OBITUARY: Mike McNamara

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Mike McNamara, who gained numerous individual honours and led Rockingham CC to multiple national team titles and records in the 1960s and 1970s, has died after a long illness at the age of 85.

McNamara, latterly president of the South Yorkshire club, lived in recent years in the North of Scotland after moving with his late wife Eileen to a bungalow on the shores of Loch Eriboll. He died in hospital at Bonar Bridge on Saturday, May 8.

After a string of wins in Yorkshire and the North Midlands in the late 1950s and early 1960s, McNamara first came to prominence nationally in 1964 when he was one of four riders to break the 50-mile competition record in the same event on the A1 at Boroughbridge, clocking 1-51-49. It earned him third place in the BBAR which he repeated in 1965, when he helped Rockingham to the team title and record at 50 miles.

He won the national 12-hour championship in 1966 with a modest 258.29 miles on a hard day, but showed record breaking form the following season with 276.52 miles in the Otley CC event, only to see his distance narrowly beaten by Beryl Burton, whose women’s record of 277.25 miles stood for 50 years.

McNamara was third man (behind Graham Huck and Ticker Mullins) in the Rockingham squad which won the BBAR team competition in 1970, and in 1971 he helped club-mates Baz Breedon and Jon Burnham to national team titles at 25 and 50 miles. For three years he led the winning all-rounder team with the backing of Mullins and Bernard Bennett (1974) and Mullins and Eric Smallwood (1976 and 1977). In 1977, Mullins, McNamara and Graham Barker also won the 12-hour team championship, and in 1990 his son Michael led Barker and Steve Heywood to the same title.

McNamara leaves son Michael junior, aged 55, and daughter Elizabeth, 50.

Graham Huck is among former team-mates who have paid tribute to McNamara. “He would help anybody in any way he could,” said Huck. “He was very competitive on the bike, but off it he would happily give his advice to anybody and everybody, especially younger riders as I was.”

Graham Barker said: “When I first met Mac I was a junior, and he was always ready with whatever advice I needed. A Lot of people don’t realise just what he did for the sport, but he was very active behind the scenes. He would organise events, and put himself off at number one in the field so that he could check all the marshals were in place.”

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