Belfast Telegraph

Charlie and Steve add a Sheene to racing

By Billy Weir

Back in the Seventies, they didn't come much bigger and better (or badder) than Barry Sheene.

Alongside Steve Coppell, Alex Higgins, Jimmy Connors and Big Daddy, he was up there with the sporting Gods as far as I was concerned.

Of course, he is now literally, among the sporting gods, most probably with Alex sitting at the next table, after his untimely demise 10 years ago but he was still the talk of the town as the British MotoGP came to Silverstone.

Sheene's old sparring partner, team-mate and mucker Steve Parrish is now the BBC's expert in the commentary box alongside the wonderful Charlie Cox, full of Aussie eccentricity and bluster and doesn't give a XXXX for what anyone thinks.

Pre-race the main hope to end the search for a successor to Sheene was Cal Crutchlow, who did his chances no good whatsoever by deciding to leave his bike at high speed during the morning warm-up. He was in good company, new skid on the block, Marc Marquez dislocating his shoulder but still making it onto the grid.

"Yeah, that will hurt a whole bunch," Dr Cox told presenter Matt Roberts. "He's a tough as goat's meat," he added, while Marc (pictured) hid in fear of being tossed onto a barbie.

Not as scared as Matt looked though when Parrish and Barry's son, Freddie, took to the track for a parade lap, with Cox commenting that 'they could be brothers'.

"Well, we won't speculate on that one, Charlie," he laughed nervously, while Freddie's sibling, Sidonie, then joined Matt for a chat, leading Cox to reminisce abut her father.

"She told me once that Dad was great, he sent me to all these fancy schools, it was really marvellous, but he always smuggled in lots of booze and fags for me," he said.

"He was a proper Dad," showing that he who thinks Australian brings up their kids Australian but from then on it was an all-Spanish affair as Marquez locked horns with Jorge Lorenzo in an epic battle.

"Whoa, he didn't read the doctor's note, he's allowed to go home early," as the magnificent men on their flying machines diced with each other, with Parrish musing that with a dislocated shoulder 'most people would be signed off for a couple of months.'

It can also hurt the wallets of the team, as the unusual method of payment for replacing bikes was revealed by Parrish.

"Every time you crash one of these bikes it's about the same as a semi-detached house in Northampton," he said, and of course, locally, a spill at the UGP costs a smallholding in Dundrod and at the North West 200 the same as a caravan in Juniper Hill.

The duel at the front continued, Marquez, according to Parrish, not realizing that 'Dani Pedrosa is right up his chuff.' You'd think he'd have enough to worry about with a dicky shoulder but the painkillers clearly workied.

Onto the final laps and Cox suggested the only way to shake off Marquez was 'to ride with a bag of rocks and chuck them over my shoulder', no mean feat if it's dislocated, but in the end he was pipped at the last corner, just as Kenny Roberts had done to Barry Sheene back in 1979.

Thanks for the memories, it was one El of a race and one that the sparkling Mr Sheene would have loved.

Belfast Telegraph


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