They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes. Sean Kelly certainly proved to be the exception to the rule yesterday. He was a superb special guest for the highlight of the club’s 75th anniversary celebrations, taking time to sign autographs and have his photograph taken, and happy to chat and share stories.
Over 40 members turned up on Saturday morning for a ride out with Sean. In spite of some biblical down pours spirits were high, and everyone was in great humour as the group meandered through the County Down drumlins. The unexpected mud, grass and pot holes on Woodvale Road may have given Sean flashbacks of the Belgian classics, but everyone made it safely to Carryduff for a coffee and then home for a warm shower.
Nearly 150 members and friends packed into La Mon for the formal anniversary dinner. Sean was again unassuming and easily accessible, and added a real buzz to the evening. Here are some of my personal highlights, but I’m sure everyone has their own special moments.
- Listening to the Kelly stories first hand. It was fascinating to get an insight into the life of a professional cyclist, and Sean covered a wide ranges of topics from advances in clothing and his strict diet, to the tactics needed to win Milan San Remo.
- Watching the years fall away from Billy Kirk as he listened to Kelly with the rapt attention of a schoolboy fan. Billy’s curiosity and infectious enthusiasm for cycling have been a bedrock of Ards CC since the 1950s, and remain undiminished with age.
- Archie Cunningham’s tales of riding with Kelly on Irish teams in the mid 1970s, which linked Kelly to our own club. Archie was a seasoned international when the teenaged Sean won his first stage in the Tour of Britain against strong international opposition, and the Irish team manager McQuaid said to Archie, “we’ve got something special here”. In spite of success at the very top of our sport, Kelly obviously still has a special place in his heart for memories of those early Irish teams.
- Sitting with Brendan and Bronagh Kirk, who did so much to promote underage racing in the late 1990s, as the Millennium Trophy (which they donated to the club in 2000) was presented to Karl and Jamie Rocket.
Darren’s speech was also spot on – covering a potted history of the club, thanking those who continue to work so tirelessly behind the scenes, and looking to the future. Darren deserves huge credit for being the driving force behind the formal, ably assisted by Alison and Bernard.
Club secretary Deidre announced the main club trophy winners. The full list is given in the tables below. For winners not present on the night, we’ll try and get trophies, medals and certificates distributed in the next few weeks.
Thanks again to everyone who made it such a wonderful event. There are still some copies of the book “Ards CC, A History in 75 Stories” available at £10. Contact Darren or any other member of committee if you’d like a copy.
|5 Mile T.T. Handicap||Stephen Beattie|
|10 Mile T.T. Handicap||John Rafferty|
|25 Mile T.T. Handicap||Barry Mitchell|
|Road Race Handicap||Marc Allen|
|Circuit Time Trials||Barry Mitchell|
|Magreechan Cup||John Rafferty|
|Hill Climb Trophy||Barry Mitchell|
|Bradshaw’s Brae||Andrew Hedley|
|Henderson Cup – Senior B.A.R.||John Rafferty|
|Vets’ B.A.R.||John Rafferty|
|Club Support||Alastair Martin|
|McFarlane Cup||John Rafferty|
|Henderson Shield||John Rafferty|
|Killarn Cup – 10k Handicap||Barry Mitchell|
|Millennium Cup||Karl and Jamie Rocket|
|Billy Boal Memorial||Ricky Topping|
|Best 10k||John Rafferty|
|Super Gold||Barry Mitchell||5 miles||11:27|
|Super Gold||Peter McClean||10 miles||22:43|
|Gold||Marc Allen||10 miles||23:36|
|Gold||Peter Doggart||10 miles||23:36|
|Gold||Peter McClean||25 miles||59:50|
|Silver||Stephen Beattie||5 miles||12:43|
|Bronze||Paul Duffy||10 miles||26:12|