Sporting Trials in Ulster a History

It was on the 26th October 1963 at the Lead Mines which formed part of Lady Bury’s
Londonderry Estate that the 1st ‘Mudplug’ took place. 15 drivers turned up to drive 9 cars and 150 to 200 spectators came to watch the fun. As it happened Desmond Titterington won driving an Alexis.

Ian Wilson of the Ormeau Bakery having worked hard to introduce trialling into Northern Ireland was secretary of a sub committee of The Armagh Motor Club formed with Ernie Robb as Chairman to run ‘mudplugging’later to be known as sporting trials. It’s worth mentioning here that messers Wilson and Robb were helped in no small way by a band of drivers whose names become synonymous with trialling in NI-Todd,Glover,Keatley, Johnson Emerson and many more put the sport firmly on the map. Prior to this the nearest motoring events to compare with today’s trialling was The Irish Experts Trials run in the 50’s by Newry and District Motor Club. Cars such as Dellows were popular but most competitors built specials with wonderful names like hayrake,potato digger (W Todd) and dingbat. Sections also had wonderful names such as the bark,the yelp,and intriguingly the slopup. Tandragee Demesne was an often used venue.

By the early 70’s the sport had grown so by 1975 it was decided to form a separate
Club to be known as The Sporting Trials Club this Club was later formed into a Limited Company The Sporting Trials Car Club Ltd. It is interesting to note that in the Clubs Articles of association the same names who helped start the sport reappear W T Todd,J B Emerson, M Glover not forgetting Cecil Molyneau and Frank Kelly without whom a lot if not all of the Clubs history would be lost. The writer was Chairman at this time and R.A.Clarke Secretary.

That’s the History, today thanks to Michael Martin who led the way over here with his Concord, the McKinney’s who took Michaels design a stage further and Tommy Reid who persuaded John Crossle to put his racing car manufacturing skills to design and build the now famous Crossle 80t we have a healthy and successful club able to compete with the best the rest can produce.

By Clive Gracey