As we promised last week in Ed Hood’s remembrance of Ron Webb, here are some tributes to one of the most important men in track cycling, from the some of the men who were closest to the great Australian: John Trevorrow, Don Allan, Steele Bishop and Angus Fraser.
Ron Webb at Herne Hill
We recently ran Pip Taylor’s fine obituary to Mr. Ron Webb, former professional bike rider, track builder, father of the modern six day format, team manager and mentor to many. Below, we’ve drawn together some of the tributes we received from Ron’s friends and former charges:
John Trevorrow on the boards
John Trevorrow is a former three time Australian Road Champion and Olympic rider; he’s currently race director on the Herald Sun Tour and is a public relations man with the Mitchelton-Scott World Tour team.
“I’m sure you’ll be aware of Ron’s successes on the European boards, especially behind the big motors and how he stayed on in the UK and became a corporate guru and a leading light in the six day circuit as well as a leading track designer around the world. I last saw Ron at the Tour de France in 2017 when his mate brought him over for a few days. It was wonderful to see him but he was starting to look pretty frail. I introduced him to the riders at the team bus before the stage start and he loved that. He was always a bike rider at heart.
That night we caught up for dinner and the stories flowed. Ron reminded me that he wasn’t overly impressed with me when we first met! It was 1973 and he contacted Cycling Australia and told them to send over their best young roadies and he would look after them. It was not only a super generous offer but an amazing and life changing opportunity for those of us that grabbed it. So a group of us took the plunge.
The ‘72 Aussie Olympic team – Don Allan, Clyde Sefton, Graeme Jose and myself; we were joined by Don Wilson, Tom Moloney and a group of Aussies who were in Europe, Tony Branchflower and Ian Jackson and a Pommy Aussie named Bernie Nolan who managed us when Ron was unavailable. We got to race in the biggest amateur races in the world and it was an amazing trip that helped Don Allan and Clyde Sefton secure pro contracts.
I arrived a week after the others and I wasn’t in great nick. I remember walking into Ron’s office in London. It was pouring rain and I looked like a drowned rat and, evidently, I was puffing on a cigarette. Ron was such a professional in everything he did and he took a dim view of my lack of condition. I remember I had to duck over to Belgium and race a few kermises to find some form. Luckily, I impressed Ron at an international Grand Prix at Crystal Palace and got myself into the team that went to the Peace Race. Although that year has many wonderful memories there was a major tragedy when Graeme Jose was killed at the Tour of Austria. It was a bloody nightmare but Ron just stepped up and took control of a terrible situation. Jose had collided with a truck that had been stopped in a stupid spot on a major descent. He was critical and Ron flew over from London and took over the reins. He had to organise flights for Graeme’s parents and, if my memory serves me correctly, Jose passed away while they were in the air. We were all a mess as you can imagine but Ron was the calming presence that got us through. Jose died the day before the final stage in Vienna and I remember Ron arranged for the entire field to wear black armbands and Don Allan put up an amazing ride to win that stage which was a beautiful tribute.
We were just one group of Aussies that Ron helped but I’ve had many messages over the last few days from people around the world who Ron helped. Ron was a bloody great bloke and very generous.
He will be missed by many. RIP Ron.”
Don Allan slung in the chase by Danny Clark
Six day legend, Don Allan had this to say:
“Sad news from the UK this week with the passing of my old friend and mentor Ron Webb. It was Ron who suggested that if enough of us went to Europe to form a team, he would arrange for us to compete in the great races throughout Europe during the summer of 1973. What a wonderful and thrilling experience it was and as a team we were very successful and I was fortunate enough to get a professional contract after the road season ended. Ron was always up for a chat and willing to give advice and help young riders coming to Europe.
Will miss him terribly.
Steele Bishop – World champion
Former World Professional Pursuit Champion and current holder of four world masters titles, Steele Bishop.
“Very sad news. Ron has always been the gentleman. He may have lived most of his life in the UK but I believe an Aussie at heart. Before I even met Ron back in 1983, he set me up with a contract to ride the Coca Cola Trophy criteriums in Germany and then the Kellogg series in UK.
He also met me at the airport most Mondays in the UK to drive me to the race, as I was living in Switzerland at the time. He then came to the worlds in Switzerland and after looking at the track, gave me the winning edge with his advice on how to ride this track.
Forever grateful to have known this incredible, generous man.
RIP my friend.”
Angus Fraser with rider Martin Hacecky
Scotsman Angus Fraser who was a friend of Webb’s for many years:
“I first met Ron in September 1970, he was visiting Edinburgh to see if there was potential to build a small indoor track in one of the halls at Meadowbank Stadium but they were too small. However, in June of 1971 and ’72 he and I organised amateur six days on the Meadowbank, outdoor, 1970 Commonwealth Games track. He organised sponsorship from Alloa Brewery who were linked with SKOL lager who sponsored Ron’s pro six day in London. But he also got sponsorship from companies like Danish bacon in Edinburgh – that’s the kind of entrepreneurial man he was.
Then I worked with him in 1974 when I brought Alan Miller and ‘Clanky’ Clark down to ride the amateur SKOL six. He was involved in the design and build of the new SKOL track when the race moved from Earls Court to Wembley and his track building career blossomed from there. But he wasn’t just about business, he helped so many Aussie riders find a place in Europe – his network of contacts was unbelievable, he did so much for cycling. He introduced Dernys to Herne Hill and helped British motor paced riders like the late Roy Cox. I spent a lot of time with him when he built the track for the 1986 Commonwealth Games at Meadowbank – and one thing he always did was to use local labour to support the local economy.
He was a real friend, always there for you.
Rest in Peace, Ron.”