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Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games Logo 2018 website 2018 website


1974 Isle of Man Team
Ready to go: back row (l to r) Steve Higgins, Dave McTaggart, Derek Harrison, Graham Young, Gordon Gale, Dave Cowell, Ken Kinrade, Bernie Shimell, Allan Callow, Mike Kelly, Tony Aspell and Peter Quilliam
Front row (l to r) Jill Kennish, Ted Corlett, Curwen Claque, Rev Fred Cubbon, Ron Killey, Brian Whitehead, Mike Boulton and Carole Mead

Athletics: Dave Cowell (marathon and 10000m), Steve Higgins (100, 200 and 400m), Graham Young (20-mile walk), Allan Callow (20-mile walk), Derek Harrison (20-mile walk)
Cycling: Mike Kelly (1000m time trial, 400m pursuit, 10-mile scratch race, road race), Bernie Shimell (1000m time trial, 1000m sprint, 10-mile scratch race, road race), Tony Aspell (road race), Gordon Gale (road race, 4000m pursuit)
Shooting: Ted Corlett (small-bore), Dave McTaggart (small-bore), Peter Quilliam (full-bore), Ken Kinrade (full-bore)
Swimming: Carole Mead (100 and 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly); Jill Kennish (100 and 200m backstroke)
Team officials: general team manager, Curwen Clague; assistant team manager and cycling manager, Ron Killey; swimming, Mike Boulton; HQ officer, Brian Whitehead
15 athletes, 4 officials (19), flag: Allan Callow; commandant: Rev Fred Cubbon
38 countries 1276 competitors

New Zealand 1974

Eight thousand pounds - £90,000 in today’s money - was needed to send 15 competitors and four officials to far off New Zealand.

To ensure there was value for money, greater care and consideration went into the selection process and each nomination was required to reach a certain standard in open competition on bases compiled by the member sports together with Commonwealth Games Association council approval.

While the ballot process for the competitors was a formality, the important step-change to appoint sports specific officials was another matter, and the controversy was relayed back and forth as a very hot topic in the newspapers.

However the CGAIoM insisted that it had become essential that sports should be properly served by technical assistance and guidance . . . ‘no group or individuals should be expected to fend for themselves on such an important occasion’.

The Games, in the NZ summer, were sadly overshadowed by the deaths of members of the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics two years earlier, and security assumed a whole new importance but the organisation was largely regarded as the best and the Games themselves the friendliest to date.

The dreary winter that the team thought they had left behind, followed them to the other side of the world, and the Met Office reported the weather during the Games period to be the worst on record for 36 years.

The expected hot northerly wind never materialised although during the cycling road race the temperature hit 90F at mid-day.

Following international concern about the gender of some eastern European ‘women’ athletes at the Olympics and other major sporting occasions, verification tests were introduced and young swimmers Carole Mead and Jill Kennish were more than happy to receive certificates authenticating their gender.

Athletics were to provide provided the main focus of attention for the Island and Graham Young’s performance in the 20-mile walk was outstanding, the diminutive postman clocking 2-42-55, a personal best by five minutes and just 47 seconds off the bronze medal in a race that featured the appearance of 1970 Games team member and early pacemaker Ian Hodgkinson, competing in Australian colours, having emigrated to that country. Ian finished fifth in 2.44.55

1974 Isle of Man Team March
March past: Allan Callow carried the Manx at the opening ceremony, the first time a Kelly had not performed the task. Mike Kelly, a member of the team, had done the honours four years earlier in Edinburgh

Allan Callow, the flag bearer, who after the Games returned to live and work in the NZ, also finished strongly in 8th place while long distance man Derek Harrison was out of his depth but nevertheless doggedly determined on his way to last place.

Steve Higgins, 100, 200 and 400m, wrenched his back and trapped a nerve in his spine five days prior to the start of the Games and, despite continuous treatment by the physio, his pre-race preparation was compromised and proved very painful.

Dave Cowell distinguished himself with 14th place in the 10000m, the Island’s first entry in the event, and he then ran equally as strongly in the marathon, clocking a remarkable 2hrs 23mins 34secs – 11 minutes faster than his previous best, set in a selection race the previous October - for 13th place, a record time that still stands today.

