JOHN GILLIES - 15TH SEPTEMBER 1938 - 11TH APRIL 2010
I FIRST MET JOHNNY IN 1956 WHEN I JOINED THE KNIGHTSWOOD TOFFS. HE
WAS ALSO A RECENT RECRUIT, BUT ALREADY SHOWING INTEREST IN LOOKING AFTER TEAM AFFAIRS AND THIS EVENTUALLY LED TO HIM BECOMIING
TEAM MANAGER. HE WAS A GOOD FOOTBALLER AND MUCH INVOLVED AT THAT TIME AND VERY FIT. THIS ENERGY SERVED HIM WELL
IN RACING AND HE SOON BECAME THE GLASGOW JUNIOR CHAMPION. NATIONAL SERVICE FOLLOWED BUT JOHNNY RACED FOR THE TOFFS WHENEVER
HIS DUTIES PERMITTED AND RESUMED FULL TIME RACING FOLLOWING DEMOB. HE WAS ALWAYS INTERESTED IN THE GENERAL ORGANISATION
OF THE SPORT AND CONTRIBUTED A GREAT DEAL THROUGH HIS EFFORTS WITH THE TOFFS AND THE CONTROL BOARD.
JOHNNY WAS A COMICAL CHARACTER, WITH A VERY QUICK WIT AND A DISTINCTIVE
LAUGH WHICH WAS MUCH IN EVIDENCE ROUND THE TRACKS WHERE HE ENJOYED AND CONTRIBUTED MUCH TO THE MIRTH AND BANTER. HE
CONTINUED HIS CONNECTION WITH FOOTBALL AND JOINED THE COMMITTEE OF YOKER ATHLETIC JUNIOR F.C. THEY HAD RECENTLY PURCHASED
A DONKEY AS A MASCOT AND TO KEEP THE GRASS SHORT, AND JOHNNY WITH HIS LIKING FOR ANIMALS, PARTICULARLY DOGS WAS DULY APPOINTED
ITS OFFICIAL KEEPER. HE WAS QUITE PROUD OF THIS AND APPEARED WITH THE DONKEY IN SEVERAL NEWSPAPERS. HE WROTE A
REGULAR COLUMN ON CYCLE SPEEDWAY IN THE WESTERN NEWS COVERING A WIDE AREA FROM PARTICK TO CLYDEBANK THAT GAINED GOOD PUBLICITY
FOR THE SPORT.
JOHNNY, DOUG MAXWELL AND MYSELF CONTINUED OUR FRIENDSHIP AFTER RETIRING
FROM CYCLE SPEEDWAY AND ENJOYED MANY GOOD TIMES TOGETHER. I INTRODUCED HIM TO A NUMBER OF MY FRIENDS IN GOVAN AND EVEN
AFTER I LEFT IN 1971 TO LIVE IN ENGLAND, THOSE FRIENDSHIPS CONTINUED TO THE MUTUAL BENEFIT OF ALL, INCLUDING SEVERAL GOVAN
AND PARTICK HOSTELRIES.
THERE WAS A BREAK WHEN JOHNNY SPENT A TIME WITH THE MESSERSCHMIDT AIRCRAFT
COMPANY IN GERMANY ON A CONTRACT AS AN AERO ENGINEER, AFTER PREVIOUSLY WORKING WITH ROLLS ROYCE AT HILLINGTON. UNFORTUNATELY,
HE DEVELOPED A PROBLEM WITH A WRIST, LOSING SOME CONTROL OF HIS FINGERS AND THAT FINISHED HIS CAREER AS AN ENGINEER.
THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE JOHNNY WAS MUCH INVOLVED IN GREYHOUND RACING AS AN
OWNER AND TRAINER OF DOGS AND ENJOYED SOME MODEST SUCCESS AT VARIOUS TRACKS. OTHER INTERESTS INCLUDED MUSIC, RANGING
FROM CLASSICAL TO COUNTRY & WESTERN AND HE HAD A HUGE COLLECTION OF RECORDS AND TAPES. HE WAS AN AVID READER
AND GOT THROUGH A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF BOOKS AT ALL TIMES.
