I have hazy memories of the summer 46 years ago when England won the World Cup.
Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst and Nobby Stiles became household names and idols to eight year old boys like myself.
In the world of cricket, Boycott and Edrich were the opening pair for England, and West Indian Gary Sobers was acknowledged to be the world’s best all rounder.
Another often-heard name in those childhood summers was that of Tommy Simpson. In an era when Football and Rugby were played in the winter and Cricket and Tennis was the only summer fare, in this alternative sport of cycling, Simpson’s progress in the Tour was relayed back to us in Blighty by radio broadcast and maybe a mention in the sports part of the BBC’s Six O’clock News. In 1966, Simpson finished second in two stages of the Tour before crashing out on a mountain descent.
The following year of course, Tommy died on the slopes of Ventoux. This event acted as a catalyst for me to check up on the progress of British riders in ensuing renewals of the race, gradually becoming more absorbed and enthralled by the event, despite all its vicissitudes.
And now, after such a long span of time, we have an Englishman, Bradley Wiggins, who is favourite to win the Tour.
The parcours, with much TTing, favours him to a certain extent, and his form and the form and strength of his team is excellent. So let’s hope that he can avoid mishap and arrive in Paris in July wearing the yellow jersey and thus inspire a new generation of youngsters to appreciate
the excitement and benefits of cycling