The Notts & Derby Cyclo-cross League (NDCXL) is a far different organisation from that we started in the two counties 30 years ago. There wasn’t much “cross” then, except for promotions by Beauvale, Derby Mercury, South Pennine and Matlock. Riders had to travel outside the two counties and there were no races on Saturdays except for Matlock’s.
At that time, there was a healthy Leicester League which welcomed the growing number of our riders but just as we also operate, “foreign” riders and clubs did not receive counting League points and the feeling grew that our riders needed something similar so that there was a record of how they competed against each other and races were needed on Saturdays.
So how did the NDCXL start?
Beauvale’s Tony Lynch wrote a letter on July 29th 1980 to all Nottingham and Derbyshire clubs asking them to attend a meeting in Heanor Town Hall where it would be discussed what could be done to benefit Cyclo-cross in the two counties.
The meeting took place on 13th August 1980, the NDCXL was formed, setting out that all member clubs in the League should endeavour to promote and eight races were planned of which seven took place. By the next meeting on 3rd September, the Constitution and Rules were to be written and then be agreed at that meeting.
These were the founding clubs at that meeting and they each paid £1 annual affiliation:
- Beauvale CC
- Beeston RC
- Matlock CC
- Nottingham Arrow
- Nottingham Clarion
- Sherwood CC
In addition, the following clubs joined plus four Private Members, all at £1.
- Belper BC-Thorntons BC
- Derby Mercury CRC
- Derwent Velo
- Mansfield Aces
- North Notts Olympic
- Velo Club Europa
In the first season, Beauvale had the best attendance at 32 riders and the lowest number was 15, both at Notts Clarion and Sherwood CC.
In this our first season, British Cyclo-cross Association (BCCA) levies were ten pence per rider. Nowadays levies for the BCF, EMCCA and NDCXL total £5 per rider in the main event. Inflation!
The League Officers elected for 1980/81 were:
- Chairman Tony Lynch
- Secretary John Burney
- Treasurer Harry Gould
- Results Secretary Gordon Barlow
- Publicity Officer Tony Lynch
Both were present at that meeting and Harry is still the Treasurer and Tim Gould is the President.
Points mean prizes!
The first ten riders in both Senior and Youth were to get counting points plus one point for all who had started.
Similar arrangements applied to the League prizes at the end of the season except that the first Junior and Veteran were to receive a prize if outside the first ten.
You will have difficulty believing this, but entry fees per race were set at 50 pence seniors and 20 pence youth and 20 pence per rider per event financed the prizes at the end of the season.
Initial major difficulty
Of those attending our inaugural meeting, none could ever have foreseen or even considered the problem that the actual formation of the League would bring about!
The Midland Area of the BCCA when they discovered the banding together of the NDCXL clubs to put on races, then decreed that it was not allowed and the planned races could not take place.
Matlock CC, at that time was not in the Midland Area but in the North West, and they found that the North West Area was very welcoming and would include the Matlock event in their own League and what is more, would encourage their riders to go to Matlock in force as they disagreed with the Midland Area decision! The North West Area already had a thriving League run by the Area itself.
Tony Lynch and Harry Gould got their heads together and came up with a plan. The Midland Area needed splitting into East and West and if that was done, the NDCXL would be large in the East Midlands and ought then to be able to get the NDCXL recognised as an official competition. But how to do it was the question as the League had no one on the Midlands Executive Committee.
Matlock CC could get pressure put on the Midlands by the North West at the National Executive but the NDCXL still had no voice at the Midlands.
The breakthrough came when the Treasurer suggested that the NDCXL affiliate directly to the BCCA in its own right, the Midlands would then be faced with banning an organisation that the National body had just admitted, assuming the BCCA actually admitted us.
The North West Area asked Matlock’s representative to attend the National Executive as one of their delegates and to put the case for the NDCXL joining the BCCA. The BCCA treated the arrival of the NDCXL with welcome arms as it decided that its ideas were just what the sport needed to grow. The Midlands huffed and puffed but couldn’t do anything but reverse their own decision.
Meanwhile the NDCXL clubs set about getting representatives onto the Midlands Committee as Plan A (to split the Midlands into East and West) needed persons at their meetings to get the split onto an Agenda. The North West had already agreed that it would support the splitting.
It took sixteen years and it was not until 1996 that the Midlands Area became both East and West Midlands and by that time even the West Midlands was developing a league as well!
