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Committee Man

Committee Man

Peter McGuiness

After this year’s AGM, Phil Mansley stated that until that evening he was quite unaware of all the hard work put in by so many people so that the Club could function. This put me in mind of a remark made by Ken Ross at my first General Meeting in 1977,that some members still thought that all Club activities happened by magic. Even as a very new member, it was never my impression that it was all ‘done by magic’, but just like Phil, until I was elected onto the Committee five years later, I did not appreciate how much needed to be done.

To be run effectively most organisations require a Committee and each Committee requires certain personnel. The Chairman is needed to control the meetings, a Secretary to take minutes and deal with correspondence, a Treasurer to handle the money and a Social Secretary to arrange a variety of functions. In addition a Cycling club needs a Racing Secretary and the person who undertakes this responsibility must have specialist knowledge and be capable of making important decisions. It is an advantage if they have experience of competing in events and/or being part of the race organisation.

Cycling clubs are usually affiliated to various national and regional bodies. These bodies require personnel to run them and it is the responsibility of the individual clubs to provide officers to take up posts at national and regional level. Anyone taking up a national or regional post has to make a great commitment in terms of time and responsibility. Over the last decade Prescot Eagle Road Club has had a large number of members on various national and regional committees.

During most of my working life I held some position in the Union and I served for several years on a Scout Group Council and so when I was elected onto the Club Committee, I was reasonably well experienced. My first post was as a delegate to Liverpool Time Trials Cycling Association. It was interesting to meet members of other clubs and put my own club’s views forward at the meetings. However it was frustrating at times as on most matters the Association did not seem to be a decision making body and my main job was to take information from the Club to the Association and vice versa. When I took over from Val Ross as Club Secretary, I found it a much more worthwhile job. It was very similar to the Secretary’s role in other organizations. At the meetings my main concentration was on writing minutes and quite often I was too busy writing to get my oar in during the discussion. It also meant that I had to attend Club nights on a regular basis in order to distribute the correspondence.

During my six years as secretary, Ian Murray was Chairman and when his firm transferred him to the South of England, I took over as Chairman. This proved unexpectedly difficult for me. My previous experience had been one year as Chairman of a Union branch. Anyone with experience of Trade Unions will know that meetings are stuffed with members who are sticklers for procedure and very knowledgeable about rules. The slightest variation from the regulations brought about ‘points of order’ and once I had to accept a resolution of no confidence in the Chairman (it failed because there was no seconder). The members were very serious and always kept to the point. It took me some time to become used to the less formal attitude of Prescot Eagle Road Club.

The worst job I undertook was to act as organiser of the Open ‘25’ in 1997. Everyone in the Club was co-operative and I received a great deal of help from Amy Hooton, Joan Kershaw and Ken Ross. However I worried some much about what could go wrong and even though things went very smoothly on the day, I decided that race organiser was not a suitable roll for me in the Club.

This year is the fourth of my five year term as President. Apart from taking the chair at the AGM for the election of the Chairman and presenting the President’s Trophy, there is nothing specific to do. However as my predecessors as President have been Ken Ross, Joan Kershaw and Dave Short, I feel very honoured to be included with them.