Much to the Island’s delight, shooting returned to the Games schedule and Dave McTaggart, Ken Kinrade (who like Callow also moved to live in New Zealand), Ted Corlett and Peter Quilliam were still in the prime spots when it came to selection, although on this occasion Quilliam tackled the full-bore discipline.

Against the odds, he qualified for the final 900 and 1000 yards stages of the full-bore event but the form that took him to sixth place after the first two stages, deserted him for the longer distances. Ted Corlett shot 585 ex 600 in the 50m small-bore competition, equal to the silver medal placing in 1966, and enough for ninth place.

With the Games being held out of season for the cyclists and training outdoors being at the mercy of the winter weather, cycling manager Ron Killey had to put his charges – Mike Kelly, Bermie Shimell, Gordon Gale and Tony Aspell – through the mill in the gym in a bid to hone their fitness.

Plenty of track races and some road events were of great value in NZ and Gale, whose life was cut short following a sudden and mysterious illness a few years later, bagged the most pleasing result of the four when he finished 12th in the 114-mile road race, run off at an electrifying pace.

Gale was the last of only 12 riders from 31 finishers to officially complete the course, the other Manxies going the full distance but not being classified.

On the track, Kelly and Shimell notched personal bests in the 1000m time trial as did Gale in the 4000m pursuit, while Kelly shone in the early stages of the 10-mile scratch race and eventually came home eighth.

The team’s two young swimmers, Carole Mead and Jill Kennish, had a torrid time. Mead’s training for the 100 and 200m freestyle events had been seriously interrupted by the temperature at Ramsey Pool during November, December and January, which left her with a bad cough.

Kennish suffered from a sore throat and swollen glands for both her swims and never got close to the times expected of her in the 100 and 200m backstroke races.

Both girls also suffered from being the weaker elements of a small entry, the only other ‘small’ countries taking part being Hong Kong and Singapore.

The general impression at the conclusion of the Games was that despite not adding to its medal haul, it had been the best all-round performance of any IoM team at any Games.

1974 Isle of Man Team Photo
Christchurch contenders: (back row, left to right) Allan Callow, Ken Kinrade, Brian Whitehead, Ron Killey, Ted Corlett, Curwen Clague, Rev Fred Cubbon, Peter Quilliam, Mike Kelly, Michael Boulton and Gordon Gale
Front row (l to r) Derek Harrison, Tony Aspell, Graham Young, Dave McTaggart, Jill Kennish, Carole Mead, Steve Higgins, Dave Cowell, Bernie Shimell and Orry Gray (attaché)

Cycling manager reveals secret weapon

■ The Games Federation made another change to the name of the Games in Christchurch and the word ‘British’ was deleted ahead of the 1978 Games in Edmonton, Canada.

■ There was a problem when Steve Higgins ran in the 100m on the first day of the Games. The crack from the starter’s gun shot caused a rebound echo, simulating a false start, and it took a little time to discover the reason - the sound was coming from the glass back of the main stand. The remedy was to remove the glass and this was done immediately.

■ Cyclist Mike Kelly armed himself with the best of equipment for his races on the velodrome. Legendary Manx cyclist Millie Robinson gave him the Dunlop silk tyres she had used for a world record attempt in the 1950s and they were used on a set of wheels provided by TI Raleigh professional rider Dave Lloyd, and used by him at the world track championships.

■ The Isle of Man paraded in the opening ceremony under ‘I’ instead of ‘M’ as at the 1970 Games. Positioned between India and Jamaica, the team ended up right in the centre of the teams facing the main stand.

■ Cycling manager Ron Killey, when interviewed about the team’s chances, said his secret weapon was Tony Aspell. Having just come out of the Merchant Navy, Killey said Aspell had been selected on the strength of one road race in which he finished seventh out of 12 finishers on a very hot day.

■ Aspell had already decided on his tactics in the road race. He was going to watch British star Phil Griffiths. No-one else, just Griffiths. ‘Tell him I’m going with 14 miles to the finish,’ said Phil, who didn’t seem too worried. ‘He should get the silver.’ Team-mate Mike Kelly remarked: ‘Tony’s going for a place in the top six and he’s already told us which events he is going to win in the Isle of Man next year.’

