 1881 and between then and the end of the 1800s, to my knowledge there were six marathon events. Jack Rolfe (Sydney x 2, Melbourne and Adelaide) celebrated four wins, the other two were won by W.J Press (Melbourne) and Sam Clark (Melbourne).

From the Australian Sketcher depicting Australia's first Six Day Cycling Marathon

Australia's first Six Day Marathon Bike Race
You might notice that contrary to Six Day events after the 1800s these marathons were ridden by individuals, not two man teams and the first few were ridden on High Wheelers - Penny Farthings.
The beginning of these cruel one man rider Six Day cycling marathon's seems to have originated in 1875 when George Waller won the London event. The USA were not far behind having their first marathon events in 1879. Chicago and Boston were there chosen venues with Charles Terront winning two of these American events and going on to add a further four wins to his Palmares.
The name Charles Terront appears in our early Australian Six Day Marathons - not as a rider, but a promoter.

Charles Terront - French Six Day Marathon Champion

George Waller - English and Champion of the World.
Another contact with Australian cycling history, Plugger Bill Martin who won an Austral Wheel Race in 1901 also raced in these one man marathons. He added five wins throughout the USA before making his way to Australia to win his controversial Austral. Martin settled in Australia and finished his life in Perth, Western Australia.
"Plugger"Bill Martin - winner of 5 Six Day Marathons in the USA and the Austral Wheel Race at the MCG in 1901.
This manuscript will be broken into several parts beginning with the late 1800s through to the Bill Long era of the Milk Six's in the 60/70s era.

In the interim, I will be posting on this blog, my progress on a weekly basis. 
 I invite you to enjoy the "Ride" and please, offer input.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The WHEEL LIFE by Ben Scofield

I'm in this room and listening to a whole bunch of old bikies reminiscing, not so much about themselves - yes they are BUT, also about their mates and what it was like to be a bike rider in the 50/60s era.

These old bikies may not have been champions in their own period, or maybe they were but what brings charm to this book by Ben Schofield is that they talk about the champions, Patto, Mocka and others.
They lived the period, they rode with or against them - they knew them. They talk about the imports from Italy, Germany and Switzerland and the man that brought them here, Promoter Bill Long.

The cover shows the North Essendon Velodrome where much of the action of Victorian track racing took part in the 50s.
Ben Schofield with those he interviewed for WHEEL LIFE.
Memories of North Essendon and the Melbourne Velodrome are brought to life through their words. Words mostly unedited by Ben Schofield. He has left them as they were recorded in the many interviews. On occasion I found this a little difficult to follow but it is their words.
But then when I read the words of Ron Neiwand, Alfie Walker, Brian Dew, Jim Taylor, Ian Browne and John Grima amongst others, I hear their voices. The not so perfect grammar is theirs.

Ben asks the questions such as;
Where were they born, how they came to this sport of cycling, most memorable races, their heroes and experiences. That's what makes this publication unique. It's not a mass of results or details. It's just about a whole lot of old bikies chin-wagging to Ben and his tape recorder.

Ian Browne relives his 1956 Olympic gold medal tandem ride with Tony Marchant and his relationship with Billy Guyatt who was instrumental in their win.
There's a whole chapter where the main characters in the book reflect on their memories of Sid Patterson, the bike rider and the man. Here he is seen with the man he took the world pursuit crown from - Fausto Coppi.
They also give an insight of the short lived career of Russell Mockridge.
Jim Taylor who was riding in the scratch bunch with Mocka in the Tour of Gippsland relives that tradgic day when Russell lost his life.
My father Jack is 93 and I'm sending a copy to him because I know that he'll enjoy reading about some blokes that he mixed with over the years. So if its for someone of the era or for someone that wants to have an insight to the 1950/1960 period of cycling in Victoria, then do yourself a favor and whack a copy in your library.

You can purchase your copy of WHEEL LIFE by Ben Scofield by emailing him first on 
and then depositing an amount of $29.99 plus $7.00 postage:
BSB 814 282 
Acc 1050 9261

Many of the photos come from the rider's own personal scrapbooks - these two photos show Australian Team members for the 1952 and 1955 world championship.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Museo del Ciclismo in Ghisallo.

