South African sojourn, November 1965

And they’re off!

The track at Isipingo beach (a seaside resort built on a high ridge of sand at the mouth of the Siphingo River, 19km south of Durban in Kwazulu-Natal) witnessed some ‘terrific riding by the two southern centre men’ on their Matchless Metisses. The two ‘won the heart of the South African crowd’ to such an extent, that the home fans were cheering on the visitors, rather than their own men.

The accompanying picture has Scott plumb centre, riding number 23. This is probably the Allcomers scratch race, the day’s concluding action – and the only event where Rickman didn’t do the winning. Derek’s Metisse was numbered 24 and is nowhere in evidence, though there are a  couple of other Metisses in evidence, with the number 11 Rhodesian Terry Franklin on a Matchless powered example, with 62 and unnamed rider on a Triumph engined version. Only one other rider’s name is known, that’s the number 1 360cc CZ of local man Roy Browning. Other machines it’s possible to identify include a BSA Gold Star (2) while 41 is a Matchless G85 and number 15 seemingly another Gold Star.

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None of the local experts though could keep with Scott, the 26-year-old ex-construction engineer from Parkstone, near Poole, Dorset, originally born in Coventry. Sixth in the 1965 500 World Motocross Championship, while also fourth in the ACU star championship, he was seen as the ‘coming man’ of British scrambling. Scott’s association with frame builder and preparation ace Eric Cheney was especially productive, with the collaboration starting in 1961. However, in June 1966, Scott rejoined the works BSA team but tragically he was killed less than two months later, in the annual North versus South scramble, held that year at Boltby, Yorkshire.

Tumbling from his machine on the fifth lap, he was tangled up with a number of other riders, including Jeff Smith, who suffered a broken wrist, toe and collar bone. Apparently Scott had fallen in a ‘blind’ area and Smith simply couldn’t avoid him; the 1964/65 500cc world champion, a good friend of Scott, was devastated. It was the first fatality of a top-rated rider since 1960, when Rene Baeten had been killed. The meeting was abandoned, announced by secretary Colin Hutchinson (to be managing director of Chelsea FC from 1989-2001, incidentally) and 15,000 spectators quietly, sadly filed out.

The South African event had been a much happier time and place. Though Derek Rickman won the 500cc Scratch race, the 500cc Trophy Scratch race and the Natal Mercury Handicap race – coming through the field ‘in tremendous style’ to pass Poulter’s Greeves on the last lap, Scott was never far behind, being runner-up in the earlier two races, and third in the Natal Handicap event. He took the spoils in the Allcomers race.

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The local newspaper, the Natal Mercury was impressed by the dashing duo. “Although Browning could hold the two overseas visitors through most of the circuit, Rickman and Scott had him and the rest of the field stone cold up the double jump where the two green shirted riders would take the hurdle in one jump, to the two of the local riders.

“Their riding techniques were beautiful and thrilling to watch, their action being almost graceful as they took their machines over Devil’s Leap as smoothly as a horse rider taking his mount over a hurdle.”

Another of the local papers reported too, noting; “The crowd took the two British riders to heart from the first 500cc race and at the start of the Natal Mercury Trophy race final the two men had the entire crowd rooting for them.” bike

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