Originators of UK closed road motorsport

My memories of Mull Murmurs

Meeting up with our auld pal ‘Jaggy’ (John Fife) at our April meeting, and subsequently reading his new book ‘Murmurs on Mull’ brought back lots of memories from a fantastic period in our lives. And makes me realise we were all lucky to have it!

My early memories of John we’re before I was involved in the 2300 Club. Back then I was an enthusiastic spectator who enjoyed stage starts and finishes even the Service park. This is where you would come across Jaggy interviewing drivers and navigators. Later we would be walking into a stage and find John bashing on his typewriter sat in his car in the dark. Sometimes he would frantically winding the handle of his duplicating machine. Slowly the news would come off the press and was ready for distribution.

As a spectator mid-stage we would be blinded by the spot lamps of the safety cars, and be very surprised when one stopped. Our eyes still welded shut from the bright light we heard the words “Mull Murmurs”! We would scrabble to the car and grab few sheets of A4, and these would be passed around the spectators. On these sheets were the latest news of the rally, who was leading and by how much, also who had gone out. This was very welcome to all spectators who were literally in the dark for rally info. As an avid rally spectator  on many events this was a service I hadn’t seen before. A very welcome innovation with humour too!

Later I became a member of the equipment team and like many other club members our team leader Cliff Simmons had to wear a different hat during the event when he would become the printing queen. John would get Cliff a copy of the latest Murmur and Cliff would print hundreds of copies ready for distribution. I remember Cliff coming home to sleep in the early morning long after the last competitor had gone to bed. But Cliff couldn’t sleep because He’d been drinking energy drinks to keep him going. I did always wonder how we used an entire pallet of paper during the event.

I also remember the distribution of the Mumurs having been asked to deliver them to the pubs and cafes.I did think to myself at the time how am i going to get rid of this pile of murmurs. I would walk in to the bar shout “Mull Murmurs!!!!” and they would be gone before I could put them on the bar. They were popular!

The look on Tony Driver’s (equipment team member) face was a picture when he arrived back from a distribution run with ‘Bulletin’ Bill Sturrock. Tony had been ask to help Bill with the distribution of the Murmurs around the rally route. They had to move quickly around the rally route and the quicker they got round they would be back just in time for the next instalment. Tony didn’t know of Bills reputation for scaring his passangers. When he strapped himself into the ex-M Sport Focus recce car. Bill would go into the stages after the roads were closed and was free to use all of the road and that he did, and some. Tony had never been at those speeds on these roads let alone with ditch hooking. Yes Bill is a great driver but Tony hadn’t experienced anything like it and pulling up at Aros 33x to have a quick chat with Ian Grindrod Tony was white as a sheet. Ian surprised to see Tony said “Are you mad getting in with Bill?”

At the time Mull Murmurs was a fantastic and very helpful service engaging fans and informing families of competitors and with great humour. But with the passage of time looking back Mull Murmurs was much more than that. It was something very special which connected us all. And I am glad John has put it all into a book which documents the Tour of Mull. Reminding us of the great times we all had during that period. Thanks John!

Graham ‘Flint’ Ryding 

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