Today in Italy, looking down on Lago Como and Lago Lecco was another tick off the bucket list. If riding L'Eroica in Gaiole Chianti with another 9 friends wasn't enough, on a wet and dismal morning, my day was bright and exciting.
Words do not express my day - I share these photos with you.

 We paid a visit to the Museo del Ciclismo and Madonna del Ghisallo overlooking the two lakes from far above the nebbio. We were awoken this morning by loud claps of thunder and torrential rain which put paid to my ride to what I think is so far the best cycling museum in the world - I've seen a few in our six trips to Italy and France. This one conjures up images in one's imagination of great cyclists - Coppi, Magni, Bartali who rode this climb when the roads were not in the shape they are today. Let's not take away the efforts of today's elite cyclists - they have their own demons to contend with on this brutal climb to Madonna del Ghisallo.

Funny how things connect - we went back down into Bellagio to do our laundry and as it was being done we went to the Cafe de Sport for coffee. There were some interesting photos and artefacts on the walls and as I wandered around looking, the owner came over to me to show and explain more of his treasures. He even opened a book that showed his cafe in years gone by when his father owned it.
It had a wonderful pre-war car parked outside the cafe and from what I could understand, it was during the Mille Miglia. On the walls of the cafe was a wooden wheel built locally by Cerchio Ghisallo. The factory was no more than 150 metres from the Museum and I'm kicking myself for not being more aware. Nevertheless, I would not have had enough space left for a set of two on our return flight. Mind you, I will order on-line from home.

As we left Bellagio, we walked back past Cafe de Sport and the owner saw us walk by. He gave us a friendly wave, not realising, he gave us a treasured memory.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


It's been some time since the last post on the CYCLING SCRAPBOOK. Since starting the Facebook page of the same name, things got busy and so I've decided to occasionally invite guest writers to the Blog. Our guest writer's marvelous collection has been shown on Facebook but here one of his bikes is studied in further detail with a story behind the purchase. The writer goes by the title of "the Mysterious Collector".

Anyone else out there have a good story to spin?
Contact me by FaceBook message if you have.

I was at a swap meet organised by the Vintage Cycle Club of Victoria. One of the pioneers of bicycle collecting was there, as always. Harry Clarke had been collecting for years, racing for many more with the Richmond club and was also pretty damn handy on a penny farthing. Before I was “in the know” he apparently had a huge garage sale/clear out (including one of Mocka’s Healings) yet at each swap meet there was always some treasure that he extracted from his endless box of tricks.
This day it was a locally made Glen Eira track frame raced by Ken Croft. It was too big for me and I have always lived the other side of the Yarra so why did I buy it? Initially it was nothing to do with the great Russell Mockridge it was the beautiful hand cut lugs, track geometry and angles as well as overall condition that were the selling points. Harry told me his asking price (no haggling with Harry as he is always fair and it would be an insult to him not to mention I couldn’t live with myself).

I paid the money and asked him to tuck it away while I looked at other stalls and ways to spend more money. Upon return I was told that I got in at the right time as there had been others interested as it was still visible. While it was never in doubt with Harry’s integrity that it would be sold to anyone else I was lucky to get there first.

The frame is in very good original condition for its age. I suspect that Harry being much smaller than Ken he never used it and it was tucked away in a dry place. One notable aspect is what appears to be sand blasting of the paint from the down tube no doubt due to the racing on outdoor tracks at speed with debris flying up from the front wheel.
As was the norm in the 50’s the riders name was on the top tube. Ken Croft was a good friend of Harry’s and he noted that he had won the Bendigo Golden Mile on it. While I didn’t take a lot of notice (I was still in hunting for more rust mood) it was put in the memory bank.

The frame hung in my garage for some time while I attended to other projects. When it came to the top of the list I needed to do some research. The first port of call was of course Harry. Could he remember what components Ken used? Although his body is not as strong as it used to be and the shaking hands due to Parkinsons make it near on impossible to put ball bearing in a race he promptly rattled off Airlite high flange hubs, Fiamme rims, 6 ¼ inch BSA fluted cranks, Brooks B17 saddle, Williams chain ring using inch pitch/block chain running about a 92 inch gear.

