Gingerbread Donkey Rally
Held in Lancashire just off the M6 east of Southport May/June 1974
Well this was one that I had never heard about before. We had planned to go to Oldham on the Friday night for a few pints of Robinson's best bitter in the White Swan and then crash down at Alan Giddens flat, and then on Saturday morning set off for the Calder Valley Rally. But I just got a phone call from Alan to say "The plan has changed" and we were to meet up at the campsite of the Gingerbread Donkey Rally on the Friday evening, directions given OK.
Friday morning I set off for work on the SX650 Yamaha that I had swapped my Square Four for, fully ladden with the camping gear. No point adding another hour and twenty miles to the trip by getting loaded up after work.
Time drags when you're eager to be off riding your bike but eventually 16.30 came and it's out the factory gates, turn left onto the A449 and 10 miles up the road is J13, M6. An hour and a half later I'm on the campsite. The lads all arrived over the next 2 hours and as usual we helped each other setting the tents up. Then it's into the pub. There were about 60 to 70 people there including Albert on his Harley and his mate (can't recall his name but he had an Indian) and they had their banjos or ukes with them. So a pleasurable evening was spent recounting epic sagas, singing and drinking. All too soon it's Saturday morning and it's back to Plan A, Calder Valley Rally.
As we had our breakfasts someone annalized the rally. No tea, coffee or soup on arrival, £1.50 entry fee, poxy badge and altogether poor value in comparison to other rallies who were only charging from as low as 80 pence (Nottingham 41 club) to £1.00. So it became known to us as the Gingerbread Ripoff Rally.
We packed our tents and headed off towards the M6.
Continued on the Calder Valley report page.
- Les Hobbs
The Gingerbread Donkey was a spring rally run by the Comet MCC from Merseyside at various sites (eg. 1978 Burscough Bridge) until the early 1980s, when it settled on St. Helens rugby union club, at Liverpool - near the A580 East Lancashire Road.
Its hayday was undoubtably between 1984 and 1987 when it was staggeringly successful, with custard pie competitions and Miss Wet-just-about-eveything. To satisfy demand the Comet introduced an autumn rally, the Kicking Donkey. However, political correctness and Health & Safety seemed to have set in; the Gingerbread Donkey died quietly early this century at the same venue with a turnout of around 50 and no silly games or bonfire.
AFAIK, the Comet MCC has more-or-less merged with the Four Winds MCC from St. Helens.
I remember this rally well - I helped run a few, marshalled others, and when I left Lancashire I often biked back to visit this one.
At one time I had to mount a vigorous letter-writing campaign in a local newspaper to defend the Gingerbread Donkey when it was held in Burscough.
- Paul Thompson