AN APPRECIATION OF ERIC SEDDON
BY IAN MURRAY
During most of Eric Seddon’s racing career Ian Murray was The Chairman of Prescot Eagle Road Club and the pair knew each other very well. Ian was an outstanding performer in Road Races and rode for Britain in the Junior World Championship. Ian was also no mean competitor when it came to racing against the watch. He still holds the schoolboy record for 25 miles with 59-22 set in 1970. It was in Time Trials that he and Eric had a friendly but nevertheless serious rivalry over many years.
I first met Eric when I rejoined the Prescot Eagle in 1979. Eric had joined the club a few years earlier but it was in the period from 1982 to 1995 that we were racing rivals.
I remember him turning up at one of the Club 10's on Rainford with his handlebar bars turned upside down and cut off, just like the East German track pursuit riders at the World Championships. Hence from that date I never referred to Eric with the name his mother and father probably took an eternity to decide, to me, he became Detlef Macha, the East German multi world champion who was one of the first that I had seen with these strange upturned handlebars. Over the years 'Detlef', Peter McGuiness and I had many battles over the Club 10 Points Trophy, often going down to the last race. Each week we all tried (in vain) to influence Amy's handicapping. During the period when we went ‘head to head’, Eric had five victories. I won the trophy four times and Peter was successful twice.
For me what I most respected about 'Detlef' was the man's appetite for work and sport. Many of you may not know that Eric was a miner, hardly the best job from which a good performance on the bike could be expected. Not only that, but he worked a five and a half day week, including Saturday mornings, at the pit face by six o'clock. By the way, I never heard him once have a moan about this, or anything else. You may think that this is impressive, but most of the time he also rode out to events (I think that Brenda had commandeered the car!). Several times on a Saturday afternoon we would be riding a 10 or 25 out at Knutsford or on the Northwich Bypass. He would ride out to my house in Grappenhall, and we would ride out together to the start. On those days he had already ridden to work (a private colliery in Golborne? I think.), and back home, then rode out to the start, raced either 10 or 25 miles and ridden home. Without the race miles he would have done at least 75 miles that day, and worked four or five hours down the pit, all with a smile on his face. The man was simply awesome. He would often race the next day, but would sometimes drive out because of the early start times on Sundays. This wasn't a time when no one had cars, as was the case in the sixties. By the eighties almost everyone had a car, and therefore a choice, and Detlef chose to ride out to the events that were close enough. He could have chosen to drive to the events in style, as he and Brenda had bought a new Audi 80, at a time when German cars had yet to be popularised. Perhaps as an 'adopted' East German, he had no choice but to support the 'Fatherland'? If I recall correctly is was a 1988 on an F plate, it was certainly red (some might say I need to get out more!)
Detlef was not flash with his bike, even though he improvised with his upside down bars (so comfortable were these bars for Eric, I think he adopted the same configuration on his winter bike). His bike was standard and functional, and he was not seduced into the latest fashion, or expensive equipment (I know someone else like that - I still use toeclips and friction levers - the weakest link on my bike, by a street, is the rider, there's nothing wrong with the equipment!). Detlef knew what counted on the bike, and that isn't flash equipment. As someone who grew up reading the Victor comic, Detlef always reminded me of 'Alf Tupper, Tough of the Track', a working class runner who beat all comers after working all day in the local Steel Works.
We will seldom see the likes of men like Eric again. He was a cyclist I respected more than most, and a person I recall with great admiration. I will miss him, even though I had not seen him for many years, and I will never forget him
The above words are merely my opinion, recollections and observations of a club cyclist who did not become a World Champion, but he didn't need to, because in many ways he was a World Champion Man. He never seemed happier than when he was riding his bike, and that's how I shall always remember him.