IT was only a few weeks ago that I reported in this column the sad passing of Peter Howdle, a stalwart of Motor Cycle News and a journalist for whom I had the greatest respect.
Unfortunately, I learned this week of the passing of two other well-known reporters, Geoff Cannell in the Isle of Man and James Moorhouse from Yorkshire. Both were well known and immensely respected contributors to the off-road scene.
Geoff Cannell can rightly be called the Voice of Manx Motorcycling as for many years he was, along with Peter Neale who died in 2001, the familiar voice on Manx Radio that commentated so knowledgably on the TT and the Manx Grand Prix. Geoff passed away last Monday evening following a severe stroke earlier in the day, with no earlier signs of problems. In fact Geoff was due to handle the Media allocations for the Trial des Nations this past weekend, and only the day before had been out at a trial.
Aged 65, Geoff Cannell had been the Manx Trials Champion four times, a top ten finisher in the Manx Two Day Trial, a finisher in the 1975 ISDT on the island and a regular trials rider. His last ride was in the Classic Manx Two Day just a few weeks ago.
But it was as the reporter from Ballaugh Bridge and the pit lane that he was perhaps best known, and his encyclopaedic knowledge of road racing and the characters that are TT racing, made his commentaries all the more enjoyable. Quite simply, he was a treat to listen to.
Just a month earlier James Moorhouse from Mirfield passed away following a stroke two years earlier. James had been a contributor for Trials and Motocross News, virtually since the beginning of the paper, which was in 1977, and his quality photographs and reports regularly took up a page of the paper. When I was a staffman for many years, I spoke to James on a regular basis and saw him whenever I was riding in an event at which he was reporting and he was an unfailingly polite man, almost embarrassed to be there doing the excellent job he always achieved.
So in a very short time the sport has lost three knowledgeable enthusiasts, and whilst there are others much younger coming along, the loss of the information with the passing of the sports commentators is sad indeed.
Having been involved in this sport of ours for more years than I care to remember, one of the more significant changes that I have witnessed is the attitude of the ACU Trials and Enduro Committee.
Back in the early days of my riding career, the committee was peppered with names that held fear in the heart of the average trials rider. To me they seemed remote and unapproachable. That attitude lasted for many years, but I have to say that these days, the committee men are very approachable and take a genuine and sympathetic response to the problems that arise.
In the weekly press there has ben a bit of correspondence about Foot and Mouth Disease and the question being asked is why did the British Championship trial run at Hook Woods when it is in the Surveillance Zone.
So I was most impressed when John Collins, the Chairman of the Trials Committee, immediately wrote a sensible and explanatory letter detailing the reasons why the trial was allowed to go ahead. Whilst the committee has always been made up of enthusiasts, it is currently more approachable than ever and in JC, we have a Chairman who is not afraid to put the ACU view forward, openly and publicly.
That is superb for the sport and I hope that when you come to read this column late on Sunday night and through the following week, we will be heralding a British win from the Trial des Nations, for of course, John is the British rider’s Team manager.
I’m now off to catch the 02.15 ferry from Heysham, which thankfully, is only ten miles from home!!