Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsScotland's Clan McGinty - a True Cycling Family

Scotland’s Clan McGinty – a True Cycling Family

"All four of us managed to win the same Scottish title (the 5km Grass), we won it nine times in a row and twelve times in total."


One of the things that’s good about FaceBook is seeing those old pictures from the 70’s when cars, music and especially bike racing were all cooler than they are today. Recently, there have been some nice pictures of those Regent boys and that got me to thinking about the omnipresent Clan McGinty.

A quick message to Steven of that ilk followed and we hope you like what he had to say as much as we did.

Clan McGinty
Graeme and Stephen put their dad Jimmy to work. Photo©Stephen McGinty

Thank you for this Stevie – I remember Jimmy, your late father very well, remind me about your uncle, Joe though please.

“There’s a whole article (book!) to be written about our Joe.

“He got into cycling with my dad, but – let’s say – he didn’t have quite the same commitment.

“Joe was the most laid-back person imaginable.

“My Dad spoke about a time they were both riding a ‘50’ down the West [side of Scotland].

“Joe was off a while before my dad and at the early turns my dad could see Joe was on a good ride.

“Then on the way to the finish my dad passed a Gourock newsagents to see Joe leaning against the wall, reading the Sunday paper with a cigarette in hand!

“Laid-back as he was Joe was still good enough to be part of the Scottish Team Pursuit winning squad with my dad in 1964.”

Clan McGinty
Jimmy and Joe in the 1964 Team Pursuit final. Photo©Stephen McGinty

Were they the first of the cycling McGintys?

“They were the first into cycling that I know of.

“My dad was always very athletic – he used to run from the family home in Pollok to school at Holyrood in Govanhill.

“His other brothers Willie and Brian were footballers – Willie Played junior football to a good level.

“Their dad (our grandad) was a bookie’s runner at the unlicensed boxers’ booths in the Gorbals during the 1920s.”

How did they get into cycling?

“Some of my dad’s friends were in the St Christophers CCC, so he joined and formed a lifelong relationship with Jackie Connor – future sponsor of Regent CC.

“I heard a story Joe was with our grandad and saw someone riding a track bike without brakes inches behind a bus.

“He asked our grandad who that was.

“He told him ‘That’s the Mad Painter, son – he rides the quarter mile at Ibrox Sports.’

“The “Mad Painter” was Charlie MacDonald – lifetime president of Regent CC and Joe’s future father-in-law.”

Remind us of Jimmy’s main results please.

“My dad was the first SCU Champion winning the 25 TT in 1956.

“He also set the 30 mile TT record in 1958 and broke the Scottish Hour Record at Caird Park in 1957.

“One of his proudest achievements though was a trophy he was awarded for riding the Trossachs TT 25 years in a row.

“He loved that event.”

Clan McGinty
Allan at the Skol Six in London. Photo©Stephen McGinty

Jimmy had three sons, Allan, Graeme and Stephen; was getting into cycling something that just happened naturally for the three of you?

“We couldn’t avoid it, I guess.

“When we were wee my folks had a Bedford Dormobile.

“Weekends they would carry us down in our sleeping-bags during the night to drive to 07:00 am starts at Stirling or Dundee.

“For Fife TTs we’d stay overnight at Falkland Youth Hostel.

“My dad was always first to arrive and last to leave events whatever his start time.

“Our house was always full of bike people.

“I remember one time a guy with a strange accent arriving to stay the night – turned out to be Lionel Wylie down from Dundee to ride (and win) the national 12 hour TT.

“My mum’s sister Katrina also managed to marry multiple Scottish Champion Drew Brunton, which makes avoiding cycling topics at family occasions pretty difficult, despite our cousin Rhona’s vehement objections to dinner table debates on gearing ratios.”

Clan McGinty
Allan leads dad Jimmy in a Gentleman’s Two-Up. Photo©Stephen McGinty

Please remind us of the three of your most memorable performances.

“Allan was one of the top short distance TT and track riders in his day.

“He was the third rider in Scotland to go under 22 minutes in a 10 mile TT in the days before tri-bars and TT bikes.

“He won the 5km Grass Track Championship five years in a row and 33 SCU Championship medals in total.

“Graeme was the fourth in our family to win the 5km Grass and went on to win 25 SCU Championship medals.

“I broke the Junior 10m TT record and won a few races against the other Juniors that year, who included Robert Millar, Jamie McGahan and Davie Whitehall.

“I’ve often thought that if we could have combined Allan’s ability with Graeme’s style and my race-head, we’d have made a decent rider.”

Clan McGinty
Graeme looking classy, during a grass track race at the Bridge of Allan Highland Games. Photo©Stephen McGinty

Did any of the family ride internationally? i.e. in a Scotland jersey?

“At the height of his career my dad was flown to the Isle of Man to ride in a “North Britain” select with Barry Hoban and Billy Holmes.

“Allan rode for Scotland a fair few times including as a schoolboy at the Six Day in London.

“My dad was terrified when he saw the “wall of death” track they had to ride, but Allan never blinked.

“Graeme rode for Scotland at the Cleveland GP in Middlesbrough.

