MICK McGEOUGH IN TRAINING - c.1967
Michael Colin McGeough (# 28 in the list of senior men to represent Great Britain) was born in Friern Barnet, London on 30th March 1946. In his early teens he frequented the Alexandra Palace rink where many of the top speed skaters of that time could be seen, either training or racing in national championships.
McGeough started to go along to the training sessions and under the watchful eye of former British Champion, Charlie Applebee, joined the Alexandra Palace club. The first record of McGeough racing is on the 26th May 1962, when as a 16 year old he took part in the Stableford Cup at the Pier Pavilion, Herne Bay. He would not qualify from his heat but very soon it became quite clear that the youngster was going to be a talent to be reckoned with when aged just 17 he finished 3rd in the 1963 Southern Counties Championship.
In 1966 McGeough well and truly came of age. On 12th February that year he won the Five Mile British Championship on his home track - the Palace. He had crossed the finish line in second place behind the former World Champion, Danny Kelly, but with Kelly being disqualified McGeough found himself on the top step. The race that would end Kelly's career would be a springboard for an eventual record breaking haul of British titles for McGeough.
MICK McGEOUGH WINS THE 5 MILE CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE FIRST TIME - 1966
By 1968 McGeough had secured himself a place on the British team for the forthcoming World Championships in Montecchio (Vicenza). Aged just 22 he was the youngest of a well experienced national team. Included in the team that year was also former World Champion Leo Eason as well as world and European medallist Bill Sharman and European medallist John Folley. Despite this it was McGeough who would come away with the best placing of the team with 5th in the 500 metres time trial.
Mcgeough again won the Five Mile in 1969 and in 1973 emulated the achievement of Alf Martin and John Folley by winning all three national titles in a single season. A feat that would not be repeated until Tony Marriott completed a clean sweep in 1990.
Between 1973 and 1983 McGeough would amass a further 15 British titles, taking him to 17 in total. No less than nine of these were for the English Sports Cup - the trophy awarded initially for the Five Mile Championship before it became the 8000 metres and eventually the 10000 metres. This in itself was (and still is) a record for this famous trophy. McGeough was also one quarter of the Alexandra Palace team that won the British Relay Championship in 1967, 1970 and 1971.
Internationally McGeough was also making his mark. The World and European Championships were held sporadically for a decade between 1968 and 1978 and like so many top skaters of that time, he suffered as a result from the ad hoc nature in which these major events were organised. Despite this he became European Champion at 10000 metres in La Roche-Sur-Yon, France in 1978. In fact, at those championships he would return home with a medal of each colour.
McGeough's love affair with the 10,000 metres continued as he retained his European title a year later in Ostende, Belgium. This made him the first British skater to retain his title in a major international competition since Bill Ross won both the 1936 (European) track and 1938 (World and European) track 10,000 metres titles.
In 1980 McGeough won his first world medal - bronze in the 20,000 metres on the track in Masterton, New Zealand. It had taken him 12 years to finally get on the podium, but a year later he woud do even better. At the 1981 World Championships, this time on the road, McGeough would gain another two medals - silver in the 500 metres knockout and bronze in the 5000 metres in Leuven, Belgium.
McGEOUGH GETS PRESENTED WITH THE BRONZE MEDAL - 20000 METRES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - MASTERTON, NEW ZEALAND 1980 (photo courtesy of Craig Moore)
Just a year on from that heady success, however, and things would dramatically change for McGeough. His results at the 1982 World Championships were unremarkable when comparing them to just 12 months before. He would only place inside the top ten once (9th in the 1500 metres on the road) whilst all other placings saw him no higher than 21st. Why his performances were below par is not clear, but unbeknownst to him at that time, those races in Finale Emilia, Italy, would be his international swansong. Little did McGeough know that his skating career would come to such an abrupt end, but the changing of the guard for the British team was almost complete. Feetham had retired in 1980, Mullane had bowed out in 1981 and now the name Michael McGeough would also be consigned to the skating history books.
McGeough will tell you that he feels he should have been selected for 1983 at least, and there is an argument for that. In the British Championships of that year he placed 3rd in both the 5000 metres and 3000 metres Southern Counties, as well as helping his Alexandra Palace team to 3rd in the relay. But McGeough's former international team mate and now National Team Manager, Patrick Feetham, thought his time had gone.
Throughout 1984 and 1985 McGeough picked and chose his races carefully. He had some small degree of success, for example 3rd place in the prestigious Clarke Trophy in June 1984, but nothing like the successes he had enjoyed just a few years earlier. He didn't race at all in 1985 until the British Championships at the very end of the racing season. On 28th September he qualified for the final of "his" event, the 10,000 metres. Another notable qualifier was his son, Sean. McGeough would come home 9th in the event that he had first won almost 20 years previously.
The following day McGeough stepped onto a track for one last time. His performance in the heats of the Jesson Cup did not see him qualify for the final but he did manage to help his team to 3rd place in the relay. In his last ever individual event, the 1500 metres in the Chambers Trophy competition, McGeough rolled back the years and crossed the line first. It wasn't enough to see his club place in the overall standings in this team event, but McGeough showed that he could still do it, if he wanted to. The thing was, he didn't and on 29th September 1985 Mick McGeough called it a day.
In 1986 he became National Team Manager taking the British team away to the World Championships in Adelaide, Australia. The team comprised of his great rival, John E. Fry, and some of the up and coming youngsters of the day, Andrew Newton, Mark Tooke and Hugh Doggett. McGeough also became Chairman of the British Federation of Roller Skating for a short spell. Both his sons, Sean and Neil had enjoyed some success during that time. Neil had been a junior international and Sean had gone on to win a gold medal at the 1988 European Championships, however, by 1993 both had lost interest in the sport. In the summer of that year McGeough tended his resignation and went off to pursue other interests.
These days Mick can more often than not be seen on a golf course swinging a club rather than on a track swinging his arms, but his name will always be synonymous with roller speed skating and the part he played in a golden period of the sport where Great Britain produced some global skating legends.
MICK McGOUGH AND WIFE, JOY, IN 2011