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‘KISS ME QUICK HATS – WE DIDN’T KNOW THE FORM’ 1958

1958 Isle of Man Team
Booted and suited: The team had blazers and slacks but used their own tracksuits and leisurewear.
Back row, left to right ‘Dutchy’ Holland, Reg Quayle, Dursley Stott, Stuart Slack, Fred Brew and Ron Killey.
Front row, (l to r) Jackie Osborne, Johnny Quine, Bill Kelly, Ray Boyde and Arthur Currie. Not pictured are boxing manager Alex O’Brien, Curwen Clague and George Eastwood

Athletics: Bill Kelly (marathon), Dursley Stott (100 and 220 yards), George Eastwood (880 yards)
Cycling: Roger Kelly (road race, sprint, 10-mile scratch race and 1000m time trial), Ron Killey (road race), Reg Quayle (road race), Vic Holland (road race and 10-mile scratch race), Fred Brew (10-mile scratch race), Stuart Slack (road race)
Boxing: Jackie Osborne (light-middleweight)
Team officials: general team manager, Arthur Currie; athletics, Johnny Quine; cycling, Ray Boyde; boxing, Alex O’Brien
10 athletes, 4 officials (14), flag: Bill Kelly; commandant, Curwen Clague
*R.C. Roy Killey (cycling) and D. Miller (athletics) are listed as IoM team members in the official history of the Games in Cardiff, but there is no reference to them attending as such in a journal compiled by Curwen Clague
35 countries 1122 competitors

Wales 1958

Dursley Stott launched the Isle of Man’s foray into the “Olympics” of the Commonwealth at Cardiff Arms Park on July 17, 1958, the day before the official opening ceremony.

The 100 yards and 220 yards both attracted a huge entry, with 12 heats for the shorter distance comprising 58 competitors from 24 countries.

In his white vest, long baggy shorts and black leather spikes, Dursley cut a Chariots of Fire figure.

He had been captain of rugby, cricket and shooting at King William’s College, achieved his athletic colours at Cambridge and played rugby for the Army.

However, there was no dream result and Dursley was fifth and last home in 10.5 in heat two, with a couple of the Caribbean stars in the shape of Tom Robinson and Ken Gardener going well under 10 seconds along with England’s big hope Peter Radford in their respective heats.

Dursley went in the 220 five days later, clocking a modest 23.5 for fifth and last place in his heat.

Making the transition from the much more modest playing fields of home and university to what amounted to a world stage had proved to be nothing less than tough but also an experience that was to stand him well, and the Games Association has had the benefit of his wisdom, support and philanthropy ever since.

It was to marathon man and long distance specialist Bill Kelly, however, the Island turned to for some kind of performance. Regularly seen pounding his home roads, it was Kelly’s off-Island performances that first attracted Curwen Clague to the notion that the IoM should seek out a Commonwealth Games berth.

Sportsman of the Year in 1954, Kelly was a firm favourite of Clague’s. The then 42 year old won the famous London to Brighton race, 52 miles, in 5hrs 39mins 46secs, and was given a civic reception on his return home.

A year later, Kelly, who was again voted Sportsman of the Year, finished fourth in the AAA marathon championship and also to feature prominently in the TT Course marathon race in 1955 and 1956, twice finishing second to Olympian Tom Richards.

Like Stott, however, he too found himself up against it in Wales, and the race was run at record pace, the first eight, led home by Australia’s Dave Power, beating the previous record.

1958 March
Hats off! The Manx team, led by flag bearer Bill Kelly, doff their ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats in regimental fashion at the opening ceremony at the Cardiff Arms Park – home of Welsh rugby

Boxing at the time of the Games held quite an attraction for Manx people and shows at the Villa Marina drew big crowds. Television audiences were used to top drawer bouts, notably when Randolph Turpin fought.

Light-middleweight Jackie Osborne knew his way around the boxing ring and had built a solid reputation at home and off the Island. But he got no further than his elimination bout where he was matched against the eventual silver medallist, losing on points.

With the perils of boxing all too evident, it was to take the CGAIoM another 52 years before it decided to venture into the noble art again. It came close once or twice to selecting a competitor but always feared the worst case scenario and the implications for its hard working appeals team.

Onchan Stadium’s lengthy banked track provided plenty of action both locally and during International Cycling Week, giving the team’s representatives a reasonable chance of a decent result, Roger Kelly fairing best of them in the 1000m time trial, finishing a creditable 12th out of 26 starters, several of them world class athletes.

In the 10-mile scratch race, however, it was a different story and Kelly, Vic Holland and Fred Brew were eclipsed by the sheer speed of the race, won by the dynamic Ian Browne of Australia.

The result that changed things so resolutely in favour of the Isle of Man in general and cycling in particular came on the final day of the Games when Stuart Slack snatched the bronze medal in the 120-mile cycling road race.

While “Slacker”, as he was affectionately nicknamed, had no real pedigree as a winner, his size mitigating against him ever being a climber, he had staying power and was tough man to budge off a wheel.

