Remembering Mick Harley
On 4 May 2020, Findon Skid Kids founder, Mick Harley, passed away peacefully in his sleep, aged 77, following a 2 year battle with cancer. Although everyone was aware of Mick’s battle, it still came as a shock to learn the sad news on Monday morning. A world without Mick Harley just seemed an impossibility, such was his stature and presence, not only in the world of Cycle Speedway, but also in Adelaide, where Mick was a prominent figure and force for good in the local community.
Make no mistake about it, Mick has been the heartbeat of Cycle Speedway in Australia since he founded Findon Skid Kids at Reserve Parade, Findon, Adelaide at the tender age of 15 in February 1958. Not only that, but Mick’s perpetual drive and determination saw the sport flourish on the international stage. Something that would likely not have happened without him and some speculate whether the sport would still exist without that top level of competition.
Married to Shirley and father to Tammy, Shane and Robert, as well as eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; countless others will chalk Mick down as their own father figure; a man of great principle and morals that riders who came through Findon’s doors could look up to. A shining example of a human being who always displayed a measured balance of compassion, common sense but also an unwavering strength in his convictions.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the “Skid Kids” toured Australia and appeared on television with bike tricks and the famous Findon Fire Jump, a tradition which still runs to this day. But at the centre of it all was always Mick, and whilst the club and riders have enjoyed their successes, perhaps some of his best work was giving hope to children where opportunities were few and far between, helping them realise their dreams.
In 2000, Mick received a Medal of the Order of Australia for his work with the Findon Skid Kids and fundraising for charitable organisations.
Last Monday, the Charles Sturt council, where Mick served as a councillor, voted unanimously to rename Findon Reserve to Mick Harley Reserve; a fitting tribute to Mick’s legacy. The Mick Harley Reserve may seem a quieter place without Mick’s fine announcing skills reverberating around the streets nearby.
Mick’s daughter, Tammy, has announced on Facebook that his life will be celebrated with the Skid Kids family once the current pandemic restrictions are lifted – I’m sure it will be a celebration fitting of a man who has had a direct positive impact on thousands of people over the years. In a post thanking people for the overwhelming amount of goodwill messages, she commented:
“My family and I wish to thank you all for your incredible support on dad’s passing. We really are feeling the love.
“We are also DEEPLY touched by your messages of love and stories on how he has impacted on your lives and some of your gorgeous photos.
“We would love if you could privately inbox me your personal photos that you love of dad and your favourite photographic memories of your track experiences so we can have a copy for the memorial book and to use at his memorial.”Tammy Clarke via Facebook. Please send over anything you have to contribute to the memorial
Few have done more for Cycle Speedway than Mick Harley. The hole he leaves is vast and will take an army of people to fill. Thank you for everything you did, for your work, passion and spirit not just in Australia, but the world; for giving not only young people opportunities, but also adults, as I’m sure anybody who has been on a CS tour will testify, it’s where you make special memories that last a lifetime; what better gift can you give people than that?
RIP Mick Harley, an inspiration to us all.
Words by Myke Grimes – a selection of tributes are below
WATCH: Findon Cycle Speedway Club (2014)
It with great sadness that I convey the sad news of the passing of our beloved friend and Australian colleague, Mick Harley. Mick fought a long and brave battle with cancer, before succumbing early today. He was 77 years old.
Mick was instrumental in the setting up of the International Cycle Speedway Federation in 1981 and he has been a strong member ever since, always at the forefront of international activities. He was the founder member of the Findon Skid Kids club in 1958, aged just 15. He led the club for an incredible 62 years, and he led the way in developing the sport, at club level, in Australia and internationally.
Mick’s contribution to cycle speedway can never be over stated. He has, in my view, been the sport’s top leader over the past half century.
I’ve known Mick since 1981, learnt so much from him, always counted him as a true friend personally, as well as holding him in the highest esteem for being an unbelievably able cycle speedway leader and visionary.
My love and thoughts are with his wife Shirley, Tammy, Shane and the rest of his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.
I extend my sincerest condolences and wish you all to stay safe in these difficult times. RIP Mick Harley.Mike Hack, British Cycling CS Commission Chair
Little could Mick and I have envisaged the profound impact that our meeting in the Findon clubroom in 1981 would have on the future of our sport as we sat down to discuss the formation of an International CS Federation – which has bonded our respective nations so effectively in the ensuing decades. The infectious enthusiasm which he has steadfastly continued to inject into strengthening the sporting and social ties between us are testament to the calibre of the man and will live long in the annals of cycle speedway history. On behalf of all his many friends in the sport from all over the world, I would like to extend my condolences to all of the Harley family and Australian CS people on the loss of their truly inspirational leader.Graham Sutton (Founding ICSF Secretary)
Mick Harley: Whilst we’re all gonna miss you, none of us will ever forget you mate, or the legacy that you leave behind.Thank you for everything that you’ve done for so many.Dave Murphy (Exeter CSC, former ICSF Secretary)
RIP Mick Harley (the Legend).
Heartfelt condolences to all of the Harley family and the Australian cycle speedway community.
“Mick’s contribution has been immense. Without him, Cycle Speedway would have probably ceased to exist. International racing has been a lifeline for the sport.”Bob Prince (BC CS Commission/International Referee)
“So very sorry to hear that Mick Harley has passed on. No amount of words could ever do justice to what Mick has achieved for cycle speedway both in Australia and internationally. Sincere condolences to all his family and friends worldwide.”Rod Witham (Spokesman)
Mick was like a father to me as he was to many, Uniting us within this amazing world of cycle speedway. He always wanted what was best for the sport He will remain in my heart and the memories we have made will be cherished forever. – Bobby McMillanBobby McMillan (Cycle Speedway Australia Vice President/Rider)
It is with great sadness that we inform you that the father of Australian speedrower, founder of Findon Skid Kids, Mick Harley, passed away.
We express our condolences to his entire family, not only the biological one, but also a whole bunch of sports graduates.
Mick was a huge inspiration for us in Toruń. We learned from him and tried to implement a lot of his ideas so that the club will be run as professionally as possible.
He often helped organize Polish trips to Australia, lending his own four walls and a roof over them. Thanks to him, we are also richer with many great friends.
The world of speedrower today dies in sadness losing a great man, but his legacy remains with us forever.
Rest in peace Mick.Pawel Cegielski (Toruń)
Heartfelt condolences to the Harley family, Mick was a wonderful person who did a huge amount for the youngsters in Australia. He and his family were so welcoming to all uk tourists over the years. RIP Mick from all who knew you in Newport.Colin Simmons (Newport CSC)
Sad news came to us from Antipods. This morning in Australia after a two-year fight against the disease, our friend and legend of speedrower Mick Harley passed away.
Mick, you are no longer with us in this world, but what you did for the speedrower will remain forever, as the memory of you in our hearts. Unfortunately, after you left, the speedroweowy world won’t be the same…
In these hard times, activists and players of Lviv Avia Częstochowa in grief and pain connect with family and friends.Częstochowa