Golden Eagle Rally
First Golden Eagle Rally held in 1974 at Womborne.
A bit of background first. The Golden Eagle was a pub in the Whitmore Reans area of Wolverhampton where an informal gathering of 15 or so motorcyclists used to take place on a Wednesday evening in the snug bar, headed by brothers Nick and Chris Brooks way back in 1968/9. Some of the people had been to a couple of rallies and suggested that we should be thinking of running one. Enquiries had been made about the production of rally badges and the price of £40 for the making of a press tool was mentioned. Now to put things into perspective a pint of bitter in 1968 was 2/- ... two shillings or 10 pence. As an apprentice my weekly pay was £8 ish so £40 was quite a sum to find. Then someone suggested how about all putting 6d ... sixpence or 2½ new pence into a fund each week, sort of club funds, until we had enough to pay for the badges. It was agreed on and started.
All was going well until within several months both brothers found theirselves in need of getting married and the club was handed over to two other persons to run, lets say A and B. It struggled on for a short period until it came to light that the treasurer B was making loans to club "members" from out of the club funds. He walked away. The other person A now took over the position of treasurer. Within four months the drive went out of the club, interest wained and things moved on. Person A pocketed the funds and it was conveniently forgotten about. We are not talking vast amounts but principals.
Rallying goes on and thru the early part of 1972. Person A was still on the scene and part of the crowd and several times talk of holding our own rally was mentioned by other lads in our group and all you got was a negative answer "Nah it's all been tried before" from person A. So in 1974, after being compensated for an accident, I found myself in a position to finance the first Golden Eagle Rally.
The club was just by name, a loosely gathered collection of bikers but we had several enthusiastic people; Geoff Fulford, Geoff Rogers, Pete the Snuff, Steve Porter, Bob Hughes, Mac the Black, Pete Birkitt, Jimmy Fisher, Les Richardson, Gary Williams, John Boswell, John "Jabe" Barlow and several others.
We set the date the tail end of May. We tried to find a venue and all we got was knocked back time and time again. The pub is the key, you have to find a landlord that will let you fill his pub with a drunken rabble for 5 hours of solid manic drinking, bawdy singing and not bat an eyelid. We even went as far a field as the Blue Lias at Long Itchington. In the end Geoff Rogers found a quiet pub in Womborne, The Mount Pleasant, that was doing very little trade and talked the elderly landlord into holding the event. Geoff Fulford organised the badges or at least the manufacture of the die.
We now needed a field and a control tent. We asked person A, who owned a large ex-army tent, if we could use it for the weekend - a firm "NO" was the answer. We then found a field by the side of the canal in Womborne with a derelict house nearby. Problem solved. We asked around and could not find the owner of the field so we decided to press ahead.
Two days before the rally the landlord had second thoughts and was going to back out but my mother got on to the brewery and asked them if they could really afford to lose the trade. In the end a little pressure from the brewery meant that the event was on and extra beer was delivered.
The day of the rally came and people started to turn up from about midday. Sign posts had been put up from the A449 directing rallyists down a small track to the field. The control had been set up in the abandoned house. About 18.00 the owner of the field turned up along with the local police and complained about us using his field and flattening the grass he wanted for hay. Jimmy Fisher said that there was no problem about that, it only needed a harrow putting over it. I explained that we had nowhere else to go to and that people from all over the country were already on their way and it was too late to stop the event. But the card in the hole was Geoff Rogers. He knew the local policeman as Geoff used to drink in the social club in Womborne police station, and the copper talked the landowner around for us.
We had the Friday night as a warmup. Things went well and the landlord and his wife were happy but realised that they would have to call in extra bar staff to help out as they could hardly cope with all the thirsty lads. And there was a shortage of beer glasses.
Saturday morning and a supply of plastic glasses was located. Things were going well, people turning up in a steady stream, tea, coffee, soup and hot dogs were laid on. We now found out that we had a second rally pub, The Brick Bridge, just up the road. As people turned up they passed the pub just before turning into the track to the field and many walked back there.
My mother and sister turned up on Saturday evening about 8 o'clock. They were curious to see what went on at these rallies that I had been going to for the past five years. The Mount Pleasant was rammed full and lads were outside standing around or sitting down drinking when one lad came around the side of the pub on a bicycle stark naked, streaking on wheels! Beer was thrown at him and he came off the bike virtualy at my mothers feet.
We gave the awards out on Sunday morning. Long distance went to Tom and Alex Soffe from Camberley. I was looking for the two lads and it turned out to be that Alex was his wife! No sooner than I had done that than a Dutch couple turned up from Vlissengen so we had to get another award which Pete the Snuff and myself delivered to them 5 months later.
Event over we went up to the Mount Pleasant and found the landlord in a very happy mood. He had been cleaned out of beer, we had very nearly drunk the pub dry!
The Golden Eagle had now left the nest and was self sufficent to the tune of £125 and a bank account was opened with five signatories on the cheque book, any combination of three needed to sign a cheque. I insisted on this to prevent any individual gaining access to the funds.
- Les Hobbs
I don't know who organised it, I don't know what it was all about 'cos I was too pissed but what I can say is, this was one of many rallies I attended in the seventies and it made a real man of me, ask my missus. (She says I can tell you that)
Me and several mates, including Jeff Currell (God rest his sweet soul) who also attended with me, enjoyed the company of real, true bikers of the day.
Thank you so much for steering my life along the way. It was great!
The Rally was one of many during the seventies 'formative' years and God how I wish I could turn the bloody clock back!
And my bastard of a stepfather gave my badge away!
- Pete Ashton
We'll turn the clock back for you Pete. Les Hobbs organised it and you can wear the badges again by printing a T shirt.
I helped out at the first rally in 1974. I served soup along with Snuffy Turner to the new arrivals. In fact I seem to recall that there was a choice of soup or something else.
Anyway, the alcohol took over when we were singing rally songs at the top of our voices in the pub.
A great rally...
Only this week, after 40 years of losing touch, I have contacted John Boswell. He is doing very well in South Africa and is still messing about with bikes ... good on him!
- Nigel Caddick
Spelt my name wrong Les, and just noticed Wombourn spelt wrong.
Also remembered we had the WPC Jane Hall with the Panda car parked outside, while she was serving tea and coffee out of the old kitchen window.
Still got the Yam, though.
You may care to mention the Red Badges that caused your un-known warrior such grief later.
Have to report that Geoff Fullford passed away in Thailand about 6 years ago.
Must meet again sometime.
- Geoff Rogers