AJS: The Manx Classic

Rare tales from the 'Golden Age' of British imbecility

AJS team-rider Jock Sproat (far right) recalls: "Aye, the year was 1927 and a lot of the boys in the team were very keen on golf - to the extent that some of them had suits made from old carpet tiles stitched together by Shuey Gilchrist (second from right), who was a dab-hand with a needle.

"We persuaded the Team Manager Archie Featherstonehaugh it would be a good idea if we entered as many races as possible on the Mountain Course so's we'd be in good shape for the TT. Little did he know the Manx Classic was a golf tournament - he imagined it was a motorcycle race - a Classic Manx or somesuch. And so he signed off the quadruplicate factory requisition order to let us walk to Liverpool from the Wolverhampton works and build a rowing boat from old tobacco tins and the lads' hats."

Barrington Clubbe-Barr (seated with hat) takes up the story: "Yes, as AJS Golf Captain and Greens Secretary I'd managed to avoid my hat being requisitioned as part of the impromptu maritime transport. Jolly lucky too, as I would not have been allowed near the Castletown Golf Club without it.

"As things transpired none of the other chaps were allowed on the course for a variety of reasons: Chipper "Chips" Sandys-Bunker (far left) was arrested by the Manx Constabulary outside the club for indecency in a public place, a charge later dropped as the constable had mistaken Chipper's golf bag for an effigy of a giant male member.

"Mostyn Parr-Ffyfe (third from right) fell in love with a tramcar conductress. I believe he married and still lives on Mona's Isle working as a guide in the Douglas Waxworks."

T. Orfe-Driver (seated on pillion) recounts; "Once we'd realised the game was up and only Clubbe-Barr was going to get a round on the links, we hastened back to Douglas and were lucky enough to run into a chap riding a lusty 990cc side-valve Ajay down the Prom. We persuaded him to let us pose with his machine to fool Featherstonehaugh into thinking we'd been tearing up the Mountain.

"That's the fellow standing directly behind me in the dark blazer looking slightly miffed that he wasn't pictured at the controls of his own imposing steed. We later bought him a Manx Ice for his trouble and we soon became the best of pals.

"When we returned, old Featherstonehaugh was jolly good about it all and sacked us immediately. Then we were all killed in another of those beastly world wars."

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