“He was in the winning break, but Tony Doyle took exception and switched him into lane two of the running track!

“Our highest family representative achievement though is our sister, June, who took up fencing for a while, winning Scottish medals, and being selected to fence sabre for Great Britain.”

Have you ever counted up the family’s wins?

“We’ve never been organised enough to keep proper records.

“My dad’s medals and trophies got used as play things around our house, a Scottish Pursuit medal ‘awarded to Action Man as the Victoria Cross’, a trophy from the Isle of Man that looked a bit like the Jules Rimet World Cup we paraded around anytime we ‘scored’ the winning cup final goal.

“You should see the state of some of the journals my dad tried to keep; there’s a diary for one year where he’s also tried to list club results from the following two years, then there’s a scrawled start list for a road race he was organising, and the times from a club confined event, a list of who owes what club fees (I’m looking at you Ian Holms!)…”

Clan McGinty
Allan (sporting Madison shorts with foam – no handslings allowed!) on the now-sadly-defunct Meadowbank track in Edinburgh. Photo©Stephen McGinty

Do you know the family’s first ever and last ever wins?

“My dad was winning from literally his first ever race as junior with St Christophers CCC.

“In his first year racing in 1953 he got his 10 mile TT time down to 23’25” – and that was when 25mph was the equivalent of 30 mph today.

“Last major victory was Graeme winning the 5k grass for a fourth time in in 1996; tho’ he remembers riding a two-up with the mighty Tam Gordon while in the Glasgow RC around 2000 – which would be enough to end anyone’s racing career.”

Have there been ‘all McGinty family’ team prizes won?

“Allan and I won team prizes a few times in 10 TTs with my dad.

“Graeme was too young to have ridden when my dad was competitive.

“Allan and I won District Team Pursuit Championships with my dad, and later the two of us with Graeme.

“One of my regrets was never getting a Regent team together to ride the national team pursuit seriously, given the talent we had in the club with the likes of Sandy Gordon, Drew Robertson and our Allan.”

Clan McGinty
Stephen in his 1980’s a-la-mode day-go. Photo©Stephen McGinty

Has a McGinty ever donned any other jersey than a Regent one?

“My Dad started in the St Christophers CCC before joining and remaining in the Regent.

“After we folded the Regent Graeme rode with the Glasgow Road Club for a few years.

“Allan now lives In Northern Ireland and is an active member of East Antrim CC. (They have a seriously cool grey and red strip).

“Our cousin Ian is probably the most active McGinty currently cycling and racing as a member of the Johnstone Wheelers.

“In the early days of mountain biking I rode in a garish, day-glo Dooleys Cycles sponsored jersey.

“Oh – there was also the time I had to pull on our big track rivals Roiseal RT jersey to ride a team pursuit – Phil Siers wouldn’t speak to me for weeks after that!”

What’s the family’s most memorable moment in cycle sport?

“I guess the fact all four of us managed to win the same Scottish title (the 5km Grass) – we won it nine times in a row and twelve times in total between us all.

“My dad’s Hour record is also a biggy.

“It links him directly to guys like Graeme Obree, but, more importantly to him, Steve McCaw and Roddy Riddle, who he knew and rated.”

Clan McGinty
Stephen leads Allan during a criterium around Glasgow Green. Photo©Stephen McGinty

Are you all still involved in/aware of cycle sport happenings?

“I’m not as connected to the local scene, but still follow the world of cycling generally.

“Graeme was involved on the Scottish Cycling committees for a while, but decided it wasn’t worth it (‘nuff said!). He relocated to Peebles in the Scottish Borders a few years back.

“We were at the European Championships in Glasgow this year and loved watching the pure class of Kenny de Ketele and Roger Kluge in the distance races. Those guys never make an effort they don’t have to – a few of the British riders would do well to learn from them.”

Is there a ‘new wave’ of the Clan on the horizon?

“The potential is a bit limited.

“Our June’s kids are pretty athletic, but mainly into football and horse-riding so far.

“However, my proudest moment of this year was seeing my eldest granddaughter make her first bike ride.

“I’ve got her marked down as a hard-working, honest, tester.

“Her younger sister is a bit cheekier – so maybe a trackie in the making.

“Here’s hoping…”

Clan McGinty
The McGinty Clan’s matriarch; Ishbel, with Jimmy. Photo©Stephen McGinty

And as Stevie reminded us, behind every four great men there is…

“Yes, I also need to add a bit about the person behind the dynasty – our Mum, Ishbel.

“She dealt with the washing generated by four sweaty cyclists, kept us fuelled, put up with our whinging, and also fed and watered the many who turned up at the McGinty open-door cycling household.

“She did all this while holding down a full-time teaching post, and, in her limited spare time, was one of the main timekeepers for events in the West of Scotland.

“One year Ishbel and Jimmy Rae, pretty much on their own, ran the four-day Tour of Argyll stage race.

“She collated and produced all the finishing and result sheet with a stopwatch, pencil and a notepad, while looking after those finishing in distress from the wind, hail and sleet of a Scottish May weekend.”

I knew that would be a good tale; with thanks to Stevie.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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