Monday, 10 March 2008

#018 Begining of the knee troubles

1943 dawned with us at Hartington Youth Hostel once more. We had done the usual thing i.e. big meal, then down to the Charles Cotton for drinks and singsong. We returned to the hostel, there were a lot of “Rock & Ice” climbers there and we soon engaged in some rough games, one of these was “two four six eight ten” and off again. This game entailed one man as a pillar then six bent down causing one long back whilst the other team jumped on your back “hobby horse style”. Everything was OK until I had about three big climbers on my back and with legs slightly apart I couldn’t flex my knee and with that weight on my back my knee joint broke. The pain was terrific and my knee was like a football. I didn’t get much sleep that night, the next morning was another cross bar job with me wheeling my bike by the handlebars as well. I caught the train from Ashbourne (station is closed now although Derbyshire CC have levelled the track and it is used by cyclists and walkers and called the Tissington Trail). I attended the doctors; he just said bathe it in lead lotion as hot as you can bare I did this and the swelling went down. I still had trouble with this knee (and 53 years later continue to do so - I’m waiting for a knee joint operation 1999). Racing was curtailed by this accident but eventually I began to feel OK and was doing well in the grass track at Nottingham, in fact I was leading by a small margin from another “5 miler” Arthur Stokes.

We had entered for Sports Meeting at Kynoch in Birmingham, sponsored by I.C.I we had also entered at Market Bosdworth and Hugglesscote it was the August holidays. Lo and behold on the Thursday before the August Bank Holiday I was called in to Derby Royal Infirmary to have my knee sorted out. I was ‘flying’ at the time and was really disappointed especially as I didn’t get my operation done till the Wednesday after the Aug hols. I was in hospital three weeks. A spinal injection had been administered - toes couldn’t be touched for months after that. I had my cartilidges removed from my left knee. I rode in a 10 ml Time Trial on the then new Nottingham course doing a 29 odd ride. My brother Alan (unfortunately killed in 1946 on my Motorbike) broke the course record with an amazing ride of 21 min 15 sec this record stood for many years. In my absence he had won every event in the Nottingham Track League enabling me to win the Championship and the Club to win the Team. My other brother, Ernie, had taken 2nd in the ¼ and ½ mile events, Dave Holmes taking 3rd – Blos Catchpole had taken 3rd place in the 5-mile. The hillclimb venue was changed for this year - away from tradition, to Piston Hill near Melbourne and not Monsal Dale. My younger brother Alan excelled, winning by a large margin from Dave Holmes. Alan was called up into the Fleet Air Arm shortly after this event, depriving him of a great cycling career.

Hostelling again came in to the equation even going as far as Dimmingsdale and Windgather Cottage during the winter 1943/44. Early in 1944 I started courting,her name was Jean Woodward, she worked as a part time Station Master at sawley Junction this curtailed my racing or rather training, this - coupled with my new job at the shop – and standing all day my fitness inevitably declined. That year, the NCU cycling body transferred our club to Derby Centre from Nottingham, this enabled us to ride on the municipal track at Derby as well as the grass track at Nottingham. A large meeting was held that year at Whitsuntide at Derby, and a large crowd attended. The entry was excellent - Lou Pond, Reg Harris, Tommy Godwin, Wally Box, Lloyd Binch, Reg. Morton. Jim Turner rode brilliantly only being narrowly beaten by Reg. Harris. The other event of the day was the NCU National 25-ml Championship; I had ridden in the other events but had lost my “zip”. I did however finish 4th in this event which was won by Tommy Godwin with Jim Turner 2nd. I lost the Nottingham track league title, yet I did not lose one 5mile event all season, was hopeless in the sprints.

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