■ Team attaché Orry Gray, who emigrated from the IoM to NZ in 1956, played cricket for Cronkbourne with team manager Curwen Clague. Both were members of the Manx Regiment during WW2.

■ Nearly 2,500 Manx cat badges - always in demand - were given away by the team.

■ Copies of a review of the Games, published after the IoM team had returned home, eventually made their way to the Island, much to the delight of Steve Higgins who made the front cover in his easily identified team kit.

■ Such was his affection for the Isle of Man team that Bob Bestman, attaché in Perth 12 years earlier, made the journey from Australia to again meet the team. He stayed with his brother whom he had not seen for 39 years.



1974 Steve Higgins

In the picture: Steve Higgins in prime position on the front cover of a review of the Games

Men's 100m, gold: Don Quarrie (Jamaica) 10.4
Steve Higgins - 11.76 (36/36)
200m, gold: Don Quarrie 20.7
Steve Higgins - 23.79 (37/37)
400m, gold: Charles Asati (Kenya) 46.0
Steve Higgins - 52.91 (34/35)
10000m, gold: Richard Tayler (New Zealand) 27.46.4
Dave Cowell - 30.05.4 (14/20)
Marathon, gold: Ian Thomson (England) 2.09.12
Dave Cowell - 2.23.34 (13/33)
20-mile walk, gold: John Warhurst (England) 2.35.23
Graham Young - (4/15)
Allan Callow - (8/15)
Derek Harrison - (12/15))


Men's 1000m individual time trial, gold: Dick Paris (Australia) 1.11.85
Mike Kelly - 1.18.08 (21/30)
Bernie Shimell - 1.20.53 (24/30)
4000m individual pursuit, gold: Ian Hallam (England) 5.05.46
Mike Kelly - 5.31.88 (13/16)
Gordon Gale - 5.34.22 (15/16)
1000m sprint, gold: John Nicholson (Australia)
Bernie Shimell - lost in first round, eliminated in losers’ repechage
10-mile scratch, gold: Steve Heffernan (England)
Mike Kelly - 8/32
Bernie Shimell – 10/32
Road race (114 miles), gold: Clyde Sefton (Australia)
Gordon Gale - 12/31 at 18.21
Tony Aspell - 14/31
Bernie Shimell – 22/31
Mike Kelly - 25/31


50m small-bore rifle prone individual, gold: Yvonne Gowland (Australia) 594 ex 600
Ted Corlett - 585 (9/25) 98, 95, 99, 99, 97, 97)
Dave McTaggart – 579 (19/25) 94, 95, 98, 97, 98, 97
Full-bore individual – first stage 7 shots at 300, 500 and 600 yds; second stage 10 shots at 300, 500 and 600 yds; final stage 15 shots at 900 and 1000 yds, gold: Maurice Gordon (New Zealand) 387.26
Peter Quilliam - 360.29 (14/26) first stage 34.2, 35.5, 33.4 - 102.11 (7/29); second stage 49.2, 49.6, 48.4 – 146.12 (6/29); final stage 57.4, 55.2 - 112.6
Ken Kinrade - first stage 34.0, 34.3, 30.1 - 98.4 (25/29), second stage 49.3, 47.3, 43.1 – 139.7 (24/29) - aggregate 237.11 (did not qualify for final stage)


Women's 100m freestyle gold: Sonya Gray (Australia) 59.13
Carole Mead - 67.93 (19/21)
200m freestyle, gold: Sonya Gray (Australia) 2.04.27
Carole Mead - 2.32.33 (21/22)
100m butterfly, gold: Patti Stenhouse (Canada) 65.38
Carole Mead - 77.91 (19/19)
100m backstroke, gold: Wendy Cook (Canada) 66.37
Jill Kennish – 75.54 (13/15)
200m backstroke, gold: Wendy Cook (Canada) 2.20.37
Jill Kennish - 2.42.00 (12/12)

1974 Ian Hodgkinson
Games on: Hodgkinson (11) leads fellow Manxman but now rival Graham Young at the start of the 20-mile race. Behind Young is the IoM’s second representative Allan Callow
Fast start: Ian Hodgkinson made an impressive start to the 20-mile race but struggled in the mid to late stages. He’s pictured battling for lead with silver medalist Roy Thorpe of England with gold medalist John Warhurst of England tucked in behind