I had a RHS crank and a Brooks B17 Sprinter saddle (although road not track) some inch pitch cogs and the frame. Harry could not recall the type of stem however I noted that I had a Cinelli Milano badged stem and he reckoned Ken “would be happy with that”. The hunt commenced.
I had recently purchased a job lot of parts that included a set of Airlite hubs however these had been on-sold to a friend in order to recoup some of the initial outlay (and there were some rarer hubs in the lot). These were bought back. Another friend had a LHS crank and combined they had spare Fiamme rims in which I was able to make a set.
The seller of the hubs is a very handy wheel builder and this time he fortunately managed to damage one of the rims so the chase re-commenced. After a few calls I was able to acquire a more appropriate set of Fiamme sprint rims. Perhaps feeling guilty (but more likely just wanting to do the job properly) had decided that given Ken was a “big bastard” (he may have put fat in there but as we never knew him it was just two fat middle aged blokes laughing at others to cover our own insecurities) he decided he must tie and solder the wheels. A fantastic job was done and common practice in the 50’s.
An old Victoria Police bike (also purchased from Harry) was used as collateral for an inch pitch chain from my provider of the LHS crank. As it transpired when the replacement rims were purchased a more appropriate chain was purchased but the police bike/chain will be used on another project.
I had a nickel plated set of bars that were OK but later swapped for a set of Cinelli bars that matched the stem.
Prior to another swap meet I had been talking to Harry and told him I was just about ready to “put the pieces together”. When we met a few days later pleasantries were exchanged and he reached to his bag of tricks and handed me a set of pedals with strap and toe clips. With a smile and shaking hand he said “put these on Ken’s bike they came off it, I know as I used them for a while”.
I was ready to build.
The finished product was taken to Harry for his opinion and input. He was very pleased but noted that I didn’t have the correct track wheel nuts and the cotter pins were the wrong (American) way. I replaced the nuts but decided to leave the cotter pins as is to save on the sometimes violent force required to remove (and they seemed to fit the cranks nicely and without too much grinding of pins or force to insert).
In my search for information on Ken and the 1958 golden Mile I found a number of articles on trove, including a wedding photo in which the best man was Jack Green. As noted with the frame size Ken was a genuine 6 footer (or more) and a fireman so probably fit, healthy, tall and strong.  I am yet to obtain any information on the race from a local paper but I believe the Bendigo library has copies of old papers so I need to pay them a visit.
The best information came from the May 1958 issue of Australian Cyclist magazine (the creator of this site has previously written about Australian Cyclist). This gave a detailed description of the race.  The following month included a photo of Ken with his wife Lois. If you are reading this you most likely know the great Russell Mockridge. Unfortunately he was killed 5 months later in a racing accident. Ken is also no longer with us. I’m sure that if both Ken and Russell were with us they could tell much more exciting stories than a bloke rebuilding a bike however it is very fortunate I was able to pick Harry’s brain for information.
While there are more valuable bikes and others with much greater provenance around Melbourne (including one of Russell’s bikes) the luck of buying the frame, the thrill of the chase, the ability to meet Harry’s standards and the joy of owning such a beautiful bike that is in great condition has made this one of my favourites.

Pity I’m not a trackie or a six footer.

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

Got something to say? Hit the comments link below - thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

John Green - Six Day Rider - 1958/1962

Madison racing has always excited me.  The history of Six Day bike racing in Australia and overseas has a rich history. Australia was quick to take on this discipline of bike racing from the late 1800s. Those early days were events with individual riders vying for the longest distance over the six day period ridden initially on high bikes or Penny Farthings. Our first true legend of those individual six day events was Jack Rolfe.
Rolfe won four of our first six one man Six Day races from 1881 to 1890. It wasn't until 1912 that two man teams eventuated in Australia and in that year Paddy Hehir and Alf Goulett won both the Melbourne and Sydney sixes. Another two Sixes were held the following year and again one each in Sydney (Reg McNamara and Frank Corry) and Melbourne (Bob Spears and Don Kirkham).

This post takes us on a further five decades to the 1960s and the "Green Train". The Green Train was John Green and John Young and I had the good fortune to ask JG a few questions regarding the team's experiences during those years.