For the 1984/85 season, race entries had risen to £1.20 and 50 pence for Youth and the League was pleased to have as much as £27.74 to start the season with. Club affiliations were still £1 and these additional clubs had now affiliated:
- Bolsover Wheelers
- Chesterfield Coureurs
- Clowne Wheelers
- South Pennine
- Trent Valley CRC
- VC Chesterfield
- VC Nottingham
Ten events were held, they could be sponsored and rider numbers had increased. The League prizes now extended to twentieth place in the Senior League and it was decided to no longer award cash League prizes to Youth riders but instead provide BCCA medals in their place. This proved to be a very popular decision.
At the 1984 AGM it was first recorded that overall League sponsorship would be a good idea and attendees were asked for possibilities.
The Treasurer encouraged FMS to become our first sponsor at £100 per season in 1985/86 and they also presented their FMS Team Challenge Trophy to us. They continued to raise their contributions each season until the FMS owner, Mr Mabbott retired and the business was sold in season 1992/93.
They also provided a rider facility at Nottingham events in the form of their double decker bus and Mr Mabbott attended events to present prizes in his Rolls Royce car!
Our first Chairman, Tony Lynch resigned (owing to family difficulties) in 1993 and Tony Wilkins was elected to replace him. The new Tony set about obtaining fresh sponsorship and was soon successful in bringing on board AK Construction. Tony did not know that AK’s Managing Director had a garden which led onto one of the NDCXL’s courses. When approached as to whether his company would be interested in sponsorship, he said that he was so impressed with the riders of all ages racing whatever the weather that he would be pleased to put it to his Board of Directors.
A meeting followed with our Chairman and Treasurer with AK’s Directors and it was agreed that they would sponsor initially for three years at £500 per season. That wasn’t all! They wanted permanent records of their involvement and they would also buy and pay for the engraving of glass trophies that the winners in each category would keep for themselves. In their final year with us in 2000/2001 we received £935.
Meanwhile, in 1997 AA Cycles added to sponsorship by sponsoring the Under 12 years League until 2001/02.
In 2001/2002 we lost our main sponsor AK Construction but the season following John Holmes secured for us £1000 sponsorship from BarloWorld and Wakies Cycles replaced AA at £150 for the Under 12’s.
From 2003 to 2004 we again lost our main sponsor whilst Wakies continued and in 2004/05 John Holmes secured Prestige at £300 to sponsor the Youth League.
Chairman Dan Alexander obtained a return to full sponsorship for the main League in 2005/2006 from SIS with Prestige and Wakies continuing. All sponsors continued the following season. Regrettably we then lost SIS in what should have been their third year.
2007/2008 saw Dovedale Damp Co sponsor the Main League, Prestige remaining and Zepnat.com replacing Wakies.
In Chairman Ian Gascoigne’s reign, SRAM came on board in 2008/2009 as the sole sponsor for all Leagues. The package included new numbers, tape and enhanced facilities at each event. They also sponsored the raffles with SRAM product at the last two Prize Presentations and a major prize for all category winners in 2008/2009.
SRAM continues for this present season of 2009/10.
During the period above, the League implemented a series of changes designed to improve safety, increase competitiveness, and enhance the atmosphere and to be generally more efficient.
Encouraging a core of volunteers able to judge races on a regular basis was a worthwhile factor. NDCXL results started to be presented quicker than most other Areas. So much so, that in time, the team was invited to repeat the same formula and to be the judges at National events. Clubs were encouraged to provide a couple of assistants at the races they promoted so that more volunteers were capable of judging. It helped that the volunteers also received their average points if they did so.
The names Taylor, Lambert and Willett spring to mind as leading this development.
Allocating to NDCXL riders their number to correspond with their finishing position of the previous season had the benefit of allowing the riders to retain that number at each event and to then hand it back at the end of the season. It was also a benefit to the riders as they could then tell whether or not they were improving on the previous season if they were passing riders with numbers lower than their own.
Spectators too were impressed as they could now assess riders against their previous performance.
The NDCXL supported the drive by the East Midlands Cyclo-cross Association to recruit more Commissaires and to get them trained. Well trained Commissaires are beneficial to race promoters and should help them overcome difficulties.
Creating the starting box system to attempt to ensure that higher placed riders can get away from the start without running the risk of collisions as they pass slower starting riders. This change was more controversial as some riders still considered that the best and fairest start to a race was a straight line across a field – not such a good idea when a narrow opening soon after is approached and as time as went on, the box starts are now accepted but problems are still occurring as more riders than are entitled to be in the first box still attempt to get in it.
