East Tyrone Cycling and Athletic Club was formed in the ‘county of the bushes’ in 1926 to cater for the sportsmen in the Cookstown area. However after three years interest waned and the club became defunct.
After World War 2, some local lads went to watch the popular grass track cycle racing at the Loughry Young Farmers Sports in Lammy, a townland between Cookstown and Dungannon. That was on June 6th, 1947 and from their interest the club was revived adopting the original title.
Those present on that occasion were H. Montgomery, S. Lyttle, E and J. Warnock, G. McLaughlin, R and V. Hutchinson, T. Talbot and C. Henry. Members of Northern CC Belfast Stanley Martin, Jimmy Keenan, Jimmy Hughey, Bobby Irvine and Eddie Cassidy took the Tyrone club under their guidance until it became established on a sound basis.
Val Hutchinson and Jim Warnock were the first secretary and treasurer, with Silas Lyttle taking the chair. Glen Casement who later went on to become active with the North Down club, became secretary in 1949 and is remembered as a most enthusiastic and efficient official, while Jim Wilkinson was a keen treasurer.
The club was in a good catchment area with Dungannon, Omagh, Magherafelt and Cookstown providing members, the membership had reached sixty three by 1960. During 1948 Bob Cummings, a former Northern CC member, joined the club and was elected chairman on the same night. Until Bob left the area he served as timekeeper at all club races, a duty which later passed to Tom Graham who later became club president.
Club runs and touring, with a few short distance time trails in which Tommy Talbot’s potential quickly emerged comprised the early season programme. In 1953 two novices, Tom Allingham and Jim Slaine appeared on the cycling scene. They soon provided stiff opposition for Talbot, sometimes getting the upper hand. But Talbot continued to win the coveted Henry trophy (presented by Cyril Henry) for the club’s best all rounder. Tommy won this trophy on no fewer than seventeen times, one of the many Talbot records in East Tyrone.
The tussle for supremacy produced faster performances. Soon East Tyrone was making their mark in open competition with the strong combination of Talbot, Slaine and Allingham winning the Northern Ireland B.A.R. team championship. Allingham proved a brilliant stayer, taking the individual honours in the NICF 12 hours and road race championships.
The club experienced a golden era in the fifties. Tommy and Bobby Talbot and Allingham winning many individual titles with Slaine ever present to assist in collecting team honours. International recognition came to Allingham, Bobby Talbot -son of Tommy – who himself was chosen for the world championships in Rome in 1955, Copenhagen 1956 and the 1958 Empire Games in Cardiff.
Bobby Talbot represented Ireland in the World Series in Rheims and in the 1960 Tour of Britain. When the Tommy Talbot, Slaine and Allingham alliance subsided in the sixties, the clubs most successful period had ended. Bobby Talbot and Eddie Sloss were the new force, but times were changing. Enthusiasm was on the wane. Then new faces appeared on the scene, John and Ronnie Talbot had taken up the sport and with Tommy and Bobby they earned the club the unique distinction of winning the 1966 Maryland Wheelers 50 miles Team Time Trial with a ‘four brother’s entry’.
Pat Ludlow, Anthony Blaney, Bertie Cotton and Noel Sands were some of those whose time and efforts ensured the ongoing well being of East Tyrone. Later Cyril Henry’s sons, Ian and Tom came into the club. When those Henry brothers left Tyrone to settle in Bangor they were prominent in the foundation of North Down CC.
In the mid seventies a recruiting drive brought the formation of a promising schoolboys squad under Rod Davisons’ leadership. Rod was Northern Ireland Junior Road Race champion in 1964. This initiative brought in a fine squad of young riders including Paul McIvor, Chris McCann, Chris McGorry, Gary Scott, William Leonard, Thomas Wilson and Gareth Talbot. John Palmer and Ernie Magwood were also emerging on the scene. Bobby Talbot’s son, Melvin was almost unbeatable at club level during the eighties setting new records at 10 and 25 miles and seven times winner of the B.A.R. George Wilson who joined the club in 1950 had a long career in competitive cycling spanning 50 years before retiring in 2000. George was elected club president in 1991.
Until resigning in 2005, Sidney Faulkner had given sterling service to the East Tyrone club for almost 50 years. Following his racing career he went on to become a long serving timekeeper and race official.
Cyril Henry was club chairman for 28 years before being succeeded by another founder member Tommy Talbot. Cyril became founder member of the NICF in 1965 retaining the office for thirteen seasons.
Jim Slaine, who along with Geordie Wilson, has been a club member for over 50 years. In that time Jim who has a brilliant racing career, has been a great stalwart serving the East Tyrone club with diligence and enthusiasm in various capacities including secretary, treasurer, chairman, timekeeper and race official.
The Mistletoe café in Cookstown was the venue for the clubs monthly meetings for 42 years from 1964 until the retirement of the owner Miss Maureen Slaine in 2006.
The word ‘athletic’ has long since been dropped from the title and in consequence the East Tyrone has been a sponsored club since 1980 changing its name to S.J. Bell’s Motors – East Tyrone until 1989. T.J. Hamilton and Co. Cookstown took over sponsorship and the club title from 1989 to 1991. There was a lapse in sponsorship in 1992. R.T. Autoparts resumed sponsorship in 1993, followed by MacLaughlins Bakery. The club is hugely appreciative of current sponsors KDM Hire.
In January 1989 the club voted to join the newly formed Ulster Cycling Federation now known as Cycling Ulster which is affiliated to Cycling Ireland. The club has been affiliated to the Northern Ireland Cycling Federation since it’s formation in 1947. This decision caused ten members to resign.
Tommy Talbot succeeded Cyril Henry as chairman with Ronnie Moffett as secretary. Jim Slaine was elected chairman in 1986, a post he held until 1993 when the present chairman Rod Davison was elected to the position. Chris McCann was secretary from 1986 until 1991 and Dermot McNally during 1991-1992. Chris McCann resumed the position in 1993 with Roger Barrett taking over in 1994. Godfrey Irwin took over in 1995 until 2006 when Noel Wilson the present secretary was elected. Current treasurer Johnston Hughes replaced Tom Bell in 1992.
Active clubmen Brian McComb and Ernie Magwood launched the present Youth Academy in 2003 and along with new members and current vice president Gerard Fox ably supported by their wives. This venture proved a huge success and brought a welcome influx of youth into the ranks of the club.
To date the club continues to grow and trive with new members being added to the ranks every year.
By Rod Davidson (Chairman)
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