Southdown Velo 20 years 1981 to 2001 by John Pendelton
Oh no! It's not going to be a scribe from old J.P. harping on about the good old days when bikies were real racers and not the flashy poseurs on their super expensive machines of today? Well I'm afraid so! You know I always emphasise the importance of looking ahead and not backwards (you might come a cropper!), but as this is the 20th anniversary of the existence of the Southdown Velo, I might be excused to be able to bore you with a potted history lesson of the club, from it's foundation to the present day.
Our forerunner, The Velo Club Noviomagus had been going since 1962 with JP at the helm for much of the time after he packed up racing in 1966. The Noviomagus was formed from a breakaway of the old Chichester C.C. from lads who wanted to get away from the traditional Time Trial orientated club. Incidentally the name Noviomagus (Latin for Chichester) was suggested by Roger Sumner who later emigrated to Canada and only recently was sadly killed in a road accident (see Cycling Weekly Obituary Dec 23 2000).
Over the years the connection with Chichester became less and less, and what with commentators always having a problem with pronouncing Noviomagus (we were called all sorts of weird and wonderful things), we decided to change our name in 1981 to Southdown Velo. By the way, the VC Noviomagus is not completely dead, as a handful of ex-members reformed the club a couple of years ago and wear the original club jersey design (green, red and white - the Italian national colours at the time).
So let's get on to 1981 and the birth of the Southdown Velo (it doesn't seem like 20 years ago). In those days we met at The Barleycorn at Nutborne for our Monday night meetings, and a VCN photo was displayed at the pub for many years.
The change brought a resurgence of interest and our membership gradually increased to a peak of 70 in 1990. Our first President was Ian Hallam who in 1981 was nearing the end of his Professional Cycling career before moving into water sports and later to return to Cycling as the top Veteran in recent years. Pete Dollery was Club Chairman for most of the period and organised the annual club do for over 25 years. (We still discuss these times and the VCN years at The Bat and Ball, Hambledon on Monday nights if you wished bored with our tales of the past.)
Following the reign of Willy Hill, our most successful rider of the 1970s. Our star rider in the 1980s was Keith Jarrett who gained 75 pIacings in the 1st six between 1981 and 1986 with several excellent wins. Keith was a wily little rider who managed to place himself nicely for finishing sprints, but above all he was a truly gutsy rider, and kept the rest of the team happy with his constant humour. Hugh Broadhead then took over the honours until the mid 90s. A quiet bloke off the bike he was (and still is) a real animal in competition. He won many a good race and collected a host of King of the Mountains jerseys over the years. Also we had Mark Staden, Chris Redhead, Graham Childs, Martin Harris, Steve Sexton, Danny Watson, Chris Meeus, Sean Hodges, Phil Phillips, Michel Holden, Jacqui Neave, Shaun Smart and Tim Costello who have been our most successful riders (Tim making his umpteenth comeback after about 10 years). Not forgetting our remarkable club secretary, Eugene Bardwell, who races more than anyone else, since he started in 1954. He rejoined us in 1992 after a defection to Central Sussex CC in 1980.
Between 1988 and 1991 we had one of the largest Junior squads around, many from the Isle of Wight (my roots). A category which is almost non existent nowadays. Of these Chris Redhead, Mark Staden, Sean Hodges, Graham Childs, Gareth Smith, Phil Phillips and Eddie Collins turned out to be the best. We have had strong contingents of Juveniles at Goodwood with Tim Connel winning overall in 1994, and Kevin Harman repeating this in 1997.
The club received a huge boost in 1989 when we became sponsored by Butler Cycles. This arrangement continued for 6 years, which is pretty good compared with some sponsorships. Our next sponsorship with Arun Cycles only lasted 2 years but probably could have been more successful had they not had financial problems at the time.
Our race promotions have been numerous over the years. In the early days we promoted about 6 races a year, but later we concentrated more on major events, especially Garth Staden's promotions which have gone from strength to strength since the Butler Cycles Junior G.P. in 1990, 91, 92 and 95 and then the National Junior Championship in 1993 an 1994. In 1996 he organised the Arun Cycles GP National Under 23 Championships followed by the Havant GP Premier Category Race in 1998, 1999 and 2000 when it was promoted in International UCI status. Havant Borough Council have been the main sponsor in recent years, who have done a wonderful job in endeavouring to support cycle racing. Other races that we have promoted over the years included the Wessex Divisional Championships in 1987, the Tour of the South Downs 3 Day from 1978 to 1986 and revived in 1991. The Hayling Diving Services R.R. an excellent end of season event over the tough Rowlands Castle - Chichester - Midhurst - Harting - West Marden course. This was run under the same sponsorship for 19 years from 1976 to 1994.
Well that's the first 20 years, so let's look forward to the future and even more successes for Southdown Velo.