FEATURE: Tributes to Derek Garnett

Alan Taylor has sent in this tribute to Derek Garnett:

“Derek’s amazing cycle speedway career started in 1950 as one of the founder members of the Offerton Devils club. His ability soon started to show itself as he helped his fledgling team of young riders finish runners-up in the Manchester & Stockport League Division Two in 1952 and by 1954 were challenging the Division One teams in the league’s major competitions.

“During those early few years, Derek finished second in the Manchester Junior Individual in 1953 before winning the title in 1954 as well as picking up the Match Race title in 1953, 1954 and 1955. From 1965 to 1975 Derek would go on to lead Offerton to ten Manchester League Division One titles as well as lifting the Senior Individual title four times. During the 1960’s and 1970’s  Derek helped Offerton win the British Team title on six occasions and became the first rider to win the British Senior Individual title four times.Derek also helped Wilmslow in 1959, and Blackley in 1980, to win British Team titles.

“I got to know Derek soon after I started riding for Didsbury Vikings in 1968 and soon found out that not only was he one of Manchester’s top riders but he was one of, if not the, best rider in the country. Unlike some other top riders of the time, Derek always seemed approachable, willing to offer his advice and help if asked, and always ready to offer encouragement to a not-so-young rookie like me. Derek spent hours riding around the Offerton track, many of them alone, as he practiced and honed his skills and I always remember him saying that the best sort of training for cycle speedway is cycle speedway.

“Away from the track, Derek published the Manchester League Bulletin magazine for many years as well as serving on the Manchester League committee. Ironically, Derek would often be the one to write an obituary following the passing of anyone from the Manchester CS scene, using his wealth of records and knowledge of the sport. Within a couple of years of the Tameside club re-locating to the disused Offerton track in 2003, Derek introduced his grandson, Ben, to the sport and in no time at all Derek was helping out with any work needed at the track and once again offering advice and encouragement to the club’s riders, both old and young. For me, it’s a privilege and an honour to have known Derek and to be able to have regarded him as a friend.”

Photos below show Derek with one of the many trophies he picked up during his career and a typical first bend action shot of Derek at Blackley’s Heaton Park track. 

Derek used to be mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records back in the day when Cycle Speedway got a mention ( most British title wins).