He started by saying, 
"In 1958 ,I won the Amateur Six Day Race in Sydney with Kevin Wylie.
Winning the six day race definitely made my mind up for me for my future, in Madison/Six Day Teams racing.
If you could ride Madisons/Six Day races, then you could ride all other Track Races  well –Handicaps, Scratch Races, Omniums, but you would not necessarily be a good sprinter for Derbies.
Training for endurance events, meant many miles in the saddle, after work".

John Green's first Six Day win - 1958 with Kevin Wylie.

When I asked John how many Sixes he and John Young rode together, he was able to remember the following but keep in mind these were amongst the many that they rode and not necessarily won and also keep in mind that they had other partners at different times.

"John Young and I rode lots of sixes together. I do not know how many? We won the Melbourne Six in 1960".
The 1960 Milk Six was advertised in the Australian Cyclist magazine, March 1960 as having a prize value of 10,000 pound ($20,000) with Sid Patterson and Peter Panton the favorites. 
The promoter Bill Long wrote,
"On Saturday Night, March 19, at 10.45 pm, I expect Sid Patterson and Peter Panton to have 2000 pound in cash. That's real money, but it will be their slice of the Milk Board's fabulous 10,000 pound six-day race."
Green and Young had just won the Astor 24 at the Melbourne Velodrome and Greenie was on a high from his Tasmanian Carnival success in the Aces 10 mile at Latrobe. The headlines in Australian Cyclist shouted "GREEN ANNIHILATES 10 MILE FIELD".  On Christmas day the writer said that Green rode all the champions, including Patterson "into the ground". On New Year's day he backed up his win at Latrobe with the 10 mile at Burnie.

Just prior to the 1960 Milk Six, Green and Young won the ASTOR 24 and came into the 1960 Milk Six with great form.

Although Promoter Bill Long, proclaimed Patto and Panton as the likely winners, that was not to be as Patto had broken his collar bone towards the end of the Tasmanian carnivals and so Oscar Plattner was flown in by Long to partner Panton. 
Both Green and Young raced in green jerseys as they did in the Astor 24 which gained them the title of the "Green Train". 

As a team, this was their first Six-Day win but there were more to follow as "the Green Train". 
They also won the Adelaide Six -1960, Sydney Six in 1961 and the Launceston Six in 1962.
That year the Australian Professional Track Championships were held in Devonport and John Green's form was still on song. True to his Christmas carnival successes, he again took out the National 5 mile title, and adding a 2nd place in the 10 mile. All in all, 1960 was a great year for John Green.

I was fortunate to ask John a few more questions regarding his past memories and these were his comments.
John Young was a fantastic partner.He rode excellent position, and could put me in the perfect position for the big money sprints, and vice versa, I could put him in the perfect position for the sprints as well. He could chase all night and sprint all night, and he never knew when it was hurting.
He could make a break and open up a gap, then throw me in to consolidate the break to get a lap. We used to stop on the fence in our day as soon as possible, so one rider was never in too long and we never missed a change in the chases or sprints. We were the same height, and the same weight, and we were the perfect team together.
We had a very special understanding , coming up for the sprints, and we used to put fingers up – one or two when we were going to change for the Sprints –it worked well.
In 1960 we raced Plattner and Panton in the Melbourne Six, which we won. Plattner was a great Cyclist, ex World Sprint Champion, and an All-rounder. He was an excellent Six Day Bike Rider and could do everything.
Peter Panton was a great Track Six Day bike rider as well. He was so strong, and was a superb pedaller, especially in the chases.
We did not have much to do with Oscar Plattner. After we won the 1960 Six Day race in Melbourne, Oscar said he would organise Six Day Contracts for the Green Team in Europe.This never eventuated.