JOHNNY WAS A VERY POPULAR GUY WITH ALL WHO KNEW HIM, INCLUDING MY CHILDREN
WHO LOVED HIS ANTICS WHENEVER THEY MET HIM. WE OFTEN STAYED WITH JOHNNY WHEN VISITING GLASGOW TO GO TO IBROX AND WERE
MADE VERY WELCOME AND SHARED MANY HAPPY TIMES. HE MAINTAINED HIS
CHEERFUL PERSONALITY AND FAMOUS SENSE OF HUMOUR UNTIL ABOUT 3 YEARS AGO WHEN HE SUFFERED A SEVERE STROKE. AFTER TREATMENT
IN HOSPITAL HE WAS CONSIDERED UNFIT TO STAY ALONE AND WAS TAKEN INTO A CARE HOME WHERE HE REMAINED UNTIL HIS UNTIMELY DEATH
AT THE AGE OF 71.
JOHNNY WAS A VERY DEAR FRIEND, A UNIQUE CHARACTER, AND SORELY MISSED BUT
FOND MEMORIES WILL ALWAYS REMAIN WITH MANY PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THOSE OF US WHO SHARED SO MUCH WITH HIM.
Bill Ritchie passed away suddenly at his Friockhiem home on 25th January 2010
"He was one of the original cycle speedway "pioneers" and, along with Pete Bell, Ranald Miller and a few others,
was instrumental in setting up the sport in Glasgow. With Jack Monteith passing away earlier last month, we have now lost
the top three of the famed Olympic Trophy held way back in 1948. The event being won by Jack Monteith, with Bill the runner
up and third place being annexed by Pete Bell.
Bill topped the Glasgow scorechart in the first ever test against Edinburgh and was capped
for Scotland on a regular basis. He greatly enjoyed the tours of England, particularly the stay in Southend where
they were afforded the most generous of hospitality!
He produced cycle speedway programs , copies of which have appeared in our History and went on to a career as
a cartoonist and illustrator, being well remembered for his Baby Crockett and Clumsy Claude strips in the Beezer and Beano
respectively. Click on the link below for his obituary in today's Scotsman
Goodbye Bill, a true gentleman.
1st February 2010
Neil Grant (Hampden) suddenly passed away in December 2010 at the tragically early age of fifty four. Click on the
link above for the many tributes paid to his memory.
Roy Paterson, who passed away in December 2010
Roy rode in the inaugural season of 1948 and took part in all three nights of the now legendary Olympic Trophy. As
a young rider he was given a high handicap but unsurprisingly didn't feature in the trophies. However by 1952 he had progressed
and represented the victorious North of Glasgow in their 52-51 success over their southside rivals in an intra city test.
Around this time he rejoiced in the nickname "Spud" and was, unusually for the time appreciative of the Glasgow "polis" They
managed to recover his, and three other bikes, stolen from a hut at Crossmyloof in time for the summer southern tour.
I met Roy at my first reunion in the Corona and shared at table with him, Jim Brown and Ron Braham. It was an excellent
night of which I have fond memories.
Jimmy Cobain writes
I was sorry to hear of Roy's passing. I knew him quite well, having met him in the mid 50's when he was riding for
Everard Eagles up at Bishopbriggs. He was a cheery and friendly bloke and a good rider in what was a strong team at
I can't be sure of the timescale, but he disappeared from the scene, probably around the early 60's
and I did not meet him again until one of our early Veterans' meetings at which time I found him to be very much the same
He told me then he had joined the Merchant Navy as an engineering Officer and was in the service for
some time. He came ashore after some years and later decided he would like to go back to sea, sent details of his qualifications
and took delight in telling people he received a reply stating politely, but firmly, something along the lines the merchant
marine had long since turned from sail to steam and other modes of propulsion. He therefore remained ashore.
I have a feeling I read somewhere he was among the pioneers who ventured to the south of England
in the early days of the sport but perhaps I am mistaken.
In closing I would mention when I first got to know Roy I had not met Sandie, who was a few years younger
than both of us, but one time I mentioned him as being one of the prominent north Glasgow riders and discovered they
had been next door neighbours for around 9 years. Unfortunately she didn't get to meet Roy again, but they did speak
on the telephone later.