Encounter With a Hero

My dream finally came true! At the London bike show Cycle2002 I finally met David Duffield and thankfully he was exactly how I expected him to be!

I managed to get to the show in Islington at 10.30am on the Saturday as I had heard David would be there along with some other cycling commentators before shooting off to his London studio to provide the commentary for that afternoon’s Tour of Spain. I found the Eurosport Cafe just in time to see DD being interviewed by one of the newer Eurosport commentators who does a bit of track commentary and in the corner I noticed Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen who provide the terrestrial Tour de France commentary as well as the newer OLN commentary for the emerging US viewers. After a quick “Hello”, handshake and a “I really like all the work you do” type chat with Phil and Paul I noticed DDs interview had ended and I was able to get straight in:

DD Left and new bloke from Eurosport (Sorry I forget your name, especially after we said hello during the great comentary you did at the Herne Hill Good Friday track meet!). Before anyone emails in suggestions I already know it is not Phil/Paul/Gary. Its not Adonis Russell Williams and it doesn’t look like he parts his hair with a chamois leather so its not Mike ‘Dungeon’ Smith.

And its not Christy Anderson either!

“Hello, I’m Marco”

“Oh hello I met some of you lot the other day”

“Yeah, I do the web pages about you though. I hope you don’t mind!”

At this point the excitement was making me dizzy so I forget the exact words of our conversation but it was something like:

No I really like them thanks for all the work you put in

Not at all its my pleasure, thanks for all the commentary you do, we really love it, it makes it so much more interesting and you wouldn’t believe how many fans you have got out there who are prepared to write in extolling your virtues. Infact I don’t really have to do anything except put all their great contributions together.

Oh Thanks, I understand you have some pictures from a friend of mine in Australia?

Yes Nisa sent some great shots in and I also get a lot of emails from lots of your friends all over the world including a recent one from Shaun Wallace (great British trackie) and also a 70s World Champion Sprinter from Australia.

If ever you have any problems with anything we write about you please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Eddy M (RRA boss who it turns out is a mutual friend) and we’ll amend it for you…

No, No don’t worry.

We’ve also got some stuff from when you were racing up on the site now – a picture of you being different in the National Cyclo Cross Championships and also two accounts of your tricycle record breaking rides including ‘the wrong way to end to ender’. We got them from old Sporting Cyclist magazines and I’m not sure about copyright issues.

Well Sporting Cyclist isn’t around anymore and all of those were done by Jock Wadley who unfortunately isn’t here either. I’m sure wherever he is he would be pleased they were being read again!

Do you think you’ll do anything more on the trike?

No those days are long gone! You know the village where I live had a scarecrow competition! I made one up using my old trike that I used to race on, a Greg Lemond jersey and pair of black tights! You know, made the scarecrow and everything. IT WON FIRST PRIZE!!! Out of 47 scarecrows it won first prize!

You’ll probably be getting an invite to our club dinner this January, do you think you can you make it?

Unfortunately I’ll be in Australia for the Tour Down Under before heading off to Malaysia for the Tour of Langkawi. Thanks for the signed menu from last year though, sorry I couldn’t make it (DD was ill last year so the hundred or so people at our dinner wrote happy messages on the menu and another card which got sent to him. Its an Addiscombe tradition to do that for friends who miss a dinner through ill health).

One other thing…You aren’t planning on retiring soon are you?

Well, I’m going to keep going to Athens 2004 if I can then I’ll cut it down a bit. I’ll still do the big races like the major tours and the classics but I’ll knock some of the other smaller ones on the head. Some months I’m hardly ever at home…

Are you going to Zolder (for the World Road Championships)?

Ooh yes I’ll definitely be there for those.

Do you think Cipo can do it or will the Italians self implode?

Well I don’t think he will be able to do it. I think they’ll self implode!

Do you ever chat much with Cipo? I reckon he’d be a real character? (I imagine both he and DD are quite eccentric and would appreciate each others wit)

Unfortunately he only speaks Italian and French and I don’t speak Italian and my French is very rusty. He says hello but I’m afraid that’s about as far as we get. I’d love to see him win though.

Did you see much of the recent track champs (Britain won 3 golds)?

Yes its been great. Russell’s been doing a great job with Mike Smith. When I was commentating at the Olympics I nearly fell off my chair when Queally won the Gold. You know I carry a union jack around with me and get it out whenever a Brit wins. The other commentators think I’m mad but when Queally won I was waving it all around!

Ok thanks very much, remember if there’s anything you don’t like please get in touch. Oh and by the way here is one of our Addiscombe posters – it has the new web address on it which is a bit easier to remember.

Oh good that last one was a bit of a mouthful. Thanks for doing it all and keep up the good work!

Me (marco) left with DD. Note Paul Sherwin being interviewed far right and also well known domestic race photographer (with beard) behind me Paul J Wright

DD with one of his many female fans. He was genuinely keen to find out about everyone and in this case offered all sorts of advice about Sustrans paths and the national byeway scheme to get people out enjoying riding their bikes away from main roads.

I managed to keep within earshot as his fans came up to him and these were the snippets that I caught:

I don’t commentate for the cycling expert – they know what’s going on in a race. I commentate for everyone else and try to point out what’s going on.

Lance is very friendly with me but now has so much security around him that he’s hard to get to. He still waves or says hello as he passes and I often ask him how his cat Chemo is!

Sean Kelly is absolutely amazing at reading a race and points things out you would never notice.

My cat isn’t very well and is on its last legs. I’ll try and spend as much time with it as possible.

I have a dachshund so getting a new cat might be problematic (he said the dog’s name and it was on a par with Sixpence the Rabbit but I forget what it was exactly!)

I was ill last Christmas and thought I had DVT but in the end it was ….

Russell Williams nearly fell off his chair when Hoy beat Tournant by one thousandth of a second at the World Champs!

When I was 8 years old I can remember constantly chatting in class and getting hit with a ruler by the master who shouted at me “Duffield, you are an old washerwoman!”

A veritable feast of cycling heros! Sean kelly being interviewed

I managed to say hello to Sean and also give him an Addiscombe poster with the web address on as well as telling him a little about the Duffield appreciation site. Who knows, maybe he will email in with a couple of stories for us!?

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen were also there and seemed equally friendly. Paul even rolled his trousers up to show some of his fans the scabs and scars on his leg that accompany being a racing cyclist!

DD had a pretty good long chat with top bike designer Mike Burrows (Boardman superbike, Giant etc). Suspension, Minis, Moultons, strong cheese? Who knows what they were talking about????!

At this point you realise just how lucky we are in the UK and Ireland to have so much cycling talent around. Mike Burrows the top designer, Sean Kelly the hardman of the 80s and Phil, Paul and Dave… the three top English speaking cyclesport commentators in the world.

DD and Phil Liggett discussing the commentary plans for the penultimate day of the Vuelta.

Check out the whole collection of Duffield pages here and enjoy one of the all time great commentators.

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