John Green - Cyclist of the year 1961
This win had gained them a total prize money of 900 pounds each plus 327 pounds in primes. Young used his share to build a house and Green on the night announced his engagement.
The following are recent comments from Michael Goldie who was only just 14 years old at the time and that Six-Day obviously left a great impression in his mind.
"The 1960 Milk 6 Day bike race had in the field 11 winners of the Herald Sun Tour between 1954 and 1968. Hec Sutherland 1954, John Young 1958/61, Peter Panton 1959/60, Bill Knevitt 1962, Barry Waddell 1964 to 68 inclusive. This tells you there were some very strong endurance men in this field. The winning team was John Green and John Young. 
John Green did not ride the road but he did big miles for track training. I think he told me 50 miles (not kms) a night. As a combination they were about the best there was for speed and chasing. Second was Oscar Plattner and Peter Panton. Oscar Plattner was one of the greatest showmen you would ever see on a bike and a former World Sprint Champion. Third Barry Waddell and Dick Ploog (Dick won a sprint bronze in the 1956 Olympics). Hec Sutherland and Bill Knevitt were fourth. 
I recall the last night of this race was just full on and very good teams lost numerous laps because Green/Young & Plattner/Panton rode so hard attacking each other. As a kid of 14 years I recall it was fantastic to watch with just about a full house in both the front and back straights".

1. Green – Young 0 laps lost & 771 points2. Plattner – Panton 638 points3. Waddell – Ploog 3 laps lost - 469 points4. Sutherland – Knevitt 9 laps lost -  416 points5. Stiefler – Wylie 9 laps lost - 373 points6. Oriani – Grenda 10 laps lost - 535 points7. Willis – Ousley 10 laps lost - 293 points8. Morre – Horder 12 laps lost - 439 points9. Harrison – Middleton12 laps lost - 255 points10.Anthony – D. Patterson laps lost13 -129 points11.Clark – Stout 15 laps lost -172 points

Note; these races were held outdoors for the 6 days but given that March was the most stable time of year I don't think this race lost any time.
John Green only just manages to throw his front wheel to the line to take the last sprint at the Melbourne Milk Six of 1960. 
There were several further questions in my interview with John Green which he reflected on and they will make for additional fodder for future editions of the Cycling Scrapbook Blog and possibly what I hope will become a book on "Six Day Bike Racing in Australia".

I'm always interested in the beginnings of our past Champions and how they came under the spell of our great sport. Many of our great riders didn't always start out as shining lights but worked hard to gain their successes. John was one of those who admits in his own words that success didn't come initially.

"My brother Alan Green (deceased  March 2011) was a cyclist before me. He started racing as an Amateur for Prahran when he was 14. Alan was a year older than me and raced at Prahran on a grass track opposite the football ground.
Later Alan transferred to Richmond Amateur Cycling Club (RACC) and was a good track and road rider. Retiring from Cycling when he was only 18, I bought his equipment. The bike was an Orion, built by Ken Weir in Windsor. This was my first bike.
I started riding for RACC when I was 17 at the start of the 1954 Track Season.
Starting as a limit rider, off the front mark, I did not do too good in my first track season, as I had Hepatitis.
I then rode the Junior Road season in 1955".

It was noted in Australian Cyclist magazine August 1955 in Club News (written by June Long - Bill Long's wife) that RACC stated that their junior members, J. Lack, J. Green, D. Good, A.James, T. Davis and K. Mullins were doing very well in that season's road races.
During the Xmas Track Carnivals of 1956, John came in a good third at the Echuca meeting handicap against Clive Middleton, 1954 Junior Australian Champion with Ken Trowel second.
His track racing career was moving forward.

John continues;
"In 1961, I crashed on Austral night in the Aces Scratch Race, 5 or 6 riders crashed with 5 laps to go. I was the reigning 5 Mile Australian Champion and I broke my collarbone. This put me out of the 1962 Melbourne Six Day Race, which John Young won with Faggin. (a story in the making. Author)
John Young was going so well that year, he carried Faggin for the first 5 days and they won. A costly fall for me.
John and I rode the 1962 Melbourne Six together, we finished second to Patterson and Grenda. Two Falcon Cars were their first Prize. This was their first win together – and they won again in 1963. This was my last Six Day race, as I retired from Cycling in July 1962.
I went to Bill Long the Promoter in July, and asked him for contracts for the 1962/1963 Track Season. I was asking him for a guarantee of 200 Pounds a Six Day race, for as many Sixes as he would promote in the coming Season.
He  did not agree.
I told him I would get a proper job, and give up bikes. He told me John Young was going to ride. He said you will ride Greenie – and he was wrong .
Bill Long was a good Promoter,and a man of his word. My decision to retire from cycling, was a business decision. He thought I would ride on, but I did not. I had no regrets to retire so early from Cycling.I started with Robert Bosch Australia in August 1962 in Clayton, and worked for them until December 1993, when I retired from Work at the age of 56 years. I have now been in retirement 20 and a half years, and have been lucky enough to grow up with my grand children".

