Nostalgia 1976: Olympic glory - at any cost

A Olympian revealed the true cost of a career in cycling, after he was forced to sign on so he could compete.

Tuesday, 4th March 2014, 3:00 pm

Batley cycling club’s Dudley Hayton was preparing to represent Britain in the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

The 23-year-old star was told he had been picked for the road race and the 100 kilometre team time trial.

Dudley had been involved in cycle racing since his early teens, and believed he had a good chance of a medal.

Even in his first ever road race, at the tender age of 15, he was the first through the tape.

By the time he was 17, Dudley was West Yorkshire road race junior champion. He told the News it was only in recent years that he really started to shine.

In the 1975 Milk Race, the biggest amateur stage race in the world, he won one of the 12 stages.

Out of 50 races that year, he had 14 firsts over the whole season. Dudley lived in Baildon and covered about 300 miles a week in training.

He gave up his job as a stock control clerk for six months so he could build up his fitness for Montreal.

His firm agreed to pay his wages for part of his training, but for the remaining time he had to claim Social Security.

Dudley said: “This means I am going to be hard up, but as yet my wages haven’t been stopped.

“Competition cycling is a thankless sport which has very little publicity for the amount of time we have to put in.

“My wife is not very keen on me being away from home for such lengths of time. It is a single man’s game is cycling, especially when you get to the top.”

Dudley joined Batley Cycling Club at the beginning of 1976, due to the high costs involved in competitive racing.

The Olympics did not go as well as he hoped, after he finished sixth in the men’s 100 kilometres team time trial.

Dudley also missed out in the men’s individual road race finishing 43rd.

Musical talent proved to run in the family for a former Batley Grammar School pupil, after he appeared on national television in 1976.

Ian Fearnsides was the drummer in the group Whisky Mac, who topped the poll on the New Faces programme.

New Faces was a talent show, which aired during the 1970s and 1980s. It helped launch the careers of comedian Lenny Henry and actress Marti Caine, who made their debuts as contestants.

Whisky Mac’s record ‘I will always be around’ was released in 1976 and the group went on a nationwide tour with disc jockey Emperor Rosko, the second generation dancers and Carl Wayne.

Ian met the three other members of the group - Terry Stevens, Keith Maxon and Trish Fields - while playing in the Isle of Man.

After trying out as a group, they decided to stick together and form Whisky Mac.

They first played at the Excel Bowl, in Middlesbrough, and then moved to Southend, where they appeared at Zhivago’s Night Spot.

Ian was the son of James and Dorothy Fearnsides, of Fairview Avenue, Carlinghow, and both had musical backgrounds.

His grandfather, Clement Fearnsides, was the ex-Mayor of Batley and was organist for more than 50 years at the Gospel Hall, in Mount Pleasant.

Because of their schedule, Whisky Mac did not appear on the New Faces all winners show, but planned to star on the programme later in the year.

Also in 1976, when nine-year-old Amanda Barlow hitched a lift on a friend’s bike to school, she never expected the trip would end in Batley Hospital.

Amanda, of Cardigan Close, Batley, was riding on the back of the bicycle when she got her foot stuck in the spokes of the rear wheel.

The fire brigade was called and had to let the tyre down and undo a few screws before she could be taken to hospital.

Amanda was treated for a hairline fracture of the ankle and went to school the following week on crutches with a plaster cast.

She told the News she had made an agreement with her mum to put her cycling days behind her for a while.

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