With his bobbing head and heaving shoulders, he was anything but a stylist, but on Saturday, July 26 Stuart defied the odds – not to mention the weather – and secured an unimagined bronze medal.

None of the other Manxies finished, Ron Killey’s ride ending in one of the many crashes during the day, and the man who would be a lynchpin in the Games organisation was hospitalised.

The homecoming was quite a modest affair, Stuart and the rest of the cyclists pushed their bikes off the ferry to be met by a small crowd.

There was a trip to the mayor’s parlour and a Sportsmen’s Service at Victoria Street Methodist Church in Douglas while Stuart was later voted Green Final Sportsman of the Year, the trophy being presented by Curwen Clague, the newspaper’s editor.

A sceptical Manx public, worried that an entry into the Games was far too ambitious and beyond the capacity of any local athlete, contributed just £406 to the appeal for funds. When the sums were done, the fledgling Commonwealth Games Association of the Isle of Man was £39 out of pocket, which the sports bodies were asked to make good.

Several of the team and some of the officials dug into their own pockets to pay for the journey to Wales and provide themselves with tracksuits with Dursley’s father, Bob, generously supporting the appeal for funds.

The team sported dark blue blazers and slacks for the opening as well as ‘kiss me quick hats, we didn’t know the form’, Dursley later remarked.

1958 telegram
Tale of the tape: Stuart Slack was congratulated by the Tourist Board

Here’s the deal: I want a cinder track

■ In consenting to be the first patron of the Isle of Man British Empire and Commonwealth Games Association, the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Ambrose Flux Dundas, a high jump exponent in his youth, expressed the hope that the Island could be provided with a shale or cinder athletics track.

■ Members of the South Wales Manx Society turned up at a reception hosted by the Manx team and were amazed when His Excellency, accompanied by Lady Dundas, stepped out of MAN 1 to join the celebrations. Along with the Isle of Man, other newcomers at the Games were Jersey, Dominica, Gibraltar, Malta, Mauritius, St. Vincent, Sierra Leone, North Borneo and Sarawak.

■ Arthur Currie, an athletics official whose speciality was as a starter, was the Island’s first general manager and he led the team into the Cardiff Arms Park on July 18 behind India and preceding Jamaica. The flag bearer was marathon specialist Bill Kelly. Although not present at the Games due to ill health, the Queen announced to the Commonwealth that she intended to create her son Charles, Prince of Wales.

■ There was an emotional moment at the end of the Games when an elderly miner from the Welsh valleys, with roots in Laxey, and rugby being dear to his heart, exclaimed his wonder at the athletes having trod the ‘sacred turf’ at the Arms Park with the three legs flag flying above them.

■ As the Island pondered the considerable expense of taking part in the 1962 Games in Perth, Western Australia, it was announced by the Council for England that a joint appeal to UK commerce and industry would be made on behalf of the home countries including the Isle of Man.

■ Kangaroo soup was served at a dinner hosted at Government House by the Lieutenant Governor Sir Ronald Garvey when Dawn Ryan, from the Perth organising team, arrived in the Island to promote the 1962 Games.

1958 Medal Ceremony
Medals moment: Frank Brazier (left), Ray Booty (centre) and Stuart Slack (right) show little emotion ahead of the presentation

Results

ATHLETICS

Men's 100 yards, gold: K. Gardener (Jamaica) 9.4
Dursley Stott 10.5 (eq 53/58)
220 yards, gold: T. Robinson (Bahamas) 21.00
Dursley Stott 23.9 (41/41)
880 yards, gold: Herb Elliott (Australia) 1.49.3
George Eastwood – 1.58.00 (26/28)
Marathon(26 miles 385 yards), gold: Dave Power (Australia) 2.22.45
Bill Kelly 2.50.37 (17/21)

BOXING

Light-middleweight, gold: Alexander Webster (South Africa)
Jackie Osborne - lost on points in elimination bout

CYCLING

Men's road race(120 miles))
1, Ray Booty (England) 5hrs 16mins 22secs; 2, F. Brazier (Australia) at 2.59; 3, S. Slack (IoM) same time
Ron Killey DNF
Victor Holland DNF
Reg Quayle DNF
1000m sprint, gold: Dick Ploog (Australia)
Roger Kelly - third in heat, eliminated in losers’ repechage
1000m individual time trial, gold: Neville Tong (England) 1.12.11
Roger Kelly - 1.16.6 (12/26)
10-mile scratch - gold: Ian Browne (Australia)
Roger Kelly –unplaced
Fred Brew – unplaced
Victor Holland – unplaced

1958 Medal Ceremony
All yours: A youngster presents Stuart Slack with a bag of clothing purchased at Esquires. Alongside Stuart is fellow cycling competitor Reg Quayle while Roger Kelly, who was also in the team, is on the extreme right (arms folded). Athletics manager Johnny Quine is second left, standing in front of cycling supporter Alan Cameron (wearing stetson). In the foreground (right) is cyclist Mike Williams and alongside Quayle is Dick Babb. Behind him is John Killip, who represented the IoM at the 1962 Games