The sport of cycling offers many great memories and friendships way past those days of fierce competition. John reflected on those personal friendships that still are part of his life today.

"David Good, Peter Crooks, Robin Daubeny and I, all started at Richmond at the same time in 1954.
David Good won the 1960 Austral.
Peter Crooks was second to Vin Beasley in the 1959 Austral,and was second in the Bendigo Golden Mile.
I turned PRO in Jan 1959 to win the Austral, but I finished fourth. I had a 40 yard gap in front of me, and a 40 yard gap from the two scratchmen, Waddell and Reynolds. I did not wait for them, and it took me two and a half laps to get onto the back of the middle markers. Vin Beasley won in record time of one min. 49 secs for the mile.
Robin Daubeny was in many Austral Finals, and I think, he finished third once?
Tony Marchant was a good mate of mine, and he won gold in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, on the Tandem with Ian Browne.Tony lived in Chelsea.
Also Ron Murray from Richmond PROS, was another good mate and Champion Cyclist.
He won the 1955 Austral, and two Burnie Wheelraces and six day races as well.
The five of us are still very good mates".

John Green today is a motivating force in bringing past cyclists together through regular luncheons at the Skinny Dog hotel and his involvement of the Maillot Jaune Club.

Thanks to John for his honest answers and to Michael Goldie for his insight to his thoughts on John Green from his childhood memories. Also thank you to Suellen Loki for the loan of her club's (Wangaratta CC) collection of Australian Cyclist magazines from the 60s.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A contribution by Cycling Victoria's History & Heritage Committee Member, Ray Bowles.

.… and The Birth of Malvern Star  

Heats for the highly prized two mile handicap at the MCG began with some controversy.   Both the backmarkers and the press were expressing great concern about the quality of the frontmarkers out on such big starts. The press commented ; 
“It was remarkable to see how some of the men who have almost qualified themselves to ride alongside a hearse, suddenly brightened up and did wonders.”   
Only heat winners and some fastest seconds qualified for the final and in slightly unusual form, many frontmarkers had agreed to work together to ensure the elimination of the better opponents behind them.

Tom Finnigan, born in Gisborne, only in his third season of racing at 26 years of age, was one such marked as generously handicapped on 220 yards.   He won the fifth of the eleven heats easily, by a margin of five lengths, although he only had one double win at Sale previously to his credit.
Betting on the event, legal, but beyond the control of the League of Victorian Wheelmen, had an unpredictable influence on the conduct of the heats evidenced by the sea of torn and discarded tickets littering the betting enclosure.
There were 30,000 spectators at the final including His Excellency the Governor and Lady Brassey who were great cycling fans.   The Argus newspaper was very enthusiastic about the day with comments made ; “The meeting was one of the most pleasant that had yet been held by the Melbourne Bicycle Club”  and …  “the best day ever known … fast and brilliant."

In the final, the backmarker was W.C Jackson on 40 yards and out front was A.W. Bennett on the arguably excessive 300 yards.   The frontmarkers worked fairly cooperatively again but bunches variously formed and disintegrated during the eight laps on the grass track.   There also appeared to be a little bit of outside assistance happening as whistle signals were being blown from the spectator area, apparently telling certain riders to go faster or wait.
Finnigan was said to be one of the recipients of those signals but he did much of the front running over the last few laps and led from the bell for his narrow win by half a length.   His winning time was 4 min. 30.8 secs.   Second was W. Middleton 190 yards and third G.C. Macgibbon 230 yards.

The win was worth a huge 240 Gold Sovereigns and with that, Finnigan set up his own bike shop in Malvern and in 1903 began building and selling his own brand bikes which he named Malvern Star.   That successful business and name was sold to Bruce Small in 1920 who greatly expanded it including the racing aspect, notably supporting Hubert Opperman and Sid Patterson.   The Australian foursome who won the Olympic Teams Pursuit gold in Los Angeles in 1984, rode on Malvern Stars and the iconic name remains evident in racing today.
The descendent Finnigan family still conduct a bicycle shop today in suburban High Street Northcote.