Dream Team : John Phelan
I've been a fan since 1974, and have endured all of the ups and downs that my club, Oxford has been through since then. I've been through all the winters of uncertainty, the amazing Nielsen years, and witnessed some staggeringly good racing. Amongst my many memories, I've had the pleasure of parading both Joe Screen and Scott Nicholls around the Oxford circuit on my Harley-Davidson motorcycle after their respective British Championship successes in 2004 and 2005. My selection below is of riders who have ridden for Oxford, though there are a good few others that I could select, and the list is in no particular order.
My first hero. He had an amazing ability to pass people up the inside, and it was his pass on Barry Briggs in the first match I ever saw on Easter Monday at Oxford that got me hooked. That night at Wembley in 1978 when he got the Silver Medal in the World Final was something else.
The man had it all. Fast when in front, a brilliant team rider, and never beaten until the flag fell. He seemed to have this amazing ability to drag whoever he was paired with into the first corner with him. No coincidence that Oxford's best years were '84 to '92 when he was in the team.
Mick only spent one year at Oxford, but what a year. So many races I can remember, but his ability to pass other riders on the outside of the 4th bend was special.
I can't believe that anyone could leave Simon out of their top 7 Oxford riders. A flamboyant, gregarious professional. Simon and Hans were to Oxford what Jason Crump and Bjarne Pedersen are to Poole today.
Probably now an Oxford legend. Always a professional, a true leader, and an all-round nice guy as well. Certainly one of the fastest starters I ever saw. To come back to the sport at the highest level after an injury that could so easily have seen him not walk again was just amazing.
I first saw Marvyn at Oxford in '83 whe he was riding for Rye House. A flawless 6 ride maximum convinced me that this kid was one for the future, and his signing by the Cheetahs for '84 was great news. So many great rides, and I particularly remember some great battles he had with Sam Ermolenko, and of course a seemingly endless number of 5-1's when paired with Nielsen.
Couldn't quite believe it when Martin signed for Oxford, but he landed and made his presence felt pretty much from the off. Again, so many breathtaking rides where he pulled off what seemed impossible moves to us mere mortals.
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This article was first published on 27th September 2007
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