“Rallying used to be a mainstay of radio”
So there I was listening, as you do, to a recording of Kenny Everett’s last show on Radio 1 from Sunday, June 9, 1968. It was his last show as, once again, he’d been sacked by the BBC.
The music was fab and he had a lot of his mates on to say “Cheerio”. These included the Beatles, although John Lennon sounded a little out of touch with things. As Kenny said: “If that’s what going to India does to you, I’ll stick with Skegness.”
Half an hour in, the news came on. For younger readers – and for older ones with bad memories – the news on Radio 1 was always on the half hour, while over at Radio 2 it was on the hour. Anyway, there were three items on the bulletin that morning. The first was a report of Robert Kennedy’s funeral, the US senator having been assassinated while campaigning in the California primaries earlier in the week. The second story was about leading world bankers meeting in Zurich to discuss the crisis with the Gold Standard. And I’ll quote the third and final item in full:
“One hundred and one cars have set off from Glasgow at the start of the Scottish International Motor Rally. It lasts five days and covers 1900 miles. The first car to be flagged off by the Lord Provost of Glasgow was driven by 28-year-old Roger Clark of Hinckley in Leicestershire, who has won the rally three times. And now the weather ….”
Crickey! How times have changed. Today it’s difficult to find the final results of even the Rally GB on any radio sports news, here simply the start of a rally was reported on the main news where there were just three stories. There wasn’t even a fatality, which seems to be the only time the sport makes the main bulletins these days.
Granted in 1968 the fourth commandment – Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy – still held sway so there was very little professional sport taking place on Sundays to fight for space on the news. There was no professional cricket, no horse racing, nor any overpaid prima donnas prancing around a football field and falling over in agony if someone so much as breathed within 10 yards of them. However, it still shows how far rallying has fallen out of view to most people, both inside and outside the media.
Did the national news two Sundays ago have a running schedule of: President Obama in the UK; Earthquake in Ecuador; Elfyn Evans of Dolgellau led 57 cars away at the start of the Pirelli Carlisle Rally and now the weather? No it didn’t.