The Scott Trial is full of wonderful memories, but one of my favourites is when the talented young Irish rider Robert Crawford took the win at his very first attempt as an eighteen-year-old riding the Screenart Beta. The record he set of being the youngest winner and setting the fastest time at his first attempt is something we may never witness again. 1990 had been an excellent year for the young man, having firmly established himself in the top ten in the WTC at the start of an excellent trials career. Loving life and ambitious he approached the Scott the only way he knew how to – one way: full on!
Words: John Hulme and Robert Crawford – Picture: Eric Kitchen
Robert Crawford: “At the time I was living and working in Yorkshire as a professional trials rider with John Lampkin in the Screenart Beta Team. As the season came to its close one more major event was approaching that had been talked about all year – The Scott. Living and training around Silsden had its advantages with this trial, as many previous winners such as Martin Lampkin and Malcolm Rathmell were on hand to give me vital information on the tough time and observation event.
“The event for me started the day before, Friday, when I was out on foot with Rathmell in the mist and rain and we managed to see approximately thirty of the hazards. As a first-time competitor this meant I would be not seeing the other sixty sections until I arrived at them. With the machine prepared and the fuel cans organised I took to my bed early in the evening to prepare for the day of action.
“Saturday morning came and it was once again very misty and wet but this did not deter me at all. I set off down the start-field not knowing I was starting on one of the biggest adventures of my life. I did not know where I was going but the pace was pretty rapid I can tell you. I made the descision early on to stop at the gate to each hazard and take a quick look to see where I was going before entering it.
“At one hazard I noticed the crash helmet of Philip Alderson, who had started five minutes behind me! This really fired me up as I caught him and stayed with him until he rode around a deep pool of water and I rode straight in it, filling the Beta full of water. It took me a good fifteen minutes to get going but I was off after the pack like a mad man.
“I rode to my limits and beyond for the next four hours or so and passed many of the fancied runners. At Surrender I was happy to take the applause of the crowd for two clean rides before crashing into a deep hole, although I managed to just stay on the machine until after the exit for the hazard and gave the huge crowd a rapid wave, which raised a smile on my face and kept me amused for the rest of the day.
“As the event raced to its conclusion I passed some of the noted faster riders such as Rob Sartin and Harold Crawford, and my support crew had me at only four minutes behind Alderson. The smile was soon wiped off my face though as – in front of Eric Kitchen and his camera – disaster struck after all the hard work. The chain jumped off at the water crossing at Orgate and wrapped itself around the rear sprocket. This cost me a five mark penalty and around five minutes on time. I then punctured the rear tyre as I approached the second-to-last group and the tyre spun in the rim; another five marks were parted with and around twenty minutes of time to fix it – I was gutted.
“I crossed the finish line very dejected and feeling that victory had been snatched away from me. I went to the awards presentation in the evening not the happiest guy in the world I must say, with many thoughts going around in my head; had I missed a section? As normal the finishing positions are read out in reverse and before long we arrived at Wayne Braybrook in third. When they read out Philip Alderson in second you could have heard a pin drop, such was the tension! Then I heard the words – “In first position: Rob Crawford” – I thought “are you sure?” and then when I was applauded and cheered by the crowd I was sure it was me, the young lad from Northern Ireland, I was over the moon!
“For that one moment in my life: 20th October 1990, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to my success on a day which still holds a special place in my heart – Thank you, from Robert Crawford”.
Copyright: The copyright works for the text remain the property of John Hulme and the image copyright remains with Eric Kitchen.