Short History of the Midland Cycle Club
Established Circa 1900
Club Colours: Red, Black and Yellow.
The municipality of Helena Vale was proclaimed at the local government authority for the rapidly growing town of Helena Vale.
The West Australian runs an article speaking of the Helena Vale Bicycle Club.
The then premier Sir John Forrest paid a visit to the Helena Vale municipality when he opened the public hall at Midland Junction. A council was formed to establish a cycling and athletics track on the 5 acres of land where the public hall had been erected.
The Midland Cycle Club is formed under the name of Guildford-Midland Cycle Club.
The Helena Vale municipality had a name change - Midland Junction. The Midland Junction 98 mile race is won by F.Williams in a riding time of 6 hours and 45 minutes.
Press reports of the day are scarce but it seems the club is referred to by various names until 1919 when it becomes Midland-Bassendean Cycle club.
1923 - The War Era
During this time many locals join the armed forces. As a town war memorial, the citizens of Midland placed a large four sided clock on the dome of the town hall in 1923. This clock has become one of Midland's best known landmarks and was for many years the starting point of the iconic # Midland 100 cycle race.
On the morning of August 23, 1947, people on the streets of Midland Junction stopped to gaze at the parade of cyclists gathering prior to the start of what was to prove the crowning success of the 1947 road racing season. The “100” attracted a field of 78 riders, all eager to take home a share of the two hundred pounds prize money.
One hundred miles later and Frank Taylor (MCC) crossed the line first in a well judged sprint finish and cemented his name in the record books as the inaugural winner of an event that consolidated Midland’s position as the major sporting centre of the West.
Another member of the Midland Cycle Club was Stan Gurney. Stan, who won many bike races, lost his life on the Egyptian battlefields at El Alamein whilst single handedly charging through enemy fire. He bayoneted six Germans before a stick grenade blew him off his feet. Moments later, he was up again and inflicted heavy losses upon the enemy before he was inevitably cut down by further gun fire. Private Arthur Stanley Gurney was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. The Stan Gurney Memorial Race has been held every year since 1943. The event was originally a road race but in recent years, Midland Cycle Club has conducted the race as a criterium on Anzac Day.
The Post War Era
The post war years saw a resurgence of the club largely due to the efforts of the indomitable and passionate Eddie Barron. Returning from the war effort saw Eddie buy local cycling shop Ajax Cycles and morph it into the renowned Flash Cycles. From his front door Eddie could see the local track at Midland oval. The track which had a surface similar to a trotting track and was white washed for night racing, held biannual carnivals which included wood chopping and athletics as well as cycling.
Eddie hired the local young riders to work in his bike shop where he built custom frames and he personally guaranteed the prize money for the professional racers. He was a true champion for the sport and for Midland Cycle Club. The current Velodrome is located on Eddie Barron Drive in Midvale, a fitting tribute to the man who thought of everything. Barron once, after receiving a complaint from a disgruntled rider in an event where confusion reigned when a rider was incorrectly awarded the overall win, took the unhappy “real winner” to the boot of his car and proceeded to dig out the biggest shiniest gold trophy the rider had ever seen – marked 2nd Place – and awarded him that with a congratulatory grin. The rider’s response? “Only Eddie would have thought of doing that”.
Midland Cycle Club also took over the running of the historical Westral Wheelrace after the event moved from Coolgardie to Midland in 1963 (won by Mal Barker). The Westral was first run in 1897 and is still held today, now under the patronage of Track Cycling WA.
The next decades saw the emergence of riders the caliber of Steele Bishop, Robert Waller, Graham McVilly, Peter Robinson, Ken Benson, Murray Hall and Darryl Benson ride for the club and take state, national and world championship titles a plenty.
WOW – what a roll call!
More recently the club has seen the likes of superstars Cameron and Travis Myer, Luke Durbridge, Michael Frieberg, Sarah Kent, Michaela Anderson, Jessica Allen, Elissa Wundersitz, Robert Power, Jai Hindley Michael Storer and Matthew Richardson to name but a few.
The club is still going strong playing a huge role in the contribution to cycling in WA. No longer an organisation made up of professional and amateur racers, Midland Cycle Club now caters for riders of all ages and abilities with a strong focus on junior development.