To deal with this problem, organisers are now listing riders who can be in the first box and as riders sign on, they can mark the sheet to acknowledge they have read the rules and anyone who considers they have entitlement can append their names on the sheet for the Commissaire to take action.
In season 2009/10, pits have had to be provided at all events and the rider’s helpers must station themselves in them. This has been introduced smoothly and is a benefit to spectators as well as competitors.
Russell Cox has kept us appraised in detail over the years in respect of rider numbers. What follows is a brief summary of how we began and progressed forward.
In our beginning year, we averaged twenty two in Senior events and about ten in the Youth and there was not a race for Under 12’s. They had to race in the Youth event!
Five years later, Senior riders were up to thirty and Youth twenty on average.
By 1991, seniors were averaging sixty in an event and there was a massive jump in younger riders as a result of the creation of a separate League for Under 12’s as their combined total jumped to over forty! The number of promotions had also increased.
As we reached fifteen years old, the mountain bike boom had doubled our attendances and some races now had over a hundred racers and Youth and Under 12 races usually had more than thirty in each.
The Senior League had as many as 194 riders who had competed – remember that this does not count visitors. Youth had thirty one and the Under 12’s had 38 competing.
Reaching 2001, attendances in the Seniors and Youth had dropped back a little but Under 12’s were still growing.
As we became twenty five years old, the Seniors had held their own, Youth attendances were falling but now with races for Under 10’s as well as Under 12’s, frequently more than sixty were competing.
The official statistics for this season showed that 18 events took place, twenty clubs plus Private members had affiliated, 1045 entries to those 18 events, and remember these numbers do not include riders from outside the two counties.
Now, in season 2009/10 as we reach twenty nine years of activity, almost every single event has broken previous participation records in Seniors, Youth and combined Under 10’s and 12’s. In spite of the worst winter since we began, even the blizzard for the first event in 2010 did not prevent the event taking place but no attendance record was broken as a number of riders were prevented from getting to the race.
Perhaps the most noticeable feature of this season is the very satisfying jump in the number of Youth riders. If the League could retain their interest as they grow older, we may yet come to see an equally encouraging increase in the number of Junior riders of both sexes.
Even the postponement of the 2010 National Championships onto the date of Ashfield’s event did not stop Ashfield re-arranging theirs to take place later in the season.
When this article comes to be updated for the thirtieth year – one wonders what the last couple of seasons will reveal.
Participation figures from Junior/Senior/Veteran results:
|Season||Number of rides||Number of events||Number of teams||Participation count||Rides per event|
Riders still competing from the early days!
There does not appear to be a winner or indeed a rider still competing from our first season, although some are now organisers and officials. No doubt you will correct us if we are wrong!
By 1982, Julian Gould and Chris Ledger appear and although they have changed teams from then, they now both ride for the same outfit. Geoff William also appears but he now competes in the Czech Republic.
A year later, another name appears that still races, John Miroslaw, followed the next season by Alan Gascoigne who then goes on to win the Youth League in 1987, Scott Gamble, Peter Middleton and Paul Parker.
The first lady still racing, Emma Wood appears in 1986 as does Andrew Willett.
Jim Bryan appears in 1987.
James Taylor appears in 1988 and he goes on to be our NDCXL Champion and a multiple National Champion over a period of several years.
Steve Barnes appears in 1989 (but he had been racing for 10 years outside the NDCXL) and one of the League’s oldest riders, Don Flint makes his appearance as well.
Vince and Vivien Cox appear in 1990 along with Stefan Buckiewicz and Nigel Hay.
We’ll draw a line after ten years but James Furniss, Terry Taylor, Chris Blount, Mike McDermott and Tony Wilkins all made their appearances in this season.
The age category specific lists are available off the History link in the menu above.
Over a series of years, the NDCXL has done far more than its fair share in promoting events for the benefit overall of Cyclo-cross.
Several National Trophies, National Youth Championships, Inter-Area Championships, several Internationals, Midlands Championship and in 2010 we are promoting the National Championships for the British Schools Cycling Association.
In 2011 we shall be involved in the promotion of the National Championships at Moorways, Derby.
We wonder where this will lead us to. In 1980 when the Founders met together to provide more racing for our riders in the two counties, they did not foresee what progress that they and their successors were going to make.
Let us hope that in 30 years time when the riders of the future review progress they are able to see that we left them with a secure future.