Former Olympic cyclist Brian Jolly made a quick visit to the city from his home in Canada last weekend to celebrate his 65th birthday with members of his family. Or so he thought!
The Sheffield-born cycling supremo was left stunned when he was also greeted by around 60 top riders who he’d competed against in the halcyon days of the late 1960s and early 70s.
They came from Scotland, Wales, Torquay, London, Kent, Oxford, Merseyside, Yorkshire and Lancashire to name but a few areas, to join the surprise retirement party which had been arranged by Brian’s wife Elizabeth and his former team manager George Shaw at the Masonic Hall.
Brian, who won the British amateur road race championship and represented his country at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, before turning professional, felt it was ‘fantastic and unbelievable’ that so many riders had gathered together.
Among them were: Another famous son of Sheffield, Wes Mason, the former Commonwealth Games road race champion. Sid Barras, Brian’s team-mate in the Raleigh pro squad and one of the most prolific winners of all time, including taking the Tom Simpson Memorial race on four occasions. Dave Rollinson, twice the British champion. Colin Lewis, another former British champion and a finisher in the Tour de France.
Plus the two riders Brian beat to win the British amateur championship all those years ago, Brian Tadman (second) and Pete Matthews (third). Brian met his future wife, who was a member of the Canadian rowing team, at the Olympics and he emigrated to Canada at the end of 1974.
When he retired from racing, he took up various official positions and was president of the Canadian Cycling Association for eight years.
During that time he was responsible for the organisation of the World Championships, which were held in Hamilton, Ontaria. He also represented Canada on the UCI (world cycling’s governing body).
Sheffield-based George said: “It was great evening and a real honour for me to have been involved as I consider Brian to have been the most professional rider I had managed in over 50 years of cycling.”