Friday, June 21, 2024
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Irvine Morrison

A Class Act

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Earlier this year we mentioned the death of former Scottish Champion, Irvine Morrison; sadly, we didn’t have the knowledge to pen a proper tribute.

But our old amigo, John ‘Ginger’ Gray forwarded this piece to us and confirmed that we have author Dennis White’s permission to run this tribute to Irvine which he wrote in 2018 – we think it’s well worth an airing on our pages.

Irvine Morrison
Scottish junior best all-rounder time trialist and road race champion Irvine Morrison competing in the Musselburgh RC two-day race in 1964. Photo©Dennis White.

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Almost sixty years ago, Irvine Morrison and I joined the Edinburgh Road Club, which had been in existence since the 1920s and was connected to the CTC [Cyclists Touring Club]. 

We enjoyed runs to Youth Hostels and camping the night before a time trial on a Sunday morning at Stirling. 

Road racing was fairly new to the club until our time in the club, as time trialling had been more prevalent.

One of the reasons the club did so well in the early to mid-60s was because there was a strong sense of camaraderie within a compatible road-racing peer group, which included the late John Blacklock (first in ERC to get under the hour for a ‘25’), Dave Philip, Gavin Kerr, Tom Vallery, Ian Angus, Barry Craighead, Irvine Morrison, Dougie Wightman and myself.

[Dave, Gavin, Dougie and I are still ‘doing the miles on a bike’ in Auchencraw Thistle CC, Ray Wetherall’s Newcastle bunch, Cupar CC and the Royal Albert CC respectively.]

This piece is dedicated to my life-long friend, Irvine, who kindly let me extract material from his scrapbook from which most of this information was taken. 

Unfortunately, his short-term memory is not so good now (early stages of Alzheimer’s), so our old cycling exploits are a great therapy – for us both!

It is also offered in the hope that young riders in the Clydesdale Colts – I am proud to say that I played a part in its creation – and other clubs, may read about Irvine’s achievements and use his example as an inspiration to go on and realise their own dreams and aspirations.

Four Years in the making…

Irvine Morrison
Two of Scotland’s top riders of the time. Irvine Morrison giving Dennis White some shelter on their fixed wheel, one-brake tandem. Photo©Dennis White

1962 (age 16)

  • First 10 – (ERC) – 24.34 (his second ever race)
  • Fastest 10 – (ERC) – 24.17
  • First 25 – (Musselburgh) – 1.7.34 (his first ever race)
  • Fastest 25 – (Dale RC) – 1.2.46
  • Fastest 50 – (Lothians) 2.18.21
  • Rode in 29 races
  • Won one race
  • Second in two races
  • Third in two races

1963 (age 17)

  • Fastest 10 – (ERC) 23.29
  • Fastest 25 – (Belleisle) 1.0.19
  • Fastest 50 – (Belleisle) 2.3.01
  • Tour de Meldons – 59.28 (2nd)
  • ESCA Junior RR Championships – (2nd)
  • Clypse Circuit Handicap APR – Isle of Man – (14th)
  • Inverness to Elgin RR – 9th
  • National Junior RR Championships – (2nd)
  • Rode in 43 races
  • Won one race
  • Second in 11 races
  • Third in 8 races
  • SCU Medal
  • Gold – Scottish Junior BAR Team (Dave Philip, Irvine Morrison, Dennis White)

1964 (age 18)

  • Fastest 10 – (Musselburgh) 22.37 PB
  • Fastest 25 – (Dale) 58.12
  • Fastest 50 – (Belleisle) 2.1.47
  • Dunedin 25 mile 2 up (with Dennis White) – 58.49 – (1st) [beating seniors, Brian Temple & Roy Francey, by almost a minute]
  • ESCA Junior RR Champs – (1st)
  • Isle of Man Mountain Time Trial – 1.47.55 (17th)
  • Scottish Junior RR Championships – (1st)
  • Rode in 39 races
  • Won 22 races
  • Second in 8 races
  • Third in 3 races
  • [Irvine finished only one second behind Billy Bilsland in the Championship 25 on a very misty morning in Ayrshire]
  • SCU Medals
  • Gold – Scottish Junior BAR
  • Gold – Scottish Junior RR
  • Silver – Scottish 25m Championships
  • Silver – Scottish 50m Championships
  • Gold – East Junior RR Championships
  • Gold – Scottish 50 Mile Championship Team (Irvine Morrison, Dave Philip, John Blacklock)
  • Gold – Scottish Junior BAR Team (Irvine Morrison, Dennis White, Dougie Wightman)

1965 (age 19)

  • Fastest 10 – (ERC) 23.05
  • Fastest 25 – (Bo’ness) 56.27PB
  • Fastest 50 – 1.58.01 PB (Alloa – Scottish 50 Championship Record)
  • Tour de Meldons – 56.23 (1st)
  • Fastest (and only) 100 – 4.25.27 (Strong winds)
  • Tweeddale RR (3 times over the Dreva circuit) – (1st)
  • [Comet Spring Grand Prix over Stow and Soutra – three miles before the finish, Irvine went off course with Billy Bilsland, Ian Thomson and Gordon McNaught – which allowed John McMillan to steal a win!]
  • [In the National 25 Championships at Inverness, Irvine was 4th with a 59.42, after a railway level-crossing gate closed in front of him and he had to climb over it with his bike on his shoulder!]
  • Musselburgh 2 Day- 8th overall
  • Rode in 29 races
  • Won 12 races
  • Second in 6 races
  • Third in one race
  • SCU Medals
  • Gold – Scottish 50m Championships
  • Gold Team Scottish 50 mile Championships (Irvine Morrison, Dave Philip, John Blacklock)

The sudden passing of his father in 1963 gave Irvine (aged 17) extra motivation to do well at his chosen sport, in memory of his dad. 

Irvine retired from cycling in 1966, when the family and their tallow-refining business moved away from Edinburgh to Carberry Hill, near Musselburgh, where they worked hard to develop a world-wide candle brand, famously called ‘Carberry Candles’.

Irvine and his wife, Lindsay, have recently retired to the nearby quiet village of Cousland, from which Irvine can look down and keep a close eye on Carberry Hill!

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With thanks to ‘Ginger’ and Dennis; rest in peace, Irvine Morrison.