A Balham Cycling Club trophy, first awarded 70 years ago, has been reunited with the club 40 years after leaving South London. The Bill Shore Memorial Trophy, presented to the Club champion in 1947 and almost every year until the club closed in 1979, has made the 4,200 mile journey from the USA back to Britain. It will be raced for once again as the club is set to reform on its 120th anniversary.
Club member Ken Smith took ownership of the trophy after the club’s closure because of his close friendship with Bill Shore. The Smith’s moved to Canada in 1957 where Ken was to become executive director of the Canadian Cycling Association and secretary of the Commonwealth Games Committee among other posts.
Ken’s daughter Cheryl, who now lives near St Louis, USA has bequeathed the silverware to the new club. It arrived in South London this week.
Cheryl said: “My father always spoke of his time in the Balham very fondly, he would have loved to have heard the club was reforming.”
Bill Shore was a clubman for many years before he died of cancer in 1941. Ken’s cycling scrapbook documents his relationship with Bill. It’s one that would have been played out in many sports clubs in the 40s and 50s.
Ken Smith was a young cyclist still trying to find his place in among the social circles of an established cycling club. Bill Shore was Assistant Club Secretary and the lynchpin between the youngsters and the established older members.
Ken writes, “The old core were consummate imbibers, drinking seemingly endless pints of bitter, or half and half, telling their stories, their jokes and keeping a closed shop on those not in this inner circle. Some of them spilled over into another section who were hooked on darts, honing up their skills at innumerable pubs during the week and on Sunday lunchtimes during the midday stop for the regular lunch of bread and cheese washed down by a pint or two.
Bill Shore, the Assistant Secretary was the go‑between. He was a member of both the beer drinkers and darts sections and the designated welcomer for new members. If it had not been for Bill I would never have stayed with the Balham. As a young sixteen-year old novice bike rider I felt completely lost amongst this crowd. Their talk, their interests, their attention to cycling was not what I had expected. Some of them I never saw on a clubrun, where were they, why were they members? Bill was different, a single thirtyish year old, living at Carshalton, a regular club run attendee and an encouraging, jovial member who was well liked and well thought of by everyone. I can see him now, riding his bronzed taper‑tube Granby, Lauterwasser bars, wearing his brown tweed sports jacket and matching plus fours, collar and tie his dark hair brushed back, laughing at some joke or incident, pedaling away on his 66 fixed gear. He was the backbone of the club…
“In 1940 when the club suffered a membership drop due to call‑up and conscription, Bill became the link between the members in the Forces and the remains of the Club. He corresponded regularly with me, kept me in touch with the membership – who was still out there and who had been called up. In return I conveyed my thoughts to him, my interest in the Club and how I was looking forward to returning to the world of cycling.
“I think it was sometime in 1941 that I waited a long time for a letter or any news of the Club. It was not until I received a letter from Arthur Attwood that I heard of Bill’s death. Not a war casualty, he had been admitted to hospital for an operation and had died on the operating table. What of, I was not told. Thinking back I remember that Bill often had stomach pains, would swallow some tablets and laugh at the matter, never one to worry over such a thing as it did not interfere with his drinking or bike riding. I expect it was cancer.
“The death of Bill saddened me ‑ I had lost a great friend and the club had lost a member who was its backbone and would have been a valuable rebuilder after the war.”
The reformed club plans to award the trophy annually. We like to think that would have gone down well with both Ken and Bill.
Engraved on the trophy are the names of the following winners:
1947 J. Church 1948 J. Church 1949 J. Church 1950 J. Church 1951 J. Church 1952 G. Houghton 1953 G. Houghton 1954 F.Syred 1955 R.Rance 1956 F.J.Smith 1957 J.E.Smith 1958 J.Smith 1959 J.Smith 1960 G.Taylor 1961 J.Smith 1962 J.Smith 1963 J.Smith 1964 J.Smith 1965 I.Marshall 1966 I.Marshall 1967 J.Bennet 1968 I.Franklin 1969 I.Marshall 1970 A.Booth 1971 G.Coombs 1972 G.Coombs 1973 G.Coombs 1977 A.Booth 1978 P.Melhuish
Have you or any family members got any photos or club memorabilia from the Balham CC years? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a line in the comments box. I would love to hear from you.
With thanks to Cheryl Button for her generosity in leaving the trophy and scrapbook to the newly formed BCC.
Erm…The trophy itself for past winners