Here at VeloVeritas we were saddened to learn of the death of Scottish Cycling stalwart, Gerry McDaid.
Gerry died on 20th November in the Cochrane Care Home, Johnstone aged 77 years.
As I young club cyclist I used to hear stories from my roadie friends about Gerry; they conveyed an image of ‘The Maximum Commissaire’ – an official not to be messed with.
I carried this image with me for years but when I got to know the man I found him to affable and of the ‘common sense’ school of race officiating.
I was lucky enough to share a car with him at an edition of the late lamented Girvan Three Day where he was ‘chaperoning’ a young commissaire.
At one stage the bunch snaked across the white line, the youngster was all for numbers going in notebooks and ‘getting up there to sort the offenders out!’
Gerry calmly stated that they’d be turning a corner in a minute, the wind would hit them from the other flank and order would be restored – so it proved.
I was most impressed by his reading of the situation – wisdom born of many years of doing the job.
We asked some of those who knew Gerry to give us their memories of the man.
Former Scottish Sprint Champion and Glasgow Wheeler man, Tommy Banks had this to say;
“I first came across Gerry round about 1961, when I was a junior and Gerry, who at that time was living in Argyle Street, Glasgow, was actively racing.
“Gerry was a member of the Belleisle road club then, although Jack Connor Junior, tells me that Gerry had been in the St, Christopher`s C.C. prior to this.
“Whilst not a champion, Gerry was particularly good at longer distance time trials.
“I can recall Jim McGinty once saying that Gerry was one of the few officials who had been a decent bike rider. I can recall seeing Gerry finishing sixth in the Drummond trophy road race, in 1962.
“At that time the race was held over eight, ten mile laps of the Cathkin Braes circuit, so it was always a particularly hard race. The field that day comprised Gordon McNaught, Ernie Scally, and Ronnie Park, and Gerry just time trialled round for the last few laps on his own, with many finishing well behind him.
“It was a first class performance and one which Gerry recounted to me, not so long ago.
“Gerry retired from racing relatively young, and was mentored by the late Arthur Campbell, to become an international commissaire.
“As you are probably aware, Gerry rose to the highest echelons in his new chosen pathway, and his tartan “bunnet” was a familiar sight at all of the top events.
“He was chief commissaire at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, and rose to be the SCU president.
“Local riders respected Gerry for being a firm, fair, and approachable official.
“During his time, as a commissaire, Gerry mentored countless numbers for the same discipline, and within the race official community, he is still held in very high regard, and always shall be.
“Life dealt this likable, and very intelligent man a very cruel blow; these last few years of his life, but his suffering, and that of his family, is now thankfully over.”
Gerry was very well connected at international level – he worked on the Tour de France, it should be remembered.
Former Scottish international and Scottish Hour Record holder Roddy Riddle told us;
“We used to call him half man half car – his head was always out of the sunroof so as he could keep a better eye on the race.
“In early nineties Gerry was contacted by the Simon bothers who had a professional team in France asking if he could get me to sign for them after I finished ninth on GC in the Ruban Graniter stage race in Brittany the previous year and getting on podium on stages, beating Jeroen Blijlevens in sprints. They were looking for a lead-out man for the teams sprinter.
“In the event it fell through as I was mid twenties and they were looking for younger rider but it illustrated to me how well connected he was.
“The loss of Gerry is sad and a major loss to the cycling world.”
Former Cycling Weekly scribe, Keith Bingham gave us his take;
“I remember when Gerry came to the Milk Race for the first time during the 1970s.
“He was chief commissaire or international commissaire and his arrival was welcomed by the press on the race who had grown tired of endless race radio banter between officials in the cars.
“I can remember Gerry’s rather long-winded command coming over the airwaves.
“‘Gentlemen, er, I think there is a time and place for merriment and banter and I would respectively suggest – eh – that the race radio is not the place for it. Afterwards, when relaxing in the bar, you may feel free to indulge in repartee – eh, (and he chuckled as is he said it) when I will join in. Race radio is for race announcements only. Good day, Gentleman. On with the race.’
“Or something very like that.
“He had a great sense of humour, always greeted you with a smile and one year, during a short stop at his house en route to the Girvan Easter three day, welcomed me to Scotland by pouring me a very large Scotch.”
Gregor Russell of Velo Ecosse got to know Gerry well when his riders Evan Oliphant and the late, great Jason MacIntyre were burning up Scottish road races.
But Gregor’s introduction to Gerry came in 1986 on a stage of the Kellogg’s Tour down to Newcastle off Carter Bar.
“The race was fully on and it looked like the break might come back so Gerry adopted his famous “heid oot the sun roof” pose to get a better view of proceedings.
“Unfortunately it was a windy day in the Border Country and a big gust caught his treasured, trademark tartan ‘bunnet’ and whisked it off into the scenery.
“Break coming back or nae, crucial point in the race or not, the ‘bunnet’ had to be recovered and a motor cycle marshal was immediately radioed and ordered not to return without the errant head gear!
“His style was of the firm-but-fair school and he was greatly respected by most of the riders – he’ll be sorely missed.”
Gerry McDaid, respected cycling official, wit and Scottish Cycling legend, rest in peace, sir.
We’ll miss you.