Remembering a great friend of the Southern 100 Road Races, Geoff Cannell, who would be celebrating his 78th birthday, on 1st July.
Geoff and road racing were synonymous with each other, both growing in stature as the years progressed!
He would have been a teenager when the first Southern 100 was run in 1955 and it is very likely that he would have been there with his father Jack, himself a racer and film star, having been in the famous George Formby film No Limit.
Geoff was most involved with the ‘friendly races’ between 1970 and 1976 when he was Press Officer and will have witnessed the likes of Billy Guthrie, Bill Smith, Charlie Williams, Tom Herron, Steve Tonkin and Ray McCullough win the coveted Solo Championship races. He will also have seen one Joey Dunlop making history on his debut ride in 1976 becoming the first ‘newcomer’ to win the Solo Championship and lift the famous Derek Ennett Trophy.
Sidecar champions during that time were Bill Currie/Kenny Arthur; David French/ Neil Thompson; John Watson/John Wright & Brian Hoyle (1972 & 1976); Peter & Ron Hardy; Steve Rowe/Alan Jones and Bill Hall/Pete Minnion.
As a journalist and later on as Manx Radio Sports Editor Geoff will have witnessed many more races, the introduction of the Pre-TT Classic Road Races in 1988, followed three years later with the Steam Packet Road Races, now the popular Post TT Road Races. His voice was also heard as part of the Manx Radio commentary team, most latterly alongside his cousin Roy Moore at Cross Four Ways.
Geoff was never happier that walking around the Billown Paddock or the course with camera taking images for future reference and for his extremely popular winter slide nights.
It was with shock and much sadness that the Isle of Man and the world of motorcycling learnt of his untimely death on 24th September 2007, just three months after this 65th birthday.
Geoff was his usual effervescent self at the 2007 Southern 100, where he witnessed Ian Lougher take his four Solo Championship win with Nick Crowe also collecting his fourth Sidecar Championship with Dan Sayle in the chair lifting his first.
I for one will be raising a glass this evening to a top journalist and someone who became a good friend. Will also be thinking of Lynda and Zoe, the Bard of Mann as they remember Geoff as a husband and father.