RIP Debbo

Old Bike Australasia - - BLOW YOUR OWN -

We all know him as Debbo. I first met him at Oran Park in the late ‘60s; he was there with Keith Cor­ish testing the Vin­cent and that’s when the friend­ship started. Af­ter a while Debbo got me to join Bankstown Wi­ley Park club and I went to many races with him. Keith sold the Vin­cent in the early ‘70s so Debbo de­cided to build is own Vin­cent and I gave him a hand, this was open rac­ing against the might of Yamaha. At one of the meet­ings he said to me, “Have a go at rac­ing, you’re keen enough.” He lent me a pair of leathers that be­longed to his friend Bob Brown. I en­tered a club day on my road bike and with his tu­ition did not fall off. I was of­fered a ride on a Honda CB72 (the bike I still have to­day) and I man­aged to get a place in the BWP club cham­pi­onship. Now we all know he liked to be mis­chievous and play jokes. I told him about a high­way­man in Eng­land called Dick Turpin (sim­i­lar to Ned Kelly) and when we called each other up we would start with “Dear dear Dick!) When I was to be pre­sented with my first ever tro­phy, the name called out was Richard Gill, not An­thony or Tony. I looked at Debbo and he was rolling all over the place laugh­ing – he had got to the en­graver. Clas­sic rac­ing came and we changed to that for­mat and he kept me on the straight and nar­row with his ad­vice and race craft. I had suc­cess with the Cor­ish Ariel and my own bike, and when Debbo re­tired he was al­ways there to give ad­vice and to help with the bike. When I started to ride for Bill Snelling/West­gate Rac­ing Bill asked if I would like to race at Day­tona. Debbo said, “Go and I am com­ing too – mind made up!” We had prob­lems set­ting the en­gine up to run on petrol but he was there help­ing out, on ar­riv­ing at Day­tona we heard that we were just a group with a backyard spe­cial and would not do much good. Well, that was like wav­ing a red flag to Debbo, so he said we will go down the back of the pits so no­body takes any no­tice of us, and when I come into the pits from prac­tice stop and wheel the bike through. “Then when you know the cir­cuit do one half fast and the other one slow, then vice versa so they could not get a time; the grids had al­ready been set. Well, the rest is his­tory – the back yard team won – and when I came in there he was hold­ing a boxing kan­ga­roo flag with a big grin on his face and car­ry­ing on like a teenager. When I stopped we hugged each other and I said to him. “WE did it, WE won. Not I won.” He was rid­ing that bike as much as me. I could prob­a­bly write a small book on the times we had to­gether. He said to me a few years ago that peo­ple would not re­mem­ber him and be forgotten. Well, he got that wrong. At his ser­vice the chapel was full with all seats taken and stand­ing room only down the sides and across the back. He was not forgotten and he will be missed. I will miss him with that laugh and his zest for life. HE pushed me to be a bet­ter rider and HE made me a bet­ter per­son, and when I have a beer on Fri­day af­ter­noon (we used to do that) I will lift my glass and say “Dear dear Dick” and if I lis­ten hard I will hear that laugh. It was a priv­i­lege to have known him. Tony (Dick) Gill Queens­land

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.