My TT: The Nostalgic
Wally Radcliffe's life long passion for the TT began at an early age. Here, he describes how.
My first memory of the TT was of my father describing this Italian rider, Omobono Tenni from before the War. I always wondered who this strange-sounding person was.
I was that determined to get up to the Races to see them for myself that I got Tommy the Tup, who used to take people up to the Creg from Ramsey on the bus, to hide me behind the seats so I wouldn’t have to pay. I was only eight years of age and going all that way on my own!
Once up there, I collected pop bottles which had been left behind by visitors, knowing that I could get a penny back on each one.
Wally's most prized possession
It was when I got to Kate’s Cottage that I heard a strange bike – not a kind I’d ever heard before – and I thought, “this must be Omobono Tenni!” - and it was. He was leading the Race at that point.
I’ve always loved the different sounds of the bikes – of the Guzzis and the MVs, BMWs, MV Augusta and the NSUs. When I was a teenager, there was a whole gang of us young fellows and we’d be down for the first morning Practise and there’d be ribbing if you were late.
There was great excitement about who would be the first one to see a Guzzi or a Gilera. Today, all the bikes look and sound alike.
We’d chase up to the Hairpin to collect autographs, although I never did get autographs off my big heroes, Les Graham and Bob MacIntyre, though I did unexpectedly get Les Graham’s in a round-about way.
It was when I was a paper boy. I used to deliver to Miss Kerr’s on May Hill. She used to keep a signal station for Les Graham, putting out signs for him in her garden, saying “You are in 1st place” or telling him what speed he was doing.
She had a signed photo of Les Graham hanging in her hall and one day – I must’ve been so cheeky – I said, “Miss Kerr, if anything ever happens to you, can I have that photograph?”
It was years later, when I was married, I got a knock at the door and it was her housekeeper, telling me Miss Kerr had died and would I please take the photograph.
It’s now my pride and joy.
last updated: 11/06/2008 at 15:22
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